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PROFILE UPDATES


•   Robert Winzerling  5/13
•   Owen Lyon  8/7
•   Susan Wrobleski (Kuehner)  5/9
•   Robert C. Tisdale Ph. D.  4/23
•   Loy "Butch" Haley  1/10
•   John Zanoff  11/30
•   Merritt Lincoln  11/27
•   Jody Margrave (Barber)  7/24
•   Janie Dallas (Koesy)  5/8
•   Vicki Yarberry (Henson)  11/12
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WHERE ARE THEY NOW


WHERE WE LIVE


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3 live in Alabama
1 lives in Arizona
161 live in Arkansas
6 live in California
4 live in Colorado
1 lives in Connecticut
3 live in Florida
3 live in Georgia
1 lives in Illinois
2 live in Indiana
2 live in Louisiana
1 lives in Minnesota
2 live in Missouri
1 lives in Nebraska
1 lives in New Mexico
2 live in New York
5 live in North Carolina
1 lives in Ohio
4 live in Oklahoma
2 live in Oregon
4 live in Tennessee
25 live in Texas
5 live in Virginia
1 lives in Washington
1 lives in Wisconsin
53 location unknown

MISSING CLASSMATES


Know the email address of a missing Classmate? Click here to contact them!

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Len died 3 ½ days ago, and we’ve been bouncing back and forth between liminality on the one hand and bureaucracy and a packed to-do list on the other. I had forgotten that death requires so much paperwork, and we’ve only just started. Friday, we went by the funeral home to arrange for the cremation and death certificate. I talked with the people in the medical examiner’s office and messaged Len’s UT Southwestern healthcare providers to make sure the medical people provided the necessary paperwork to the medical examiners. We had hoped the release of Len’s body and cremation would happen quickly so we could take his remains home with us, but it was clear that the process would take however long it takes, despite my efforts. I decided that instead of staying there and fuming over things I couldn't get done, we would do something we could do, i.e., going to Little Rock to see Pops (Len’s 94-year-old Dad), sister Diane, brother Ashvin, and other family. We took Abby and Anna (aka Moth) to the airport on Saturday and packed up for the trip home. Yesterday morning we left Destin for Little Rock with Katherine and Quinn driving. On the way out of town, we dropped off clothes for Len’s body at the United Methodist Church near the funeral home. The pastor, Sam Parkes, is a friend, and he took the clothes over to the funeral home when it opened this morning. After the medical examiner releases the body and the cremation happens, probably later this week, Len’s cousin Deb and her husband Steve, who live near New Orleans, will pick up his remains.

It hasn’t all been paperwork and errands. What a joy to spend time with our kids (our original two and their partners); to receive words of comfort and remembrance from family and friends; to hear and tell Len stories; and to go back to the beach and sit where Len died. Saturday night, Katherine, Quinn, and I walked along the beach and looked at the same constellations Len had pointed out just a few nights before. Two great blue herons stayed near the water’s edge, fishing and flying a little before or a little behind us.

It was also a gift to visit with people who helped us on the beach when Len was dying. I sought them out to thank them and to help piece together a more robust narrative of his death. The kids and I talked through what we remembered from those few hours, and we checked our photos, texts, and calls to try to get a better sense of the timeline. Of course, a timeline and more robust narrative won’t fix anything or even do much to help us navigate this strange space between the known and the unknown, but I have found four points of consolation.

First, Len was happy and doing well. In the photos taken through the day Len looks delighted and proud. He was stronger than he had been in a long time. The people who helped us on the beach mentioned, independently, that he was smiling as he rode the waves and even smiling when the men pulled him out of the water. I had taken pictures of Len going into the water and a short video of his first 40 seconds of wave riding. I dreaded watching it because I worried that he had been struggling, and I somehow missed it. But the kids and I watched the video together, and he was having fun.

Second, I’m glad to know Len’s last words and am struck by how simple they were. I saw Len fall to his knees in the water and hold out his hand to me. When I reached him, he said, “I’m having a hard time breathing.” I called for help, and several young men were there within seconds. He said something like, “I need help. Thank you.” They put his arms over their shoulders, carried him to his beach chair, and asked if he needed help sitting down. He replied, “I’ve got this. I’m okay.” He was wrong, and he was right. He wasn’t okay, and he didn’t “have this” in any of the ordinary ways we talk about being okay, but in the end, he was right. Ultimately, he was okay, and he did have it.

Third, it’s a comfort to know that the end was quick, and he suffered very little. In the water, as they pulled him out of the water, and even back in the beach chair, he was smiling. A few seconds later, he lost consciousness, and that was it. In his last minutes, the kids had joined me at his side as the lifeguards and the EMTs worked on him. His pulse was weak, and then it was over. I have been dreading these coming months because death by lung cancer is brutal, and the treatments were weakening him. A lot of suffering lay before us; Len and the universe and the events of the day worked together to cut that suffering short and give him an awesome death. I miss him but have sense enough to give thanks for a quick and beautiful end.

Finally, I am struck by all the support around us – the guys who pulled Len from the water, the lifeguards and EMTs; the church group that gathered our things from the beach; the people who prayed on the beach as Len was dying; Amos who prayed with us in the ambulance; Jeanne who provided a beautiful setting for our last days together and Len’s death; Sam Parkes who carried Len’s clothes to the funeral home so he won’t be cremated in his swimming trunks; cousins Deb and Steve who will retrieve Len’s remains; and the Delonys who shared stories and tears last night, along with a Saint Patrick’s day supper with Pops, Diane, Ashvin, and niece Abbey, plus quick visits with nephew Nathan, great nephew Nate, and cousin Heather. (If you would like to send a note to Pops, Diane, and family, please email or private message me and I will send you their address.)

And I am so grateful for our kids – the original two and their partners. They were helping their Dad and me all week. In the crisis, they were right there, talking with their Dad, supporting me and each other, offering to get things we needed. And I am grateful, too, for all of you who have provided words of comfort not only to us in the last few days but also to Len over recent months. Len read every message on CaringBridge, Facebook, and text, often many times and even aloud to me. Your support has been and continues to be a gift. Thank you.

We are starting home this morning, and I am both dreading and looking forward to our arrival. It makes it easier that a group of friends is getting the house ready, that Katherine will stay with me this week, and that Anna will be coming for a few days. We have so much to be thankful for.

The pictures here include some of the very last of Len as he went into the water just a couple of minutes before his death, plus others with family in the days since.

Peace,

Bek