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Tony Edwards
July 2, 1977--January 11, 1989

Tony, my very first grandchild, was born in San Jose, CA on 7/2/77. His mother, my daughter Kim, never married his daddy. So she raised Tony by herself for many years. While she was pregnant with him, because of my father's health problems, we were not to mention anything about this pregnancy to my mother or father. But came the day when Tony was born, and the news could not be kept any longer. I remember going to my mother's home to tell her that they had just become Great Grandparents for the very first time. When my mother heard, she was soooo HAPPY and ELATED! It was like a huge weight off my shoulders now that I was able to share this first-born grandchild with them! My father lived just 6 more weeks, but was oh so happy to have known Tony for that time! Tony was the light of all of our lives, and was somewhat spoiled being the "first"...

The years came and went...My daughter and Tony went bowling often, and this is where Tony's future daddy came into his life. Dennis worked with a lot of the children, coaching them, and Tony and he got along well. Then Kim and Dennis started seeing one another, and one thing led to another, and I will never forget the day when my daughter called me and said that they were going to be married! They were married on December 31, 1988. Tony went up to his Grandpa's to spend some time with him, while they had a short honeymoon. When he came home, Tony called me to tell me what a good time he had had at his Grandpa's, and then he said, "I love You Me Ma"... The next day, I was told that I needed to go home from work immediately. They would not tell me why. My brother-in-law came and took me to the same hospital where Tony had been born. My grandbaby was rushed to the hospital, and we didn't know if he were still alive or not. Kim and Dennis tried to wake him that very next morning to go to school, and he did not respond. So they called 911, they worked on him at the home, then took him to the hospital, where they continued to work on him. They were unsuccessful in bringing Tony back, and he was pronounced dead. We got there right afterwards. We all just fell apart. Here was this 11 1/2 year old boy that had had no health problems, that we knew of, had suddenly died. Of course they did an autopsy on him. They found that he had viralmyocarditis (a flu around the heart). Some children, we were told, have this for some time, and some, like our Tony, die quite suddenly from it. It still remains a mystery to us today...While the autopsy did not make us feel better, it did relieve our minds that maybe we could have "done something" (I was mostly relieved for my daughter, for I know she had many doubts as to what went wrong, could she have prevented it, and so forth)...not knowing's just one of those illnesses that can happen quickly, and as in Tony's case, no forewarning of illness at all...

Kim told us later that day that she had just told Tony the day before that she was pregnant, and he was so happy and said, "It will be a boy, Mom!" And yes, on 9/23/89, Dennis Jr. (D.J.) was born, one day after my 50-th Birthday! And then his sister, Kelley Jean arrived fifteen months later. They are now 10 1/2 and 9 years of age. So Tony only had a "real" daddy for 10 short days of his life! He was looking so forward to a brother and being a "family...To talk to him one day and have him tell me I Love You, and be dead the next was the most horrible thing I think I have ever faced in my life.

To this day, whenever I go to the tree placed at the school in his honor, I always try to put an "I Love You" balloon there for him. I have one also above his last picture taken, in my hallway. Those three words are precious to hear from any loved one or friend...but especially mean so much to me because that was the last "link" to my Tony. I also have a heart shaped one above my bed in a hanging lamp with those words on it. Tony was a total 49-er fan, and his "idol" was Joe Montana! We were priviledged to meet him this past year, and I had him sign his picture to Tony, so that now hangs above Tony's picture too. The shock of his death was so overwhelming...getting through the memorial services in the bay area, then going up north to bury him was really a blur to us all. Because of his love of the 49-ers, he was buried in my son's 49-er Jacket...and we all wore 49-er clothes to his memorial, and requested others to do the same. My son took it like he had lost his own child, because he was really the only "father-image" that Tony had growing up. My son has told me that Tony has come to him one night after he had died and told him that he was alright...and we know that this must be so. He is in good hands, he's just no longer here with us. So on January 11, and on July 2 these days are truly difficult for us all to get through. Although it has been 11 years this past January, it still hurts so bad today like it was just yesterday. He was such a part of all of our lives, and to be taken so suddenly...we will never really understand the why's...I often wonder what he would look like if he were alive, for he would now be 22 and would have turned 23 this coming July...

His grandfather (my first husband and the children's father) was so shocked that he had died, because he had just spent almost a week with him, and in so many ways, I was so thankful that Tony did not die at his grandpa's. That would have been even more difficult for him to have had to accept such a tragedy. (But he did have some very special last memories of Tony that he shared with us that were truly priceless!) Sometimes I wonder if Tony didn't know ahead of time that he might be dying because of some of the things his Grandpa shared with us. (he may not have been feeling good but didn't mention it) I know at their wedding, he did complain that he was tired and had a headache, but we all thought that it was just all of the excitement of the day and so forth. He went on up to his Grandpa's and was excited to be going. Then when he was there, and just before coming back home, he just prayed and prayed for snow, and it was like his "life depended upon that snow!" And yes, he did get his prayer, and it did snow while he was there. He rolled snow around and around the mobile home trying to make a snow man. One year here in Arkansas, we had a lot of snow in January, and we built this big snowman in Tony's memory, with a 49-er hat, scarf and gloves...Best snowman we ever made!

Our lives will never be the same without Tony...but each of our lives are by far richer because God brought him into our lives, if only for 11 1/2 years..and for each one of those years, we are all truly grateful. He is missed each and every day, but his sweet memories live on in each of our hearts and will always and forever until I can meet him again, face to face and hear those words again, "I Love You, Me Ma"...

May God Bless You All,
Barbara (Tony's Me Ma)

Tony - 5 years old

Tony - 9 years old