I can’t get the image of the girl with the umbrella on the Morton salt container out of my head. I also imagine my mom saying, “Into each life, a little rain must fall.” In the last nine months, three friends have died. In addition, this morning I received an email from the clinic where Charlie receives his speech therapy and occupational therapy. They said they would no longer accept Kaiser insurance, and therefore, Charlie can no longer receive therapy. I’ll call Kaiser to ask if they have any other places accepting new patients where Charlie can go…
John’s younger brother Joe drowned Sunday. The two brothers were very close, having been through some very difficult times together and always supporting each other. I wrote this obituary for him, since, unfortunately, I have some experience:
Joseph Anthony Teeter, 51, of Littleton, died Sunday, August 20, while boating at Lake McConaughy, Nebraska. Joe was born May 5, 1966, in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, to John and Kathleen (Scalfaro) Teeter. In 1979, the family moved to Colorado; and in 1983, Joe graduated from Northglenn High School. A love of the outdoors led him to Oregon in the late 1990’s. In the early 2000’s, he returned to Colorado where he worked in law enforcement and was a Denver Police officer at the time of his death. Joe’s compassion for his fellow citizens earned him the respect of his colleagues and the appreciation of those he served. He zealously expressed his beliefs with respect to the dignity of work and protecting workers’ rights as well as protecting the natural environment he loved so much. In addition to his father, he is survived by his brother and best friend, John; his sister Kimberly; his daughters Ashton and Peyton for whose happiness and safety he would go to the ends of the earth; his beloved girlfriend Cara Dutton; and many friends and relatives. A celebration of his life is scheduled for Wednesday, August 30, at 10 am, Harvest Bible Chapel, Colorado Blvd, Englewood.
In March, our dear friend Ruth Andersen died. I know the death of a 95-year-old woman is not a tragedy. It just kind of feels that way. I miss hearing her talk to Charlie on the phone. (We usually put it on speaker.) Her husky voice from decades of past smoking and her lovely Louisiana drawl…”Charlie! Oh, I’m so happy to hear from you!” And you could tell, she really was. Here’s a eulogy I planned to deliver at her funeral, but the kids and I were out of town and could not attend:
My son Charlie was six years old, and my daughter Laurel was nearly 10 in 2010 when our family became members of Ascension. Charlie has autism and was on a special diet for years; my late husband and I didn’t allow Charlie to have certain foods, including sugar and artificial colors. Charlie used to go up to the altar with the other kids each Sunday before the homily to listen to the children’s liturgy. The pastor would then give the kids suckers which Charlie wasn’t allowed to have, and he’d return to his seat empty-handed. Ruth and Mikki [Ruth’s daughter] noticed this, and Ruth started bringing him a sticker to put on his shirt on his way back to his chair each Sunday. Charlie fell in love with Mikki and reveled in having a new grandma in Ruth. Every Sunday he couldn’t wait for the children’s liturgy so that he could hug Mikki and Ruth afterward. They became our dear friends: celebrating birthdays with us and helping us with transportation and babysitting during the month between Wayne’s cancer diagnosis and death in 2011. In fact, Ruth was Wayne’s first visitor at the hospital. I sent an e-mail to Mikki and other friends and family the day Wayne was diagnosed and admitted to the hospital. Within about an hour of my sending that e-mail to Mikki, Ruth was at Wayne’s bedside. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me; sick, and you visited me. They were our first visitors after Wayne died and our shoulders to cry on in our grief. When Laurel, Charlie, and I sold our home in Colorado Springs in 2013, Charlie continued to call Miss Ruth from wherever we were in the world during our 20 months of travel, and Ruth wrote cards to Charlie if she could get them in the mail before we moved again. When we moved permanently to Denver in 2015, Charlie still called Ruth, and we visited her in 2015 and 2016. Ruth told Charlie he was her favorite person, and she always made us feel special and loved. The Hebrew name Ruth means “friend,” and the Middle English word “ruth” means “compassion.” Ruth was well-named; and we will miss her humor, her Louisiana drawl, and her friendship more than I can say.
In November 2016, Dave Saj died. I had previously posted about my friend Jen, whom I met when we volunteered years ago at the Denver Ronald McDonald House, and her husband Dave. Dave spent six and a half years fighting multiple myeloma with tremendous grace and dignity. His suffering was immense, but he was not one to complain. He posted thoughtful and encouraging comments on our blog as well as posting his own thoughts and hopes on his Caring Bridge page. He leaves behind many who will miss his kindness, intelligence, and energy.
While I was typing this blog post, I got a pop-up from The New York Times about the famine and war in Yemen. Every day I read at least a bit of the Denver Post, cnn.com, and The New York Times. There is rarely any news on any of these sites related to Yemen. Now maybe The Times is trying to make up for the lack of reporting. Children dying of starvation and cholera and bombings. Such horrors and grief, I’m ashamed of my self-pity.
I’m sorry for this depressing post. I guess I needed to type it as therapy.