Sunday, January 7, 2018

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Book About Daniel's Grandfather


                    To those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning, and feel as if you know Daniel, I am answering your question.   Yes, my latest book, as above, is about my own father, which makes him Daniel's grandfather.

                    For those of you who wish to read this book, you can do so, in paperback or through all varieties of electronic means, through the following links:

Amazon Store URL -…/dualbookshelf.marketpla…/B0782819RV
BN Store URL -…/1127574533…
Apple Store URL -
Kobo Store URL -Kobo Store URL -…/lawrence-dewolfe-kelsey-the-life-of-…

Paperback copies:


   Merry Christmas Everyone

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Christmas Letter to Daniel: Nine Years On


          I work so hard to be here in the present, and to be available to your siblings, your Dad, your remaining pets. and to your nephew.  Most of the time, I think you would be proud.  Sometimes, of course, your departure still hurts.   You know, I can still remember clearly having bought your Christmas presents for 2008. I remember what they all were.  I remember also that you lobbied hard to be given a particular one, prior to Christmas, and I said  "no".   How was I to know that you would depart the day after Thanksgiving, and would not be here on Earth to open any of them?  I wish I'd given it to you.  I never parted with any of those gifts.  Instead, we unwrapped them on Christmas Day that year, and placed them in your room. I suppose I thought that some of your siblings might play the video games in an attempt to feel close to you somehow.  In any event, they haven't been used much and, at this point, they are nearly new copies of antique games.  Your little nephew is fascinated with knowing about you and about your things.  It's funny how he always recognizes your pictures and is excited to see them.

           This week, I was out getting a few last minute things for Christmas stockings and I ran into a woman we know. She was talking about what makes it Christmas for her, and she was centered on a lot of the foods we associate with this season. I told her that, for me, the music is what touches me, and what readies me for Christmas. It isn't only the old songs or the traditional carols that do this, but it's the new songs too. Each year, there are new songs which help me to deal with the alternate reality in which we find ourselves, and that help me to reach the point where I am able to celebrate Christmas with you, and with my Dad being on the other side of that veil.

           This year I have not been disappointed. This is a sweet song that is fairly new, and will help me to salvage and to travel through this Christmas meaningfully for yet another year.

           I love you Daniel, but then, you know that.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

You Departed Nine Years Ago Today



Daniel, one year in costume as Charlie Chaplin.    Daniel would be 21 years old in the present day.


     I won't ever forget your special days.   I will always remember your birthdays. I will always remember the anniversaries of your sudden departure to Heaven.  I will be here until I am called. I will continue to take care of your animals, and there are still quite a few you would know from the farm.  The ones you knew seem to try to live lives as long as possible as if to spare me any more grieving, for as long as they can.

      This year, it is not only the birthday of a special friend of yours, but one of your friends has a baby that is due today.  Please look in on her if you can. 

       And so, the anniversary of your departure nine years ago today, is no different.  I will man the fort. I will find warm homes for the things you owned and loved while you were here. I will watch and care for your siblings as they grow, and I will continue to be comforted by the love we shared while you were still my youngest son, here on Earth.

        You have my love and my respect always.   Please send love to my Dad.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Cataclysmic Loss: Nine Years After

Dearest Daniel,

               On the twenty-eighth of this month, you will have been gone from Earth for nine years.  I can just imagine you at 21, had you remained here.  You were only 12 1/2 when you departed.  I have to wonder how I might feel, in three more years, when you are gone for as long as you were here.
                I know that you keep an eye on us all.  Somehow, some of your animals are still alive. It's as if they knew you had to depart in haste, and they wish to stay as long as possible in order to support us.  Sometimes, when I am scrubbing a horse bucket, or working with one of the horses, I feel as if you are watching me.  I think of you often, and I try to be as busy as I can be.  There is no "closure".  The loss of a child will always be a crater in one's life, but we must continue, for your Dad, for your siblings and your animals, and also it's what you would expect from us, and I wouldn't want to disappoint you.  You know, I still love you, wider than the oceans, and deeper than the seas............and yes, I know, just as you always said, you love me more.

Friday, November 24, 2017

And the Bathroom Still Stands as Witness



         In a few days, it will have been nine years since you entered the bathroom, collapsed, and died. My immediate  CPR, a precordial thump, a shot of epinephrine, and then another, followed by the sheriff's deputies use of the AED made no difference. You hit the floor, and you were gone.  In the crazy days and weeks which followed, there weren't many answers. Eventually, multiple world class pathologists at university medical centers said that although your autopsy was negative for anything that should have caused your death, that your collapse, your fall forward, and the number of sudden deaths in older members of our family coupled with our strong family history for arrhythmia (heart rhythm disturbance) is likely what took you, even at only age 12 1/2.  Since then, so many more children and teens have died suddenly from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) and sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC), that although I am sure you have a lot of company and friends to talk to about it, it is of no consolation to their families, or to myself.

