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The letter below was written by Patricia on December 23rd, 2012 to the recipient families who received Randal’s tissue. This letter is a little long, but it is MORE than worth your time to read every one of Patricia’s vulnerable and honest heartfelt words. We are grateful for her transparency in telling about the man Randal was and the legacy he left behind.

“Dear friend,

Yesterday was his 56th birthday. our family went to the cemetery and placed roses and a “Happy Birthday” balloon on his grave. The three grandchildren released helium filled balloons into the heavens as we all said, “Happy Birthday.”

He died suddenly and without warning. There are no words to describe the depth of my pain. We were married 36 years, 11 months and 4 days. He was strong, faithful, devoted, kind, loving and caring. And he was funny. He made me laugh. And he was my best friend in the whole wild world, and I his. He was born on Oct 22, 1956. he grew up with a father, mother, older brother and younger sisters. He had both sets of grandparents until one grandmother died when he was 18. His dad died when he was 49 years old. His mama is 83 years old and is in a nursing home. She has dementia and does not know her son is dead, only that he cannot make it to visit her anymore.

Growing up he wanted to be a doctor but there was no money for college. After graduation from high school (he was smart and at the top 10 of his class) he went to work at a local factory. Payday was after 2 weeks of working. When he got his first paycheck, he quit. He needed more money and knew he would never make it working there. Then he went to a big city to work at a family car business. That didn’t last long because he met me and moved back home. Then he went to work at a sheet metal company where his brother worked. When his dad died he went to work for another company for about 9 months. He was 23 years old and needed a change. But then he went back to the sheet metal company and stayed there for the rest of his working career. In the early days when work was slow he swept the floors. His hard work and dedication paid off. After many years of hard work and long hours, his boss sold the company to him. That only meant more long hours and hard work.

Early into our marriage he worked 3 jobs at one time. He worked at the sheet metal company, him and a friend had a sheet metal business on the side, and he taught metal fabrication at a college, being a a sheet metal instructor. He often joked that he didn’t go to college but he taught college.

After 9 1/2 years of marriage we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. 25 months alter we had a son. He was an answered prayer. Because of morning-sickness being in the hospital during pregnancy, C-Section deliveries, and difficult recovery time after childbirth, this would be all of the children we would have. Both of our children graduated high school being honor students. Both graduated from college, and both have gotten married. We were blessed with a wonderful son-in-law and daughter-in-law. We have 3 beautiful, smart and talented grandchildren, 2 girls and one boy. Thanks to God, at least he lived long enough to see this. He had planned to do with them the things and spend time he didn’t get to because of working so many long hours when our children were young. Now our grandchildren will grow up like our children did – with only one grandfather. This is one of the things I hate the most! Grandparents are such blessings to little people.

When we got married on August 2nd, 1975 we were both 18 years old. We were poor. Interest rates on borrowed money were at 17%. We had to finish paying for my diamond after we were married. We had a church wedding. My mama made my wedding dress. We had a reception with cake and punch. We lived rent free in an old house my parents owned. It was cold. We heated with a wood-burning heater stone. We moved 2 more times before we built our new house. 13-years after we were married, we learned early into our marriage if we didn’t have the money (no credit cards) to pay for something, we didn’t get it. But this lesson paid off because at age 40 we had our new house paid for. We worked hard for Bug blessed us beyond what we could ever had imagined.

Our marriage was not perfect, but it was good. On our anniversary he would get me one long stemmed red rose for every year we were married. This year on our anniversary, I took 37 long stemmed red roses and placed them on his grave. I plan to give him roses now as long as I live. I have ordered our monument. We both liked the black ones so this is what I picked out.  A couple of years ago he started planing his retirement. He had taken one or two days off only working 3-4 for the last couple of years. He sold the company to our daughter and son-in-law. He was to be completely retired by the end of the year. We got passports. We had plans to have and see the world, plans to spend a lot of the time with the grandchildren, fish all he wanted to, hunt when he could, continue taking his guitar lessons and have all of the time to do sudoku, which he loved to do.

He was helping me water my flowers and plants out by the swimming pool when he slipped and fell. He broke his left leg-down by his ankle. He tore the tendon in his right knee. We went to the ER and then to the doctor the next day. 3 days later he had surgery on his right knee. He came home from the hospital the next day. Because he was on pain pills 24/7 we asked for no visitors. (Why is it we can find time to visit when people are sick and don’t feel like company and not when they are well and would enjoy our visit?) Even our children and grandchildren limited their visits. Thank God they did visit us on July 4th. He died 2 days later on Friday, July 6th at 12:45pm. I had went into the bathroom and he was getting into the bed. (He was in a wheelchair and would be off both legs for 6-weeks) When I came out of the bathroom he said, “Patricia, my heart is running away.” I grabbed the phone to call 911 for help. About 4 minutes later he was gone, dying from a blood clot that was going to both lungs.

I can not describe the depth of my despair. There are no words to describe the pain I have felt. 2 months after he died I had lost 15-pounds. I have read 7 books on grief to try and make some service of this tragic loss. Didn’t God know he had worked hard all of his life and was finally going to retire and enjoy his life? All I could think about was the earthly things he would miss out on. The vacations and trips we had planned. Time with the children and grandchildren. But I know because of a decision he made long ago, he is in Heaven. Like David (in the Bible) said when his son died, I can’t bring him back, but I can go be with him and that is what I plan to do. To spend eternity in Heaven with him.

I take the top off his aftershave/cologne to remember what he smells like. I wear one of his shirts over my pj’s for a housecoat. (I did this before he died) I keep the watch he wore every day by my make-up mirror and sometimes I just lay my hand over it. I keep a lot of pictures of him out so he is always close by. I kept his cellphone and use it instead of mine. I crawl into a cold bed at night and miss him more than there are words to describe. He always went to bed before me so it was always warm when I got into it.

I miss my best friend.

I made the decision to donate his eyes. We had talked about organ donation but didn’t have it on our drivers license. (He had an employee who had a liver transplant several years ago) Our oldest grand-daughter has some eye problems and I have a niece who has been blind in one eye since she was one years old. I have told my daughter and son-in-law, “When my time comes and I die, donate my eyes.” This was the first of many decisions I would have to make on my own now that I am a widow. I think he would be proud.

I hope you appreciate and take care of the gift of his “eyes,” they were beautiful. I hope it would encourage your family to be organ donors. We would love to hear back from you if you choose to do so, but we gave this gift, expecting nothing in return.

We take so much for granted. When people ask me how they can help, I tell them, “Love your family, hug them a little longer, hug them a little tighter everyday. Know that the last thing you say to someone might be it on this earth.” I wish someone had told me this a long time ago. I have told our children the best way we can honor his memory is the way we live our lives. I am determined not to let his death make me bitter. I will get better, I know that it will take a long time. But we will see him again, one day.

In closing I would like to use the saying we put with his picture and in the local newspaper after he died. “This we know but so often forget; there are not guarantees in life; each day of 24-hours comes wrapped as a gift from God. Spend it wisely; spend it well.”

God bless you and yours,

His wife”

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