Dear Leslie, Katie, Mahlon and Casey,
Here are a few things about your dad that you may or may not know:
- He was a cub scout and boy scout.
- He played Little League baseball
- He saved me from a mean dog one late afternoon as we walked to the Little League field (I was 5 or 6 and he was 8 or 9.) He became my hero that day.
- He was my very best friend when I was little.
- He wrestled with me, 2) He walked me to school when I was in 1st and 2nd grade, 3) He rode bikes with me and we’d go off and play at Fort Inglish or under the cedar trees in a field that was nearby.
5) When he was about 12, he sat down and explained to me that he was now too big to play all the time with me (I was 9) and that he’d be spending more time with his friends. I was crushed but appreciated that he talked to me about what was happening rather than just ignoring me or pushing me away.
6) He was an altar boy at our Episcopal church and later became very involved with the EYC (Episcopal Youth Council) at the diocese level, meaning in Dallas.
7) He was chosen from all of the Diocese to be one of the few kids who went to the Philippines when he was 15 or 16 to volunteer to help others for the summer.
8) He was very smart, making good grades and he scored very high on his ACT without any studying.
9) He never, not once, treated me with anything less than respect, even when he was mad at me.
10) He loved music, singing and playing guitar (of course, you know that).
11) He loved California, particularly San Francisco.
12) He was an excellent cook.
13) He loved Sandra’s cooking.
14) He never once complained about his face after his jaw surgery even though his looks were radically changed.
15) He even wondered if he should go to the trouble to have reconstructive surgery done, which he finally did, but he said he didn’t see a lot of need for it.
16) He was very devoted to AA once he finally went into recovery. He lived and breathed the 12 Steps, which he said had saved his life.
17) He was very proud when he became a licensed Drug and Alcohol counselor and he helped a lot of people since he knew a lot about addiction and recovery.
18) Before he died, he asked me to speak at his funeral and to talk specifically about his recovery. He said that there would be people there who had never seen him without a drink and others who had never seen him with a drink. He wanted them to know about how his life had been changed.
19) Also, about 8 months before he died, he came out and spent 12 days with my family in Los Angeles. I had a friend who was heavily involved in Siddha Yoga. My friend’s mentor told her that she believed she could heal George and, though I thought her claim was outlandish, I decided to call George and tell him. He and your mom discussed it and he said he had nothing to lose. He flew out to LA and was so weak, I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through the night after his plane trip. But he did and he and I went every day to the woman’s house and we meditated for 2 hours a day for ten days, focused on George’s healing. He did get better (maybe from just being in his beloved California) but, of course, he was not physically healed. He told me before he left that he figured nothing would come of the woman’s claims to heal his cancer but he thought the trip would give him special time to spend with me. Which it did. He also told me that he felt emotionally healed from that experience. He lived two months longer than the 17 months the doctors’ had originally given him. He was proud that he beat their prediction.
20) The night before your dad died, he called me and said he knew he didn’t have much longer to live. I told him I was coming then and to please wait if he could. He did and I got to see him one last time before he went into a coma a few hours after I arrived. He died that night.
21) Before your dad died, he made me promise that I would clean the house for Sandra so that she wouldn’t be burdened by doing that with people coming for his funeral. I dusted and vacuumed every square inch of the main parts of the house over the next two days. That helped me to feel useful and to know that George was looking down feeling happy.
22) After your dad’s funeral, many people came up and told me that he had been instrumental in their own road to recovery. Several said, “I figured if George could do it, then surely I could too.”
23) Your dad loved you guys with all of his heart. He told me that he could face dying, but it made him really sad that he wouldn’t be there to see you grow up or live as adults.
24) He also told me that he trusted that you all were going to be okay because you had so many people who loved you.
25) I talked to him every day from the time he was diagnosed until the day he died and I was not the only one. Many people over the years have told me that they had a close relationship with George until the day he died. He knew how to make a human connection with others and that made him very special.
I hope that gives you a few more windows into your dad’s life. He was (and remains) one of the most special people I’ve ever had in my life. He taught me about love, trust and living with grace. I miss him but know he’s doing just fine. I can sense that he is thriving wherever he is and that gives me great peace.
George and his daughter Casey, a few months before George died. We were all at a basketball game where George’s daughter Leslie was playing.