On Friday, June 5, 2009, Karl Moore, a dear family friend, left his earthly shell for his permanent home with Jesus. Due to the confinement to time and space, not being able to be in two places at once, I will not be able to attend Karl’s memorial service. So I am doing my own personal memorial of sort. Today’s blog is dedicated to Karl.
I still remember the first time my family met Karl in November of 1991. Paul and I only had 2 young kids then–Gawain had just turned 5, and Tristan was 11 months old. It was our first visit to a small church in Castro Valley, CA, and as we walked into the foyer, up came this middle-aged man with a broad smile to greet us. What caught my attention was his tie–it had large, bright pink pigs all over it. Instantly, I knew I would like Karl! Over the years that my family had attended that church, one of the things I looked forward to each Sunday morning was seeing what loud tie Karl would wear to church that day.
Though the loud tie was what caught my attention, what endeared Karl to my heart was his spirit, and the love that he had shown to me and my family. As a young family trying to make ends meet in CA, the toughest time for Paul and I came on New Year’s eve of 1992, when Paul lost his job. By this time, we’d added another child to our family– Rebekah, and she was about 3 months old. For the next 4 months while Paul was still looking for a permanent job, Karl, along with Carl Lazzereschi (another dear family friend who had also gone ahead to be with Jesus) would regularly come to our apartment, each holding two bags of groceries. Then they would visit with us, offering encouragement and praying with us. My family and I will never forget the love Karl and his family had shown to us.
When my family moved from Castro Valley to Salida in 1995, we continued to keep in touch with Karl. When Karl moved his family out to Modesto about 5 years later, and we also moved to a country property in Modesto, we naturally reconnected and visited each other on a regular basis. Life was good then. I can’t remember if we ever told Karl, but our kids had sort of adopted him as their grandpa, and he was helping our kids heal from losing their own grandfather (Paul’s dad) shortly before Karl moved out to Modesto. The kids (some are not kids anymore now) still remember their visits to Karl’s home, following him around as he proudly showed them his garden, and they especially remember the fruit hedge and grapes!
But alas, the good times did not last as long as we would have liked. In January 2002, Chris, Karl’s first wife, passed away. We walked through that valley of grief with Karl, grateful for an opportunity to be there for him in his time of need, as he had been there for us. Karl loved to play pinochle, and apparently had a lot of practice during his army days. Paul and I didn’t have a chance! Week after week, we would go play pinochle with Karl, and the better he felt, the worse he would beat us.
Paul and I still remember how much fun we had going fishing with Karl, just parking on the side of the highway and hiking out to the river. Karl taught me how to grab the catfish just right so they can’t hurt me, whack each of them over the head, then clean and filet them. Karl wasn’t quite old enough to be my father, but he was certainly one of the men that God had used to help me heal from the absence of a father’s love in my childhood. About 7 months later, in August of 2002, we were so glad to see Karl coming out of his grief and going to Germany to visit his relatives. I still remember how happy Karl was to embrace life again, to believe that he could survive without Chris by his side. Little did we know of the tragedy to come which would take Karl into a valley none of us ever expected to go through.
While in Germany, Karl was riding in a car when it was hit by another car. The accident was so bad, and Karl’s body was so severely damaged that the doctors had to purposely put Karl in a coma for about 3 months to give his body a chance to heal. In late December, Karl was flown back to the U.S. in time to be with his family for Christmas, albeit he was still in a hospital, and unable to feel or move much of his body. We were just glad that he was alive and back with us again.
We visited Karl as often as we could while he was at the rehab center, praying with him, and encouraging him to keep trying to regain his mobility. Miraculously, Karl healed beyond what the medical professionals ever thought he would, and he was able to go home to continue his healing there. We continued to visit Karl each week, as he fought the odds to regain the control of the muscles in his body again, and it was so wonderful when Karl regained enough of his upper body control to be able to sit up and beat us soundly in pinochle! I couldn’t believe how happy I was to lose a game.
In September 2003, my family moved from Modesto, CA to Carmel, IN, but we continued to keep in touch with Karl. We were delighted to hear about his progress in physical therapy, getting closer and closer to being able to walk. And we were so joyous to hear the news that Karl had fallen in love again and getting married to Karen. We were glad that Karl would not be alone anymore.
In Summer of 2005, my family made a trip back to California to visit our relatives and friends, and of course, we stopped by to see Karl and meet Karen. I still remember how great I felt to see Karl with Karen, so happy, so full of life, and making the best of things again.
But Karl was also living in constant pain. He had to take so many pills just for his body to function in the way that healthy people take for granted. Some people who don’t know Karl would say that he’s lost faith, lost hope, gave up, etc. But I believe it’s the opposite. I believe that Karl knew without a doubt that God loves him very much, and that there is a life better than the one we’re living. It was his faith in what lies beyond that motivated him to stop taking his medication, to refuse medical intervention. Perhaps there comes a time in a human soul, when the effort of keeping this temporal, malfunctioning body alive just isn’t worth it anymore, and what life there is here just pales in comparison to what lies beyond. Perhaps at such a time, it makes sense to refuse medical intervention and simply let nature take its course. Perhaps depression clouded Karl’s judgement and he couldn’t see how very much Karen and his family would miss him, and instead could only see himself as a burden to them. I don’t know exactly what went on in Karl’s mind. I only know that once Karl set his mind on something, you’d stand a better chance betting it would snow in Bangkok than persuading him to change his mind. Some calls this stubbornness, but I prefer to call it steadfastness. It’s this same steadfastness that carried him through those months of rehabilitation, that urged him on to defy the odds and confounded the medical professionals. Karl simply set his mind on going to his permanent home instead of staying in this deteriorating one.
Karl, I will miss you, but I am glad that you are not in pain anymore. And boy, not only can you walk without a cane now, I’ll bet you’re running and dancing! Oh heck, you’re probably flying!
Don’t forget to reserve a spot for me at the card table.