Explaining the hiatus

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I haven’t written much this past week — at least not much for you to read here. I don’t write too much about my personal life here, because, as I’ve written before — I don’t like to bore my readers. So, if all you’re interested in is Krugman-fisking and political thoughts and analyses, then you can just skip this entry.

A week ago today, my grandfather, Sidney Allen Stokes (aka Papa), died at the age of 83 at his home. Papa had been diagnosed with cancer just 3 1/2 weeks earlier. Instead of writing here, I wrote his obituary for the local papers.

Sidney Allen Stokes, born July 25, 1919 in El Centro, went home to be with the Lord on June 14, 2003.

He moved to San Diego in 1923. He graduated from Brown Military Academy (now San Diego Army-Navy Academy) in 1937. He attended San Diego State College. He later worked in heavy construction on the Texoma Dam in Denison, Texas, for the E. Paul Fords Co.

Sidney met his future wife, Bonnie Jean Lindley in Wynne, Ark. The couple was married April 4, 1942, in San Diego.

He served in the Army Air Corps in WWII as a B-29 navigator and engineer. Years later he wished he had not been competent at math, which enabled him to pass the navigator’s test. Those who passed the test became navigators; those who failed the test became pilots. He had wanted to be a pilot.

After leaving the service, he worked for Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. for 38 years before retiring in 1977.

He was a member of the Good Sam Fifth Wheel Trailer Club and College Avenue Baptist Church.

Sidney could fix, build or make practically anything. In his retirement he kept busy by building motorcycles from the frame-up. A motorcycle accident caused his wife, Bonnie, to put a stop to motorcycling, so he started on the next-smallest thing she would allow – restoring British sports cars. Over the years he rebuilt two MGs and periodically loaned them out to his grandchildren.

Sidney loved Jesus. He and Bonnie would pray together every morning. His example instilled in his children and grandchildren a love of God.

His family will see him again in heaven.

Sidney is survived by his wife of 61 years, Bonnie L. Stokes of La Mesa; son and daughter-in-law James and Barbara Stokes of Carlsbad; daughter and son-in-law JoAnne and Richard Hoy of La Mesa; grandchildren Matthew Hoy of Escondido, Rebecca Hoy Short of La Mesa, Daniel Stokes and Bonnie Stokes of Carlsbad; sisters Elsie Underwood of Nokesville, Va., and Dorothy Wiker of El Cajon.

My grandfather was one of the solid pillars in my life. I will always treasure the time we spent together — whether it was the spring break we spent putting a new transmission in the 1971 MGB roadster (it was quite a project — to change the transmission in an MG you have to pull the engine) or just sitting in the living room talking about God, life, and politics.

Though I know I’ll see him again, it hasn’t made the past week easy. I’d expected to have many more years with my grandfather. His mother, my great-grandmother, lived to be 102. Both of his older sisters are still alive. But he’d had 3 pacemakers put in over a period of 18 years — he figured that each of those years was a bonus — I took them for granted.

At yesterday’s graveside service, my brother-in-law, a seminary student, performed the ceremony. He did an excellent job.

He recounted the story of a young woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her pastor visited her and she told him what songs she wanted sung at the memorial, what dress she wanted to be buried in, what kind of flowers she wanted. As the pastor got up to leave, she told him that she’d almost forgotten something — she wanted to be buried with a fork in her right hand.

“A fork?” the pastor asked.

The woman explained that whenever she was at a church social, or at dinner in a restaurant, when they would come to clear the plates after the meal, someone would tell her to hold on to her fork. When that happened, she knew something even better was to come. Triple-chocolate cake. Apple pie a la mode. Something delicious. Something better than what had come before.

So, when people asked why she was holding on to her fork, the pastor could tell them that she needed it because something better was waiting her.

The week was difficult enough with my grandfather’s death, but it was difficult too because of the shooting on Friday, June 13, of Oceanside police officer Tony Zeppetella. Though he was killed on Friday, allegedly by an illegal alien/gang member/career criminal, his name wasn’t released to the public until Saturday night. I didn’t register Tony’s name until Sunday morning.

I’d met Tony more than a year ago, when his then-girlfriend Jamie Dail brought him to the 20Something group at our church. Jamie was in the small-group Bible study that I hosted at my apartment. Jamie and Tony later married in Las Vegas. They have a six-month-old son, Jakob. Tony was murdered two days before he would have celebrated his first Father’s Day.

I spent an hour on Monday talking with Jamie — she’s handling it much better than I think I would. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend Tony’s memorial service — it was the same time as my grandfather’s. )

It’s difficult to know what to say to Jamie. Jamie knows that Tony loves her. While it’s true that Tony is in heaven with his Lord and Savior, it seems insufficient for Jamie, here, now, on Earth.

It was tough looking at baby Jakob as he slept — knowing that all he will ever know about his father is what those who knew Tony, especially Jamie, tell him.

For those of you who are interested in helping Jamie and her son, there has been an account set up in Tony Zeppetella’s name at Washington Mutual.

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