by Taylor MacHenry
We called him Adam. Sometimes, in humor, I called him, “Up-N-Adam,” a nickname that sprung from my sincere love for the youngster who grew into a truly good man with a pure heart and a beautiful soul.
William Adam Wilson was my brother John’s stepson; John’s wife Gina’s first born son. She had previously married William O. Wilson for 11 years, a good and gentle man who dearly loved his wife and son, devoted himself to them, but had his life cut short, enduring a slow death from the heartbreaking, destructive effects that Type One Diabetes has on the human body. When Bill Wilson died, he was blind and had no legs, yet he still tried to be the father that a father ought to be for Adam, shooting hoops in the backyard with the little boy, the father blind and in a wheelchair. Adam had to use a long stick to tap the side of the metal hoop so his father could focus on the sound and know where to shoot the basketball. A father’s determined love for his son, overcoming all obstacles.
Bill Wilson was also my brother John’s best friend. And it broke John’s heart when his buddy died, January 10, 1992, Bill’s 37th birthday. For John, it was as if his own brother had passed away.
John’s relationship with Gina and her little boy, Adam, grew over the months after Bill’s death. This extended through the year until the two of them realized that they truly loved each other. That they belonged together. That God meant them to be together. So, on September 25, 1992 John and Gina got married.
Bill would have wanted it. His best friend, John, taking up the course of life with his beloved and devoted wife, Gina. John would take great care of Gina and Adam, and Bill would remain branded in the centers of their hearts, and they would honor him with their love.
As Adam began to grow up, he also learned more and more about the goodness of his father, and that like him, his father had a beautiful soul. So, out of love and respect for his father, Adam began calling himself, William, and asked others to call him William. An act of great love from a wonderful son honoring his father.
But like his father, growing through early adolescence, John and Gina and young William Adam Wilson learned that he had developed Type One Diabetes. An affliction apparently passed down through genetics.
Thus, it was the heartbreaking, destructive effects of Type One Diabetes that on February 17, 2020 put William Adam Wilson into a coma. And on March 20, 2020, at age 36, lying in a Colorado Springs care facility, he died. Alone.
Unvisited for those 32 days of unconsciousness, appearing to the healthcare workers and the funeral care staff that no one held even a whet of concern about this young man. Apparently rejected no different than an abandoned dog picked up off the cold streets, left to die alone in the city pound.
William Adam Wilson would not have died alone, had his mother known that he had suffered the catastrophic medical event on February 17, where excessive insulin in his body caused him to crash and fall into coma.
Trugina Henderson would have been at the hospital emergency room from moment one, and she would have never left her son’s side. Gina would have been at the nursing care facility throughout every day and night of the 32 days that her son lay in a coma, as he did, slowly dying, with no one checking on him, except for the nursing staff and doctors. His devoted mother would have accompanied William Adam to the funeral home too. And his dad, my brother, John Henderson, would have remained stedfast at her side and at William’s side. Stalwartly there. Every bitter and sad day that remained of John’s and Gina’s dearly loved son’s life.
Together, John and Gina with their other son, Martin and daughter, Katelynn, with my family and me, and all the many others who greatly loved him would have taken William Adam Wilson to his birthplace in Oklahoma. We would have buried him next to his father, had William’s family known anything of what happened to this very dearly loved son.
Almost eight years ago, William Adam Wilson got married to a deeply troubled young woman (her name is not important for this writing). We suspect that she had suffered abuse as a child. She displayed all the behavior of it–withdrawn, afraid and sullen. Not trusting anyone. Thus, she had a host of mental issues and deeply seated emotional troubles.
William, likewise, carried more than his share of disabilities too. Not just Type One Diabetes, but other serious and debilitating issues. They included several emotional and learning disabilities, we can call them. And they were punctuated by William Adam having the affliction of Asperger Syndrome.
Asperger’s not only impacted and greatly limited William’s social interaction abilities, but limited his comprehension and understanding. Complex matters did not compute. His world was simple. Yes or no, black or white. Shades of gray made wrapping his mind around something multifaceted quite difficult. Yet one thing that Asperger Syndrome could not stifle was his love. His abundant love. Nor could it flaw his beautiful soul.
When John’s and my mother, in her 90s, lived with him and Gina, and William and Martin and Katelynn, she could do little for herself. William loved her as his grandmother too. He would check on her throughout any day, and often would lovingly ask her if he could get anything for her. She would sometimes say that she would really enjoy drinking a chocolate frosty (ice cream shake) from Wendy’s restaurant.
William would smile and tell her, “Grandmother, you wait right there. I will go and get you one.”
And he would get in his car and drive several miles to the nearest Wendy’s drive-in restaurant and bring home to her a chocolate frosty. All that trouble just to give this old woman who would regularly sit with him and talk about Jesus something nice.
