Location: Wisconsin, United States

I am a convert to the Catholic Church after serving in ordained ministry for more than nine years in another denomination. I hold a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in historical theology, and another in systematic theology, and am currently working (very slowly) on my doctorate. I work in Christian Education and Formation and teach at the University level. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and eight great kids! When I'm not studying, reading, or blogging, I enjoy eating and drinking! Like Bilbo Baggins, I have been specializing in food for many years, and my table has a high reputation!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


This is a very different -- and difficult -- post for me.

Today, I would like to recognize the life of Ken Jablonski. Ken died 15 years ago, sometime between the hours of 4 and 8 AM on February 22nd, 1993. He was 34 years old. He had suffered from severe kidney disease, leading to total kidney failure (and two failed transplants). He had survived more than 20 years of kidney dialysis. He was also, for the many years that I knew him, totally blind. Early in the morning of February 22nd, 1993, while waiting for the taxi to take him to his thrice-weekly dialysis treatment, he suffered what appeared to be a fatal heart attack. When the taxi company called the authorities to report his non-appearance that fatal morning, the police found his body on the living room floor, reaching for the phone.

At the request of his family, I was in charge of his funeral arrangements, and the disposition of most of his material goods.

Ken was a unique man. In spite of his physical disabilities -- and his blindness -- he was a musician of extraordinary skill -- on the piano, the guitar, and the electric guitar -- as well as being a gifted composer. He had one of the most profound -- and funny -- senses of humor that I have ever encountered in my life. Reading from a Braille manuscript, he proclaimed the Old Testament Lesson at my wedding, and remained very interested in my family life until his untimely death. (He died when my oldest son was 2 1/2 years old, and one month before my oldest daughter was born.)

Ken was an honest man; a generous man; a giving man; and a godly man. To the very end of his life, he was concerned about the needs and hurts of others. Upon his death, one of the tasks which fell to me was to "clean out" his computer -- and I found many more examples of his kindness and decency about which I had no knowledge -- even as his closest friend.

One final example: about four months prior to his death, Ken had the opportunity to meet the severely retarded and disabled daughter of my wife's best friends. She was only a small child at the time. After my wife's friends had returned home, Ken penned a letter to this little girl: a letter gripped with love and emotion. Some years after Ken's death, this little girl died as well -- and at the visitation for family and friends, Ken's letter was posted prominently by the casket. I don't believe I've ever met a more compassionate person in my entire life.

Ken, while a devout Christian, often joked about giving up "religious ritual" for Lent! And, true to form, he died just two days before Ash Wednesday! Tomorrow, while a day of abstinence, a part of me will be strongly tempted to give up -- in Ken's honor -- my Lenten disciplines -- just for a day.

Kenneth P. Jablonski -- may you rest in peace! May your friends be as lucky as you, to remember you so faithfully! And if, perchance, I should (in your honor) stray on Friday, please intercede to the Almighty on my behalf!

Papa Z

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Blogger A Simple Sinner said...

Eternal Memory! May God grant rest and peace to the servant of God Ken.

Pappa Z, in another life I was a dialysis technician. My experience with folks so afflicted was that grace seems to reign down and help them and transform them.

I will remember him in my rosary. Please cross post at Per Christum if you like - our readership always comes through with prayers.

God bless you and keep you too, PZ. I will remember you in my rosary as well.

10:38 PM  
Blogger David Zampino said...

Thank you, my friend. I have so cross-posted.

Sometime, if you feel so inclined, I would love to correspond with you off-line about some of your experiences. After working with Ken for so many years, my eyes were opened about the challenges and needs faced by kidney dialysis patients.

May God bless you.

10:50 PM  
Blogger VAXHeadroom said...

I knew Ken well and he was a good friend, a great guy, and a terrific musician. I was given a few pieces of gear from his estate, almost all of which I still have and use. RIP my friend, I can't wait to see you again!

Emory Stagmer (aka VAXHeadroom)

10:19 AM  
Blogger VAXHeadroom said...

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10:19 AM  

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