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Author Topic: Coping with the decline of a loved one...  (Read 824 times)
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Arkon
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« on: October 03, 2012, 02:35:54 AM »

Way back in 1993, when I was a sophomore in high school, my family was going through incredibly tough times.  My dad had been laid off from the steel mill, and was working for a youth organization that was supposed to be paying him a salary, but in three years had only managed to pay him a total of roughly $13,000.  We were scraping by, just barely and I remember the "horizons/gifted" program was going to take a field trip to the local science center.  I turned in a form saying that I could not go, and let the teacher know that we couldn't afford the $15 fee for the trip.  A week later I was informed that my trip was being paid for by one Mr. Morgan, the schools retired choral director who had worked at the school for over 40 years.  Evidently Mr. Morgan lived by the motto of paying it forward, and was always on the look out for kids he could help.

I vividly remember the field trip, the Carnegie Science Center had just recently brought in a World War 2 submarine as a new permanent exhibit, and Mr. Morgan was ecstatic to go through the tour.  Mr Morgan had served as a chaplain's assistant during World War 2...we spent hours walking through the submarine, and sitting on the benches at the river bank, as Mr. Morgan regaled me with tales of the war.  From that day forward, Mr. Morgan...Daniel Stewart Morgan took me under his wing, calling me his adopted grand son.  In the spring and summer, he would hire me to cut his grass, which amounted to me using one push mower while he used the other, usually paying me $50 for an hours work, which would then turn to a hearty meal at a local restaurant, where he would tell me more of his childhood int he 1920's, and even more about the war.

Stew, as he prefers to be called, took it upon himself to teach me how to drive, often giving me pointers based upon how he would avoid craters in the roads in Germany while driving the chaplain's jeep...the man is the best driver I have ever known.  In 1994, I had to honor of driving from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia with Stew to visit the chaplain, who would die a mere a few days after we visited.

Most times, Stew would take a student under his wing until they graduated, but for me, we had become family.  When I went off to college, while it was local, it was still over an hours drive from home.  Stew would come visit me 3 times a week, and take me to dinner.  He always made sure I had new clothes, and as many school supplies as I needed.  I remember in my junior year of college, not knowing how I would afford my books, let alone room and board...getting a call from the administration office, letting me know that Mr. Morgan had written a check for my room and board, and after thanking him with all I could offer, simply words from the bottom of my heart, he took me to the bookstore and bought every single text book I needed.

In 2000, my wife and I were married, Stew was convinced that I would simply forget about him, after all that is what most people in his life had done...they took his help and then left...but not me.  I owed a debt I knew I could never repay...a debt he would never ask to be repaid.  He shared none of my blood, but he was more family than most...since returning from our honeymoon in June of 2000, either my wife or I have talked with Stew at least once a day, and often would share a meal once a week.

In 2006, Stew made the decision that he would sell his house and move in to a retirement village...as he would say he was getting too old to keep up with a house, and he could die any day, after all he was 86 years old.  Despite the move, we have remained close.  In 2010, his memory started to go...the doctors at the VA took away his license out of fear not that he would hurt someone, but that he would get somewhere and not remember how to get home.

Fast forward to one week ago today, on my birthday, spent away from my family for work, and I get a call that Stew had a mini-stroke and he was in the hospital.  His memory fading even quicker.  This evening he couldn't remember what had happened to him, how long ago it happened, or even remember my name.  My fear is it won't be long now.  My daughters are begging to go see "Papa Stew" as the call him, they don't want him to go see Jesus in heaven, they say.

It is odd, I have lost grandparents in the past, and never shed a tear...yet just typing this I am sobing at the thought of losing Stew...even if mentally I already have.

I'm not really looking for anything, other than to get this off my chest.  It is no lie that he is part of the greatest generation to have ever lived.
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rshetts2
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 03:10:24 AM »

Wow, he sounds like a fantastic human being. Clearly he is a huge influence in your life and when hes gone he will leave a hole that can never be filled. Just remember how blessed you were to have him and that he himself has lived a very full and giving life.  People like that are rare indeed, celebrate what he has brought to yours and so many other lives.
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Arclight
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 12:38:06 PM »

Thanks for sharing that. Sounds like this was an encounter that was planned rather than just a random meeting.
I don't know where you are on spiritual matters, but I believe "Stew" was a divine encounter that was meant to give you hope
in a hopeless situation. You were blessed in deed to have been "given" this man as a mentor-confidant.

