Before I was born, my Mom had a name all picked out. In fact, she probably had it picked out before she even married my Dad. Lisa. Lisa Guillebeau. That would have been me. Except for one little issue. There was a Lisa Guillebeau born into our clan well before my arrival. Once Mom met that sweet, adorable baby, she knew there could not be another. The moniker could not be shared. Lisa Jane Guillebeau (later Smith) would be the only one.

Sweet Lisa passed away on Friday, and our clan is reeling from the sudden loss. She was the oldest child of my Dad’s baby brother, Uncle Tommy, and Aunt Jane. A tiny wisp of a woman, she was a force of nature when the situation demanded; feisty just like her Daddy. Married to Sam FOREVER, she absolutely adored her boys. She was hardworking. She was sometimes loud and had a fabulous laugh. She was also quick with a terrific hug and an “I love you”. Her best quality, in my opinion though, was that she always showed up. She was a doer.. She had endured more than her fair share of heartache and was a tiny pillar of strength, using her pain to empathize with others. We are consoled now by the image of her, reunited with those she missed so much…Uncle Tommy, Aunt Jane, Little Roy, Thomas, Grandma, and Papa. I’m sure there is laughter, and she is setting them straight about what’s been happening down here.

Cousins are special. They, along with siblings, are the ones you grow up with. They can be your first best friend (Patti Peaches). Some are there all the time because you are lucky enough to live in the same place (like we did for 5 years with Uncle Roy’s crew). Others are occasional visitors in your life. Sometimes separate lives pull you apart as you grow up, and other times you stay in your home town together. Regardless of the situation, cousins are links in a chain that connect each family member of a generation. You don’t have to see them often. You don’t have to talk all the time. But when you do get together, you are instantly transported to your past.

Next weekend those of us who can make the trip will gather to honor our dear cousin and her sweet family. There will be sadness and pain, but there will also be wonderful stories and reminiscing. We will remember those gone before, celebrate Lisa’s life, and comfort those still here. Our chain will be strengthened, as will the love that goes with it.

Rest in peace, Lisa.