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John Heath Vaughan, MD
Daughter Nancy and Son-in-Law John's
Christmas Letter, 2006
Clinton, December 26, 2006
Dear friends and family, This was the year we lost Dad. I had been dreading it, fearing that I wouldn't have a chance to say good-bye, that it would happen suddenly, that I would be involved in the school year and might not be able to extricate myself or even focus my thoughts on him. None of that happened. Dad knew last April that he would have six months, possibly a year left, due to pulmonary fibrosis. So we all visited, not once, but several times between April and November 11, when he took his last breath. I have wonderful memories of those visits. They inspired me; Dad inspired me. We ended up living richly and satisfyingly those last six months, and it was all about enjoying one another. Dad was great to be with, and it feels as if he is with me still. When I heard that he was gone-Margaret called me from his bedside--I felt as if the baton had been passed, and my job was to run on with energy, excitement, joy. I still have that feeling. And so I have enjoyed this Christmas season. Vaughan and Kate were with us here in Clinton. We had the Madonia family for a holiday feast on Saturday. John, Kate, and I sang in the Saint Mary's choir at midnight mass, which was an uplifting experience, as always. Christmas Day was spent in front of the fire, opening gifts, stopping to read something that captured our attention, enjoying a Christmas treat, opening a few more gifts, talking and laughing about the contents, etc. Could it get any better? And so, Dad was with us. We enjoyed what life brought our way, we are grateful for one another, and we look forward to the new year. Peace to you all.
I was fortunate to have visited John in August and, as many oth did before he left us in November, said good-bye to him. He remained, even at that point, in high spirits, and I treasure-the memory of those last conversations. 2006 has been quite a year for us, not exactly a clear cut, but certainly a significant harvest of some of the solid, nearly centenarian trees among our family members and friends. On Nancy's paternal side, Uncle David and Aunt Elizabeth passed away in the spring, followed closely by maternal Uncle Aubin. In France, I lost my dear friend and colleague Jacques Guerlin de Guer, who had just turned 90. And most recently, my sistersin-law Dolly and Anne lost their fathers before Christmas.
Yes, 2006 was indeed a year of death, but it was also one of life. No, those babies in the picture are not Nancy's grandchildren, but you wouldn't know it from the sheer joy she takes in caring for them every chance she has. They belong to Nancy's brother David and his wife, Susanne. The boy in blue (of course) is named Ryan, and the girl in pink, Carys. We will be seeing them in just a few days at their home in Yardley, Pennsylvania, where we plan to celebrate the arrival of the twins (once again-they were born in March!) and that of the new year. May it renew in all of us our wonder at the mystery of life, bringing old memories of loved ones back to our minds and making us appreciate all the more those of you who ar still with us and whose love, affection, and friendship we cherish.
P. S. By the way (for your information), in the photo taken in the Adirondacks this summer, from left to right: David (with Ryan) and Susanne (with Carys) Vaughan, Anne O'Neal (the wife of my brother Monty), Kate, Monty (with his Westie, Mack), I, and Nancy.