McCrabb: Dying man’s ‘wish’ comes with music

9:00 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017 Local News

To someone who didn’t understand the unique circumstances, this seemed like your typical end-of-the-summer party.

As family and friends gathered in the kitchen, dining room and outside on the wooden deck, they ate barbecue from Combs BBQ Central, drank cold beverages and shared stories while listening to the smooth sounds of Gregg Clark playing his guitar and singing blues and jazz.

“It’s just a beautiful party,” Judy Vincent said. “Everyone is happy.”

But see, Vincent is volunteer coordinator at Hospice Care of Middletown, which indicated this party had special significance.

As Vincent said: “It’s quite a life moment for all of us. We believe in having life, as much life as you can.”

None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.

Richard “Dick” Morrison isn’t guaranteed today.

After suffering three serious strokes, Morrison, 88, a former Realtor and motivational speaker, was placed in the care of Hospice Care of Middletown. For its patients, the organization provides what its calls, “Wish For A Day.”

When they asked Morrison what he wanted for his wish, he came up with his idea that he, his family and friends could enjoy together. Morrison loves listening to Clark, a popular Middletown musician, and since his poor health has restricted him from attending any concerts, he wanted Clark to play at a private party.

The event was held Thursday night at the home of Morrison’s daughter, Jody Frasik, 61, who lives on Greentree Road. The concert was attended by relatives who hadn’t seen her father in several years, and some traveled as far as Columbus, she said.

“Well, it’s just important,” she said when asked the purpose of the party. “He’s … you know.”

Her voice trailed off before she could finish the sentence.

As Clark performed, Morrison sat in a chair with his walker only a few feet away. He’s fragile and weak, but he clapped his hands and tapped his feet to the music.

“I love it,” Morrison said in a whisper. “Love it.”

Clark said it was the first time he had performed at a Hospice event and he called it “a real honor” to be requested by Morrison to play.

“That’s pretty special and a warm feeling,” Clark said between sets. “I’m glad he’s digging it.”

During the first set, two of Morrison’s great-grandchildren sat at the bottom of the stairs. Odin Foster imitated Clark with his toy guitar and Lilly Foster clapped along. Several people at the party recorded video of the concert. There were tears and smiles.

Morrison’s daughter said: “It’s joyful now.”

Vincent added: “This is a happy time. That’s what it’s all about. I see happiness. Not sadness. The next time they get together will be for a funeral. So don’t sit around and die. Live.”

In other words, don’t wait until a funeral to send flowers.

If this was, as one person said, a visitation with music, Morrison was enjoying his going-away party. Though he’s in no hurry to go anywhere.

“This is not my last wish,” he said. “It’s my first wish.”

Before he turned his attention back to Clark, he added: “Why should I worry about tomorrow? I have a lot of living to do.”

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