The phone rang early on that Sunday morning in the Pratt home in Flint, Michigan with a long-distance call from Saginaw – about 40 miles away. When Gram answered, Dad simply said, “Happy Mother’s Day”. Her immediate response was, “What is it?” “It” was a long, skinny baby girl with dark hair who was soon named Lynnette.
At 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long, I was big and healthy. However, during my first months of life, I was plagued with digestion problems and couldn’t tolerate regular formula. Following the doctor’s orders, my parents fed me a smorgasbord of concoctions in an attempt to find something that my system could “stomach”. In the mid 1950’s, commercially produced formula wasn’t widely available – even for babies without stomach problems. So whatever they tried didn’t come in a can, but was mixed by my mother in her own kitchen and then poured into sterilized glass bottles that she stored in the refrigerator. That must have been a chore for her. I have vague memories of Mom mixing formula for my younger siblings using evaporated milk, water and some corn syrup. Horrors!
Projectile vomiting was my routine after every feeding, and my parents soon learned to never burp me while I was facing them. After weeks or maybe months of trial and error during which time my dad regularly carried my stool sample to the hospital for evaluation (talk about a father’s love!), I think they finally found some soy formula that I could handle. After following that regimen for several months, the doctor was still somewhat concerned when I weighed only 17 pounds at 1 year. However, after a few more months of growth along with solid food I began to put on a little weight and before long was measuring in the “normal” range. Oh, to be plagued with an inability to gain weight now!
I was the third child in the family. David, born 20 September 1951, was not yet three and Yvonne, born 9 September, 1952, was not yet two. In September of that year when I was about four months old, Dad returned to Michigan State at Lansing to finish his Master’s Degree. So Mother was left alone (remember this house?) with three little children and no car during the week – Dad came home only on the weekends.
My mother was a strong woman. Thanks for the great example!
You were just a kid when I left home – a 13 year old pest to be exact! At that time you were still making dumb and inappropriate comments about and to my friends. You were still wrestling with Jeff until something or someone got broken. You were fighting with Mom about cleaning your room. You were avoiding daily showers. You were so obnoxiously normal.
As you grew up, you became a very likable guy. (or maybe I’m the one who changed?) You had a great sense of humor and made me laugh a lot. You did some great impressions – remember “H-e-l-l-o, B-e-a-r”? You were a great football player, even though you were part of a couple of heart stopping moments on the field. You were fun to be around, and my kids thought you were the best.
You handled leukemia with faith and courage. I learned a lot as I watched you establish priorities knowing that your time on earth was limited. After doing all you could do to prevent or delay the inevitable, I watched you accept the outcome gracefully. I have a good memory of our last phone conversation the day before you died. Who knew the end would come so soon after that?
Because your life was so short, we haven’t had a chance to be adult friends and siblings. I’m pretty sure we’d have had a good time together. But I’m also sure the chance for more good times is in our future.
We still miss you, but we know that you’re in a good place.
I’m thinking of you on this day. Give my love to Mom.
This picture was taken while you were on a mission in Manila. In the background I see some things that make me think your fellow MTC-ers had a little celebration for you that day. I’m assuming that Dad came through with the roses for you, even as a missionary. He’s good that way. And I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting some red roses today as well.
This year we had a big party for you in August. Remember – the one you helped plan to celebrate this milestone? Almost all the family came to the festivities at Reid Ranch. I think we had 90 rowdy revelers on Monday night. We reminisced . . . cried. . . laughed a lot . . . and had a great time. You taught us how to have a good time.
We remembered you with this DVD created by Todd. Although it was difficult to see you back in that hospital bed, you looked good, and it was great to hear your voice. Did you ever imagine that you’d star in your own movie? Some things just take time, I guess!
We also remembered you with chocolate that Michelle wrapped up as party favors. Because really, what could have been more appropriate than Hershey’s? I suppose Godiva or See’s or even Dove might have been tastier, but we had 90 guests to favor. And most of them were too little to really appreciate good chocolate. They just melted it into s’mores and ate it as fast as their mothers would allow. But I think I’ll savor some of the really good stuff today in your honor.
This is the second time we’ve recognized your birthday since you’ve been gone. It’s easier, but we still miss you. Do you celebrate birthdays in heaven? I hope you’re having a bang up party today!