This has been a difficult month. I had to say farewell to someone I loved. A family member, a friend. My cousin, Roseanne Renee Henriksen passed away. She suffered with health issues a good while, and her death shouldn’t have surprised me…except it did.
I don’t come from a large family. I’m an only child. My father was also an only child, and my mom has two brothers and a sister. There wasn’t a lot of aunts, uncles or cousins around when I grew up.
I had six first cousins. Now there’s five.
I’m the oldest. Three sisters followed me. The other three came along later, so for a while, it was just us four girls. Renee was next to the youngest, and the middle child in her family.
They lived in Minnesota, and I lived in Texas. We didn’t see each other often, but when we did, it was always a lot of fun. Sleep overs where no one slept, trips to Six Flags, and I recall one Christmas, a relative made us matching robes. We used those robes as costumes. We put on a performance, singing songs, and performing skits we made up to entertain our grandparents and parents.
Renee is on the left end.
Of the four of us, Renee had the heart of a rebel. A petite blond, she was funny, brassy, and charismatic. She was strong willed and strong minded. The one who was willing to jump into any situation headfirst and worry about consequences later.
As we entered our teens, our lives changed. No judgements on either side, it’s just how things were. Renee was no different from many teens, and she became more rebellious, determined to live the way she wanted. She got into trouble, but by today’s standards, it was nothing major. In the end, she was like a graceful cat and landed on her feet.
Thankfully, she settled down as she grew into adulthood. Her parents moved to Texas and she resided in Nebraska. Unfortunately, our spans of time together was less often. The few times we did get together, the visits were always crazy and fun, just like the old days.
As an adult, she became the ultimate “earth”person. During her visits, she would hang out with my dad. She’d work with him in his garden, peppering him with questions about growing techniques. Eventually, she grew her own food, which coincided with her love of animals as she was a stanch vegetarian.
Renee didn’t put on airs. What you saw was who she was. I can’t remember her wearing anything but jeans and t-shirts. She didn’t use make-up or fuss with her hair, her casualness fit her personality to a tee, and she wore the lifestyle well.
Renee was also an amazing artist. I was honored to have been given a piece of her artwork as a wedding gift.
We moved many times and our moniker hung in the entryway of every home. It was usually first to go on the wall. Sadly, I removed it when the marriage ended and stored it away. My son, Stephen was married four years ago.The piece was passed along to him and his wife. Thirty-six years later, it’s back in an entryway.
Like all of us, Renee battled with heavy issues. One place she was lucky, luckier than most, was in love. She met the love of her life, John at an early age. I can’t say for sure, but I believe they were together about forty years. I’m sure he’s heartbroken over losing her. Renee also leaves behind her mom, dad, and three sisters, their spouses, plus five nieces and a nephew. Condolences to you all.
I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll just say, dear cousin, I am a better person because I knew you. I’ll cherish every memory. Goodbye for now and Rest in Peace.
Roseanne Renee Henriksen February 29, 1960 – February 16, 2017