Aaron's Eulogy was delivered by his Uncle John
Greene Saturday, October 2nd, 2004.
AARON R. HULTMAN
"What member of our family is like clothing?" – Give up? Long Johns!
HA! I bet you thought I would tell a different joke.
To know Aaron was to know, first and foremost, his sense of humor. Aaron had a keen sense of humor, generally involving
wordplay and specifically involving family members. To Aaron I became "Uncle ParmaJohn!" I’ll let you come up with the
lead in for that joke. To me, Aaron always was my "Little Guy." Gosh, I miss him!
I cannot think of a more extra-ordinary honor than to be standing here now.
Our story begins on November 13, 1995 when Florence delivered to Gary this beautiful bundle of baby boy to be known as
Aaron, a biblical name with deep meaning. As he grew his precocious inquisitiveness quickly became apparent. Always with questions
– all of them beginning with "Why?" He soon developed a lust for books, later becoming a voracious reader. Many an hour
was spent with his Mom uptown at the Library. In the library, Aaron knew just where the section was to find the books about
trucks, construction trucks, trains, dinosaurs and things that flew. This love of aviation and flight was highlighted by his
annual trips with Dad to the Chicago Air & Water Show. Something he ALWAYS looked forward to. This year was very difficult.
By far, the books he chose most often involved all things SPACE! Early on he knew his planets, by heart, and the
order they came in. In his house and in his room there are rockets everywhere. And he just LOVED Apollo 13. He has since developed
many friends within the ranks of the astronauts, meeting more than a few IN PERSON! Our trips to the Henry Crown Space Center
where he would run from exhibit to exhibit in total awe will always hold a fond place in my heart. But my best memory of Aaron
is from that look of wondrous delight on his smiling face at the eyepiece of my telescope, set up one clear night across the
street. That face shone brighter than any star we viewed that evening. Thank you Aaron.
Aaron’s love for the stars often had him dreaming of becoming the first man on Mars. Last year he was a participant
in the "Mars Exploration Rover – 2003 Mission." A CD bearing Aaron’s name now resides on the red planet.
What is an astronaut’s favorite meal? – Give up? Launch!
Aaron’s favorite place in the world is his Grandpa’s cabin in Wahalla, Michigan. There he was free to be that
wonderful little boy and he would swim like a fish from sun-up to sundown. Those Summer trips were always a special time for
Gary, Florence and Aaron.
Back home Aaron always loved Halloween, especially the candy! Whether dressed up as G.I. Joe or a space station astronaut
with fully functional backpack, he usually won the "Best Costume" prize or found his photo on the front page of the Norwood
This year he’s going to be an Angel.
How come you can never recognize clouds? – Give up? Because they’re always in disguise.
Aaron was awarded numerous trophies and Certificates of Achievement from Chung’s Tai Kwon Do Institute along
with several Honor Student medals. His perseverance paid off when he earned his 1st black belt in June of this year.
His Winters were spent with his friends. Playing in the snow, building forts and snowmen and riding their sleds down the
large slide Gary had built in the backyard.
And he loved his dogs, first Peppy and later Corky, who he named for his funny corkscrew tail.
What happened to the dog when he swallowed a clock? - Give up? He got ticks!
Above all, Aaron made school his primary "mission." He was an extremely bright student, always getting A’s in his
classes. His teachers were known to comment that they needn’t look to know that Aaron’s hand would be raised for
each and every question and that they had to try hard to call on someone else! He made many friends at school. School was
important to Aaron, even to the point that throughout his many hospital stays he would always get his homework in!
Aaron earned many awards from Norwood Park School. In February 2004, Aaron was presented with an award for his science
project "Fascinating Footprints." In June he earned a Technology Achievement Award for his outstanding work in the
Norwood Park School Technology Lab. He was commended with a Student Council Certificate for his outstanding service
and conduct in the 2003-2004 Student Council. Aaron received two Young Author Awards, one for his 2003 book "Aviation
Space and Me" and the other in 2004 for his book "Voyager to the Stars." Aaron was very proud to receive a Certificate
of Recognition for Excellent Citizenship from his school.
As Room 102 Student of the Month, Aaron’s definition of courage was quoted as "Courage is doing something that is
not easy. Admitting when you are wrong shows courage."
Little did we know just how much courage Aaron would go on to display in the coming months!
What do tall buildings read? – Give up? Stories!
After a seemingly innocent episode at school last Fall where he "blacked out" and later experienced seizures, Aaron was
taken to the hospital and put through a series of tests. On November 28, 2003 Aaron was diagnosed with an almost unpronounceable
disease called Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD. It was just after Thanksgiving. Who could have fathomed he wouldn’t be
here for the next one. Florence and Gary’s nightmare had begun. There was no waking up. They were given all the information
and all the options by all the doctors but the prognosis was not good. Now it was our turn to be asking the questions –
all of them beginning with "Why?"
