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Floral Notes: Losses and gains

Community Columnist

— These past few weeks have been full of tears. We lost a good friend, a man who lived a healthy, athletic life, had a loving family, volunteered as hockey coach at his town’s high school and was only 50 years old.

While having dinner, he suffered a heart attack and never regained consciousness.

His wife called us after midnight to tell us the unbelievable news, and all the next day my husband forwarded the grim message to his friends and coworkers.

The following weekend, the calling hours and funeral were a wash of sorrow and shock, as hundreds of friends, relatives and high school students came to honor this man who had done so much for his family, employees and community with love, humor and integrity.

His beautiful wife and three children stoically comforted the mourners, displaying the virtues that their loved one stood for and instilled. We all are better people for having known Bob Armstrong and whenever faced with a moral dilemma should “act like Bob.” I only hope, if I ever have to be strong, I can “act like Joanne,” his wife.

Two days later, my phone rang after 9 p.m. — never good news.

It was my sister Barbara, who on her birthday was calling to tell me another sister, Meg, was gone.

She was only 61 and simply never woke up from a nap that day. She was the mother of a boy, now 26, born terribly premature, who ended up blind and mentally challenged.

A tiger of a mom, who did everything to ensure his health and happiness, she never was free of the stress and worry. He was joined by a healthy brother a few years later.

Meg’s husband, Peter Aleff, was instrumental in discovering why premature babies often lost their sight.

It was the theory then that the blindness was caused by lack of oxygen, but now all hospital nurseries know to shield the eyes of the infants while in their cribs.

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