Saturday, March 31, 2007

Order of Services for Dad

To commence 10am at Carey Hand Funeral Home on Curry Ford Road. Boy Scouts from Troop 36 to serve as ushers.

Welcome by USAF Chaplain Willie Taylor.

Jonmichael Francis to play "Amazing Grace" on violin.

Richard Morgan and Dot Morgan Burns to sing two duets:
1. "Unclouded Day"
2. "I'll Fly Away"

Children to distribute mementos to select mourners as video memorial plays to the tune "My Old Friend."

Benediction to be delivered by Chaplain Taylor.

Curtis Protective Services to escort funeral procession under direction of Paul Driscoll from the chapel to Greenwood Cemetery, Section A, Lot #48.

Boy Scouts from Troop #36 to serve as honor guard.

Commencement of military honors led by Chaplain Taylor.

Color guard to display flag of the United States.

Color guard to conduct ceremonial folding of flag.

Flag to be presented to next-of-kin by color guard.

Firing squad to issue 9-gun salute.

Live bugler to play "Taps."

Chaplain Taylor to conclude military honors.

Inurnment at direction of sexton Don Price.

Guests to be received in the family home.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Connect to long-lost cousins

Saw this link in the most recent edition of the NGS online newsletter:

So, of course, I had to go check out the site, and see what it was all about.

Looked like a pretty good way to connect with "long-lost" cousins who have an interest in genealogy in common, so I signed-up.

Check it out for yourself!


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Keegan (1997-2007)

Some time yesterday, my pretty little Keegan went to sleep in her usual spot under the bed and woke up in a better world.

I am glad she went peacefully, and that she left so many good memories over the last ten years.

And, I am glad that I still have her big sister Fidelma for consolation.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Some digitized sources

My Uncle Bill forwarded me this great link today:

I haven't had a chance to really explore all the sites listed on that page, but am looking forward to it!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tombstone Tales

Today, I received an email and had a very nice telephone conversation with a fellow named Cliff Curley who is working on a project with our local PBS station, Channel 24. (

The project is tentatively titled "Tombstone Tales," and will tell the stories of pioneer families. It will begin with local cemeteries, then interviews with descendants who care to share stories and photos, and visits to surviving historic homes and sites.

Anyway, Mr. Curley heard about our old Orlando family thru Dad's recent obituary, and has asked us to participate.

Of course, I told him we'd be delighted.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Perpetual online memorials

We're putting the finishing touches on Dad's "celebration of life" this weekend.

The chapel services will include a looping video montage of some really cool old family pictures my mom, sister, and I selected.

The really cool thing is they will become part of a perpetual online memorial at this web site:

Nothing's up and running, yet. But, when all is said and done, you should be able to plug in Dad's name in the "search" box and it will take you to his page(s).

In the mean time, you can still go to that site and check to see if you can find other names of interest. If you're addicted to genealogy, you will quickly realize the awesomeness of this site!

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

I missed the Gators for this?!

I can't believe I spent the afternoon trying to find a tie to match the jacket I'm going to wear to Dad's celebration of life this Saturday.

I totally missed the great Gator victory that vaulted them into the Final Four!!!

Well, I guess I can be accused of being a little "out of the loop" lately.

But, at least the Gators are doing well.

And, I did find just the right tie!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

A quote from Lord Tennyson

Found this while perusing a back issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (yes, this IS how I spend my free time):

Truth is this to me,
and that to thee.
But, truth clothed or naked,
let it be!
Of course, the fellow who included the quote in his article was admonishing family history researchers to avoid being filiopietistic.
Yeah, that's what he said. You may need to do like I did and visit to figure out what he meant.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Can a tree own itself?!

Ok, I've long thought the folks at and around the University of Jawjuh were a little "touched."

But, now I have incontrovertible proof:


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Aunt Diane & Uncle BG

I received bad news last night that Aunt Diane will not be able to participate in Dad's services later this month as she had planned.

She was supposed to have accompanied Aunt Dot and Uncle Richard with her keyboard talents as they sang in the chapel, and had even made arrangements to fly down here from Missouri.

Unfortunately, Uncle BG's health has declined to the point that she felt necessary to cancel.

We will really miss her presence and beautiful singing voice on the 31st, but can totally understand the need to be with a loved one in need. We were in her shoes just a few weeks ago.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Working on military honors

Thanks go out today to Master Sergeant James Hawkins of the Patrick Air Force Base Honor Guard.

