My cousin, Freddie Roper, is hard to describe in just a few words. His ability to make people laugh was legendary, so the first mannerism that comes to my mind when thinking of him is his two laughs. The throaty one that would come from somewhere deep inside him when he made your life better by making you laugh and the mischievous one that would just sort of quietly build as he was thinking of some story he knew would make you laugh hard enough to get a cramp. But there is so much more that I don’t have time to say: his incredible love for life, his incredible sense of loyalty, the fact that he never met a stranger, the fact that he had zero tolerance for political correctness.
The thing that was unexpected for me as I tried to formulate words to share my loss is an intense contradiction. On the one hand I feel a deep sense of loss, and ache that won’t go numb. On the other hand, after spending the last four days with his progeny, with children and grandchildren whose very world views were affected by him, I realize that he’s still here. They carry not just his genes but what he showed them and taught them about how to live. They continue to laugh and love and support one another and live life with a vigor they learned from him. He’s gone, but not really, I still see him right there in the front row.