13th Apr, 2008

Russell’s Graduation from Maryville College, year 2000

It was a great day for us, to see Russell graduate from college. Many tears of sadness and joy had been shed, to see him shine so brightly on this day.

Russell was a brilliant young man, who could have done so much with his life. He had great aspirations, he wanted to be a corporate lawyer. We know for sure, he never thought his life would end so abruptly, at such a young age. He didn’t think he would get AIDS for sure!

Now the gay community is saying, that it was the shunning of his family that caused him to get AIDS. This is to show how they are aggressively attacking us. I guess they want to insinuate we gave him AIDS! The activists never want to take the blame for what they do. When we read this on the Internet, Lowell and I about cracked up. These people are to be really pitied. 

His parents never, ever shunned, disowned, or alienated themselves from Russell. We tried to get him to get him to realize the dangers of this lifestyle, and we were always there for him, and he knew this.

After he moved to Baltimore, it was much easier for him to be manipulated. This is a whole different story, and one that longs to be told.

Sometimes, we try to imagine what would have happened, if he had not gone into the gay lifestyle. Lowell and I talk so often about, our wishing we could wake up and find this is all just a nightmare. This is not the case though, this is a nightmare that will never be over.

scan0030.JPGWe were so excited, the days leading up to Russell’s graduation. Making plans for him to come home, for an evening of grilling out, and just being together.           

His brother did not come home for his graduation, which disappointed him very much.His sister went to his graduation, and came home to grill out with us. Russell loved to grill steaks and have all the delicious foods he liked. Mom always made special things, when Russell and his siblings came home.

After graduation, his Dad and I went with him to his school dorm, and his dog, (Dean) anxiously awaited him. Dean was so excited, as if he knew what had just happened. (He really was, just glad to see Russell, but it is nice to think about him, maybe knowing.)

I don’t know how in the world he got away with having Dean at school, he used to keep him in his room all the time. He carried him around in his back pack, when he was a puppy. Russell was a floor monitor the year he got Dean, so I guess this gave him a chance to keep Dean there. Russell said everyone loved Dean.  

Russell didn’t want to go out to eat after graduation. He had requested we grill steaks at home, so Dean could play in the yard. Russell’s sister gave Dean a graduation present too, he got a new chew toy, and soon began to tear into it. 

Lowell and Russell played a lot with Dean in the back yard. You would think it was Dean who was the guest of honor that day……well, I guess he was, too.

It was a great day of celebration for us to be with Russell. I know he felt he would rather be with us than anywhere else. We did not let anything over shadow the joy of this day. I cry a lot remembering all of the things that happened during his college days. I want to remember the happy times with joy. The interference from others, made for some unhappy times.                                                           

His graduation was so nice, they played bag pipes. Russell loved bag pipes, (as he loved most all kinds of music and instruments). As I mentioned before, he loved the song, “Amazing Grace” one of the songs they played at graduation on the bag pipes. 

It’s because of  God’s Amazing Grace, that we know our son is in Heaven. Kinda ironic that he loved this song. Russell loved the Lord, but was lead astray by the lies of Satan. God gave us his Grace, by the Cross, so we could be forgiven of our sins. We know Russell was a born again Christian, and baptized by faith.

Russell was a member of his college choir, and stood tall and proud, to sing on graduation day. We have pictures of the choir, as they preformed.

I guess that was the happiest day that we saw from him after he got involved in the lifestyle.

Russell really worked hard to double major, and try to hold down jobs to make money. I think of this, when I remember all the pain and suffering I read about in all the medical records. Russell, like many others who enter into this lifestyle, made a choice that would result in loss of his precious life, that God gave him.

Going down memory lane, we try to remember all the good times.  It is not easy to forget, (reading the medical records) the pain and suffering he went through after becoming infected with HIV/AIDS. Even though we were kept from him, we learned so much from the medical records. 

We hope and pray that others will listen to the story about Russell, and decide they don’t want to end up this way. He had everything to live for.

Russell’s diploma was destroyed, it didn’t mean anything to his partner. No one can ever destroy what we hold dear with Russell’s memory. We will always remember Russell, as his life was a part of us.

I know it has to be haunting to those who caused his death, as they will have this lifetime to endure the look of his deteriorating body as he lay dying of AIDS. I am going to talk later about the horrible complications Russell died from.

 Those who embraced and encouraged Russell in the lifestyle, will one day they will have to answer for what they have done. No punishment here on this earth will be like that on judgement day. We have to think of that, to keep going. God will take care of this, all in his time. 

It is never too late for anyone to turn away from this lifestyle. Russell, we believe, wanted out of this lifestyle. We also believe, that he had not been taken away to Baltimore, he may still be alive today.

When we came home after graduation, Russell stayed late. We really hated to see him go. (We knew where he would be going, and it sadden our hearts.) We so wanted him to live a normal life.

We all had a wonderful time, Russell seemed so relaxed. He said, he was happy to be finished with all the studying. I remember us talking about some of the funny things he did at school, a lot of them were about his dog and some of the things he got away with.

Russell could imitate just about anyone. When he, his brother, and sister were together, they would always sing the Chipmunk’s songs. Russell and his sister sang one of them when he was home after graduation. This was one of the funniest things they always did, and they sounded just like the chipmunks.

Christmas they would sing, “Grandma got run over by a reindeer.” They were always acting goofy, and we really missed that, when they left home. Now, these are memories of times gone by. We all celebrated the real meaning of Christmas and loved Christmas music, but they had their fun with the “Grandma” one.

Russell loved the chipmunks since he was real little. One year he wanted chipmunks for Christmas, (they were popular then) and we still have the chipmunk bus and figures he got. What memories we have!

If anyone wants to talk about Russell and what happened to him, please feel free to write a post. I will not answer anything but sincere things.

Lowell and Carolyn Groff

Psalm 34:18  “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

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