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Kay's Family Building Journal

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Entry Twenty-four
January 5, 1998

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In Memory of a Dear Friend

PaulA dear friend died last week. He was on the waiting list for a heart transplant. He was possibly years from receiving that new heart. Paul was one of those people whose friendships forever change you. I am grateful that he was friends with so many people, because we are so much the better for having known him.

Tragedy and loss make me reflect over what gives life meaning. Why is it that Paul's life seemed so very meaningful and full of purpose? I think much of it is that Paul knew who he was, and what he wanted, and was going about it in no uncertain terms. You would have to know Paul, but I don't think he was capable of doing anything in "uncertain terms". I think this sense of achieved purpose also lies in the fact that he truly loved people, and affected so many lives with his love and compassion and wisdom. He also was a man of incredible enthusiasm, energy, and love for life. And, he was an accomplished poet and musician.

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It also makes me consider again what I want for my children, whether they come to us through this egg donor procedure, or whether they come to us through adoption. Of course, I want my children to be reasonably happy, well adjusted, people. But more that anything else, I would like them to grow to be adults who live with love and integrity. I always come back to this point. People like Paul, who exemplified the power of a life of love and integrity, make me understand why.

His funeral was unique (as he himself was). The minister opened the floor for sharing and memories. We stood and shared with our thoughts and feelings about our friend for quite a long time. One man remembered how Paul had found him weeping on Campus due to tragic news. Paul took him to his office, rescheduled his appointments, and sang songs and read poetry to him for two hours. Another woman remembered how Paul visited her multiple times after a bereavement, even writing a song for her pain. One man spoke of how his child, usually shy of adults, absolutely adored "Big Paul". Many shared of how he made such a difference to this organization, to that neighborhood, to this project, to that group, to these people, and to their own hearts. I spoke of how shy and out-of-place I felt when I first joined our local folk music society. In my first visits there, Paul would wave me over, and make me feel very welcome and included. (Later when I became president of that society, Paul volunteered to be my vice president just so he could be supportive to me. He said I was a flower in bloom, and he wanted to encourage my personal growth).

I will miss Paul. He was an inspiration to me. But I can just see Paul over on the "celestial" side of things, that tall mountain of a man that he is, with his long gray pony tail and his signature rainbow suspenders. He is over there, playing his guitar, reciting his poetry, welcoming us all, waving at us to come on over and join in on the music.
Kay Grames

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