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Rediscovering Innocence

June 10th (Friday) at 2:25 am, my father passed on. He was three days shy of his 92nd birthday. I was with him those last few days, and thanks be to God, it was a peaceful ending. The blog below was written in October 2010, soon after he was moved into assisted living. Today, I’m so grateful that I was enabled to glimpse his inherent, God-given innocence. Because of that, I was able to comfort him at the end, and tell him that I loved him, and that I forgave him, and that he could go in peace. Two days before he passed, he told me that his parents had come to talk with him, and prepare him for his new life. I found that immensely comforting.

I’ve made a few poor choices in this life, but I’m thankful to see that now - in retrospect - I can lay my head on my pillow at night with no regrets as to the way I handled my father’s last years, weeks, and even days.

To God be the glory.

In June 2010, my 91-year-old father moved into assisted living. It’s been a flurry of activity, closing up his house, moving him to a new place, getting things settled, and dealing with the 101 details of his life. As his POA, the details seem to be endless.

Making all this ever more difficult is the fact that my father made many poor choices in life, such as walking out on his family in 1974. Suffice it to say, “Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves” was one of the most important books I ever read.

In 2001, after my father’s second wife died, my father reentered my life bit by bit. He was 82 years old.

Now he’s 91, and old and frail and needs a lot of help on a lot of fronts. Sometimes, despite my daily prayers and best efforts and dogged determination, there are days when I still feel angry with him.

When we were cleaning out his house, we found a baby book - his baby book - from 1919. I’d expected to find a few loose photos stuck within its brittled pages. Instead, I found an incredibly detailed record of a little boy’s life from June 1919 to sometime in 1926. The “baby book” was filled with vintage photos and detailed information and stories and even a locket of baby’s hair, safely ensconced in a tiny envelope with a delicate blue ribbon.

Looking at the handwritten notes, I saw my father in a new light. More than 90 years ago, he was someone’s beloved baby boy. This cute little baby, smiling back at me from the faded-pages of an antique book, warmed my heart and softened the wrath I’d felt.

I’ve heard it said that the kindest thing we can do for our heavenly Father is to be kind to his children. It occurs to me that - in addition to the divine command - perhaps the kindest thing I can do for my paternal grandparents is to be kind to their youngest son, their beloved little boy, Thomas.

Baby Boys in 1919

My father was a twin, born ten minutes after his brother "Junior." Here's their picture from Fall 1919. The caption (written by my grandmother) said, "In their buggy, Junior always reaches out to hold Thomas' little hand."

babies

"Junior" and Thomas at the park. Apparently, Thomas doesn't like the fact that Junior (left) has a toy and Thomas does not. Thomas is so rattled, he's on the verge of falling over.

Another

Thomas (left) and Edgar with their maternal grandparents, the Whitmores.

January 1920

January 1, 1920. Junior is on the left, Thomas on the right.

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Edward Atkinson Fuller Junior (left) and Thomas Hoyt Fuller (right)

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Not sure who's attending to the babies, but I'd guess it's Mother (Florence).

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A wicker basket built for two!

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A day at the park, July 1920. Edgar is on the left.

Boys

Somewhere in Denver, this photo shows the boys with their grandparents, but I wish I knew more.

babies

Thomas and Junior (front and rear) with their maternal grandparents, the Whitmores. Thomas is ready to get this tub on the road!

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Thomas (left) and Edgar about at about two years old.

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Awesome necklace

The Muscle Twins at Santa Monica Beach.

The Muscle Twins at Santa Monica Beach.

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Junior (Ed) on left, Mom (Florence Whitmore Fuller) and Thomas.

Thomas with his horsie

Thomas with his horsie

Being Californians, I guess Mother decided the boys needed private art lessons. I love the little berets on their heads.

Being Californians, I guess Mother decided the boys needed private art lessons. I love the little berets on their heads. This was from 1926, and the teacher is Mrs. Betts.

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Thomas is on the right. Edgar is holding "Stripes" (April 1926).

Dad

Thomas (left) and Edgar (Jr) in first grade in Los Angeles. This was a panoramic class photo, whittled down to the two boys. When I showed this picture to my father, he said they put a band around his head to keep his out-of-control thick hair in place.

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children.

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children. He had a tremendous physique and at 6'4" he was a commanding presence. In the late 1930s, he was a founding member of Muscle Beach on the Santa Monica shore. He and his twin brother worked out each morning on the beach. One morning when they appeared, one of the lifeguards yelled out, "Here come the Muscle Twins!" It was a name that stuck, and soon they became widely known as "The Muscle Twins." As friends started to join them for the morning workouts, locals dubbed the area "Muscle Beach."

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

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