GLADSTONE - On Aug. 18 my beloved son, Gary Abrahamson Jr., died peacefully in his sleep. I have to believe that. I turned off the TV and shut off his lights at 11 p.m. and we went through our usual bedtime ritual. Lots of kisses and telling one another "I love you." The same way we ended our days for 24 years. Earlier in the evening he sang Happy Birthday to his stepfather, John Besse, while we celebrated his 86th birthday.
Gary was born in Chicago on Oct. 7, 1950. In 1987, he died while jogging. Faith, God and technology brought him back to spend 25 more years with us. We were so blessed. No, he wasn't the same Gary; his memory was severely impaired and he needed 24 hour care. His dad, Gary Sr. who died just over a year ago always said, "Gary's tragedy affected me more deeply than anything else in my entire life. I am truly grateful to God for allowing me to love and care for my son, Gary, in my old age."
Gary's tragedy changed all of his family of origin. We cried, laughed and loved together. Gary's life and tragedy taught us so much. The community loved Gary too and showed much compassion. He was a regular visitor to the Civic Center.
Gary Charles Abrahamson Jr.
Gary was special. He attracted friends like a magnet. He loved humor and had the most infectious laugh. He really loved life. Music was a huge part of his life. He knew every Beatles song and sang along with them on his CD. We had tickets to take Gary to see the Fab Four at the casino in October. I hope he is listening in Heaven.
He loved playing pool since he was a kid. Years ago he won second place in the Wisconsin State doubles tournament. He loved to jog and won many 10 K races.
He loved the Packers, the Chicago Bears, the White Sox, the Cubs and coaching young kid's baseball. He was an all-around athlete. He excelled in hockey, played in many international tournaments in the Sault and was top scorer in the league two years. And dancing! He was a terrific dancer and music, always his great love, helped him through the years he lived after his tragedy.
Gary cared about people and was generous to a fault. His sister, Vicki, talked about how his charisma was the core of who he was and said he had a magnetic personality. The community loved Gary too and showed so much compassion.
His brother Jeff commented, "Although Gary's life became tragic almost 25 years ago, he was blessed to have parents that took his tragedy and turned it into a labor of love. Though Gary's life wasn't what he or any of us hoped it would be, it was - after his brain injury - as good as it could be under the loving care of my parents."
Peggy Bryson, former editor of the Daily Press writes, "I am so sorry. I loved Gary. We did several articles in the Daily Press about his struggle and I so much admire the family devotion to him. RIP Gary. If ever a demonstration of parental love was to be witnessed it was here...with the Abrahamsons."
His sister Vicki's thoughts: Gary Charles Abrahamson - my precious big brother. Oh how I will miss your wonderful smile and your warm heart. Those that knew the "old" Gary, the one before the brain injury, would have known a kind, sweet sincere man. He was a tall, handsome, classy guy with beautiful blue eyes just like his Dad. Gary was a person who loved life to its fullest and a man who experienced life and people the way many are afraid to venture. He was a rebel and saint. He believed in peace and harmony and love for all with an open hand and a big heart. My brother Gary smiled and laughed a lot in his post injury days and his love for music outshined any brain injury that he had suffered. He always remembered the words to his favorite tunes from the Beatles to James Taylor. I remember Gary as a perfectionist, from the way he dressed, to the way he danced, to the way he embraced professional life, and the way he dedicated himself to sports. He could still figure out the balance in your checkbook before you could add two and two. He was an avid speller and would occasionally gently correct your grammar. Gary would still make us laugh on many occasions and teach us all to take life a little less serious.
Gary received an associate's degree from Great Bend Kansas Community College and was continuing his education in a nursing program to become a nurse anesthesiologist when he was struck by tragedy in 1987.
God bless him for his journey and all he taught us along the way. May his sweet soul go to Heaven and may he finally be in peace. We will miss him with all our hearts ... he was such a good man, father, son, and brother. He suffered for us all ... and brought out more compassion than we all knew we had. MAY GOD REST HIS SOUL.
Gary is the son of Patt Besse and the late Gary Abrahamson. He will be sadly missed by his sister, Vicki (Dave) Cass of Fox Point, Wis.; and brother, Jeffery Abrahamson of Alexandria, Va.; his stepfather, John Besse; stepsisters, Melissa (Jim) Roulo, Merrijo (Dave) Koen; and stepbrother, Greg (Diane) Besse. Gary will be sadly missed by nieces, Heather, Mary Pat, Kelly, Gabrielle, Audri and nephews, Graham, Zachary, Noah, Tony, Mathias and Jaden.
So many people made a difference along the way in Gary's life. Charlene Carlson, who brought him communion every week for many years, was one of those people. Gary also had many special caregivers including Brenda Milkovich, who sang his favorite Beatles songs with him. Gary will be missed by many others who loved him, both family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, a special scholarship is being established in Gary's name.
Visitation will be on Thursday, Aug. 23, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Crawford Funeral Home in Escanaba. The funeral service will follow at 6 p.m. with Rev. Fran DeGroot officiating.
Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery in Escanaba.
The Crawford Funeral Homes are assisting the Abrahamson family.