Saturday, August 11, 2007


Norman and I have been very lucky to be a part of a wonderful organization, Families with Children from China, or FCC. Before we even traveled to China nine years ago, we met a group of couples who were all in various stages of adopting a child from China. We met Sharon and George Abbott who ended up traveling to China with us in the same travel group. Their daughter, Anna Jen, comes from the same orphanage Alexa does. We met many more wonderful couples who we have become friends with over the years and we have all watched our children grow together.

I feel very comfortable with these people. While we come from all different backgrounds, many of us made the decision to adopt from China for very similar reasons. We started together as a support group for couples going through the rigorous process of adopting a child from China and we eventually developed a Chinese Culture Class that our little ones attended on Saturday mornings. Our kids would do activities every week. Learning language, coloring, doing crafts, singing in Chinese, dancing and sharing all the fun things kids do together. We feel it helped our kids to know other children and families just like their own. The parents would sit in another classroom, drink coffee and compare notes. From these casual meetings Chinese Culture Camp was born and Norm and I were happy to have given them the idea of looking at Keuka College as a location for our yearly gathering.

This year's camp was last weekend. To be honest, Norman and I enjoy these weekends more than we think Alexa does sometimes. It gives us a chance to connect with people our age who have elementary aged kids and now middle school kids. Most of our old friends have kids in college and a few are grandparents!

Usually when we walk into Harrington we are met by Judy and Warren Robertson and Jim Hendrikson. All are on the organizing committee for the event. This year Judy was at the desk, Jim was standing nearby and we figured Warren was somewhere else on campus running the million and one errands that need to be done. Judy mentioned how she was a little frazzled as their family had just come back from China a week or so earlier - a visit to show their daughter Ciana where she came from.

During the course of the weekend it never occurred to me that I didn't see Warren. Our organizing committee does such a great job and they are all over the place pulling the event together. I estimated we had close to 50 families and maybe 75 children attend this year. At the end of the weekend we left and the last person I waved goodbye to was Judy as she stood outside of Harrington.

Late Sunday, early Monday morning all our families received the e-mail you never want to get. Warren had passed away sometime during the weekend. Last night Norm and I drove over to Rochester to see Judy and Ciana at the calling hours. The line at the funeral home was out the door and remained that way for the entire two hours. Warren was a health care professional. He had a degree in Nursing and he and Judy were members of the Pennfield Emergency Ambulance Corp.

Many of our FCC families were there. Members of the local and several state representatives of the EMT first responder community were there, neighbors, friends, family, colleagues - all there to support Judy and Ciana.

Warren was just 48 years old. Some of our daughters realized that their parents were the same age or even a little older. It was a very sobering event for all of us. Warren was a wonderful man, he had a quick smile, a gentle and patient manner and was a wonderful husband, father and friend. He will be greatly missed by us all and he will be remembered for many, many years.

God Bless you Warren. May you and God look over Judy, Ciana and the rest of your FCC family from above.

1 comment:

Barb said...

So sorry to hear of the passing of your friend, so sudden and at such a young age. I know how shocked I was when my own husband got diagnosed with coronary artery disease at 48 when they had to shock him out of a potentially lethal arrythmia during a cardiac cath procedure. At Mass today, the gospel was the reading about how you never know when your time will come. My prayers will be with him and his family.

I'm glad though that you had a good conference with your family. I'm sure Alexa will especially appreciate this as she grows older and has the blessings of two cultures.