My sympathies to newly elected Birmingham City Councilor Kim Rafferty and her family. Kim’s husband Mark passed away last night after being diagnosed just recently with end-stage pulmonary fibrosis. My heart is breaking for Kim and their children. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Archive for the ‘Rest In Peace’ Category
Sen. Ted Kennedy passed away last night. He was 77.
From his family’s statement:
“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” the statement said. “We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all.”
President Obama summed up his legacy well:
“For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.”
This was a man born into privilege who could have lived his life with never a thought for those who were struggling. He made terrible and tragic mistakes when he was young, but he turned himself around and spent the balance of his life working to help others. He will be missed.
My sympathies to his family in the loss of sister and brother in such short order. We won’t see their like again any time soon.
Today’s news is likely to be, well, what I said in the headline. Michael Jackson’s memorial service is scheduled for today, and I doubt the news networks will talk of much else. From the description I heard on the radio just now, the event will be just as over the top as Michael was.
We were at the beach when we heard that he had been found unconscious and rushed to the hospital. Much was made of his age — only 50, far too young. The news threw me into a tailspin. As those of you who have been reading here a while know, my brother died suddenly at 50. Hearing about Michael Jackson — before the revelations of long-term drug addiction — took me right back to that day in 2007 when I got the phone call from my beloved brother-in-law. Ken had stopped breathing. The paramedics were there, but it didn’t look good. I threw some clothes in a bag, and we jumped into the car for the drive to Montgomery. We hadn’t even made it to the interstate when he called again — Ken was gone; the paramedics couldn’t revive him. God, I’m sobbing as I write this.
Okay, there are big differences. Ken really was one of the best people I’ve ever known. He spoke out against injustice and did what he could to make a better world, but he never sought the spotlight. He brought beauty into the world with his green thumb and talent for landscape design, but he lived a pretty sedate life, preferring to spend time gardening and hanging out with Tony and their sweet dogs, Paxil and Tallulah. There were no drugs involved in his death. He just…stopped.
There has been and will continue to be all manner of gossip about Michael Jackson, and it will be endlessly dissected by the media for months to come. The sudden death of a celebrity always seems to bring out the worst in us. I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t, and right now I don’t care. I just grieve for the family who lost a son, a brother, a father, and for the friends who mourn his passing.
She was only 48. That’s too young. My sympathies to her family, friends, and constituents.
I feel so badly for his family and friends. The news report says his dad was with him when he died. It’s just not the natural order of things for parents to bury their children.
Rest in peace, Andy.
Dr. Thomas Corts, retired President of Samford University (among many other careers), died today. Dr. Corts was a fine person and a strong advocate for reforming Alabama’s outdated 1901 Constitution. I didn’t know him well, and I’m sure there are issues on which we would have disagreed, but he was that rare soul who cared deeply about Alabama and believed in its potential for greatness. I wish he had been given more years to see his work come to fruition.
My sympathies to his family and friends.
A year ago today we were awakened by a ringing cell phone. I was so discombobulated that I couldn’t get to it in time. Surely it was a wrong number. No one ever called that early on a Sunday morning. When I finally dug the phone from my purse, I saw Tony’s number on the missed calls list. I called him back, and he answered, frantic, tears in his voice. “Kathy, I think he’s dead.” Surely, surely I didn’t hear that right.
Tony said Ken had had some kind of attack. He was fine one minute; the next, he couldn’t breathe. The paramedics were there, and they were about to leave for the hospital. I told him I was on my way. Surely he would be okay. The paramedics were there.
I packed a bag with the kind of thing you take when you expect to spend time at a hospital. A couple of shirts, some clean underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste. They might have to keep him a few days, but we’d be close to their house; I’d have a place to shower and wash clothes.
At the last minute Bill decided to go with me. He called his sister to stay with the girls, and we headed for Montgomery. My phone rang before we got to the interstate. Surely it would be Tony telling me Ken was better.
He wasn’t. He was gone before they reached the hospital, probably gone before they left the house. A heart attack, a stroke, a ruptured aneurysm? We don’t know. We do know he had been suffering with severe headaches for a couple of months before his death, but tests and scans had revealed nothing to explain them.
He went quickly. It’s what he wanted. He had watched our father die, slowly and painfully, just months before. He left behind an amazing and inspiring legacy, of which I’ve written a great deal. I’m so proud of him and what he accomplished in his much too short life. Most days that’s enough to get by on.
Today it isn’t. Today I just want him here. I want to sit and listen to him and Tony tell me about what they’ve been doing to the house and the yard, where they went over the weekend, how the dogs are doing, what’s happening at church this week. I want to ask him about the weed infestation in the front bed and how hard would it be to rewire the light fixture outside the garage door. I want to hear about the events he’s attended and the ones he’s planning and how important it is to work for justice for all people, not just the ones who look like us or believe like us. I want to see Tony light up when he walks into the room. I want to see my mother smile again.
Today he’s been gone a year. All the magical thinking in the world won’t bring him back. Tomorrow I’ll get back to cherishing the memories and doing what I can to carry on the work. Today I hurt.
Barack Obama’s grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died. I know she had been very ill, and I would never want to prolong anyone’s suffering, but I had so wished that she would live to see him elected President tomorrow.
My heart goes out to Barack Obama and his family. It is hard to lose a family member under any circumstances, particularly one who stepped in as a parent. and I know tomorrow will be bittersweet for them.
ETA: Here’s a link to the statement from the Obama family.
Her brother passed away this morning. He was only 42. Too young.
Loretta, our thoughts are with you and your family.