                I often think about the bathroom you died in.  The house was new when you died there. The shiny walls and lights, new marble tub and shower. The mirror and new shower curtain, and the photos of lighthouses are still there.  When you died, the baseboards and shoe moldings were new. Today, they are showing just a little age, the result of steam and occasional splashings by your siblings and your toddler nephew. A few days after you died, I lay on the floor, as you had, looking up to see if anything resembling a stairway to Heaven were there, something, anything, but there wasn't anything.  It was simply a bathroom. I couldn't imagine how your active and shining soul could have seeped out of the cheery new room.  How could something so cataclysmic have occurred in such a pleasant and ordinary room?  One of your doctors called it a "supernatural passing".  How could a supernatural passing have occurred in a modern bathroom. Wouldn't it have needed to occur in a church?

               Since then, we haven't changed  much in the bathroom.  There are some prints that are hung on the wall in blue and white which look quite good.  James uses the bathroom more than anyone, since he occupies your old room, after we moved all of your things to a new bedroom we finished in the basement. (To those who don't know us, James in a young teen who was adopted the year after Daniel died, something Daniel had always wanted us to do.) Also since that time, your nephew bathes in the tub in that bathroom, and spends more time in the tub there, than anyone else ever has, since all of you preferred showers.

              The bathroom remains the same, and on some levels so do I.   I still can't believe that my youngest son could celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, play a soccer game with college students, and then arise the next day perfectly well, with the intention of Black Friday shopping.  We were getting ready to go, when you collapsed and died.   Black Friday is all it will ever be for me.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Our Family's Story of Halloween

                  Daniel, I remember telling you that when I was a young child, my absolute favorite holiday was Halloween.  Christmas and Easter were the purview and territory of the adults, and you had to dress as they wished you to.  Halloween was another matter. It was the child run and mediated holiday, and we adored it. We often had our costumes planned months in advance, and we would buy elements of them from garage sales or church sales. Some of them were incredibly creative.  We would choose our costumes and then my mother would sew an accessory or two for us on the sewing machine.
                   When we were very young, we walked, before dusk, to all of our neighbors, and since we lived in the country, that would only be about nine neighbors if you walked several miles. Because the neighbors knew that we would be getting to a maximum of nine, they would give fairly generous offerings. It was also the only time we would see some of these neighbors all year.

                   As we grew and became twelve or thirteen, we went farther afield. We walked and hit the local neighbors before dusk and then when dusk came, my friend's mother would take us to the subdivisions which were about fifteen miles away. She gave us shopping bags and the name of the game was to move as fast as possible. Of course, the people who were seeing fifty children a night adjusted their offerings downward, but that wasn't the point. It was a candy treasure hunt......a one day special.  The funny thing is that we didn't really eat all of that candy.  Our parents would check it, we ate some, and we would give some away to our friends at school. Some of it would still be sitting in the bag at Christmas.  The last year I trick or treated, a pizza place in the valley gave a slice of pizza to each child on Halloween.

                    By the time I had my own children, the carefree days of letting your children walk on country roads at dusk were over.  We feared poisonings, abductions, and accidents on those same country roads, because by then, all of those things had happened.  When your brother and sister were small, I would take them to selected neighbors who knew us, and since your sister was a Type I diabetic, they had special sugar free treats especially for her.  When we moved to the suburbs, and had the big white house, your Dad took the two older kids, your brother, and you to neighbors, while I gave out candy to more than a hundred kids, most years.  One Halloween evening, your Dad had to go out and restock our supply two more times!

                  By the time you were of prime trick or treating age, America had fallen out of love with the holiday. By then, we lived here on the farm, and the closed gates at dusk ensured that no one would be coming here.  Instead of trick or treating, churches and local groups arranged Harvest Festivals, with a bonfire, a pot luck dinner, candy, costumes and all your friends.  On that Saturday, you and your friends would play games until late at night.

                    I hope you had as much fun on those days as we did. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Edge of Autumn


                  Yesterday, outside on the farm it was clearly late summer. Dogs were still shedding hair, honeybees were still seeking flowers, and squirrels were quiet.  Today, the tide has turned. Squirrels are gathering acorns, trees are turning yellow, leaves are falling. So many trees here grew so tall this year that it's now time for them to sleep.It smells like autumn.

                    So finish up those last summer joys and tasks because the page is about to turn.  Have you noticed that the pages turn faster and faster each year ?  I certainly have.  Happy Autumn.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Step Back

The house we lived in when Daniel was born. Picture taken yesterday.

