Friday, September 9, 2011

A life well lived

My wife lost her father this week. He had been sick for a while so his death wasn't entirely unexpected. Three months ago he suffered when the doctor called a spinal stroke - a blood clot pinched off his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the chest down.

My father-in-law was an active man. He drove in Houston traffic. He walked on the treadmill every day. He helped babysit our daughters.

Robert Van Fossen grew up in the Great White North. In 1941 he enlisted in the Canadian Air Force. He traveled from Saskatchewan to the east coast of Canada for training. He was scheduled to be deployed as a navigator flying over Europe.

My wife's future mother hopped on a train and rode halfway across Canada to marry him before he shipped out to Europe. As it turned out, the plane they were supposed to fly across the Atlantic crashed before they left. So, instead of flying to Europe, my father-in-law patrolled Canada's Atlantic coast during the war. I can't help but think that his wife was quite pleased about the change in plans.

Robert Van Fossen was a very smart man. He was detail-oriented. If he was telling you a story, it was a good idea to make sure you had someplace to sit - because you were going to be there for a while. He was also a man who was very dedicated to his family.

The last three months have been rough on everyone. There's no joy in watching a loved one deteriorate before your eyes knowing there's nothing you can do. While there is an air of sadness, there is also a sense of relief that his suffering is over.

Farewell, Robert Van Fossen. You will be missed.


A Harris County Lawyer said...

I'm very sorry for your family's loss. He sounds like an interesting man.


Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thanks, Murray.

Gary Lea said...

I was privileged to call Robert Van Fossen, my uncle (my Mother’s brother). I always admired his intellect, his wide ranging interests, his strong family interest, and his physical well-being. Up to the recent past he was, at nearly 90 years of age, “anxiously engaged” in life in a way that few of us realize at any age. Two years ago my wife, Jean, and I had a wonderful time visiting him, Aunt Leone, and other family members including Barb and Paul Kennedy. We still talk about our visit to Houston with great pleasure. We miss Uncle Bob very much, and have faith that he is in a better place talking with my Mother at this very moment. Mom and Uncle Bob were both “good talkers” so I can only imagine how intense that conversation would be.

Gary Lea from The Great White North

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thank you for the kind words, Gary.