For William Adam Wilson, his love was boundless. All or nothing.
A year or so into his marriage, William’s young wife worried about her husband sharing his love. She grew jealous of everyone and everything because William loved his family–his mother and dad, younger sister Katelynn and younger brother Martin. So, as this jealously became too heavy for her to bear, she gave William an ultimatum. He could love her or he could love his family. He could not love both.
William made the decision that he loved his wife. It was his responsibility, especially since he had pledged to God to be her husband and do all those things for her that God expected of him. So, William Adam Wilson divorced himself from his family, who he dearly loved. He sacrificed a huge part of his life so that his wife could know that he loved her most.
I do not mention his wife’s name for many reasons, but she took him away from John and Gina, Katelynn and Martin. She forbade him any contact with anyone of his family or his friends. Not them nor his uncles and aunts, nor his cousins. Not anyone but those she approved. Which was no one outside her immediate family.
Not only did he have to sacrifice his ties with his family but his ties to other things he loved. He had to throw out his collection of Oklahoma University football jerseys and hats. He had to get rid of his Broncos stuff and Cowboys stuff too. William Adam loved football but his wife could not compete with that love either. He had to make the choice, and William chose her.
He chose her and sacrificed everything else in his world that he loved, like football, hunting and fishing, and the people who loved him. Like his mother and dad and sister and brother. And his very large family. People who would go miles and miles for him because of their unconditional love for the young man.
During the ensuing six plus years, John and Gina tried every legal means of regaining contact, just to simply see their son with his great heart filled with love. They asked police do wellness checks. Our church’s pastor, Dave Shumpert, of Cowboy Church of Peyton, made many attempts over the years to visit with William and his wife, and her mother too, who lived with them. Pastor Dave had counseled William and his wife before their marriage and performed their marriage ceremony. Yet William’s wife forbade him any degree of contact with anyone outside her own family, which consisted of herself, her mother and brother.
They lived on William’s Social Security Disability income, which wasn’t much, but it paid the rent on a small, very modest apartment in Colorado Springs, and bought enough food to keep them going.
So, February 17, just after Valentine’s Day, with the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candy that goes with it, and William Adam having a special taste for chocolate, he fell into a coma. For some reason, too much insulin surged through his system and sent down sugar levels, crashing through the bottom of his blood sugar scale. William’s parents had saved him several times before, when his insulin took him down. Gina knew what to do because she had done the same for her late husband, Bill Wilson, William’s father. Yet William’s wife apparently knew little to nothing about the immediate action that she needed to take to save his life. So, when William Adam Wilson crashed, he stayed down.
First responders took him to the hospital emergency room. After every effort to bring William back failed, the healthcare givers reluctantly transferred him to a hospice facility when doctors knew that nothing within their realm of science could bring him back. Thirty-two days later, on March 20, 2020, William Adam Wilson died. And his beautiful soul went to heaven.
William Adam Wilson had his disabilities, but he had a great and solid love for his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He prayed every day and devoted himself to living for Jesus. As with his love, William was all-in for Jesus.
On Labor Day weekend, John and Gina, her younger sister, Sandy and her husband had gone camping and fishing. That same weekend Adam’s Aunt Pam, Gina’s other sister, Pamala Howard, who lives in Ohio, sat at her computer and as she had done throughout the past six years, like John and Gina and most of Adam’s family had also regularly done, she made random searches for anything that might give them a glimpse of how William was doing. Maybe a Facebook notice or something might offer a sliver of light into this dearly loved son’s world. Any little something that might help to sooth the ache in Pam’s heart, and in Gina’s heart and John’s, Martin’s and Katelynn’s and all of their family’s hearts, because we all greatly loved and missed the young man.
Only this time, something was different. Something had weighed on Pam’s heart, and told her that she needed to look harder. Expand her search, define it more. Pam decided to try a search for Adam using his full name and place of birth. It should narrow things down. So, she typed William Adam Wilson born in Lawton, Oklahoma.
There, at the top of the search page stood an obituary posted online March 20, 2020, from a funeral home in Colorado Springs. Tears flowed from her eyes as her heart broke, reading the very briefest of death notices. There was no doubt. Adam had died.
Then another wave of heartbreak and dread closed on Pam. She had to call her sister and tell her that her dearly loved son had lost his life. Not just recently died but had passed away six months ago.
Pam could not make the call that night nor the next, she had to get the shock of it under control before she told her sister. As she wrestled with how exactly she should best handle the dreadful task, she decided to wait. Wait until John and Gina had returned home from their camping fun with her sister Sandy and her husband, fishing several lakes and streams along Colorado’s Continental Divide. Pam wanted them to at least have another night and day of enjoyment before she shattered their world with the news of Adam.
