Jim and I have many blessings to count, one most definitely being our daughter-in-law, Michelle. Matt and Michelle's marriage brought a budding friendship with her parents, Sue and Tony. That friendship has evolved over the years to the point where holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, to name a few, are spent together as family. To Jim and I, Sue and Tony are quite simply adopted family. It is a deepening relationship we have treasured.
Should you view Tony on the street you would see a greying, gaunt man older than his true age, very slow and tentative on his feet. That vision outside, however, belies the strong, fiercely determined inner hero of a man.
Over five years ago, after undergoing hip surgery, Tony's body was invaded by a massive, life-threatening infection. That he survived amazed both his medical team and family who had prepared for the worst. The infection sadly robbed Tony of all kidney function forcing him into a five year routine of exhausting kidney dialysis. As if this were not enough for one man, during this timeframe Tony successfully battled cancer, a plethora of additional infections and most recently, a highly virulent case of pneumonia. Loss of core balance has led to numerous bruising falls and severe osteoarthritis has wracked his body with ongoing pain.
Many would have said, "Enough!", but not our hero. Why? One need only catch a glimpse of Tony in the presence of his grandchildren. This I have personally witnessed. An inner light and love burns so strongly it is palpable throughout the room. In my heart I believe that Tony has struggled and never given up so that he may watch his beloved grandchildren grow and thrive.
After another tragic fall that ultimately led to bleeding in his brain, Tony today fought and lost his battle and war, taking his final journey to a more peaceful place.
To Morgan and Zachary, our mutual grandchildren, I would say that such enduring love can never die. Morgan, when you jump into the lake and swim like the little fish that you are, know that although you cannot see him, your Papa is happily watching you from the cottage window. Zachary, when you reel in that big fish, the dock chair beside you may be empty, but your Papa is there helping you grasp your bending straining rod. Morgan, when you are whizzing around a winter rink, know that Papa is skating beside you and Zachary, when you ski that first black diamond run, Papa will be cheering you on. At school ceremonies and graduations, at weddings, and at holiday times, know that your Papa is present in spirit joining you in the joy of the moment. And when you sleep at night, he will be watching over you. Your Papa loved you and will continue to do so. Think of him as your guardian angel.
"I pray you'll be our eyes,
"And watch us where we go
"And help us to be wise
"In times when we don't know". The Prayer (Andrea Boccelli)
And so Jim and I will cut our vacation short. Europe is still in full tourist season and a change in air travel almost impossible but thanks to our amazing travel agent, Connie, and her compassionate contact at Air Canada, we will fly home Sunday. Home to now support Sue who has so long been Tony's rock. Home to love and support Michelle, Matt, Morgan and Zachary whenever and wherever they need us. Home to pay our respects to Tony Slot. Home to say goodby to our quiet hero.