Annie Heywood is gone. From this world, our lives and this column.

Annie was my cousin — the granddaughter of my great grandmother’s sister. She was the daughter of Carroll and Roger Heywood, sister to Brad and Bart, aunt to Nathan, Duncan, Brigid and Ashley. Most of all though, she was just Annie. Her personality was large enough to provide her all the identity she could want or need.

I wrote about her often in this column. She provided excellent material for storytelling. During the weeks and months when there was little of note to report, Annie never failed to give me something — just by being Annie.

I loved her, though it may have been argued otherwise based upon the content of my column at times. She was a good sport, good enough to absorb and even embrace humor that was in part at her expense. We talked about it. She was aware that some found my commentary mean-spirited, and relished a little the attention that it brought to both of us. She did not always disabuse others of the notion that she was offended, choosing instead to give back to me some of what I gave to her. She had great humor and a terrific sense of irony. She’d also been toughened some by having two brothers that kept her in check. So she requested that I not stop — that I continue telling tales as long as her name was included.

She did not, however, keep private the fact that half the readership liked me and half hated me. Not my writing, but me. She would tell me these truths always with a smile and a laugh — hardly able to contain her glee at revealing some secret animosity. “No, no, no — I mean they really don’t like you. That Brad Woodger is a real jerk. That’s what they say.” And she would laugh, laugh, laugh.

Annie was many things. She was generous, kind, funny, creative and persistent. What she was not was quiet. She was Chappy’s self-appointed town crier. Her whisper was what most folks consider a shout. If you did not want everyone within earshot (a few mile radius) to know a fact or opinion, you did not tell Annie. Also, if you would rather not be implicated in a scandal, you didn’t stand next to Annie at a gathering. Her opinions were blunt, verbose and irrepressible. “That so-and-so is full of it, she doesn’t know a thing about this or that. Miss know-it-all,” she would declare. Any hope that these words might go unheard were dashed by her opening cackle — heralding the opinion to come.

She also was nearly always right.

I googled Anne’s name and Chappaquiddick before writing this column, interested to see what I might find that I didn’t know about her. There wasn’t much really, besides what I’d written myself. But there was a 2009 column written by Jo Ann Tilghman that reported Annie’s Agricultural Fair accomplishments that year. She won ribbons for a hooked rug, a needlepoint stool cover and a knotted afghan. She also placed sixth in the women’s skillet toss. That was classic Annie — delicate enough for needlepoint, rough enough for cast iron casting. In that respect, she was an Islander through and through, capable of sustaining herself happily with the least contribution from society. She was,indeed, very okay with her solitude, but she also loved the company of family and strangers alike. She was a great traveler. She made friends with travel guides, busboys, bellhops, cats and Casanovas from Portugal to Greece. She loved her life and loved sharing it with others. And despite some of our own reticence to sometimes engage Annie in conversation, those who met her abroad found her fascinating and lovely — perhaps reminding us of her beauty in the process.

Annie loved her family most of all. Her brothers, her nephews and niece, and her dad Roger. Good old Rog. She took great care of him in his waning years, showing him the care and patience only a daughter can. Roger spent his final years exactly where he wanted — at his home on Cape Pogue. Because of Annie.

She had an affinity for strays, both feline and human. Having met most of her collection, I can guess the attraction — they had stories to tell, they were imperfect and they needed her. Kim and I spent many summer nights at the school house, enjoying the company of the Heywood strangers — laughing, dancing and shaking our heads. No doubt about it, Annie was fun.

And then there were her photographs. No get-together was complete without at least a few Bart Heywood reminders to “stop it with the camera, Anne!” Bart wasn’t being mean, he was only saying what most of us were thinking. Yet years later we are left with an incredible anthology of our personal history in pictures. Thanks to Annie.

Anne was 75 when she died last week. But to me, she was ageless. There was no discernible change in her appearance or being. The same tight-waved hair, the same soulful blue eyes that would wink at you with every third sentence, as if to acknowledge that you were in on the secret. The same Annie.

I spoke with her about a week before she died. She was in the hospital, her body rife with cancer. She had every right to be grouchy, maudlin or just plain sad. But she was beautiful. Her voice sang with love. She was grateful. She was understanding. She was at peace. In the end, she gave us all the greatest gift she could ever give — forgiveness and love.

For those left behind, especially her brother Bart, there will be a void that can’t be filled. Bart included Anne in his life in a way that many would not, and Anne was lucky for it. I’m grateful to Bart, his wife Lucy and his friends Tuna and Wah for their wisdom and kindness in recognizing the diamond in the coal.

You will be missed Annie. More than you could have known — and I suspect that makes you laugh.