  Yesterday, I had a business meeting which briefly took me to the area in which we lived when Daniel was born. Of course, we haven't lived there in about eighteen years, and so we wondered if we could still navigate the back roads to get there. All at once, we were there, and although there are some new houses and some others gone from landmarks in the region, we were able to navigate just as if we had never left. 
                         At least three families have purchased and occupied the house we lived in when Daniel was born, since we did.  It's good to see that the house is still being maintained and well loved.
                     Afterward, since we were in the same county, we visited the house we had first bought when moving to Virginia. One of our children was born while we were living there.  We were surprised to see that the stockade fencing we had installed in the back yard was completely gone now. Then we realized that we had installed it twenty-five years ago, when we were both in our twenties !  Of course, the one we installed would be gone now.  Over all, that house too has fared well.

The home we bought when we first moved to Virginia.  Daniel's brother Matt was born while we lived here.

                     When we traveled home I realized that despite the fact that Daniel went home earlier than any of us wished to, that we have always been lucky.  We lived in beautiful places where our children had safe places to play, and knew they were loved.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Story of Otto Warmbier

Photo Sam Greene AP

            Otto Warmbier was born in 1994 and  grew up in Cincinnatti, Ohio, the eldest of three children. His parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, were devoted parents to their children. As Otto grew, he became an excellent student, and developed an interest in international affairs. Upon graduation from high school, he became a double major at University of Virginia,in economics and commerce. His interest in international affairs brought him first to a visit to China. It was on the China trip that he saw an advertisement geared toward Americans for a brief tour to North Korea.

                   During the five day tour, he became good friends with a British man, Danny Gratton, who was his roommate during the tour. Danny recalled Otto as being bright, very polite and mature for his age. The morning of their departure, they were running late because the hotel had missed their wake up call. While at the airport, they provided their passports, and two security officials came to Otto, and had him follow. Danny remembers joking, "Well, that's the last we'll see of you."

                   Of course, the rest is history. Otto Warmbier was detained on the charge of stealing a political banner/poster from the hotel, which was considered "a hostile act" against the government of North Korea.  Following a hasty one hour trial, Otto was condemned to a fifteen year hard labor sentence, which is rarely survived in North Korea.  Incidentally, Otto's family says the theft is untrue and that Otto was threatened and coerced into a confession.  The young man who might have become a diplomat someday, helping to set up international commerce between nations, had become a political pawn.

This is what Otto Warmbier looked like prior to his imprisonment.   Photo CNN

                    For eighteen months following the trial Otto Warmbier's parents have had no real information.  Sweden had continued to request information on Otto and his condition throughout these months.

                   This week, Otto Warmbier was released by North Korea on "humanitarian grounds". They claim that shortly after his trial, he became ill from botulism and from a sleeping pill, and has been in a coma like state ever since.  He has been fed using a nasogastric tube and has been in a North Korean hospital for quite some time.

                  Otto has been transported to a teaching hospital in Cincinnatti, Ohio.   Top neurologists have examined him.  Their conclusion is that botulism is an unlikely causation for his condition, as it causes respiratory paralysis and death, and there is no organ damage other than to his brain.  They note that his MRI study indicates severe brain damage across all regions of his brain. This is the type of damage that would occur following a protracted cardiac arrest.

                  Was Otto Warmbier detained for simply being an American ?  Was he tried, falsely convicted, and then brutalized and tortured to the point of cardiac arrest ?  Was he resuscitated just in time to prevent death, but to simply live in a persistent vegetative state ?  The evidence suggests that all of this is true.

                  The next time someone tells me that "everyone in the world is alike" or that "evil isn't real", please remember the case of Otto Warmbier. He went from being a University of Virginia junior, with an entire life of possibilities ahead of him to being a young man in a wakeful vegetative state without recognition of language. There is no video evidence that he is alleged to have stolen a propaganda poster from a region of the hotel from which he was not permitted.  His mistake was simply to have vacationed for five days in a rogue nation with a supervised tour with people from other nations.

                  Evil is quite real in the world, and Kim Jong-un has committed quite a bit of it, including killing his own half brother and uncles.

                   I had to think long and hard today as to why this course of events was quite so repugnant and so upsetting to me, and then I realized that Daniel was only two years younger than Otto. The idea that any nation could torture a young adult to the point at which he arrests and then has brain damage indicates that the leader of North Korea hasn't even taken even rudimentary steps toward being a human being.

People who wish to leave an encouraging message to Otto's family may send it here.  The University of Virginia will pass these along at the appropriate time.

  Please be kind. I have been horrified by a number of the heartless, uncaring, ill informed and downright bizarre comments concerning this case on Facebook.         

UPDATE:  Monday,  June 19, 2017   The family of Otto Warmbier has just announced that Otto  passed away today.  My family and I send prayers to Fred and Cindy Warmbier, as well as to Otto's surviving siblings and friends.  I am so terribly sorry for their loss, but I know that Otto is now safe home and set free.