Since Christopher was murdered in March of 1996 I have been much more aware of the blessing and the miracles that happen in my life. Roy was one of those miracles.
I met Roy at the San Francisco Food Bank where I was the volunteer Planned Giving Officer. He and his wife, Barbara, had decided to give money to the Food Bank after each of their deaths. The first contribution arrived after Barbara passed away, and Roy wanted to come for a visit. During the visit, theSan Francisco Food Bank wanted to show Roy our Memorial Garden and ask him if we could install a plaque for Barbara.
The Memorial Garden was started as a memorial for Christopher Robin Hotchkiss, my son, who was murdered March 21, 1996. Our family had been very involved in building the San Francisco Food Bank, and when Christopher died, the Food Bank and its Executive Director, Paul Ash, wanted to do something. Many years later we felt that opening the garden to everyone was the way Christopher would have wanted it.
I walked down stairs to greet Roy, who was seated in a chair in our lobby. He was 89 years young that day. I took his hand and introduced myself. I asked him how he was doing since his wife had passed and he started to sob. I held both his hands in mine and listened.
“I am so lonely,”Roy wept. ”It is hard to get around because I am unsteady on my legs and I don’t like to cook! It takes too long because I am so slow and I get hungry!”
It was as if a light bulb went off. ”I can cook for you!” I said. Roy smiled at me and said “You will?” I assured him that I loved to cook. When he mentioned that his daughter Carol had visited and he had meals for a few more days, I promised to bring him freezer meals by next week. I also told him I would call him and ask what he liked to eat.
Then we toured the warehouse. Roy shuffled as he walked and needed to be very careful with his steps, but he charged along and was very engaged! Once we were finished seeing the Food Bank, we went to the memorial garden and I told him the story of Christopher. When I told him Barbara would be the first to share this special place with Christopher, he was touched. Before Roy left, I gave him a big hug good-bye and promised to call.
That night I called my friend Shannon, who agreed to participate in a big cook for Roy. I bought freezer containers and we made him meatloaf, lentil soup, macaroni & cheese, chicken-vegetable soup and split pea soup. Shannon cooked at her house and I cooked at mine, and then we met at her house for the big pack-up to Roy’s. We had called Roy to tell him we were delivering his food and not to cook lunch because we were bringing it.
Lunch was delightful. Roy has the best smile! We stuffed his freezer and learned more about his life and loves, his children and Barbara. He showed us pictures of everyone and proudly showed off the home he and Barbara created together. He told us he had been an accountant and management consultant; his career began when punch cards were still used to keep track of numbers.
As Shannon and I were leaving, I left both of our phone numbers by his phone. I told him to tell his daughters that we had come and that if they had any questions or concerns to call us.
In June, Roy, his daughter Carol, and her two daughters, Kirsten and Karin were scheduled to come to the San Francisco Food Bank to see the plaque for Barbara – wife, mother and grandmother. As I was leaving home that morning I grabbed some dried rose petals and put them in a basket. (I dry all rose petals that I get to take up to Christopher’s resting place–a beautiful Bay tree onMt.Tamalpais. When I go to a wedding or baby shower, or if loved ones buy me roses, I dry them to later spread for Christopher, which makes me feel like he is included in the happy event, too).
When everyone arrived at the Food Bank, we made introductions all around. I had not met Carol yet, or her daughters. My husband, Gary Maxworthy, was there, along with Paul Ash (Executive Director),Christopher Wiley(Development Director) andAaron Rashba(Major Gifts Officer). We all gathered in the small garden at the end of the food bank parking lot, by the entrance door. The garden is ringed by trees and rosemary hedges, with beautiful stones to sit on in the middle, along with benches in front of the rosemary hedges. The garden is used on nice days for lunch and breaks.
Once we arrived in the garden, I walked over to Barbara’s plaque with everyone and we all made rose petal wishes. The men were very glad I was there; when they backed away from tears, I walked right in. It was a very special time of remembrance for Barbara, much appreciated by the family. I took Carol over to see Christopher’s plaque, too, and learned that she had lost her husband in 1980, another Christopher! There were more tears from us both.
Roy had realized in the months following Barbara’s passing that he wanted to be nearer his family, and decided that a move to Colorado to be near his daughter, Carol, would be best. Arrangements for Roy’s move were made for the end of June. Carol was there to help with the move and invited Shannon and me for a good bye lunch to see Roy off. I was sad to see him go, but also very happy that he would be close to Carol. I felt like I had adopted him even though for a very short time.
As we were eating lunch, Carol asked Roy if he had told Adele he was moving. My ears perked up because there are not too many Adele’s. “Do you mean Adele Corvin?” I asked.
I learned thatRoyhad been a board member at Adele’s family foundation. It is such a small world and I couldn’t wait to get in the car and call Adele. This story was getting more special!
Once Roy moved, I kept in touch with Roy and Carol. Roy would pop into my mind and I would pick up the phone to see how he was doing. I hadn’t known him very long but I felt very connected to Roy and his daughter. Our paths had crossed in a perfect moment. Gary and I even went to visit him in the fall of 2010. He had been feeling poorly, but rallied to spend some time with us. Again, we had a delightful lunch made by Carol.
It was hard to say goodbye. I knew Roy was not doing well. Hugging Carol good bye was very sad for me; I wanted to stay and help her. Our dear Roy passed away a month later, on November 24, 2010.
I continued to call and email Carol. Carol told me at one point that her father had left a gift from his trust to the San Francisco Food Bank, as had her mother. I was very touched and thankful, and assured her that we would appreciate any amount to help end hunger.
In early December, I was at the San Francisco Food Bank for a meeting; the Development Department was all a buzz about a large donation. I asked where it had come from: it was from Roy!! The donation was over a million dollars to help end hunger. I was so excited, grateful and overwhelmed. I couldn’t wait to tell Adele! This story was still getting better!
So, our dear Roy will now be in the garden with his dear Barbara and my dear Christopher. How sweet this is!!!!