What a great testimony to the good that's in this World. While others would try to tell us otherwise.

The "stews" of this world are indeed Angels sent to help us along the way. Sounds drippy, but I believe it.
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Arkon
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2012, 01:21:29 PM »

I certainly do believe that Stew was put in to my life as an answer to prayers, and has blessed me more than I can comprehend...I just hope to be able to do the same someday for someone else and pay it forward.
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dfs
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2012, 03:02:47 PM »

Quote from: Arkon on October 03, 2012, 02:35:54 AM

It is odd, I have lost grandparents in the past, and never shed a tear...yet just typing this I am sobing at the thought of losing Stew

Good. There are times when crying is appropriate. Reading this got me. Thanks.

Be grateful for such wonderful memories and pay it forward just as stew taught you to do.
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naednek
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2012, 04:08:21 PM »

After reading that, I wish he was my friend.  I'm glad he made a difference in your life, and trust me, you've made a difference to him as well. 
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Harkonis
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2012, 07:28:34 AM »

Best wishes in dealing with this, I'm going through something similar myself. It's pretty hard to come to grips with it.
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Sarkus
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2012, 07:48:16 AM »

Thanks for sharing that.  Too bad I just ate some onions so the text is kind of blurry.   ninja

Best wishes through this difficult time.  But in the long run you will realize that there is nothing really sad about someone who has lived a long life reaching the end, especially if the end doesn't involve any suffering and is relatively quick.  They will always be with you in your heart anyway.   And someday you will see them again.
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Arkon
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2012, 01:43:56 PM »

To lighten the thread...just a few things Stew has told me/said in the last 19 years...while there is a wealth of information swimming in my head, these stand out.

  • Whenever someone begins a sentence with "They Say", tell them They Say are a bunch of liars!
  • Spoonerisms - At an old, well established Presbyterian church, a new usher was serving his very first Sunday.  The church, being so old, had many assigned pews, so seating the regular members was rather easy.  As the morning rolled along, someone new arrived to the church while the usher was seating someone, and the new person took an assigned seat.  Nervously, the usher approached to ask the new woman to move, but in his nervousness butchered his statement by saying: "Mardon me padam, but this pie is occupewed, may I sew you to a sheet in the chack of the burch, it's a cheautiful burch, many thinkle peep so!"  - As an aside I can say this flawlessly at this point.
  • Sitting in a restaurant, a rather large woman walked by..."40 axe handles my ass...maybe if the axe was built for the hands of Paul Bunyon...that woman is bigger than most of the cows we had on our farm!
  • Yet again, sitting in a restaurant, and a woman sits down in the booth behind us, wearing a god awful hat..."That hat looks like something she bought at Sears, while Roebuck was out of town!"  - I never did quite understand that one, other than to assume it meant the hat was ugly as sin.
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Roman
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2012, 05:52:42 PM »

beautifully written. Just by doing so you are paying him the homage he so deserves. Well done.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2012, 10:08:54 PM »

He sounds like an exceptional man. He had a good long life and you were fortunate to have shared in it. Condolences.
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Nonnahob
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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2012, 10:18:46 PM »

He is proud of you and we need more people like him in the world today. Thanks for sharing.
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« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2012, 12:38:18 AM »

Sounds like he has been a great friend and mentor to you. Personally, I value that more than any blood relation. There's always the chance he will recover a bit from the stroke. At any rate, hopefully, you will be in a position one day to help others the way he helped you.
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« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2012, 05:04:08 PM »

What an amazing story.  Thanks for sharing and it's a shame that such great lives have to end.
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Greggy_D
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« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2012, 07:51:10 PM »

Absolutely amazing.
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Harpua3
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« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2012, 03:48:26 AM »

Sorry for the bad situation, but thanks for sharing those great stories of a great man.
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PeteRock
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« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2012, 01:16:53 PM »

Echoing prior sentiments, thank you for sharing such strong and moving memories.  Such special people seem to be a rarity, making their impact on one's life even more lasting.  While life and health are finite, fortunately memories are not.  You and your family are in our thoughts. 
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