I returned Tuesday evening from my week-long and event-filled trip to Virginia. A job interview all day Thursday, then travel to my Dad's home in Earlysville, then on my return trip to South Carolina on Tuesday I detoured in Richmond, Virginia to see the Picasso exhibit (wonderful!) at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (and a yummy lunch at their restaurant Amuse) with one of my Mom's sisters.
On Monday, I went to a funeral with my Father. While I was sad to hear about this person's passing, I was glad that I was at home and able to attend the funeral. A life-altering event in this man's life was an event that I remember vividly from my childhood: an evening when my parents received a phone call that a 16 year old from our neighborhood had been hit by a truck as he traveled to visit a college for a football scholarship interview. I was about 11 years old on the evening my parents received the call - and cousins of this young man were brought over to our house, and my parents left to go to the hospital right away. It was a scary evening - unimaginable really - the young man in the accident was the handsome high school quarterback, invincible and strong. His name was Johnny.
My Father was active in sports while I was growing up - he taught my brother's baseball teams (Little League, Babe Ruth League...etc). Johnny's father had died (of leukemia) when Johnny was only 10 years old, and so my Father carted Johnny to and from practices for years - Johnny was often at our home (he was a year older than my brother). Then, three months prior to his accident, Johnny's mother remarried.
I remember overhearing conversations about the accident - how part of Johnny's brain was lying on the car seat beside him when they got to him. He was rushed to the hospital, underwent several surgeries, and unexpectedly survived. He didn't talk again, or walk - he made strange noises, groans and grunts, wore diapers, had to be fed (mostly through a feeding tube) - and he lived this way for 30 years. For all of those years, he was cared for by his mother and his new stepfather. He outlived his own Mother. When his mother passed away, he was cared for by his stepfather. About 10 years ago, Johnny passed away due to complications from pneumonia. He was in his mid-40s. It was Johnny's stepfather's funeral that I attended on Monday.
During all of the years that he cared for his stepson, no one ever heard him complain. He married a young woman with two children (Johnny was 10 and his sister was 11 when their father died, and 16 and 17 when their mother remarried) - I'm sure he wasn't expecting such trajedy to enter his marriage so quickly (if at all). But he never complained.
I was glad that I could be there - one of a small group present at his funeral who remember that night so vividly - that night when an entire family's world changed. The pastor who presented the eulogy at the funeral spoke of quiet saints that walk among us, not craving attention, but who do amazing things. Johnny's stepfather was a quiet saint.
(Again, as I drove out of my Dad's home and Earlysville, I stopped to take a photograph of the white oak on the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport property. Old habits die hard. I'd link to previous posts of this oak - but it's late and I'm tired. Perhaps soon.).