Monday, March 26, 2012

Remembering a Family

When I lived in Tennessee I was so blessed to have really good people in my life. Genuine, giving, compassionate. 

After Andrew was born, I didn't stay with my event planning job long, but started working for the woman who provided care for Andrew in her home and opened a childcare. I worked with infants ages 6 weeks-15 months. After some time and many babies, I decided to take the plunge and open a childcare business in my home where I would have babies from 6 weeks-2years.  This afforded me the opportunity to be home with Andrew as well.  He was 2 when we made this transition. 

One of the babies I was so blessed to care for, came with me from the childcare, so I did have him from infancy on. I adored him and his family. 

When I first met his parents, Lori and Duke, I had no idea how important their whole family would become in my life.  I was so honored to be their baby's caretaker.  See, this baby boy was their second child. Their first, their daughter, was stillborn. Fullterm.  I cried as this strong amazing woman shared her story about their daughter when we first met. She opened her heart to express how difficult it was for her to leave this miracle baby with me to return to work. I empathized and knew I had a special baby in my care. And ohhh was I ever blessed to have him in my care, love him and spend my days with him.

{Of course, I loved my other babies too, but this is about one family in particular.}

In addition to providing child care for their son, we became friends. We attended each other's family's birthday parties, went to dinner, hung out at our houses, talked way too long every morning and evening when they'd pick up and drop off.  I loved them and they us.

One day mid-day, I was getting ready to take the toddlers (all boys) out back to play and there was a big black snake coiled up by my back door. Yikes!  I called Duke to come help me.  He hated snakes. But, he came over with his mower and took care of it for me. ;)  I still laugh thinking about him describing his disdain for snakes and how he handled it. I never saw that snake or any of its parts again.  That's just the person he was. Caring. Caretaking. I took care of his boy and he took care of my snake. haha

When I had decided that Andrew and I were moving back to Arizona following my divorce, I grieved leaving this baby boy, who I'd been part of his daily care nearly his whole life. He was 22 months when we moved. I cried leaving my friend, Lori and her husband, Duke.  They had supported me in every way possible in a difficult time in my life as well.

After Andrew and I moved to AZ, we'd visit them when we'd make it back to TN.  I went and met their son's new caretaker and saw him in her environment and it was amazing! The perfect transition from me to her.  They'd soon had another baby...a girl.  Lori and I inevitably cry and laugh everytime we've been together.

All this time was pre-digital camera, so I have a bazillion pictures of these babies, but none on my computer. They remain in scrapbooks, in storage.

As life got more hectic as our children grew and living in different states, we'd only connect occasionally with Christmas cards and the like the last several years until we reconnected and caught up on Facebook about a year and half ago.  I was again in tears {big surprise} at how happy I was to reconnect!  We tried to get together last summer when I was in TN, but it didn't work out.  I was really disappointed. Especially now.

This past Friday night, I got on Facebook and the top "story" was a picture of Duke and underneath it said, "Rest brother. I love you. I'm going to miss you." 

My heart leapt into my throat.

I went to his page and just saw many posts of "I'm so sorry", "I'm shocked." etc. but no further information. I went to Lori's page and although I know she's rarely on facebook, I hoped to see something to indicate what was going on.  I sent a message to a friend in TN to see if there was anything on the news there about an accident or something.  After hours of scouring the internet, because I did not want to call Lori intrusively, I learned that this just turned 40 year old man, my friend, had died of a heart attack...

She and I spoke Saturday morning and I'm so glad we did...just not for the reason why.  Oh I wish I could take away her pain...

I'm so, so heartbroken for his children and his wife.  She's an amazingly strong woman and I know she's going to survive this, but my heart just aches for her own grief as well as her watching her own children grieve.

That baby boy I cared for everyday in his early life is now a 10 year old young man whose best friend is his daddy.  He just misses his daddy.  I know that feeling all too well.

Much love to all of Duke's family and friends....

Obituary for Mr. Andrew Duke Warren
WARREN, Mr. Andrew Duke, age 40, of Columbia, TN passed away March 23, 2012. He attended Thompson Station Baptist Church, and was a great husband, father, son, brother and friend. He would have received his nursing degree from Aquanis College on May 12, 2012. Preceded in death by daughter, Lauren Abigail Warren. Survived by wife, Lori Corder Warren; son, Harrison Duke Warren; daughter, Sophia Claire Warren all of Columbia, TN; father, Willis Warren, Jr. of Coxville, TN; mother, Patsy Francis Warren of Smyrna, TN; sister, Jennifer (Thomas) Warren Bowers of Franklin, TN; and a host of other loving family members and friends. Funeral service will be conducted 11am Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at Spring Hill Memorial Funeral Home, Jonathan Hopson officiating. Interment Kelso Cemetery, Kelso, TN. Pallbearers, Reid and Alex Bowers, Jason Anderson, Tyler Barden, Jay Vivrette, John Murphy, Manuel Simmons and Willis Warren, Jr. Honorary pallbearers, Clayton Warren, John and Stephen Warren, and Heritage Hurricanes 10-U. Memorials may be made to the Harrison and Sophia Warren College Fund & the Heritage Hurricanes @ 5016 Spedale Ct., PMB 270, Spring Hill, TN 37174 or Diabetes Association. Visitation will be 4-9pm Monday at SPRING HILL MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME, 5239 Main St., Spring Hill, TN 37174. 931 486-0059.


  1. Oh, Steph, I'm so sorry. How sudden. My heart aches for his family and friends. You know I understand. Lots of love to you.

  2. Im so sorry young...prayers for you & his family xoxo

  3. Oh my God, Steph - I'm in tears reading this. I knew from the title this wasn't going to end well - but to hear of how you affected each other's lives was worth every tear. My prayers are with their family and with you my friend. Love to you forever...

  4. How sad. I keep hearing more and more of these stories. It breaks my heart. I'm so sorry this happened to someone so dear to you. :,(