He passed away, quite unexpectedly this past Wednesday, and everyone is devestated. My mother has lost, in her own words, "My very best friend."
I remember the first time I ever met him. He was so quiet and reserved, I asked my mother if she thought he would survive our rather loud, and often obnoxious family. He did; and offered so much to it. He had no children from his first marriage, and my brothers and I were grown (or nearly so in my younger brother's case) when he and my mother met, so his first up-close interaction with babies were when the grandchildren were coming along. Some of the early experiences will live on forever in my mind. He was always very careful about his own, and my mothers health, and was so unused to the frequent, little things kids go through (the odd, unexplained fever; runny noses; small rash - that sort of thing), that mom and I often had to assure him that the children were indeed going to be okay. I'll never forget calling their house to have mom meet me at the emergency room when Ri fell and busted open her shin. Mom was out, running a quick errand, so I had to tell him what was going on, and ask him to tell mom which hospital to go to once she got home. I tried to assure him that Ri would be okay, and that I only needed mom there to watch the other children so I could go back in the ER with her. I can't remember how he notified mom of what was going on, but he managed to beat us both to the hospital. He was nervously pacing in front of the emergency room doors when I arrived. Needless to say, he insisted on staying. He did well with the children though, even watching them on his own a time or two (when I was having another baby :D). Being a university professor, and as such, quite comfortable around young adults, he began to relax and enjoy the children much more as they grew older. He and Ri were particulary close; they would sit and talk about everything, and occasionally debate issues through e-mail. Being an amateur photographer, he also helped her out when she began to show an interest in photography. Not too long ago, he took her to the university's library to allow her to pick out some books on photography. She's such a book lover too, that she was just awed by a library with "Nine whole floors of books!". I am so glad she had that special day with him.
I don't expect much time on the computer in the very near future. I addition to making arragements (jointly with the university), we are going through what seems like mountains of paperwork and files. We are extremely grateful for all the help we are receiving from some of his colleagues at the university.
He will be greatly missed.