A Sad Duty: Telling Dad's War Buddy of his Passing
December 8, 2010
Dear Mr. Kellan,
I am writing to let you know that my father, Jim Edwards, passed away on April 29, 2010. He was 95 years old. He fell at the end of March resulting in a compressed lumbar fracture. He survived the fall, but while in skilled nursing for rehabilitation he developed pneumonia and had to be readmitted to the hospital. He didn’t respond to IV antibiotics and developed early signs of heart failure. The hospital’s palliative care team met with the family and told us that my father could not recover. The doctor estimated that he had two weeks to two months to live. We took Dad back to his home with hospice support and with 24 hour care provided by our family, including a granddaughter who is a nurse. My father lived 2 more weeks. But during those two weeks my brother and I, the four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren were able to spend time with Dad. I sang the old songs my dad loved with him and we shared tender moments in the days leading to his death. Dad remained alert and cheerful visiting with family until just days before his death when he lost the ability to speak. In the pre-dawn hours on April 29, he died quietly and painlessly in his sleep. His death was as he wished, at home, with his family around him. We are grateful for that. My dad was a good man who lived a long and happy life.
I wanted to let you know how highly my dad spoke of you Mr. Kellan. During his later years he often talked of his time overseas during World War II. He told me how he met you during his initial training at Camp Callan in California and how from then on you were best friends spending the entire war together on the same anti-aircraft crew. You sailed from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, together aboard the USS West Point headed for military operations in the Pacific Theater. At the War's end you returned together on the USS J.C. Breckenridge coming full circle back to San Francisco, where you boarded a train to the MidWest. The two of you finally parted ways each to go to his own hometown. Two soldiers who spent the entire war together. An amazing story of friendship, endurance and survival. Whenever he talked of the War, Dad always spoke of Davis, Poole, Kellan and himself. He felt the friendships he forged during his military experiences were as deep as any he made in his lifetime even though the four of you were rarely able to see each other after the war. And of all his buddies, Army or civilian, he told me that he never made a better friend in his life than you, Mr. Kellan
I remember your family’s visit with us in Kansas City in the 1950’s. You were from Upper Michigan and used to cool summers. The summer you chose to visit us was one of the hottest summers on record. This was before most homes (including ours) had air conditioning. Somehow you and your family managed to survive our heat and humidity. You kindly brought with you a child's necklace for me and I want you to know that I still have it. Later we visited your family in Michigan. I think that was the last time you and Dad saw each other. But you spoke each year at Christmas on the phone and exchanged occasional cards and letters.
Thank you for being my dad's best friend. He remembered you and spoke of you until the end of his life. I apologize for taking so long to notify you of his passing. It was just such a hard letter to write.