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Papa Schwarz Memories Live On

Get down..... and boogie

Here, we can see my parents enjoying life to the fullest, to celebrate the holy union of my sister to her lovely husband.

Today was a sad day, as the world lost a wonderful man name Ken Schwarz, the only father I ever knew, he adopted me and treated me as his own. He was a great dad, a great person, a funny guy, a real man. He went through a lot of hardships in life but his optimism, sense of of humor and light hearted positivity prevailed.

My wife and I spent a good portion of our day and night grieving, with eyes of tears, and hearts full of sadness and sorrow, but we share this GIF image to celebrate the spirit of Papa Schwarz, our beloved father who passed away today. We will not remember him for his death, but instead we share this to celebrate the life he lived, his spirit of fun and happiness.

The Hard Part (Grieving) 

Sudden outbursts of breath stifling tears, emotional pain that translates into a runny nose, teary eyes, and insomnia. I never realized that losing someone close would hurt so much, that it would tug at my heart strings so strongly.

How do quantify how much you love someone? 

The measure of the loss you feel is the measure of the love you shared, perhaps its the only relative way to know how much someone really meant to you when they are gone.

A deep longing to hug the person one more time, to look into their eyes, to say goodbye, to tell them you love them one more time. A feeling of emptiness, like something priceless has been stolen from you never to return. I never imagined feeling this way over and over again in waves, and it sucks, its a real bummer and hard, emotionally difficult.

I read a lot about grieving to understand what my parents went through when their then 3 year old daughter Erica Lynn Schwarz was killed in a snow play traffic accident. I would explain how I experience this in first person, but to explain would be to explain a deep inner part of my faith, something I will write about online because only a few special people who share my faith can understand. No matter how much I read about grieving, and what it does to people, I never imagined what it would actually be like to experience, or perhaps it is impossible to feel such a profound sense of loss until you experience it, I am honestly not sure. I don't have the answers to what grieving means, only my own hard experience. I know from their example, that even 20 years later, the subject of her death would make them both cry with sadness, the profound lasting emotional damage of losing a young child, it often causes couples to divorce, the feelings are so intense, and we have the innate human propensity to blame someone more than someone else, and its this blaming between the parents of a young child who dies that rips families apart, bringing more sadness with it. My parents we able to weather the emotional storm, in large part due to my mothers hard headedness and my dads funny optimism.

What Grief is all about

The are many dimensions to the loss of a loved one who has died, especially when a bond or affection existed. While emotional waves of sadness and crying, feelings of emptiness and depression, a difficult breathing are common, there are also cognitive impacts from grief. The loss of the loved one can create a myriad of problems that require complex intellectual solutions, giving rise to stress and related cognitive problems like cyclical thinking, reflective memory echoes, shifting mental focus, difficulty concentrating, sequential logic interruption, planning and executive function changes, priority shifting, memory formation alteration, and a myriad of other neurological shifts that are way to complex to cover in this posting.

The battlefield of the mind is where the war of grief is played out, and this affects the philosophy of the person experiencing the grief. Values, Ethics, Morality, Faith, there are many philosophical aspects of cognition that are affected by the loss of a close loved one. Some people of faith are quick to blame God with negativity, whilst others are quick to thank God for the time they were given with their loved one. After all life is very ephemeral, short, temporary, no one gets out of here alive.

Perhaps more than anything else the grief should give one pause to stop and think about what really matters in life. This is what is called an abstract change, something that augments of shifts a persons philosophical core values about they way they relate to other people, money, their job, relatives and friends. Maybe the idea here is that you should try to be nice to everyone all the time since your life can be taken suddenly without warning, and so could the lives of those who you care about most.  Innocent people die all the time in accidents, fluke accidents that cannot be explained with logic. The world is imperfect, and so are all people, so accidents are an inevitable reality.

The Last Few Months Were Challenging (deeply personal) 
If you read the below, its the deep inner working my heart and of the history and reality of the loss, and may be depressing to read, be forewarned.

My father was not taken without any warning, he suffered from heart disease, and no one knew when his time was up. When I was 12 years old, the heart surgeon who performed bypass surgery on him, Dr. Heins, he told me that my Dad has 6 months to live back in 1995. Well as time tested, the doctor was flat wrong about the timeline, but he did help me by telling me this, to become better friends with my dad, to show him kindness and love more often. I would even go so far as to say that what that doctor told me way back when caused me to become closer to my father.

Again when I was in High School he suffered a heart attack, another heart attack and kept going, a survivor who spent the rest of his life popping nitroglycerine tablets to relive chest pain, or angina. He continued and even had 2 rounds of stents installed, the latest one just a month ago didn't quite do the trick this time. His lungs were filling up with fluid, and I was partially in denial about this. }

During the last few months of his life, he and my mother moved and so did my wife and I, a tremendous undertaking for all of us, since the move happened for everyone at exactly the same time. This in addition to my inability to take time off from my full time job, I was literally burning the candle at both ends with my wife trying to move one careful at a time in the middle of the night.

