In 1989, I was beginning my sophomore year of college when I received a call from home. While he was in a meeting, my dad, Roy Abbott, had started experiencing chest pain. He was taken to the hospital, where they initially assumed he was having a heart attack. What had actually happened was a dissection of his descending aorta. It was at this time that he received his diagnosis of Marfan syndrome.
After some research, he eventually traveled to Houston, TX, for surgery with Dr. Joseph Coselli. The surgery was successful and saved his life. He continued his career as an architect. In his spare time he played the guitar and took pictures. When he retired, he continued his music and photography and started making sculptures out of aluminum and wood. He was able to see my sister and me grow up and make our own way in the world. He even got to know his three grandchildren. In time, he had two more surgeries on his aorta.
Last spring, after his last surgery, he went home but was soon hospitalized again with pneumonia. On Father’s Day, I flew to Minnesota to see him for the last time. Monday night he passed away. Mom told me about his idea of “bonus years.” He counted all the time after his diagnosis as a bonus. He had received the incredible gift of twenty-five more years of a full and beautiful life.