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June 5, 2024

A Heartfelt Goodbye to a Father Figure

I am heading out for the funeral of a man who was like a dad to me. His daughter and I are best friends and sisters for life. I have known them both since she was born. My grandmother had nine children, so, of course, we went to visit when Cheri was born. Cheri was brought to my house, and my mom was told I needed a friend. Cheri’s mom was struggling, and when Cheri’s sister was born, her mom had a “nervous breakdown,” so Cheri spent a lot of time at my house.

As Elmer and Kathy aged, Kathy’s struggles caused her to always be sick. Elmer never complained; he always had a smile. Kathy could be mean, or she could be on top of the world. Life was never easy for Elmer. Kathy passed first, and Elmer was given some years of rest. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer and chose treatments that let him spend as much time as he could with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

He was there for Thanksgiving when my brother died. He picked me up and brought me down to San Diego to join the family for Thanksgiving, and when things turned bad, he brought me back without ever making it seem like cooking dinner for his family and the aunts, uncles, and cousins was a burden. The last time I saw him, I invited myself to his house for Thanksgiving after my husband passed. As always, I was one of his girls. It was obvious he was in pain, yet we shared joy.

When I think of Elmer, I think of a man who kept his promise to his wife “in sickness and in health,” and all the years it was sickness, as I don’t remember Kathy ever being well. I remember a man who loved me like a daughter, a man who always smiled and never complained. A life well lived.

I know many of you, like Elmer, are living a life of caring “in sickness.” Thank you for keeping your promises.

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Geisler Patterson Law


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