To add more stress and difficult, I was dealing with back injury (one that continues) having to go to the doctor constantly for help, and this left me with almost no time to help my parents, so when I did see them I was in a rushed frazzled hurry most of the time. Fortunately, just before they executed their big move, I completely modified my schedule on the fly one evening and stayed behind at their place for a couple of hours to tell both that I was sorry for being in a hurry all the time, that I was not mad at them as they had supposed, that I loved them both and felt like a piece of shit as a son for not helping more, that I was sorry for all of the times I rushed in to help then quickly and then bounced as soon as I was able to leave.

This period was so emotionally taxing to me, I actually had an emotional breakdown soon after Meg and I moved into our new place. My dad was instrumental in helping us get here, in organizing the remodeling of the home, in working with its owner to pay for everything, to be here to make sure everything was being done, he went out of his way to help us, despite feeling tired all the time, having a hard time breathing, and requiring naps in the middle of the day. My parents even paid us back for the money we had given them to help them out for several years after they sold their house, a God sent because the decline for foreclosure was rapidly approaching.

All the dust had settled and they were finally moved in to their new home and so were we, I finally felt a sense of relief, and then reinsured by back at work again. Christmas just weeks away, things were starting to finally settle down and then he died. The complicated part has only just begun for my mother, and my wife and I, and my sister and her husband will do what we can to help her. My dad was in the middle of 3 large legal battles between evil Bank of America, and the IRS, and was slowly making progress, right when he died. This leaves a huge complication behind, and I hope that some how, Lord willing, that everything will work out ok. I honestly do not care if I ever see another dime of money from my parents, and only want to help my mother enjoy her remaining time here with us on earth.

Today is another day, and its started out like a real shit sandwich. Meg and I overwhelmed with grief are not functioning well, and falling behind. Fortunately I was given grieving time off from work so that I might be able to put some of the pieces back in order, comfort my mother, meet up with my best friends, and have some time to process, think and recover from the sudden loss. It was sudden in the sense that Meg and I both thought Papa Schwarz would like for at least the next few years. I was dismissive about the state of his heart failure because I thought he had a cold virus, and for the past few years he had a hard time getting over colds. I was of course wrong, his cold virus was congestive heart failure in its last states. I feel like an idiot, I even avoided touching him the last time I saw out of fear that I would get sick. He looked at me from the chair in his new den, and smile at me, said that he loved me, told me to take care, and looked forward to seeing me again. I love you Papa Schwarz and I am sorry I did not give you a hug one last time because of my fear of getting a cold virus.

It might be hard to read, sound depressing or sad, but I just speak honestly and from my heart. No one can ever accuse me of being phony or insincere, what I write here tells the true story of where I am at.

I am not totally sure how he spent his last day on Earth, I know only that he got to spent time with my mother, to eat his favorite food "Skyline Chili", and one of his favorite snacks "green grapes". I got to see him lying on the ground where he died, stiff, with his eyes open, I got to look into his eyes a few more times and to say goodbye even know he was already done, it gave closer and a feeling of completeness. Meg and I even took their Dog into to let her sniff him, so that she would understand that he died, and she did, after sniffing him she hunkered down on the floor and put her head between her hands, it was obvious that she understand that he was gone. He loved the little dog, Mocha and she loved him. She was the background image on his computers, would sit on his desk and lick his face, you should fall asleep in his lap, snuggle him and sleep with him. I took pictures of his dead body, mostly just his fair and eyes, a few shorts of his bedroom, some things that remind me of him. I am not going to share these photos because I want the living memory of Ken Schwarz to live on in the minds of those who knew him as they knew him, in friendship and love, kindness and humor, he had a big heart, funny words, and and optimistic outlook on life.

It is that positive optimism and humor that gave him the preserving to overcome the difficulties he faced in life, many as they were. He told me once when I was 5 years old and again when I was 14 and 17, that we Schwarz's hail from a clan of Teutonic Knights, that we never get sick and even if we are sick we get up and keeping going, the we are not sissies or wimps, that we strong, that we do not cave or give up unless we are literally unable to continue, so sick that we can't get up, or dead. This message resonated with me when I was contemplating suicide, when was in my darkest hours I remembered him telling me to never give up. He left me with a lot of good ideas, virtues and attributes, and for this I will always be grateful to have known him, to have been close to him, to have shared love with him. He told me several times before he died that he was very proud of the man that I had become, never said a mean or condescending thing to me even when I completely fucked up, he was always there to encourage me and to show me kindness. Perhaps this is why I feel such pain and difficult in grief over his death, he was a one of a kind!


  1. Goof Balls, before they became old, they both had a lot of "piss and vinegar" or "spirit" or "spunk" : sadly a mixture of heart disease, joint disease, and old age took their toll. Despite this reality, they still found the energy to get up and dance during their AARP years :)

    To the spirit of Ken Schwarz let others smile, be happy and dance!

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    2. I have been shown and incredible amount of kindness by people in my life that I love, and it makes me wonder if Papa Schwarz is reaching out through the lives of others, his inspiring funny kindness bringing out kindness from those who he knew and loved.

