I'm still reeling from the stunning news.
Winnie, our Mr. Unsinkable, left this earth and soared into Heaven late yesterday afternoon.
Over the past few years, Winnie had been dealing with some serious health problems...those issues are actually what prompted me to write his memoir book. In fact, there were a couple of times during the weeks of writing "Unsinkable" that I wasn't sure the book would ever be finished because of Winnie's on-going heart scares and surgeries. But finish it we did, and am I so very glad God gave us time to do that before calling Winnie Home.
One of the proudest moments of my life is the day I handed the very first copy of "Unsinkable" to Winnie. He clutched it to his chest and just cried. I told Kim later that if we never sold a single book, it was all worth it just for that moment.
Winnie swooped into our family's life when I was just ten years old, and instantly we all (especially the kids!) loved him. Who DIDN'T love Winnie? His infectious smile, ornery laugh, and big hugs made him everybody's favorite. Winnie made each person feel special, and me and my cousins all adored him!
So many wonderful memories, but one of the highlights was the cave adventure Winnie took us on. (You can read about it by clicking HERE) After the horrors he'd already survived, there wasn't anything that scared Winnie, and he made us all believe we could do anything.
Never give up. That was his mantra. If anything, he instilled in all of us to go for our dreams, keep plowing ahead through the struggles that come our way, not to let anything stop us.
Never give up. Winnie lived it!
And I certainly don't want to forget Winnie's wife Judy, who grieves his loss more than we will ever know. Over the course of writing the book, we became good friends and the three of us laughed and cried together many times around their kitchen table. Winnie adored Judy and she him...and I adored them both!
The book was published this past January, and what a fun ride we had together these past 8 months! A big family launch party followed by lots of book signings and speaking engagements. Winnie was so proud of his book "Unsinkable" and seeing him so happy brought joy to my heart that I could do such a small thing for this incredible man.
In May, when I told Winnie and Judy about my cancer diagnosis, they both cried with me...a few tears and hugs followed by Winnie's big smile and encouraging words that everything would be okay, that I would get through this. And every week at his church service, Winnie lit a candle for me and prayed that God would heal me. I cherished those prayers!
Each time this past year that Winnie had a health scare, I'd always tease him that he couldn't go and sink on me now, that he was Mr. Unsinkable. But when I got that dreadful phone call last evening with the shocking news, as my heart was breaking my first thought wasn't that Mr. Unsinkable had sunk. Instead I instantly knew that Heaven had welcomed another wonderful soul through its gates. Winnie attained the ultimate goal he had strived for all of his life, eternal life with God.
Winnie certainly didn't sink. Quite the opposite...