My Dad's older brother, Richard Mabey, died this morning at age 71. Though Richard was severely disabled and never spoke verbally, I have felt a sincere and concrete connection to him since I first got to know him about 15 years ago. I am thrilled that he was freed today from the confines of his frustrating body--I have often thought of him and Charles together. I have wondered at Charles' release from an unfit body after only one hour, while Richard endured his for 71 years. Still, I was very sad today. I'm forever grateful for the two hours I got to spend at Richard's bedside last night.
I never spent enough time with Richard, but I'm so grateful for every minute I did. Sometimes it seemed like he didn't care, like I might be wasting my time. Last night in the hospital this feeling washed over me like a waive: Richard meant more to my life than I ever realized, and whether he could express it or not, I probably matted to him. It also hit me last night how happy Richard was in his life under professional care in a group home. It was the right place for him. When I first learned the story of how my grandparents had placed Richard in care at age 5, I was quite judgmental. Now, after having giving birth to my own severely disabled baby, I have great empathy for them.
I was asked to take a crack at Richard's obituary: here, just to have the record, are my thoughts.
Richard Wilson Mabey died in Bountiful, January 26, 2009, having made the most of a long life in the confines of an imperfect body. At 71, Richard tenaciously surpassed by decades his projected life expectancy.
Born in Salt Lake City on August 31, 1937 to Rendell Noel and Rachel Wilson Mabey, Richard was the second of six children. From the beginning, Richard’s life was hemmed in by severe, undiagnosed physical disabilities. His parents cared for him at home until he was 5, at which time they lovingly placed him in professional care. Since 1995, Richard has lived very happily in a Bountiful group home managed by the capable and kind staff of Project Turn Community Services.
Though Richard never spoke verbally, he left no doubt about his strong personality. He found ways to express his love for things like ice cream, soda pop, his chair, and his routine. He loved to walk and sit outside. Though topping out under 90 lbs., Richard could drag any person anywhere he wanted to go. He patiently abided hugs and handshakes from his family.
In 2006, Richard amazed those around him by surviving a fall and broken hip. He then proved the doctors wrong by enduring physical therapy—and, no doubt, pain he couldn’t express—and returning home to his normal routine. Richard’s strength through that ordeal inspired those who loved him.
Richard is preceded in death by his parents, and two siblings, Jane Afton and John Ivins. He is survived by his three brothers, Rendell Noel, Jr. (Dorothy), Ralph Rampton (Sylvia), and Thomas Charles (Shauna). His brother, Ralph, has served as his guardian since 1991. Richard is also survived by 8 nieces and 3 nephews, and 19 great-nieces and great-nephews.
At the time of his death, Richard lived at 301 East Center Street in Bountiful. The family sends their love to the staff and residents of his home there, who made his life full.
Funeral Services will be held Saturday, January 31, 2009, at 11:00 AM at Russon Brothers Mortuary, 300 North and Main Street, Bountiful. Friends may call at the mortuary from 9:45 to 10:45 AM Saturday morning.