He is helping me obtain permission to include a Talon flyover as part of the military honors at my dad's upcoming memorial service.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Last day of winter

While others may be trying to dig themselves out of the late winter snow, I find myself trying to dig out of the mountain of paperwork that accumulated on my desk at work while I was away last week.

Actually, I put a pretty good dent in it today.

Sure am looking forward to Spring, though. These winter "storms" are for the birds!


Monday, March 19, 2007

Back to work

Continuing in the attempt to re-establish normalcy around here, I went back to work for the first time in a week.

If I thought Mondays were a drag before . . .

Actually, the mundane little tasks were somewhat therapeutic.

But, the highlight of the day was going home this afternoon. To my own house. And, taking a nap in my own bed!


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Carrying on

With everything going on around here lately, I could not host my annual St. Patrick's Day feast. So, this year, the regular feasters came to my mom's house. Everyone enjoyed the traditional corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, and good fellowship. It was not only a welcome diversion, but a way of starting to get back to a degree of normalcy.

Today, I also made Mom keep another tradition by attending the last day of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Those of you who know her are familiar with her collection of festival posters that she proudly displays in almost every room of her house. Well, now she has a new one to add to the collection.

Also ran into Tom Levine at Brandywine Books. He was signing a couple of books he's written. It was nice catching up with him, as I hadn't really had a chance to talk to him since he ran for Mayor of Orlando a few years ago. Still the same old Tom.

Oh, and the Sentinel published Dad's "official" obit in today's paper:

But, it's not as good as the feature article Erin Ailworth had in yesterday's paper.

Thanks again to everyone who's called, emailed, etc., since Dad's passing. Please know the encouragement is greatly appreciated even if I don't respond to every message immediately.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Orlando Sentinel article about Dad

Thanks to Erin Ailworth at the Orlando Sentinel for writing such a nice article about my dad in today's paper:,0,391155.story

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Celebration of Life

That's what we decided to call the preparations we are making for Dad today. It's not a funeral. It's not a memorial. It's going to be a celebration of his life.

Special thanks to Vanessa Franco at Colonial Carey Hand who helped us lay the foundations for services, etc., which will include full military honors and several special requests to pay full tribute to Dad.

Services have now officially been scheduled for Saturday, March 31st, at 10am, at the Carey Hand chapel:

2811 Curry Ford Road
Orlando, FL 32806
phone 407-898-2561
fax 407-898-7661

Additional thanks to sexton Don Price for preparing the inurnment, which will immediately follow services at:

Greenwood Cemetery:
1603 Greenwood Street
Orlando, FL 32801

Don prepared a good map of the cemetery at:

Dad will rest in the oldest part of the cemetery, in Section "A," beneath a beautiful moss-laden oak tree that monitors the comings and goings of all the jets at nearby Herndon Airport.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lt. Col. Skip Morgan (1948-2007)

Lt. Col. W.S. "Skip" Morgan, age 58, of Orlando, passed away at his home early this morning. He was the 9th generation of a pioneer Central Florida family, and worked as a paper boy for the Orlando Sentinel during his early years. He was an Eagle Scout.

A 1966 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, he was a classmate of Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty.

He was also a 1970 graduate of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He shared rides with author Pat Conroy from that military college to their common hometown in Florida. And, during his senior year, Skip was named to the elite Sumerall Guard drill team.

After college, Skip embarked on a career in the U.S. Air Force, interrupted only briefly by a stint as a pilot with the now-defunct Air Florida.

He received commendations for his efforts to retain highly-trained military pilots during the Cold War when commercial carriers were competing for their talents.

His last assignment was at The Pentagon, where he worked with Gen. Colin Powell on arms control agreements with the former Soviet Union.

He retired in 1992, and returned to Orlando.

Skip's great passions included big game hunting, Civil War history, genealogy, and his family.

Sadly, he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease in 2002, and succombed only after a 5-year long struggle with the illness.

Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Leigh Anne; son William of Apopka; daughter Mrs. Keith Simmons of Mt. Pleasant, SC; and 2 grandchildren.

Arrangements are being handled by Woodlawn Carey Hand Funeral Home, with interment to follow at Greenwood Cemetery in downtown Orlando.

The family suggests donations to the Alzheimer's Association of Central Florida, 988 Woodcock Road, Orlando, FL 32803. (

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Letting go

We have spent Dad's final hours giving him as joyous a good-bye as we can muster.