With frantic searches on the Internet, numerous email exchanges with Dr. Moser and, later, feeling a bit like Nick Nolte,
on my nocturnal treks to the Mayo Medical Libraries, I tried to discover all I could about this disease. I learned many things
about X-linked genetic disorders, about long-chain fatty acids and about myelin sheaths. I also learned there was little hope
and no cure.
My considered scientific opinion? "IT JUST WASN’T FAIR!" (pound fist)
Assimilation of the facts was vital however as Aaron was now faced with a timetable none of us wished for. Dr. Joyce quickly
recommended the only available avenue of treatment, a Bone Marrow Transplant to be done at one of the best hospitals in the
country for this procedure, The Fairview Clinic of the University of Minnesota.
A difficult decision to be sure as the operation had its own dangers, Gary and Florence decided to go ahead, there was
never any question!
Now, imagine if you can, uprooting your entire household, leaving family, friends and schoolmates, your congregation behind.
Corky. Giving up all your creature comforts, your home, furniture, food, stores, work - packing suitcases and moving to Minnesota,
not knowing what you’d find there - AND IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER YET!
Think about it, there was absolutely NO LENGTH these two parents wouldn’t go for that child. And their outlook was
What do you call a man wearing cellophane pants?" - Give up? Russell!
Well, they settled into a place at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, just a few blocks from the hospital and clinic.
It was a nice apartment and Florence quickly made it into their new home for the foreseeable future. Gary was afforded time
off from work for a while and family and friends pitched in to help out both there and at home. Let me just mention the wonderful
work of two very benevolent people and their charitable organization of the Ronald McDonald houses throughout the country.
Providing a needed place for many families in their time of need. They are to be blessed.
Establishing a routine, Aaron began his chemotherapy in advance of his transplant and life at times became very difficult.
A special catheter was implanted in Aaron’s chest for all the medications he was to receive. Gary and Florence provided
round-the-clock nurturing in shifts. They learned medicine (by now Florence was getting good at it). Throughout it all Aaron
was a real trooper! It was now time for the transplant. Things went well and the waiting game began to see if it would be
successful. It was around this time I was scheduled to go for a week shift in Minneapolis, Spring was here and we all were
filled with a renewed optimism. Due to a complication involving withdrawal from the chemotherapy drugs, Aaron developed a
condition in his brain, which caused him to seizure. When I arrived he had again been hospitalized. The steps the doctors
needed to take to subdue the short circuit going on in his head were severe and quite disturbing to Florence. Aaron was heavily
sedated; he was on a breathing tube. We were losing valuable time. After his recovery, it was assessed that it was now too
late for Aaron to receive a second, vital transplant. The fight was over; there was nothing more to be done.
Often times, I remember looking down on Aaron struggling against his disease from his hospital bed, feeling totally helpless
and thinking to myself, "Were it to be possible to exchange places – would I do it?"
"This means YES!" (hold up right index finger)
And so, under a cloud of sadness and despair, we brought him home, fully cognizant of the inescapable inevitability of
what was yet to come but that none of us could possibly have been prepared for. In the end Our Merciful Lord released Aaron
from his tormented mind and body and took him home. I have been changed forever.
We have all heard or even recounted over the past couple of days the many, many inspirational stories and wonderful instances
of things done and love poured out over Aaron and his family, from all over the world and to a large extent even from total
strangers! Anyone who spent time with him was touched in a special way.
This was Aaron’s miracle.
How does lettuce remember its birthday? – Give up? With a colander!
Now, we can lament that he was only an eight-year-old boy, well, almost nine. But as I have tried to recount here today,
he had a very rich life. He had seen things and learned things, been places, experienced much and accomplished much in his
short time here, more so than many who have lived a long life.
Aaron went through a lot, more than any eight year old should have to. But I can honestly say, I never heard him complain.
OK, He didn’t like losing his hair or it coming back dark. We’ll always remember him as that beautiful blond haired
little boy. Sure he questioned why, we all did. On more than one occasion we all had to ask God for what possible purpose
could such an insidious disease hold over this little boy? This is but only our human weakness showing through. All during
his time of great personal anguish and frustration, like my sister Mary, Aaron never once complained. It seems over all these
years, I now felt her near somehow. And like her, Aaron was not afraid. I can only attribute this to the healing company
of Our Lord close by, holding his hand. It is said that we, as human beings, can feel the true presence of God on two occasions,
at birth and again at death. Those who were there with Aaron certainly felt it.
And so, in closing, on behalf of Florence and Gary, and our two families, I would like to thank all of you for your love
and kindness, all your many prayers, and especially for your attendance here with us today, celebrating Aaron’s
life. For although his journey is now at an end, Gary and Florence’s needs have only begun. The Winter winds will again
be blowing soon, this time in Chicago. I ask that you please remain close to them both and help keep Aaron ever present in
their lives. He was indeed a very special little boy.
We loved him dearly.
All during his struggle and throughout his medical ordeals, our encouragement from the sidelines always was "You can do
it Aaron, you can do it!" Well, Aaron, you did it, little guy, You Did It!
John P. Greene