Thus on the night of September 8, well after time for dinner and allowing plenty of time for them to return home to Falcon, Colorado, Pam called Gina and John. She cut right to it and told them the news that she had found.
John hurried to his computer, took a deep and dreadful breath and typed into the search block, William Adam Wilson, born in Lawton, Oklahoma. And up popped his dearly loved son’s obituary.
It contained no picture, was only three sentences long but contained the correct birth date, place of birth, father’s and mother’s (probably taken from his birth certificate) and his wife’s name, along with the name of her brother as survivors. Unbeknownst to his family and everyone who greatly loved him, William Adam Wilson had died.
John called me, 10:30 p.m. on that Tuesday night, devastated. And thus our grieving for the boy that we dearly loved, William Adam Wilson, now dead at age 36, began.
Adam’s disabilities benefits and Colorado taxpayers covered the meager costs of his death processing at the funeral home. One could hardly call what they did anything more than processing. Pretty much the same treatment that a homeless person with no family receives. Cremation and no memorial services. No burial, no headstone, just a can of ashes inside a cardboard box.
The funeral director had to telephone and leave messages for William’s wife multiple times to persuade her to come pick up her husband’s ashes. She finally did, and gave the good man at the funeral home a hand-scrawled page of a few lines of facts, probably taken from her husband’s birth certificate, for an obituary. Then she took the container filled with William’s ashes and disappeared.
Her mother had died in 2019, and without William’s disability check providing her income, she moved out of their humble apartment. The building manager said she had gone to Arizona to be with family, but she left no city name nor forwarding address.
So, William Adam Wilson’s mom and dad, sister and brother, uncles and aunts, including me, are left with nothing but our memories of this pure and gentle young man that we so dearly loved. Adoring memories of a wonderful person who had a heart filled with love and a beautiful soul.
As matters now stand, no body or ashes of our beloved William to bury, we will instead take an effigy of him–photographs and keepsakes and notes of love in a box–and lay those to rest next to William O. “Bill” Wilson. We will hold our memorial service there, and the grave marker will read William Adam Wilson, on the same tombstone marking his father’s grave. Side by side. It will suffice, because our love for William Adam Wilson is greater than the divide of death that separates us, for the time being.
On Thursday, September 10, Pastor David Shumpert and his wife, Beverly, drove the more than 220 miles roundtrip to Colorado Springs from Johnstown, Colorado, to meet with us at John’s home. A most intimate funeral service, if you will. All of us, including my son, Bobby, who lives in Lawton, Oklahoma and was here visiting, sat with Pastor Dave and Beverly and let our hearts flood out streams of tears and sweet memories of our beloved boy, William Adam Wilson.
Pastor Dave prayed with us, and read Scripture to us. He told us that he knew with absolute certainty that William Adam Wilson now lived in the presence of our Lord in heaven. Pastor Dave had known William very well, and without mistake, knew the young man’s heart. I too am certain that my beloved nephew is with Jesus.
And that is the good news of the day. William is likewise with his father Bill Wilson, and neither of them suffer from the destructive torture of Type One Diabetes. Bill has legs and can see beyond the stars, his son at his side, standing tall and fully fit. Both perfect in all respects. They live now in splendorous spiritual bodies, no longer in corrupted human flesh but the matter that exists with God for eternity. Glorious stuff.
As we sat there with Pastor Dave, praying and weeping, we realized the truth of God’s love for William as we told each other that William’s afflictions no longer existed. No more Asperger Syndrome, no more Type One Diabetes. While his father had lost his legs and eyesight to the slow death of diabetes, William did not have to live to face that torture, that heartbreak, that ordeal. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, had smiled on our beloved son and brought him home to be with Him for eternity.
And, as Pastor Dave reminded us, God had transformed William into a flawless, perfect, glorious body that radiates marvelous and wondrous like the stars. Our beloved Adam stands amidst the Angels, before the Lord.
This morning, as I read my Bible, as I try to do each day, my lesson took me to the epistles of Paul, writing to the Corinthians. Paul told the Corinthians about how we who believe in Jesus will be resurrected from this life and transformed to glory. Human flesh is of this world, corrupt and with sin. God moves our souls to glorified bodies, utterly perfect and radiant, just as His presence is perfect and radiant.
So, now we can celebrate, have great joy for our very dearly loved William Adam Wilson. He now lives on High, in the presence of Christ Jesus, and he suffers no more pain or limitations, nor earthly needs nor sorrow.
We rejoice in the Lord and praise His Holy Name, as God’s Word assures us in the epistle written long ago by His Apostle Paul, a testament of the Truth and Promise told in Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 15:35-58
The Nature of the Resurrection Body
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?” 36 You fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And as for what you sow — you are not sowing the body that will be, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he wants, and to each of the seeds its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. 41 There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; in fact, one star differs from another star in splendor. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; 43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; 44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.
47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality.
54 When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.