      I am deeply saddened by the lose of my dad, the coolest guy I have ever known. He inspires me to be a good person, and was the one who inspired me to think about ethics, by his example.

      Ken Schwarz was a genuine person with a big heart and a bright mind, and was also a gifted talented drummer, who touched the lives of so many people :) I feel blessed and honored that he was my father.

      As part of history unfolding before us, his affect on me transpires time, and he lives on through my life, his legacy through my mind through everything that he taught me, all the good ideas he shared with me, his humor and kindness, especially the love he showed my amazing wife Meg.

      I miss him and wish he were still here with us, but I am glad that he is finally free of sickness, able to breath again without lungs filled with fluid. I hope he is with his daughter in heaven, smiling down on us now as we take time to remember who he was to all of us.

  2. Dear Aaron, I can't even begin to tell you how sad I am for you, your sister, your mother.....and everyone who just absolutely loves your dad. He really, truly is a remarkable and dynamite guy. So many of us will miss him and his wonderful spirit that's oftentimes hard to find these days. I take comfort knowing I can always find his spirit in you, Andrea and Connie -- it definitely lives on in you all. We'll be thinking about and praying for you and your family during this difficult time, Aaron. God bless!

    1. Thank you Anna D, your a lovely wonderful person, and reading what you wrote made me feel better. It feels good knowing that so many people loved him, that he touched the lives of so many people. Take comfort in knowing that he is free from sickness now, set free to the other side, where I hope to see him again someday in Heaven.

      Thank you again for your kind words! May the peace of Christ Jesus be with you

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    3. Aaron, I read your post again today, and I just love your honesty. It breaks my heart because you remind me so much of myself -- when I lost my dad. Like you, I knew deep down that someday heart disease would take my dad from us, too. Still today, the loss of your dad continues to be a huge heartbreak for me and so many who love him. But we love you and your entire family, and the bigger hurt is knowing the sadness you all are going through. Your dad loved you so very much. He loved talking about you. Now I get to hear you talk about him, and it's wonderful. Your take backs from your dad gives me such joy -- I can totally see the Teutonic Knights in him, in you, in Andrea...that, and so much more of your dad's wonderful traits that you now get to pass along to the entire world. I look forward to seeing that, Aaron. I think I'll try to remember to do the same. When we got the news, I was in great distress. That day, Mark told me he hadn't heard me sound the way I did on the phone since my dad. He believed that perhaps Ken reminded me of my dad and I never realized it. I guess he's right. I learned a lot from your dad and mine -- which was to keep your bright spark for life going no matter what. To keep that spark of life going, I learned to surround myself in peace and harmony, love and joy. Easier said than done, as you know. But I have been blessed to be able to surround myself twice a week with the choir, and the strong presence of your awesome dad as the drummer, or the "heart beat" of our choir...the heartbeats of even the entire church. Like you said, Aaron, your dad is one of the utmost coolest guys I've ever known...especially the spark in those "crystal blue eyes" Megan described in her beautiful poem for him. I love you guys. Thank you for sharing your dad with us. I'll be thinking about you guys as we leave 2015 and enter into the new year. God bless you, Aaron!

  3. Aaron, what a wonderful piece. Your love for your dad and he for you speaks loud and clear. We all make mistakes, wish we had done this or that. I know how proud your dad was of you, he often said it when we were together. He also laughed about your mishaps but he laughter was out of love, never made fun of you. Take care of your mom, she just lost the love of her life and her best friend. Love you, Dianne

    1. Thank you Dianne, I love you like family, and I am sorry for the bad news. Thank you for reading what I wrote and for sharing your kind words. I will try my best to be a good son to my mother, especially now in her time of grief, helping her to adapt to being a whole person. She even asked me to help her learn how to recycle the other day, and hearing her tell me that almost made me break down. I thought she didn't care, but somehow, perhaps my father, the guy who earned the 2011 best improved recycler award, might be helping her from the other side. I smile knowing that he might be helping her or me from heaven in ways that I hard to understand in our reality. I look forward to seeing him again someday, an really appreciate the kind words you have shared. Peace be with you and take care

  4. Dear Aaron,
    Anyone who knows your Dad and your family knows how very much he loves all of you. You, Megan, Andrea, and your Mom were who he lived for. He's so very proud of you. Can you imagine if everyone attending his service could tell their stories about Ken, and talk about their relationship with him? It would take days. This is no exaggeration . . . Ken is one in a billion person. He always took the time for people, making each and every one feel genuinely cared about by him. He will live in hearts and minds around the world forever. Your Dad felt lucky and privileged to be loved by your Mom, Andrea & Drake, you & Megan, and the pupster. 💜💛💙💚💖

    1. These were colored hearts, not question marks, at the end.

    2. Your message was deeply sincere and I greatly appreciated reading your words and I love the person who wrote them. You have always been a good friend to him and to me, and for this with both loved you. Thanks for your comments, I think some of what you wrote is quotable, and hits the core of the way I felt about my dad, he was a truly special person. Thanks for reading what I wrote and responding thoughtfully. Peace be with you