I found that my cousin Phyllis Charlene Beck Hodge passed away this past Thursday p.m. She had been battling Hodgkin’s Disease for many years. She was in remission and God allowed her more time with her family, but it came back with a vengeance and finally claimed her.
It’s been hard on the family, but this has hit my aunt Dorothy very hard. Charlene was the third child that she has lost, not counting a miscarriage.
It’s been said that there is a word for a person who loses their parents, an orphan and there is a word for a person who loses a spouse, a widow or widower, but there is no word that can describe the loss of a child. I believe it to be true. It is too painful to describe and can only share what my grandmother said, “No parent should have their child die before them,” at the loss of my uncle Ted.
My mother-in-law, Retha, died the year following the death of my wife Cindy. I think that loss hastened Retha’s passing.
I shared before, that my wife died from ovarian cancer, nearly twelve years ago. My mother –in-law died the next year, and my mother on the third anniversary of Cindy’s death. Those years were three of the roughest times of my life.
Dorothy and Uncle Merle had four children: Larry, the oldest, Phyllis Charlene, Edwin, and Paul. Larry died in a swimming accident not too far from his home, while swimming with friends. Edwin was away at college, when he was found dead, slumped over his desk as he studied. And now Phyllis Charlene.
Phyllis Charlene was only a year older than I am now. Lately, we haven’t been really close because she lived in Watsontown, Pennsylvania, hours away. She was a sweet woman and she will be sorely missed.
Her passing weighs heavily on my mind for several reasons. The first is her age. She was only a year older than me. The second is that cancer has claimed her life, as cancer claimed my wife and mother-in-law. The final reason and the most pressing is the fact that I’ve been asked to be a pall bearer tomorrow.
They are bringing her body back for services at Dorothy’s church before her burial. Charlene will be placed beside her father and two brothers at the family plot in Donegal, Pennsylvania. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. There have been too many death; each one sharpening the memories of the ones that have happened before it.