It started about 3:30 this morning, when we thought the end was near. My mom, sister, and I gathered around his bed as we played one of his favorite Randy Travis CD's. Great old songs like "I'll Fly Away" and "The Old Rugged Cross." We sang when we could remember the words, and hummed along when we didn't.

But, Dad was an old Cold Warrior, and he battled back. In fact, we've been thru a lot of peaks and valleys today and the last week and a half. Actually, the last five years.

Anyway, we had a few kind visitors stop by including his parents, and his Uncle Richard (who sang him "He Walks With Me" and "Amazing Grace."

Thanks to LeeAnn and Kelly for re-stocking the refrigerator and pantry.

Thanks to Bill. Thanks to Ellen. Thanks to Dwight. Thanks to Deloise. Thanks to Sally. Thanks to Margarita, and everyone at Vitas. And, thanks to everyone whose names are not coming to me now, but whose visits, phone calls, and emails have meant so much to us.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pater noster

Pater noster,
qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum;
adveniat Regnum Tuum;
fiat voluntas Tua,
sicut in caelo,
et in terra.

Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
Sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a Malo.


Monday, March 12, 2007

A rapid decline

As I type this, my dad is running a 103-degree temperature, and his nurses are packing him with ice as all other attempts at breaking the fever have failed.

They won't tell us anything "on the record."

"Off the record," they say he may make it thru the night. But, he probably will not make it thru tomorrow.

If you're a praying person, please do some now. And, if you're not, at least send some positive thoughts this direction. Both are much appreciated.


A noticeable decline

The last 24 hours have been very taxing on our family, as Dad has made a noticeable decline. The hospice nurse told us today that we should be thinking in terms of days (not weeks, as previously suggested). It's as if he knows he's home, and has achieved some sort of peace. . . well, perhaps a spiritual peace. The physical struggle continues.

Let me tell you, hospice nursing ain't easy.

It's like taking care of a premature baby, only in our case the patient is over 6 feet tall and isn't going to get better.

On a thankful note, I need to express gratitude to all the friends who have called or emailed over the last week. Please know they are truly appreciated, even if we cannot respond to each one. And, I would particularly like to thank Sarah Taylor for stopping by the house last night with the awesome carrot cake and the nice flowers.

That's it for now. This time change is really throwing me for a loop. I think we should let the night nurse take over and try to get a little shut-eye . . . YAWN!!!

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Shedding some new light

Again, I have to thank the good friends who have been helping us thru our trying times.

Today, it is Duran and LeeAnn Jenks, who came by to help install a new overhead light in the old diningroom where Dad is now. (The old chandelier just wasn't functional, much less appropriate for the situation.)

But, it was more than the handyman know-how that we appreciated. The visit was nice, too. And, I think even Dad can pick up on the "good vibes" at some level.

Mom is at about 80% right now, and really picking-up some nursing skills. She is already quite adept at administering medication, and I'm taking lessons.

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Quiet Friday Night

No real news to report from the home front, and that's a good change!

Things are starting to get on an even keel as we familiarize ourselves with all the medications, treatments, etc., for Dad. He even seems to be joining in the new rhythm of things, if only subconsciously.

And, we've been tremendously blessed by so many good friends. I particularly have to thank Ellen Burnell, who has been nursing Mom back to good health following her surgery on Thursday. She prepared us a scrumptious spaghetti dinner tonight.

A nice, quiet Friday night. We're savoring it.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Double whammy

Today was the big day. Mom's surgery PLUS Dad's arrival.

First, Mom's surgery. Everything went well. She's already back home, and ate a piece of toast before going to bed. The doctors expect she'll be close to 100% by the end of the weekend.

Now, Dad's arrival. What a circus that turned out to be! But, the way things have been the last five years, it was almost appropriate.

I was told they would have him at the house at 4pm. So, imagine my surprise when the ambulance driver called from the driveway at 3pm!!

Needless to say, I dropped everything and rushed over there to let them in. They were really good guys, and reported no problems during the entire trip.

The frustrating thing was there was nobody from hospice to help me get him settled. In fact, I was completely alone with Dad until about 5:30 when Mom's friend Ellen brought her back from the hospital. The nurses didn't appear until about 6:45!!

Yeah, that's right, nurses. Plural. Sally and Dennis. And, they were great. With them in the house, I finally felt comfortable enough to run up to Walgreen's and fill prescriptions.

