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Michael C Kampfer

January 13, 1956 August 22, 2018
Michael C Kampfer
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Obituary for Michael C Kampfer

Michael C. Kampfer
Thoughts by a Younger Brother
When my brother, Michael C. Kampfer, was born on January 13, 1956, there were no prenatal ultrasounds and blood tests like there are now to confirm Marie's Ataxia, but my Mom knew in her heart when she first saw him, but it never mattered to her. On the day of discharge the doctor gave my dad a list of facilities and addresses. When Dad asked, “What’s this?” the doctor told him these were places that Dad could take Mike to live. My dad replied, “He is our son, and we will take him home and raise him!” And raise him they did!
They taught him what they could. It took him longer than most kids to learn to crawl, to learn to walk – but he did! They taught him like any other child – good manners, how to wash his hands, his boundaries outside, and how to cut his food, which, by the way he was not too pleased about at first! And the list goes on and on. But what we never expected was what Mike would continue to teach us.
The doctor said aging is faster for people with Mike’s type of syndrome…. More than it is for the rest of us. Mike in his 50’s started to have more seizures that seemed to shut down slowly the few abilities that he did have. When he lost the ability to walk, we knew we had a problem, since it made it increasingly more difficult to care for him.
We had a family discussion in mom and dad’s living room to talk about what to do. Do we try to devise a schedule where more family members can be there to help at different times? Or would he qualify for outside help to come in the home to help? Do we move him to a nursing home or an assisted living home to live? We ended the meeting with a family prayer – asking for guidance on what steps to take.
Throughout the next few years, visiting nursing homes, and during the meetings with “officials,” I knew God was with us throughout every step as everything fell into place quickly and smoothly. He chose the best home, and the best care-staff and helped us make the best decisions. Mike seemed to settle in fine without any nervousness or fright. It was not easy for us to move him there, and again, God’s work was revealed when ….. God’s message of, “I am with you both” gave great comfort.
Some of the caretakers felt a special bond with Mike – they immediately were taken in by his more childlike ways and loving demeanor and took extra steps to care for him and to spend time with him which we could not be more thankful for. One particular caretaker who was there on his first day told us some time later, that she had been going through a difficult time in her life when Mike came to stay, and he always made her feel better with his smile, and she looked forward to seeing him when she came to work. She said she realized that things such as holding grudges and checking our cell phones and hurrying everywhere really doesn’t matter at all compared to living in the moment like Mike did.
It was fitting that she was also there on his last day to help care for him. Although his health continued to decline to the point he did not walk at all, he became more still, he slept more, one thing continued to stay – his beautiful smile!! The caretakers always commented that no matter how sick he was, or how bad he must have felt, he always would give them a smile!
I started to realize a few years back, that, yes, God gave him to our family to raise, and to teach things to, but I feel he taught us so much more. So often while I was growing up and later while we were raising our kids, I had seen Mike get upset – as a kid, if I moved one of his lined up toy cars which he did not like anyone to do, or Mom or Dad would tell him he had enough to eat and couldn’t have anymore, or that he needed to leave Mom alone while she was baking cookies. Yes, you knew he was mad at you…but it was only for a few seconds, then he would look at you…and smile and give you a hug! He was always very quick to forgive. And isn’t Forgiveness one of God’s greatest lessons?
And Mike had a beautiful laugh. His laughter would fill the room and he would laugh often- quite often. He laughed hard at such simple things; cartoons, somebody dropping something and having to pick it up, funny faces the kids made pictures, or just even funny noises! Isn’t this also what God wants, for us to be filled with joy? I also noticed it seemed like he sensed the children’s personalities and acted accordingly. The ones with the gentler spirits helped him or hugged him, and he would respond more with a simple nod or with a smile, or a gentle pat on the back. The more robust personalities would get a big knee-slapping laugh or just a little harder pat on the back! And again, another of God’s lessons is displayed – love one another.
When we were agonizing over the decision to move him to the group home, I remember saying to Russ, “Why doesn’t God just take him so he doesn’t have to go through this?” Well, I realized why on his last day – Mike still had more of God’s work to do and lives to touch because there was not a dry eye to be seen as throughout Mike’s last day many workers came in to say goodbye and to tell us how much they would miss Mike. And the final lesson – trust in God.
Yes. I feel he taught us and gave us so much more than we could ever do for him. So, as I look out at all of you…our family and friends….I see much love….and I want you to think about how you want to live your lives, and think about how Mike lived his life. Mike may have had many physical limitations, no formal education, no college degrees – but he taught us how to live, how to laugh, and how to love.


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