Friday, March 28, 2008

Gene, Thomas at age 14, Bishop Lori and Fr. Kazista at Thomas's Confirmation, 1998

My brother-in-law Eugene died last Saturday night, Holy Saturday. Eugene was injured in a car accident in March of 1967 and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, functionally quadriplegic and with short-term memory problems and other cognitive issues. But he could think, he could respond in church, he knew the words to all of the songs we used. He just never understood the significance of September 11th because the World Trade Center was finished several years after his accident: it was not part of his life or memories. He did, however, understand when Thomas was killed. At the funeral, he turned his wheelchair so that he could see the casket (he could not really turn his head by then). It deeply affected him for a week or so, and then we never mentioned it again. This may seem odd for someone like me who is adamant that her child not be forgotten, but Gene's state of mind was so fragile that I could not make him revisit that grief. Thomas had helped bring Gene to church on Sundays, and had asked Gene to be his Confirmation sponsor and I think that his death may have been the beginning of Gene's decline.

Gene's grave is only a few feet from Thomas's.



At March 29, 2008 at 8:34:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Laurie said...

Lee Ann,
I can really see the connection between Thomas and Gene more clearly from your post, although through tears. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Laurie, Chase's mom


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