Bev Cheney was the youngest of my grandfather's siblings. As a child, I would visit her in Phelps, NY, where my mom's parents also lived. Bev shared with me a love of history, and a lot of energy. After I moved to North Carolina in 1983, I lost touch with Bev, apart from occasional reunions.
Bev and I reconnected in 2006, at a large family reunion. After talking to her, I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought about reaching out to her before. She was a living, breathing link to the family that I loved. We lined Bev and her older sister up in front of a huge contingent of King family members. It was so large, I couldn't tell you how many there were. But we did it, with me taking the photos. I had been the first great-grandchild of Bev's parents, and I was proud to document this history.
For a long time, I tried to stay in touch with Bev. However, she was still a very busy person. She was involved with the Phelps Historical Society, and the local food bank. I tried many times to email her, or call, but she was hard to catch. Much like myself and my grandfather, I don't think she ever stopped, or slept.
Thankfully, I saw her again when I returned to Phelps in the last few years. She saw me deliver eulogies for both of my father's parents, mustering all of my nerves to say what needed to be said. Bev told me that George (her brother, my grandfather) had always been so proud of me. I think that she might have been proud of me, too. Thinking about that today still stops me in my tracks.
In the last few months, I finally got around to scanning and organizing my grandfather's World War II scrapbook. Bev and I traded emails about myself donating copies of this to the Phelps Historical Society. I also asked her about talking about family history. I don't think that she was ever keen to talk about this, but I wanted to ask, one more time.
Bev passed away suddenly this morning. Her death was quick. She thankfully never had to slow down, despite recent health issues. She never had to go into a home, or become someone other than who she'd been. Just like my grandfather. As I sit here, it's tough to acknowledge that a generation of family that I once knew and loved so well is no longer on this physical plane. But they, and what they created, lives on. In the family that has sprouted from those long ago seeds, and the people and memories that Bev and her family touched along the way. That, I'm proud to say, will never end.
I came home this afternoon, and wrote Bev one more email. All it said was, "I love you." What else is there to say?
Safe travels, Bev. Tell Mom and Pop King, Mary and the ol' kid that I hello.
May 4, 2015