Giving Life a Second Chance
Through Organ & Tissue Donation

"Threads of Love" Donor Memorial Quilt: Quilt 40

Howard Elliot

This quilt square honors Howard Elliot (12/2/39-9/29/12). The beach played a large role in his life, from childhood at his parents’ Ventnor home to vacations with our three children (Blair, Bethany, Laurel). Howard wasn’t perfect, but he would anything he could to help family and friends. He never hesitated for moment in his decision to be an organ donor.When Howard passed away last September, it was the day after we had arrived in Atlantic City for a family reunion. As I stood vigil at his bedside, I noticed that, outside his hospital window, a seagull also stood watch until the moment he passed. I was struck by the gull’s presence, as I always am. Whenever I see a seagull I’m reminded of Richard Bach’s novella, “Jonathan Livingstone Seagull,” and start attributing human traits and emotions to these birds.

It has since occurred to me that Howard and the seagull of that story really did share some similarities. Both were willing to go against the conventions of society with goals that ran contrary to the norms of their “flocks.” Both found this kind of thinking was no way to make oneself popular with other “birds.” Like Jonathan, Howard sometimes succeeded brilliantly but sometimes crashed spectacularly. But like Jonathan, he always willing to try again, time after time. Both reached that point in their lives when they had to admit “I can lift this old body no higher.”I’d like to think – I want to think – that the gull outside the window was at least representative of the messengers who came to Jonathan at the end of his life saying, “We’ve come to take you higher, to take you home. One school is finished, and the time has come for another to begin.”

Find peace at last, Howard.

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