I remember my first conversation with Randy.
I remember my last conversation with Randy.
Both were equally as loving and emotional.
I started searching for my biological grandparents when I learned I had a rare muscle disease. I wanted to find if others in the family had the same diagnosis. I had documents that I faxed to Randy to prove I was who I said I was. He was my cousin and I was overjoyed in finding him. I sent a picture of myself. In our first conversation he said he knew right away when he saw my face that I was a Sternhill. In all of our conversations over the years he’d often say, ” You are definitely a Sternhill.” We were both very emotional during that first converstation. I was a link and a connection to someone he loved very much, my biological grandmother, that he dearly loved. Through our conversations I learned all about my grandmother. He took me through every member of the family so detailed over the years that I felt like I knew them just as he did. I could picture my grandmother in her convertible car facing the world with her strong sense of self. I could picture them al.
AFter that first conversation, Randy called me about every other month or so. Then as the years passed he called me once a month. Then he started calling every week. Our conversations were something I looked forward to every time. The last few weeks we spoke almost every day. Due to the time difference in our locations, I often woke up to a message on my marchine. I would then call him back. His messages were the best part of my day. I’d play them for my daughter when she woke up. He left as long a message as my machine would allow. He’d always tell me that he loved me and my daughter and everyone in my house! I used to keep his messages on the machine and listen to them when I was feeling down.
He always made me feel very loved.
I told him all of my secrets, all of my worries, all of my inner most thoughts, and all of the details of my life. He always listened and responded with empathy and love. He ALWAYS made me feel better because he always made me feel loved.
We talked about everything. He listened. I’d tell him about the most minute detail of a caterpillar making a cocoon, or how the fox in the ditch was teaching her babies, and the various questions I had about how things worked. He was a brilliant man. He could tell you how everything worked from a satellite in space to a hot water heater. He knew how to reprogram and create from scratch just about anything. We could talk about camera lenses, politics, religion, friendships, family, and relationships. We never once argued or disagreed with each other. We set this time aside to completely devote to each other. During that time nothing else mattered. The world kind of stopped and we got wrapped up into 20 different topics that turned into 20 more in a matter of our two hour conversations.
When my dog Molly died, he cried with me. When my daughter was in the hospital he cried with me. He loved my daughter. He was there to support her when she was going through every aspect of her life. He was excited to see her jumping horses. He built her up. He recognized all of her wonderful qualities and he told her frequently how special she was. She felt like he was her grandfather. I recently sent him the latest pictures of her and I woke up the next morning to a 5 minute message to Riley about how she not only had brains but she had beauty and that she could be anything she wanted to be. He was encouraging in ways I’ve never experienced before. He believed that we were destined for great things and he knew that those things would come to us.
During most of our conversations , his wife Pat was there too. She patiently listened to me ramble on to Randy for hours and occassionally would add in a loving tidbit or some advice. Their relationship was one to be admired and a goal for any couple. They truly loved each other unconditionally. They were loyal, honest, and committed to loving each other through every single situation that came in life. I loved listening to how much he loved her. They’d been together for so so many years and he still found her just as beautiful and kept loving her more every single day they were together.
Randy made me laugh. He listened. He never let time go past that he did not check on my family. He made me feel like we’d been together as a family my entire life even though it had only been 10 years we’d known each other. He made time for me. He opened his heart to me. I was shown unconditional love for 10 years of my life. He didn’t care that I wasn’t perfect. He didn’t care I’d made mistakes. He never judged me. He just loved me. He supported me.
Randy passed away yesterday. I cried like I have not cried in a very long time. I cried non stop all day long. I cried for purely selfish reasons. I can’t bear the thought of never hearing his voice again. I can’t bear the thought of not being able to tell him everything going on in my life and in one converstation have him make me feel that everything would be okay. I can’t bear the thought of losing his unconditional love. I will surely miss him for the rest of my life.
Our last converstation was just as emotional as the first. When we hung up he told me to have my husband and daughter and me make a big sandwich hug and picture him there right in the middle hugging us and to make sure, as always to kiss my daughter on the head for him because he loved her.
Randy was a good man. One of the best. I cry today because I feel so blessed to have known such a good man. I cry today because I know how it feels to be unconditionally loved and I will never forget that gift he gave me. The gift of being loved is the most precious that we could ever hope to find in this lifetime. Cousin Randy, I will never forget you or the way you loved.