Exhausted, I finally got home a little while ago, and am going straight to bed after posting this. Something tells me there will be many more days like this over the next few weeks . . .

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dad's long journey home

I just got off the phone with the folks in South Florida, and have made the final arrangements to get my Dad transported back to Orlando tomorrow.

He should be home around 4pm, and a crisis care nurse from VITAS will be waiting with us to get him situated.

We've been down a long and bumpy road these last five years. Thanks to everyone for the phone calls and emails. I apologize for not being able to spend as much time as I'd like to return them all. But, please know they are very much appreciated. And, I will try to post as much as possible here to keep everyone up-to-date.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Still waiting on a bed

No real news to report on Dad, only that the hospice down in Pembroke Pines says they're ready to release him. We're still just waiting for a receiving bed in Winter Park.

In the mean time, Mom went in for her pre-op consultation this afternoon. Her doctor tells her to lay off the aspirin. It's thinning-out her blood too much.

I can't give enough thanks to everyone who's expressed support for me and my family.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Conflicting reports

We heard from my dad's hospice physician that he was doing "much better" today, that he was "verbalizing" and "eating real food."

But, what does that mean?

As we had returned to Orlando to get the house ready, we needed some eyes and ears on the ground. And, as luck would have it, my uncle Dan was in Miami on business this week. So, he agreed to pay a personal visit.

Unfortunately, the "much better" part of the report seems to pertain only to his improved breathing. (No longer fighting the bronchitis and MRSA we witnessed over the weekend.)

Dan saw no verbalizing at all. And, "eating" was limited to a few spoonfuls of applesauce, which we had also seen this weekend.

So, no real improvement, other than the clear lungs should allow him to better endure the trip back to Orlando.

Now, if we could only get an available bed at the receiving facility in Winter Park . . .

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Moving furniture

We headed back to Orlando today. If Dad's going to be coming home in the next few days, we knew we needed to get up here and start moving furniture.

We got the big table moved out of the dining room, and have decided that will be the best place to set up his bed, etc. Centrally located. And, as he favors his left side, it will give him a great view out the window--especially of the trees he planted out in the front yard so many years ago.

Before he can come to the home, he will have to be re-stabilized at a hospice facility in nearby Winter Park. So, we've got a few more days to complete prepping the house to receive him.

As of this post, a bed in the Winter Park facility has not opened-up. So, we're in a "wait and see" mode right now. Won't hear anything new until at least 9am tomorrow, so I think I'm going to head back to my home in Apopka and try to get some real sleep.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A new prognosis

Dad, Mom, and I made it thru a very difficult night. His breathing was very labored, and he had a lot of chest congestion which made for a lot of very horrible noises. Needless to say, we got no sleep at all.

Anyway, the head of the hospice ward came to see us at 7am, a real nice guy whose specialty is pulmonary medicine. He is also a very candid individual, something we really appreciate. And, he gave us a new prognosis.

Death is not "imminent."

However, Dad is in a "persistent vegetative state." And, with all his other complicating medical factors, the doctor has given us a four to six week window.

Given that length of time, he cannot remain on their ward. Unfortunately, they have been unable to find a nearby nursing home that will accept him.

So, I asked him if he thought Dad would make the trip up to Orlando, and if there was a way that we could care for him in the family home.

Surprisingly, his answer to both questions was "yes." So, we're busy making those arrangements right now.

Can't sleep, thought I'd blog

This afternoon, we received the very upsetting news from Dad's hospice that "death is imminent."

Needless to say, I dropped everything and went over to Mom's house. We threw everything in the car and jumped on I-95 South. Made it down to Pembroke Pines in a record 3 hours. (Record for us, others were going WAY faster than us.)

Anyway, he looks horrible and is mostly unresponsive. I hate to say it, but if you followed the Terry Schiavo case, he looks a lot like she did. His eyes will follow motion and he responded with a big grin when my mom sang him some lullabies. But, that's about it.

We were told he probably wouldn't make it thru the night, so we pulled out a sleeper sofa in his room and prepared to camp-out right there next to him.

Friday, March 02, 2007

My Dad

For those of you who have been following the progress of my father's bout with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease, I am sorry to report that he has taken a serious turn for the worse and has been put into hospice care.

This is such an insidious disease, and it has been a long, hard road these last five years.

Thanks to everyone out there who have offered prayers and other means of support to me and my family during this very difficult time.