We started the week with a celebration of a life well lived… the life of Gary Sumner.
Our paths crossed in 2002 when I was working for Family Life Services and completed a homestudy that permitted the Sumner family to provide care for the babies that were transitioning into their “forever family”. I remember sitting at the table hearing this couple speak with such respect for birth families, how they themselves were blessed by adoption three times, and how they desired to be able to be a part of the process for other families on the adoption journey.
Within a few months, my own family moved in the neighborhood just a few doors down from the Sumner’s front door. I didn’t go see them often, by I was always greeted with a wave as I drove by their home… even when Gary was on the lawnmower. I knew he was looking to see who was driving by, who he could smile at, and bless them with a wave as his face would light up. One thing was evident… Gary truly cared about people.
While sitting in the service, one story spoke volumes to me. His son spoke with great appreciation for a conversation that they had while walking around the neighborhood. Gary asked his son, “did you cherish her?” It is safe to assume that he had experienced a breakup, and Dad was stepping-in to help him process and grow from the loss of the relationship.
I sat in that pew and held back tears as I soaked in the power of that simple question… do I cherish those that I connect with? Gary cherished his wife which was evident every time I saw them. Gary cherished his family—oh how he adored those kids! Gary cherished each of the 19 foster babies that they welcomed into their home… even if it was just for a short amount of time.
No doubt, Gary will be missed. But, he left an incredible legacy. I consider it an honor to have called him friend.
Please keep the Sumner family in prayer as they navigate the weeks ahead.