I last saw Dad alive (at 72) the night of May 30, 1995. Early the morning of the 31st, while I was still deeply asleep, my distraught Mom burst into my room and shook me awake, and we went down the upstairs hall to a back, spare bedroom, to find Dad sprawled across the bed, apparently dead, and mouth agape. We surmise that since Dad apparently knew his time was near that night, he had decided to go to the spare bedroom to spare Mom seeing him die in the master bedroom. (Dad had been in failing health for the last 10 years, from COPD, emphysema, and heart failure). His death was listed as heart attack by the attending doctor at the hospital who pronounced his death at 3am that morning. He had apparently already died in the spare bedroom by the time we reached him.
His funeral days later was well attended by a crowd: All of us 10 children whom Mom and Dad adopted with special needs, their families, extended family, friends, former Magnavox coworkers, church friends, etc. Two older sisters (singing) and I (on piano) did the music, while an older brother did the eulogy. The weirdest thing happened at the rain-soaked graveside committal service: Mom, sitting next to me under the green tent, as rain fell heavily on it, leaned over to me and whispered to me that the rain "reminded her so much of when we go camping, it ALWAYS rains on us"!
Dad left behind a living legacy: All of us 10 children, who had special needs, were adopted by Mom and Dad when our own families did not want us after birth. Each one of us is involved in making our own mark in the world. For example, I am now over here in England, studying at King's College London, pursuing a career in craniofacial medical research. I wonder if Dad can see us from heaven, pursuing our unique lives?
Dad and I were very close from the time I came to the family at age 3 in 1978.
In fact, it was his idea (he was a lay Franciscan) to name me and baptise me after St. Francis of Assisi. All throughout my childhood, he drove me across 2 states (from Fort Wayne, IN
-St. Louis, MO
) 2 or 3 times a year for my surgeries in St. Louis, and stayed there with me, while Mom stayed at home to care for the rest of the kids. Later, as I was in high school and my first year of college, he would drive me every day to Fort Wayne from our little country town to school (50 miles r/t, twice a day). I wonder if he can see me now from heaven, doing what I'm doing here in London!
Mom is still alive--spry and healthy in her 80s now (just as spry as the Queen of England, whom I met recently!). She and I are very close, and I am going to surprise her this weekend when I go home for Christmas from London! She wants to come over to visit me here in London. Dad had always wanted to bring her over to England (where he served in World War II
), but never got to.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)