My father died this past April. He wasn’t my biological father, but he loved me like his own. He was the only grandfather my children knew, and he loved each of them fiercely.

He taught me how to change the oil in my car, check the air in my tires and how to change a tire. He taught me basic plumbing skills, which led me to be able to install my own dishwasher and garbage disposals and change out plumbing fixtures. I can install basic lighting and even ceiling fans because of his patience. There is nothing I won’t try to do or think I can’t do, and I believe this started with him.

Courtesy of NILMDTS Co-Founder, Cheryl Haggard

His name was Paul Clifford Sooter. A few years back (this was after Maddux died) I remember my mom telling me that Paul had an older brother who had died at birth. She thought there was a photo of him and she dug through some old boxes until she found it. Paul knew very little about the back-story, and Paul’s mother and father had already died, so there was no way to really know the whole story.

After my father passed away, my mom mentioned the photo of his older brother again and mentioned that she thought he would have wanted me to have it. I dug through several boxes and again, found this vintage photograph.

Courtesy of NILMDTS Co-Founder, Cheryl Haggard

Let me introduce you to Paul Keith Sooter. Born January 18th, 1947. He was the second child born to Clifford and Nadine Sooter. He has an older sister, Judy, and two younger siblings, Paul and Lisa. I wanted to learn more about him, so I texted Lisa. She wasn’t born yet but she knew just a bit of his story.

Judy and Paul Keith were born in Polo, Missouri by a “country doctor.” Paul Keith died during delivery due to an umbilical cord accident. His doctor tried to revive him after delivery, but it was too late and nothing could save him. After Paul Keith died, the only other information I have is that Clifford insisted that Nadine deliver her next child (my father) with a “city doctor” in Independence, Missouri.

I am just amazed that this photograph exists. I am so thankful that it does. It was still somewhat of a common practice back in this day and age to photograph the deceased, especially in small town country settings. I remember seeing images growing up of older family relatives laid to rest in their caskets. Again, a common practice back in the day.

And now, just like Maddux and all of our babies, because of one simple photograph, this little baby has a name, a story, and a legacy that will continue for generations. I am blessed and honored to be the keeper of his photograph.

Remembrance Portraits
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