Seven Lessons I’m Learning on the Grief Journey

Six years ago today. Rhiannon's 24th birthday, May 19, 2009.

Today would have been my daughter Rhiannon's 30th birthday. We're calling it her "first birthday in heaven."If you haven't been following the story, here it is in a nutshell: Rhiannon was born (5/19/1985) with polycystic kidney disease which led to other issues, including liver disease, an enlarged spleen, and paralysis following a stroke at age 3. Faced with a short life expectancy, in 2011 she began to experience falling blood counts that led to repeated hospitalizations as her caregivers … [Read more...]

Rhiannon’s Vigil and Funeral

Partners in Crime

On Thursday, September 11, a vigil for Rhiannon Gladelle Wilburn took place at Wages and Sons Funeral Home in Stone Mountain, GA. The family received guests from 7 to 8 PM and at 8 PM a brief prayer vigil was presided over by Father John Molyneaux, CMF. People told stories — mostly humorous — and Rhiannon's dear friend Cindy Lou Harrington sang two of Rhiannon's favorite songs: her own "Let Me Win" and Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" (with lyrics specially rewritten for "our" Rhiannon).Here's a vi … [Read more...]

Completing the Hospice Journey

Mid 1990s. Rhiannon asks her dad to be her escort at homecoming. He has no idea how this picture will make him sob 20 years later.

Back in May, I wrote a post about my daughter's decision to enter in-home hospice care. Rhiannon struggled with health issues, related to polycistic kidney disease, her entire life, and spent 26 of her 29 years in a wheelchair. I first blogged about her challenges back in 2010. Today's post is the inevitable conclusion to her story. Rhiannon passed away on August 30. Here's a link to her obituary. Maybe the easiest way to write this post is to begin with the message we sent out to the 175 fa … [Read more...]

A Gift for Lorraine

Okay, my friends, get your kleenex ready. This video tells the story of a 96-year-old man who wrote a song for his recently deceased wife (of over 70 years), and how a local recording studio helped to bring the song to life. Part of what's so cool for me personally is that we share the same anniversary (June 26), although of course they celebrated their golden anniversary three years before Fran and I got married.And be sure to download the song from iTunes (I have). … [Read more...]

John D McColman: Obituary and Reminiscence

First, the obituary...Retired Major John D McColman, USAF, 89, passed from this life in High Shoals, Georgia, on January 15, 2013. A lifelong sportsman and devoted family man, John touched many lives through his quiet but warm personality, dry sense of humor, and compassionate character.John D McColman (his birth certificate simply reads the initial “D” for his middle name, which was intended to be the name of his uncle, Dee) was born on June 15, 1923 in Avoca, Michigan. He entered pilot … [Read more...]

Make-a-Wish 2003

In 2003, following a year of health challenges as Rhiannon experienced bleeding in her esophagus due to her liver disease, she qualified as a Make-a-Wish recipient. Like so many of her peers, she wished for a trip to Disney World. We made our journey to Orlando in November — seven years ago this month.I thought that our pictures from that trip had all been lost when our house was burglarized (and both our computers stolen) in 2008, but this morning I found a number of images that had been s … [Read more...]

My Parents, circa 1978

My brother Donald took these pictures of my Mom and Dad in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, sometime around 1978 (I was in High School at the time). … [Read more...]


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