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My father's father's death
Bar Harbor
I found this among my dad's papers, undated, and with no obvious context. It seems to have been produced on an electric typewriter, so clearly decades old, at least.

Notes on the last days of my biofather, Raymond Kay

He had stomach pain and toothache, went to dentist. Later passed out. They discovered he had a ruptured appendix, which was was operated on, but there had been some gangrene (?) and they had to cut through much stomach muscle in order to operate. (He was 5'9", 350 pounds.)

As a result of the appendix operation, he developed a large hernia. He was put on a 300-calorie/day diet to lose weight so they could operate on the hernia. In the course of a year, he lost 125 pounds. During much of that time he was sick and could not work. There were some heart problems that surfaced then.
He and Mom were living with her parents at that time. Because Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa were working, Ray did the cooking, and spent much time with me. Mom says that the other kids in the neighborhood would come over and ask if Mr. Kay could come out and play.

They operated on him for the hernia finally, but an infection developed and killed him within two weeks. Shortly before he died, he began singing "Going Home." Mom says she will never forget that, because it just came out of nowhere.

She told me about it by saying that God knew my daddy was sick, and to take better care of him, he had to go and be with God. I asked if he would be coming home, I asked that many times, and was told no, he wouldn't be coming back.

The body was laid out in the living room of the house, as funeral homes weren't much used in those days. I asked if they had cut his feet off, because, of course, only the top part of the casket was open. Mom said no, his feet and legs were there, but they were covered "to keep him warm." She let me feel his legs under the lid, so I would know that they were there.

He died in early November 1945. During that September, he had bought toys and books for me for Christmas presents.

For the funeral, Lerina's son Ken was supposed to drive Mom to the cemetery, but he was drunk, and so Lerina asked a friend of Ken's to do it. That friend was Bob Keller. He picked Mom (and Grandma?) up and drove them.

Two years later, Ken got married and Bob was his best man. Lerina introduced Mom to Bob at that time. He reportedly had wondered why, because Mom wore a wedding ring, and he didn't fool around with married women. Lee left early, taking Bob's car, so Evelyn and Bob shared a cab for their rides home. When the cab pulled up in front of Mom's house, Bob remembered having picked her up for the funeral. They hadn't seen or thought of each other between those two times.
For those missing family context, Bob Keller married dad's mom, and is the father of my two aunts; he was my "grampa" growing up.

Dad would have been about three years old when his father died. His mention of Christmas presents suggests that the experience of that Christmas was part of why he was always depressed around then.

I don't recall ever being told any of this.

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That's quite a story.


Thanks for sharing this information Alexx. Ray was my uncle and I never knew much about him. My mother was Harriet Kay Scalzo (Ray's sister). So sad for your Dad but "Uncle Bob" Keller was such a wonderful person.


Alex thank you so much for this information. i'm Harriet Kay Scalzo's oldest daughter, Diane Scalzo Stackow. I don't remember Raymond except what my Mom told me. It sounded like he was a very loveable man. I loved your Dad Robert Keller. I worked at Bell Aerospace for a time with him after High School and we even car-pooled some days. He was a sweet man. Your message brought a tear but thanks so much for sharing. p.s. you look very much like your Dad.

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