October 16, 2017
In December of 2002, about a month before Sarah’s bone marrow transplant, our family spent a week in Orlando, Florida.
Steve’s cousin, Betty Kay, and her husband, Bob, were in the choir at First Baptist Church in Orlando and had asked them to pray for Sarah during her treatment. The choir did pray and then they took it one more step. They provided us with a trip to Florida/Disney in the hopes that we could store up some lovely new memories to help us through the not-so-lovely memories we were about to encounter during transplant.
The choir did a Singing Christmas Tree every year and before one of the performances, our family was taken back to the choir room to say our thanks to those dear and generous people.
During the Sunday service, the pastor called Sarah up to the stage and led the congregation in prayer for her.
One of the many things the choir provided was a lovely, 2-bedroom condo for us to stay in during our stay; this photo was taken in the living room.
The fellow in the back row on the right is David Weber, Steve’s first cousin. He and Kathy lived near Orlando and drove over to hang out a while. The two people seated in the middle front are Bob and Betty Kay, and of course, the other adults are Ken and Vernie, Steve’s parents.
Dave and Kathy’s kids, Ben and Mallory are close in age to our kids.
Both Nathan and Ben are now married with families of their own.
It is these pictures of these people that bring me to the reason for this post.
Just two weeks ago, Steve was in Florida again where once again he had a chance to see Dave, Kathy, Ben and Mallory.
Except this time, things had changed. This time, Steve’s reason for going to Florida was to preach a funeral–David’s funeral. At just 61 years old, he had passed away from melanoma.
As Steve preached, I can only imagine that he must have had a million memories chasing themselves around in his head. He had been connected with that man in the casket his entire life. Six decades of connection.
Shortly before David died, Steve sat for several hours and typed out all the memories he and David had shared and at the funeral, the family made that letter available to everyone in attendance.
I wanted to share a few excerpts with you.
David, I remember when my dad dropped us off at the movie theater; we sat near the back, eating our popcorn while putting our feet against the backs of the row in front of us. An employee with a flashlight came and sternly told us to put our feet on the floor. The guy scared me but you just smirked. You always were the cool one.
During the summer you would come down from Erie to Grove City and we would hang out and perform random acts of minor mischief around the farm. Every Saturday night we had to have a bath. Grandma would put us both in the old cast iron tub for our weekly bath so that we smelled good for church on Sunday.
Of course there is the legendary adventure of the tractor shed windows. While we were exploring the junk in the shed you told me that grandpa was tired of the dirty windows and wanted to replace them. We then proceeded to happily throw stones for about an hour smashing out every window of the shed on the side away from the house. I asked you if grandpa wanted the windows on the other side broken out too and you said he didn’t.
And then grandma caught us. I’m still amazed that she didn’t tan our hides. Grandpa never mentioned it. I brought it up to him sometime in the 80’s and we had good laugh. By the way, I told him it was all your idea!
Remember when we found an antique bicicyle built for two in the garage? Grandma told us about a pawn shop in Grove City and that if we took it down there that we could keep the cash. So we aired up the tires and hopped aboard, with you in front of course. The only problem was that we hadn’t tested the sixty year old drum brakes! So we barreled down the hill toward downtown on a narrow sidewalk at what seemed like 50 mph! Knowing you, you were probably laughing while I was probably close to crying or barfing in the back seat. We got $50 bucks for the bike and probably spent it all at Bob Wardle’s Bike Shop
Dave, you’ve always reminded me of a Tom Sawyer type of guy with a keen mind, dry wit and business savvy. You always had a plan. Me, I was the little brother, playing catch up. You always seemed to be a step ahead of me, street-wise and so cool. I really looked up to you as a kid, even though you were only a year older.
And now you are a step ahead of me again, this time in facing the ultimate questions of life, questions that all of us will face eventually. I’m deeply saddened by your suffering and pray for you and your beautiful family often.
While we weren’t together often, it was always an adventure when we were. Thanks for all of the great memories; you’ve enriched my life and the lives of all who know you.
Godspeed, mighty man.
I had tears in my eyes by the time I got to the end of that letter. It was so special to read about two cousins who spent important pieces of their childhood together, bound together by friendship, adventure, and DNA.
Here is a photo at the funeral with Kathy and her kids, Steve and Nathan, and David’s sister, Karen.
Before I leave you today, let me mention just one more thing.
Dave was diagnosed with melanoma in May and was gone four months later. What started as a small mole on his back invaded his body and stole him away from those who loved him so much.
I am writing this post today partly to honor the memory of a wonderful man and partly as a reminder of how very serious melanoma can be. Without sounding too preachy, may I just send a gentle nudge your way and encourage you to call your dermatologist for a skin check if you haven’t done so in a while?
David was gone way too soon. Please don’t let that be said of you.
What about you? Do you have someone in your life who has dealt with melanoma or other skin-related cancers? Do you have a story, a memory, or just a word of encouragement for people to get checked? I would be so honored if you would use this space to share.
Thrift stores, fuzzy socks
and conversing with my Yorkie
are all on the list of things I love.