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I thought, because of current events, this might be a good time to post this.

Watch me avoid the disclaimer.

In 1978, when Robert Beale became my scoutmaster, my original (biological) Dad was in the middle of his sixteenth months of fighting (and eventually losing to) Leukemia. The Beale family was one of many at our church that helped our family by bringing meals and taking care of us kids (I was in fifth grade) while my Mom was visiting my Dad at the hospital.

But Scoutmaster Beale decided to do something else to help my dad: he asked my dad if he would be willing to write up a menu for our big week-long camping/canoeing trip down the Namekagon river. This might not seem that big a thing, but he provided my hospital-staying mostly bed-ridden dad something useful that he could do – a service he could provide, even knowing that he wouldn’t be going on the camping trip with us.  We used the menu that my Dad created.

And when my Dad died, Scoutmaster Beale made sure that there was a contingent of scouts in uniform at the funeral honoring my Dad’s memory. This was a little added support to a family that needed much.

(I will also mention in passing that the weekend after my dad died we had another scout camping trip and I remember two of my friends making an effort to help me with my grief. One of them (his name was Steve) let me lean back and think in a canoe as he paddled me around the river. The other was Vox (we didn’t call him ‘Vox’ back then, obviously), who simply made a point of walking up to me and saying “I wish your Dad hadn’t died”. I remember thinking that it was a brave action on his part. I have since used this statement for other in grief.)

A little less than a year after my dad’s funeral there was another man at our church whose wife died of cancer. He was a neighbor of the Beale family (Do you want to know where? Read “The World In Shadow”, it’ll get you within a few houses) and he (this man) later told me that one day a few months after his wife died he happened to see Vox’s Mom (a very decent and honorable woman and always nice to me) while taking a walk and she suggested that he consider dating another lady, specifically my Mom.

Obviously, I don’t know how the Beales decided to be proactive in cultivating this new possible relationship, but here’s how I picture it: Vox’s mom said “This might really be good for both of them,” and Vox’s dad said “Okay, let’s make it happen.”

In any case, soon after that the Beales arranged for a dinner at their place with my Mom and this man (who would soon become my new Dad). And at this meal Mr. Beale (as my new Dad recalls in his autobiography) “proceeded to interview <her> for my benefit. I was impressed with the way she handled Bob’s questions.”

Things worked out, and December of that year they got married. And three kids (me included) who didn’t have a Dad, got one. And my Dad, who really did not like living alone, got a good wife. For 28 years – finishing strongly this month. As I mentioned in my tribute for my Dad, I have always seen my second Dad as a bonus gift from God. And who knows if it would have happened if it weren’t for the Beales?

Bob Beale helped out both of my Dads when they were in tough shape, and for that I am grateful.

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