When I was a kid, vacations with my extended family were common. Getting together with my mom’s side of the family, who were from the midwest, usually involved a trip to the Rocky Mountains, where her family had a cabin. Vacationing with my dad’s family, who were on the East Coast, typically meant sun and sand at the beach. I remember those days fondly, partly because it meant time with my cousins. I had a few cousins that were boys around my age.
One of my cousins that I got along with really well was my cousin Andy. We were born around the same time, and though he had a pretty different personality (he was much more outgoing and athletic), we complemented each other. He was always game to show me around his hometown of Tulsa, despite the fact that his Jimmy SUV would use up practically a whole tank of gas getting from one side of the city to the other. He took me to a skate park where I could develop my mini ramp skills, a disc golf course for one of the coldest games I’ve ever played and when we were lacking in places to go we’d jump on his trampoline in his backyard. When we were up in the Rockies, we would sleep in the same loft and just talk until we succumbed to the fatigue that came with having hiked the difficult terrain during the day. Even though he was a popular jock kind of kid, he was into all sorts of music, and we would debate alternative heavyweights like The Cure, Morrissey, and Dinosaur Jr.
Unless you are living in the same area, I imagine most people lose touch with their cousins as they get older. The last time I saw Andy was at my grandmother’s funeral, a couple of decades ago. In the interim years, Andy went through some tough times. He fell hard into a meth addiction that lasted so long his younger brother, a super caring and compassionate social worker, told me that he had written him off. Andy would call his brother, wondering if he had anything that could be sold for some extra cash. Once, he had his eyes on a stove, looking for whatever would put money in his pocket. He finally kicked that meth addiction after about a decade and held various jobs while he recovered. He stayed in touch with his family, but even after his recovery wasn’t super close.
I wish I could say it was a surprise to read that my cousin Andy had died in a freak accident, but it wasn’t.
Police said the body of Andrew Farris (sic - Ferris) was recovered on Sunday. Farris' girlfriend said he was tunneling into an embankment, where he found copper wire coming out. She told police he had been working on the tunnel for several weeks.
While the shock of such a strange occurrence is still there, it seemed like something that would happen to Andy. The tragic trajectory of his life come to a conclusion. It makes me incredibly nostalgic for the days when things were so much simpler and safer. I wish I could go back in time and hang out with Andy again. Though I haven’t seen Andy in a long time, I still thought about him and missed him. It’s different when the very possibility of seeing someone is no longer an option.
God be with you, Andy, and may you and your family know peace.