Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friend to Friend

Paul Summit
May 29, 1933--February 21, 2006

It’s been three years today since Steven’s step-dad, Paul Summit, passed away. Although he was only in Steven and my life for about six years, his imprint was indelible. He was more than just a father-figure for us and grandfather-figure for our kids. He was a friend.

He was a “self-made” man financially, having translated a lifetime of hard work and savings into some very good investments in the Bay Area of northern California, which made his retirement years comfortable materially. He was generous with advice on money management and the secrets of his success. (He hated credit cards, for one thing!)

We soon learned that his “language of love” was gifts. He not only loved giving gifts, he loved receiving them! Even the small things that we gave him from our more limited budget, he would display proudly and brag on them profusely if anyone asked. I stumbled upon something that he really liked almost by accident. Steve’s mom and he had decided to buy a very nice house in Bakersfield, California, and sell her house in Tehachapi, California and his house in the Bay Area. Since Steven and I lived in Tehachapi at the time, they asked us to be caretakers for the place in Tehachapi until they could get it sold. The place in Tehachapi had several large fruit trees on it and that year they were loaded with fruit! The apricot tree started dropping its very generous load of apricots on the ground early in May. Rather than waste all that good fruit, I decided to make apricot jam with them. So I did, and since the trees still belonged to Mom and Paul, I gave them the lion’s share of the jam. Unbeknownst to me, apricot jam was Paul’s hands-down-no-question-about-it favorite jam! He had it every morning on his toast. If someone came to visit at breakfast, he MIGHT, if you asked nicely, share a little of it. :-D Since it was such a hit, apricot jam became a tradition between us, even after they sold the house in Tehachapi. Every year when apricots started appearing in the fruit stands in May, I would make him a big batch of apricot jam in time for his birthday on May 29th.

There was one gift that we wanted to give him, however, that he wasn’t too sure that he wanted. We wanted to introduce him to our Best Friend and Savior, Jesus Christ. Paul’s health had been fragile for several years, having had several surgeries and life-threatening conditions even before we met him. He had even had a kidney transplant from one of his daughters. We kept telling him after we met, that the reason God had allowed him to survive this long was so that we would meet him and we could introduce him to a personal relationship with Jesus! Paul was not convinced. He was very proud of his financial success. He felt that his financial success allowed him to have very good health insurance, so that he could afford the very best doctors and healthcare. But early in 2005 he changed his mind. In spite of having the very best doctors and healthcare, he had continued to have severe health problems, including cancer of the jaw and cancer in the dead “native” kidney that they had left in when he had his kidney transplant. One of the times that he went into the hospital there was a very real doubt as to whether he would come out alive. It was at that point that he turned to Marguerite, Steve’s mom, and asked her if she would help him pray “that prayer” (to accept Christ as his Savior). So, she did. GLADLY! He did make it out of the hospital that time. And we were very blessed to see his spiritual growth during the following year. He lived until about three weeks after Steven came home from Iraq the last time. Then we had the very great privilege of being with Paul (Steven was holding his hand) and praying, as he took his last breath and was ushered into God’s presence!

At his memorial service a couple weeks later, I had the opportunity to give a eulogy for Paul. After sharing the previous story, I read the following questionnaire in closing. It was just one of those “trivial” things that get passed around the Internet a lot. Most of his computer time was on E-bay, or forwarding funny stories and pictures. He didn’t like to type, so I was really surprised when I got this in my inbox the month before he died. His answers to the questions were so typical of his personality and frame of mind that I had to laugh. And I think they are a fitting summary of this wonderful man.

Friendly Questionnaire
From: Paul (
Sent: Tue 1/10/06 2:28 AM

1. What time is it? 5:09 Marguerite, it`s dinner time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Full name: Paul R----- Summit

3. What are you most afraid of? Permanent loss of mobility.

4. What is the most recent movie that you've seen in a theater: Gone With The Wind, back in the 40`s I think!!!!

5. Have you ever seen a ghost? I thought so until I realized it was Halloween.

6. Where were you born? Bakersfield, CA

7. Favorite food? Linguine a la Grotto. The Grotto is closed now, So I`ll never have it again.

8. Ever been to Alaska? Never

9. Ever been toilet papering? Never

10. Loved someone so much it made you cry: Bawled like a baby.

11. Been in a car accident: Three times, and that’s enough.

12. Croutons or bacon bits: Both, in split pea soup????????????

13. Favorite day of the week: At my age, there’s no difference.

14. Favorite Restaurant: All Time favorite was the "Oakland Seafood Grotto” in Jack London Square.

15. Favorite Flower: Gladiolus that my Mother grew.

16. Favorite sport to watch: Golf or Bowling. Are there any others???????????

17. Favorite Drink: Cappuccino. Out of the "Orange International" can with small marshmallows melted on top.

18. Favorite ice cream: Dreyer’s Mocha Almond Fudge with Kahlua poured over it.

19. Disney or Warner Brothers: Disney

20. Favorite fast food restaurant: As soon as I try them I’ll let you know!!!!!!!!!!!!!

21. What color is your bedroom carpet? Pale gray with small brown flecks.

22 How many times you failed your driver's test? Once. A long extension ladder suddenly came out from behind a van right in front of me. When I slammed on the brakes I almost put the person testing me through the windshield. After that there was no way he was going to pass me.

23. Before this one, from whom did you get your last e-mail: It was either an online pharmacy or someone trying to sell me a fake "Rolex".

24. What do you do most often when you are bored? Read a book, take a nap or get on the computer.

25. Bedtime: 11:00 PM or the end of the chapter. Which ever comes first.

26. Who will respond to this e-mail the quickest: Probably my daughter Cindy with some snide remark about my typing.

27. Who is the person you sent this to that is least likely to respond: Jim

28. Who is the person that you are most curious to see their responses? Carissa

29. Favorite TV shows: Golf, Texas Hold-em Poker games.

31. Ford or Chevy: Chevy Corvette

32. What are you listening to right now? The tap---tap----tap of a two-finger typist.

33. What are your favorite colors: Black and Green. Is black a color?

34. How many tattoos do you have: Do scars count?

35. How many pets do you have? One, and her name is Marguerite. {You keep your kind of pet and I’ll keep my kind}!!!!!!!!!!!!!

36. If you could go anywhere, where would you go? My first choice is Heaven.

37. What would you like to accomplish before you die? Make a few more friends, read a lot more books and hold a great-grandchild on my lap.

38. How many people are you sending this e-mail to: 34.

39. What characteristics do your friends have to have: A willingness to pick up the check, agree with me at least ninety percent of the time and not wake me from my naps.

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