This is an article that my dad sent me.
It was our loss, too
I believe there are angels among us Sent down to us from somewhere up above They come to you and me in our darkest hours To show us how to live. to teach us how to give To guide us with the light oflove
God called one of those angels home last week.
Owen Keen, who battled some of the toughest odds anyone could ever face for every day, every hour and virtually every minute of ills 27 years, won a lot more fights than he lost; but finally his strong will could no longer force his frail body to continue the fight.
Owen was born with an insidious and unrelenting case of spina bifida, a defect of the spinal cord and most of the nerves that our brain uses to commw1icate with the muscles and organs throughout our body.
The resulting physical and mental impairments put Owen behind the eight ball and stacked the odds against him from day one back in 1981.
Owen both understood and accepted ills limitations. He never dwelled on his inabilities, but focused on ills strengths. And no matter who it was, where it was or what it was, his engaging smile
and infectious spirit would ble advantage, every possible always make you smile. break, every possible push Given that the soon-to-begin toward a happy and productive
cycle of critical and painful operations, medicine and therapy that would be Owen's life, doctors, understandably, could only project a 10 or, at most, a 14-year life span for the infant.
It was a reasonable assessment, but it failed to factor in Owen's parents, David and Jill Keen.
It had to be difficult accepting the job. David was a physically gifted
They never wavered and never once gave in to the challenges and obstacles.
Perhaps Jill knows, but I doubt anyone efse has an inkling of the dozens of times Owen has been under a surgeon's knife. I suspect the trips to hospitals in Jackson and Meridian easily number in the hundreds.
Sometimes thev were planned. Often they were spur-of-the moment to jump on top of an infec
athlete with a sharp mind and penetrating wit. In his younger years, he had easily sown his share of wild oats.
The first timeI sawJill, she,\'as a slick-fielding softball shortstop. She was an avid and accomplished skier. She has spent her career as a respected, able and conscientious nurse.
From the get-go, these two unique individuals dedicated themselves and every working, breathing day to making certain that Owen would get every possi
tion or a problem before it could get just too big.
They could probably count their time spent in lCU units in the months instead of davs.
They spent 27 years taking turns dressing, bathing, and jwnping out of bed in the middle of the night. That care to their son was on a continuous basis--24hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
They did it without ever wondering "Why us?' and never questioned the task they were given or felt sorry for themselves because they couldn't make longterm plans.
Ufe for David and Jill was never about themselves... it was always about Owen.
Their care and raising wasn't passive. Early on, they made the commitment that, despite his limitations, Owen was going to be the best he could be and accomplish all that was within ills ability.
They never gave in and they never let Owen back up. They weren't afraid to show tough love.
They pushed him to attend school, to learn and he earned a diploma. As a result, there was a spray of flowers at ills funeral last Thursday from his fellow UHS 2000 classmates.
It was 'Yes, sir' and 'No, sir.' It was putting his own things away. Owen was always respectful of others and always appreciative of the love and gifts he received.
My favorite memory? One evening after work they were visiting in my back yard. After an exchange of winks with his parents, David prompted him to push my shoulder. I splashed backward into the pool... sport coat, clothes, shoes and all... I can still see Owen sneaking a peek at his Dad to see ifit was alright and still hear the peals of laughter when he found out it was okay.
There are lots and lots of people with similar memories that they will share with their families and friends for years to come.
It was reassuring to hear Rev. Lin Chesney remind us at Thursday's service that now, and for all eternity in heaven, Owen's mind and spirit will be free from the limitations of his ravaged body.
It's not for me to understand why Owen had to leave us; but, David might have given us some insight when he said, "You know he had done his best and just about gone as far as he could raising us."
We are all diminished when we lose the Owens of the world. It is these very---special people who teach us things beyond the normal and the routine.
They hit us hard with lessons of unconditional love and eternal hope and accepting challenges, not as obstacles, but as opportunities.
I can't imagine what Jill and David are going to do now with all the time they find themselves with. Suddenly everyday is going to seem like it's twice as long and they have only done half of their normal activities.
But I do know that Owen's Daddy meant every word when he said, "You know, I'd start over and be happy to do it all again."
Spina Bifida Christmas Card Exchange
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