We took our grandson to the movies today and after that we went to Torchy's Tacos.I sat saving the table as the boys were in line ordering food. Through the windows I watched the rain fall and had I had my cell phone I would have texted about the rain in Austin, something lame I know, but some of us text stuff like that.
Often, when I mentioned the weather, my cousin Jimmy, who passed away a few days ago, would text back his weather in south Florida. Facebook was a lifeline to him. He had gotten an iPhone in the last year or so and quickly he had used Facebook to connect to all the cousins. Through his page I connected to a few cousins I had lost track of. It is something Facebook does very well. Facebook connects people. For all the various evils people claim Facebook is--to me, I love Facebook because it keeps me connected with friends from high school, college, friends from where I used to live, friends I have made on the Internet and family and relatives. I love it. I love seeing the photos and hearing about lives I have moved away from.
So, there I was, sitting there thinking of texting my weather, after all Austin barely gets rain, when I thought of cousin Jimmy. We were never super close over the years. He was over 10 years older and was already grown up and off to Vietnam and got his helmet shot off while I was still in junior high school. We saw him when I was a kid, while my grandmother was still alive, and before we moved as a family to California in 1973. After that, we basically lost touch, as I was on the west coast and if I got to FLorida it was to visit parents using a few scarce vacation days. There were no more reunions at Oma's house.
Jimmy found me on Facebook and invited me to be friends. Over the last months we often would chat. We talked more on Facebook than we had ever talked before. He told me about the love of his life that he never married. He worried about me going through my breast cancer. We lost an uncle this year and connected with another cousin, Sandra. All these connections are beautiful to me.
Just the week before his death, we had been chatting about how he might hook up with rich widows and marry one and live the good life. This was my agenda not his. I wanted him to have more. I suggested that since he had been a limo driver why not offer a service to drive widows around in their RVs. I thought it would be great for him to travel, see the country and get some nice widow lady to fall in love. Not a bad plan, eh?
A few days later he posted that he had been ill with the flu for a few days. The next post was that something was very wrong and he was going to ER. The last message was that he was admitted to ICU. I had traveled to Florida with Wally to visit my family and was not as hooked into Facebook as I normally am. I posted to his wall asking for an update. No word followed. I feel guilty now. I should have called to follow up. I told my parents he was in the hospital, they asked how I knew and I said "Facebook." I often respond that Facebook is where I have learned about this or that.
Jimmy passed away a few days later. He was not married and had no significant other. He had a few local friends and friends and family online. His mother is 92 and recently in the hospital after she tried to shovel snow after the big snow up in New England. His brother has spent time flying from Seattle to Connecticut to help mom out. While he laid in his ICU bed, a friend tried to be with him but she was turned away because she was not family.
Tears ran down my checks for the first time thinking about Jimmy being gone. Pretty soon I was just crying and feeling like an idiot for crying in public. Jimmy may have been a bit of a loner, but he had a solid virtual community and I did care about him. When Wally came to the table I told him why I was crying. "Lisa, just the fact that you are crying shows he is not forgotten." I guess I just did not want to feel like he died alone with no one caring. It just made me so sad. Somehow, I know he knows I cared for him.