Neighbor to Neighbor: Memories of loved ones live on in hearts, prayers

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Recently on Radio WOR’s Dr. Joy Browne’s program, she told of a woman who knew she was going to die. The woman was very philosophical about it and decided to plan her own funeral. She made plans with the undertaker and picked out the clothes she wanted to wear and the hymn she wanted sung at her funeral. She even made up the menu for the meal served afterward.

The woman then went to see her pastor. She told him she would appreciate if he would make sure there was a fork put in her hand. “A fork put in your hand?” the pastor asked. “What is the purpose of that?”

The woman explained that years ago her grandma always sat next to her at the numerous church suppers they attended. At the end of the main course, her grandma would lean over as the dishes were being cleared and say, “Sweetheart, hold onto your fork. The best is yet to come.”

As feeling human beings, we hate to know that someone we have known and loved as family, friend, neighbor or associate has had some misfortune, illness or death overtake him or her. As we grow older, that seems to happen all too often.

It seems particularly difficult to comprehend when someone young is struck down. I recently heard of two such deaths — one, a truly gentle, sweet young man, David Bancroft Castle, 32, who served our community well, even through some very hard times, driving and delivering for United Parcel Service.

Castle frequented our address due to my sister’s dedication to the art of mail-order shopping. We saw him more often than we saw our own relatives, and we were always glad to see and to chat with him.

The pièce de résistance came during Rosedale Day 2002, when Castle, his brother and some of their friends set up their Step-n-Slide at the Christ Lutheran Church parking lot and provided fun for all the youngsters who attended. Those of us too big (or too chicken) to try it ourselves enjoyed watching.

Castle told me he was going to have an operation on his back and said he would be out for a while. I tried to keep up with his progress whenever I was able to catch one of the other UPS people, and I asked that our best wishes be given to him. I hope they were because we wanted him to know he was in our prayers. He is sorely missed.

Later in the day, we heard of the death of the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Phillips. She had been in a tragic accident. Phillips, a teacher, was returning from school when a drunk driver with two license suspensions hit her car as he drove his pickup truck on the wrong side of the road.

I had always enjoyed seeing her visiting her parents with her husband and two beautiful young daughters because the scene was always lighthearted and happy.

Their little family reminded me of similar times when our parents were young and we would go to visit family far off. After all the fun and special feasting was all over, the really hard part came when we had to say goodbye. The Phillips have always been good neighbors.

John served with the Fire Department and at one time rushed out to rescue his wife, who had rushed to rescue me when I had attempted to intervene to stop a very large, nasty brawl. There are not many people who would have done that and I am very grateful for their assistance and grieve for their loss.

I know the loving families and friends of these dear people won’t forget them. I hope they will know that many of us whose lives they may have touched all too briefly will also remember them not only in our prayers but also in our hearts.

We truly hope that, as that wise grandma once said about the fork, “The best is yet to come.” We also hope that the same is true for all the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. The Department of Parks donated to various people thousands of daffodils for planting as a remembrance of them.

Longtime community activist Mildred Collins, with permission from the Garden Club of Laurelton, paid to have the daffodil bulbs that had been given to her by Parks planted in the middle of Merrick Boulevard last year while she was hospitalized.

They were a beautiful tribute last year, but this year every one seemed to have disappeared. This was not the first time that happened to her good efforts. Shame on the person or persons responsible for the disappearance.

Reach columnist Barbara Morris by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 140.

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