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Alan's Passing 04/14/19

My brother Alan was taken into the hospice center Saturday the 13th after his health took a very sudden, and severe turn for the worse. By Sunday afternoon, it was clear that his time had run out. I was able to say goodbye to him as his son Scott held his phone to his ear. He passed peacefully just before 6:00 pm.

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Picture of Alan 02/03/19 taken just after he had been "sprung" from rehab.

His grandson posted the following on Facebook this morning. It says a lot about who he was, but it's also a keen reminder that we should always take time to evaluate our own lives. As the Dakota Native American saying so aptly advises: "We will be known forever by the tracks we leave."

"My beloved grandfather, Al Rose, passed away today at the age of 88. After a successful career as a college professor, Al went to work as a prison and hospice chaplain, dedicating his life to standing with those who society had forgotten. He died in the same hospice where he worked, with his family and his dear friend who he met in the prisons by his side. Just as he refused to forget anyone, those whose lives he touched will never forget him. My grandpa is the greatest person I’ve ever known, and I will always strive to unconditionally serve others as he always did."

To his post, Austin had attached this marvelous picture of Alan in his "younger" years.

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Austin's tribute picture.

That Sunday, after Scott had notified me that it was just hours left in his dad's life, I sent the following email to him to read to his dad:


If you think your dad can hear, tell him that Sue and I are having a Special Dinner For Three tonight and that although he's not here to be the third guest, Sue and I will carry on for him.

I'm fixing Italian Pork With Tomatoes in White Wine Milanese complemented with a nice Josh Red Blend. He is, as he has always been, with a nod to brother Rod Stewart: "You're in my heart, you're in my soul."

I took this picture of the meal cooking on the stove; Sue and I both had tears in our eyes, and couldn't do selfies with it.

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Our Dinner Party For Three celebration of Alan's life meal cooking on the stove.

Just as I was finishing up cooking, I got the text message from Scott that his dad had passed: "Dad passed away amazingly peacefully at 5:55 pm. His last breath was calm and quiet. His face was relaxed." And, though a difficult and tearful time, Sue and I still had our Dinner Party For Three in celebration of his life.

You are loved, Bro, and you will be missed....

Interestingly, while we were cooking dinner, Sue caught a glimpse of a cardinal flying around outside of the window where she was sitting. She wrote the following "When Souls Visit" about that experience, as well as experiences she has had with butterflies. Who knows?

When Souls Visit

A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you.

I had heard the cardinals around our home, but had not seen one for some time. My husband was cooking his celebration dinner in honor of his brother in hospice care while Alan’s favorite classical music played in the background. I was sitting in the kitchen window seat keeping him company and suddenly saw a brilliant red cardinal land at the edge of the lawn.

The cardinal stayed nearby for 15 minutes or so.. in no particular hurry to go anywhere. As he started wandering out of sight, the telephone signaled the call we had been anticipating letting us know our dear brother had passed approximately 20 minutes earlier.

We have been regretful that Al and his wife, Abbie, had never been able to make the trip to see our new home in the country. We were sure they would love it; especially the porch rocking! It brings so much joy that Al stopped by to see our home and comfort us in our despair.

We love you, Al! Stop by again soon.

We encountered a similar visit when my Mom passed in 2016. As soon as the immediate family gathered at my brother's a beautiful butterfly started flying all around us and then landed in a maple tree near where we were sitting. Shortly thereafter we were traveling to the funeral home in two vehicles when we got stopped in construction traffic. We were so surprised when a butterfly started darting around our two vehicles and then flew off in the direction we were then headed.

One day about a month later my brother and I were standing by some Fall mums discussing which color she would enjoy having us put by her headstone when a butterfly landed right in front of us. Of course it landed on her favorite color: purple!

A year later she visited our backyard for our October wedding. It was a very intimate gathering of just immediate family, and .. there she was!

A butterfly is said to symbolize someone in heaven whom you are missing; they are letting us know that they are free of their pain and suffering. They’re free!

We love your backyard visits, Mom!

I talked with Scott the next day, and he told me two, just marvelous, stories about his dad's passing. First, he said that his mom, Abbie, knowing that the end was close, bent over and whispered in Alan's ear, "It's okay, darling; it's okay to go now." Turning his head toward her, my brother said, in typical fashion for him: "Where are we going?"

The other story is truly amazing, and quite soothing. Just before he died, Scott said that my brother, lying on his back on the hospital bed, and not having moved in hours, suddenly began to slowly lift his arms straight up in the air above him. He then drew them gently down across his chest as though he was hugging someone. Scott said the most radiant smile spread across his face, and that his breath was soft, and not raspy or stressed as it had been. He passed shortly after that with his dear friend Cal Porter holding his hand.

*** Sue and I flew to Baltimore Thursday 04/18/19 to attend my brother Alan's funeral.

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