Cousin Donald Yates (1943-2016)

Donald Yates was my late mother’s first cousin. As I explained when his brother Robert died last year, they, their late older brother Raymond (d. 1978), and their older sister Frances were my mother’s closest relatives, though Raymond, the oldest, was a decade and a day younger than Mom.

They lived in Binghamton until their dad Ernie died suddenly in 1954, when Charlotte and the kids moved to St. Albans, Queens in New York City. The Greens would go down and the Yates would come up at least annually. Their kids, including Don’s’s kids Donnie and Tanya, were the closest relatives my siblings and I had, even though they were a decade or more younger than us.

My late father arranged the flowers for Donald’s wedding to his first wife, Carole – who I saw at the funeral – as he did for Robert and Audrey back in the 1960s.

I’d see Don only occasionally in the past couple of decades, always with Robert, but they would always be memorable. My wedding in 1999, the birth of my child in 2004, a few mini-family gatherings in Binghamton (one definitely in 2006), and Thanksgiving 2013 at the home of their niece Anne outside New York City. They were always generous with their resources – my wife specifically recalls their generous monetary gift after the Daughter was born.

The last time I saw Donald was at his brother Robert’s funeral. My trek to Donald’s funeral was nearly a carbon copy – early train to NYC, the E subway out to Queens, then local bus (Q4) to the funeral home where I spoke, open casket, the trek to the cemetery in Long Island, trip back to Jamaica, Queens for a 2 p.m. repast that was closer to 3 p.m., and a train back north. The repetition does NOT make it easier.

There WAS one significant difference, though. At the cemetery with Robert, there was just the ceremonial burying. At this service, there was a drape covering a pile of dirt, and after we all flung flowers on the casket, it was lowered, and a backhoe that was nearby was driven over to the gravesite and filled the hole with dirt. I had heard of such things, but I had never actually seen it happen in the dozens of burials I’ve attended.

Blogging is not dead, cousin Lisa

THE MOST EGREGIOUS ERROR I believe I have EVER made in this blog is in a post three months ago.

blogging.moreMy cousin Lisa was one of the grandkids of my late great-aunt Charlotte and great-uncle Ernie Yates. Since I had no aunts, uncles, or first cousins, my closest relatives were the children of my mother’s first cousins, the eldest of whom are Anne and Lisa, Frances’s kids.

(BTW, Fran recently had her 75th birthday; belated happy birthday to her!) Anne and Lisa are about a decade younger than my sister Leslie and I.

Lisa had been living and working in the Washington, DC area for a number of years. She came to my mother’s funeral in February 2011. When Anne had Thanksgiving dinner at her house just north of New York City in 2013, which my family attended, Lisa was there as well.

At the end of 2014, Lisa quit her long-term job in the DC area and bought a one-way ticket to Paris. She is blogging about her experiences. Anne’s job has taken her to France as well, so they get to see each other more often than they did in the US. Incidentally, they were both born in France.

But recently, Lisa wrote: “One of my closest and oldest friends, someone I love very much, suffered a massive stroke that has left her hospitalized and her survival, according to the Dr’s, unlikely. I’m devastated and frantic because I can’t get information as it develops. If I was home, I’d be at her side, but I’m not, because I’m here and I can’t leave.”

Wondering what I could do for Lisa an ocean away, I asked Arthur the AmeriNZ from Chicago, who has lived in New Zealand for a couple of decades, to write to her, and he did, which she found helpful. And I would not have been able to suggest that had I not been reading his blog regularly for the last seven or eight years, learning his journey, knowing that he’s thought about those issues of being far away from America, even though he’s quite content with his life in Kiwiland.

Dustbury quoted James Lileks, who noted: “Andrew Sullivan announced he was retiring from blogging today, and given his longevity, this was seen by some as one of the great tent poles of the Golden Age of Blogging toppling over.”

But Lileks continues: “The notion of individual sites with individual voices has been replaced by aggregators and listicles and Gawker subsites with their stables of edgy youth things… But there will always be a place on the internet for individual sites like this one because there is nothing from stopping all the rampant egotists from braying bytes over this matter or that. I’ve always been a diarist, and this iteration happens to be public.”

Dustbury has been blogging for about 18 years, Jacquandor started in 2002, SamuraiFrog’s hit his tenth anniversary of blogging. None of them seem to be ready to retire.

And neither am I, even when I make mistakes. And THE MOST EGREGIOUS ERROR I believe I have EVER made in this blog is in a post three months ago, when I celebrated 8.5 years of blogging; it SHOULD have been NINE AND A HALF. This means it’s now about nine and three-quarters years.

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