Cousin Vince and the Kindness of Friends

Diane Henrikson Russell

Author’s Note: I was inspired to write this memoir after taking John Grant’s OLLI class titled, “Life and Death Documents Everyone Should Have.”

I had insomnia on Memorial Day weekend of 2016 and disregarded the advice not to check my phone.

I instantly regretted it when I saw a text message from my second cousin, “Joe.” Our dads were first cousins who were as close as brothers. We both grew up in Des Plaines, Illinois and went to the same church. We had bonded lately over fond memories of our dads.

He reported that Vince, his uncle and my first cousin once removed, had had a stroke and lung cancer. Since he was losing his vision rapidly, he hired a neighborhood woman to be his assistant to communicate with his friends.      Read more