Stories: Who We Have Lost

A Pennsylvania Dutch Badass

Story aboutJune Arnold

Our mother June, though often donned in holiday-themed sweaters and polyester stretch pants, was progressive in the ways that mattered. She adopted me and my sister in the early 1960’s when it was not part of the mainstream. She let me cut my long locks so that I could have a shag like David Cassidy from the Partridge Family when I was in 3rd grade. She finally got pregnant when she was 39 with our brother and this was viewed as high risk for that time (1970). She helped me pick out vests and ties from my father’s closet so I could wear suits in Junior High. She accompanied one of us in our teens to get an abortion. She didn’t bat an eye when I came out as a lesbian shortly after my father died (1992) and embraced the interracial partnership that I was in for 14 years. She was there for each of us as we navigated and ended painful, abusive marriages – two of which ended in divorce and child custody battles. We watched her thrive after her husband died suddenly at age 63 – an active alcoholic and Korean war vet who held her back in many ways. Mom would go on to travel abroad, to join multiple community groups – one of her favorites being the Red Hats. She felt strongly about the state of the country and much like me, had a great disdain for Trump supporters. One of my favorite memories about this was her giving the middle finger to the woman’s car with all the pro-life and Trump stickers; mom would tickle herself and let me know that she also did it when I wasn’t visiting! She was also a proud Philadelphia Eagles fan, wearing a team shirt every time they played and believing she had the power to impact the outcome, depending on which shirt she wore! She also loved debriefing at half time or at the end of the game and stating who should be left go or fired. She was full of life, generous in Spirit, mischievous and the quintessential badass for her time. We miss her EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

My Father

Story aboutBilly Fowler

Our memories flood my mind day and night none stop …
Disbelief washes over my thoughts and I just say “no it’s not possible” over and over …
Tears flood my eyes and pour down my face …
I get angry … angry that all this is happening …
My dad … my dad is gone and I refuse to accept it …
He is my best friend … how? How do I go on without him??
It feels like a heavy weight is on my chest and my heart hurts … it literally hurts … it’s like he took apart of it with him …
I talk and pray to him out loud …
I picture his lifeless body over and over … it looks like he is just sleeping … I just want him to wake up …
I wish I could see him again and give him the biggest hug like I always did …
My dad wasn’t an emotional person … but I like to think I knew him better than most …
I’ve always been worried about him even when I didn’t have to be … that’s just what I do …
I can still hear his voice, smell his scent … feel his hugs, feel his hand in mind,etc …
I’ve had many years to study this man and I know it’s not true but it feels like I’m the only one in this world that is feeling this pain … like I’m the only one who lost a father … COVID-19 stole one of my prize possessions … September 10, 2021 is a stained day … the day my world shattered …

My Everything

Story aboutTracie Levy

Tracie and I met online (not intending to). We started talking and one thing lead to another, and I moved down to Virginia to be with her in 2004. We got married in 2006, and stayed married until her passing on June 24, 2020. We did everything together. We both love and watched hockey games together. She caught Covid from me. After she went to the hospital, she passed not even 24 hours later. She was and always will be my everything.

No Ordinary Love

Story aboutMark Hightower

Everyone enjoys a good love story, BUT ours is by far my favorite. Most people NEVER get to experience the love we were blessed with! I will cherish each and every moment spent with Mark!! What we had was NO ORDINARY LOVE!! A love like ours was, indeed, HEAVEN SENT!! I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BIG TEDDYBEAR!!

My Dad Loved My Kids Before I Did

Story aboutLuis Fernando Quesada

A Story About Luis Fernando Quesada: Immigrant, Hard Worker, Husband, Father, & Abuelo

My dad loved my kids before I did. I know that first sentence sounds weird, when you give birth to a baby, your heart changes completely to a love that you’ve never experienced before — but it’s the truth, my dad loved my boys before I did.

Let me tell you a story … I have two boys, Nicolas and Oliver. When I told my dad that I was pregnant with Nicolas, he was very excited and happy. It happened really quick after I got married, but it was a blessing. Nicolas was born and both sets of grandparents were very devoted. His paternal grandparents took care of him while we worked, and my parents saw him on the weekends. We went everywhere. Our favorite thing was going shopping–malls, outlets–my dad especially loved buying things for him.

I would be on the phone with my parents, and I would say something like “I am getting ready to leave the house as I need to buy Nicolas a new backpack.” 30 mins later, I would get a call asking me where I was so they could meet us there. We always got into fights of who was going to put their card out first to pay. Here my dad was, working at a bakery, making $7.50/hour, yet his heart and love for his grandkids was worth more than anything.

Then, in 2014 I was pregnant a second time but my parents were more independent as they were able to finally have a car, so they came over to our house a lot. When Oliver was born, we were at the hospital and like all babies, he looked like a little old man! Strong features. My dad came over to the hospital and I said, “Look dad, he looks like a little wrinkly old man.” He looked at him and said, “he’s perfect.” He took him from my arms and just stared at his face. He said, “look at his nose, it’s perfect,” “look at his ears and hands, he’s perfect.” He would then caress his face, touch every feature with his big fingers, and just stare, his smile was from ear to ear. And that moment I realized that my dad loved my boys before I did.

When my dad finally retired from working, he and my mom decided to move to Costa Rica to live in a little house they owned. They stayed with us for two weeks. I wanted to take them to the airport for our last goodbye for a while. Oliver, now 6, was very close to his “abuelo” (or grandpa). One day, they were sitting together in our living room (Oliver was ALWAYS on top of my dad, my poor dad was a jungle gym every time he came to visit us). In a moment of quietness, my dad said to my mom “this kid can win anyone,” meaning that he knew this little 6-year-old would win the hearts of everyone he met, just like he won the heart of my mom and dad. Once again showing me, the absolute love, the unconditional love, that he had for them.

He died 10 days after he arrived in Costa Rica and 4 days after his positive Covid diagnosis. He was alone in a hospital bed.

For now, I will spend my days making sure his name is known, that his legacy continues, that I, in his honor, help as many as I can to avoid going through what my family has gone through. His death matters, and as so, I volunteered to help seniors like him get vaccinated, I see him in them, and although I can’t get him back, I can absolutely make sure to let everyone know that Luis Fernando Quesada, an immigrant from Costa Rica, raised a strong daughter.

And then one day, in the not-so-distant future, when the boys are old enough, I will tell them the stories of the abuelo that loved them before their mom did.

Share Your Story