This precious note was in my father’s files:
JoAnne Howard had lost her husband just a few months before my mother died. JoAnne sang at my mother’s funeral, as she had at countless funerals before.
The funeral home paid her, of course, but JoAnne returned the money to my father with this note.
Jo’s family had been intertwined with ours from our first days in Lee’s Summit. Her youngest son, Greg, was my best friend growing up.
Flash forward: 18 months after Mom’s death, my father returned to the USA from Argentina on a terminal furlough.
And a few months later this lonely man was courting JoAnne Howard.
They were married — this widow and widower — in May 2000, barely nine months after my father began his final furlough, and just a week after he officially retired as a missionary.
That marriage lasted more than 17 years until his death last December.
Found in my father’s belongings: this postcard, addressed to my grandmother, giving my new address in Kansas when I moved there on January 2, 1997.
The “choking back tears” reference proved false. My three years at KU, and most of that also living in Lawrence, were the single best three years of my life to date.
This clipping from the local Blue Springs newspaper announces my appointment in 1993 to the adjunct faculty at Graceland College in Iowa. I taught part-time there for three years, whilst also teaching at the local community college and at the University of Central Missouri (as lecturer in music).
I was pretty good about self-promoting in my self-employed days in the late 1980s and on into the 1990s.
This little article in the local newspaper heralds four reviews of choral octavos, published in the Choral Journal.
In my father’s belongings was this Olan Mills photo from my senior year of college at Southwest Baptist University:
I look very much the conservative, which I was at the time.
And with my widow’s peaks growing more prominent, I was parting my hair closer and closer to the crown.
In my father’s belongings were two documents related to my birth in 1961.
I was born at Southern Baptist Hospital in New Orleans. The total hospital bill was $113.45, which included four nights in a semi-private room (for my mother, of course) and $30 for the delivery room charge.
Care to know how crazy our health-care costs are now? That $113.45 in 1961 is still less than $1000 in today’s dollars!