A MOTHER’S MEMORIES
BY NANCY S. PALMER
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1978, Brent’s Dad and I had a celebratory lunch in Winter Park, having just learned that we were pregnant. Brent was born on November 1 at Florida Hospital. He was delivered by Cesarean section because he was in a breach position and his shoulders were so wide.
Shoulders so wide that as he grew, his teammates, friends, and clients would lean heavily on them. So would his brothers (Nick Palmer of Alexandria, VA and Greg Rainey of Jacksonville, FL) and his sisters (Mihaela Palmer of Dublin, Ireland, Carley Palmer of Los Angeles, and Joanna Palmer of New Orleans).
As a child, much was expected of Brent. Because of his size and considerable vocabulary, many assumed he was older than he was.
Brent was extremely easy going. He would eat anything, sleep anywhere, and never complain. Those habits never changed. When serving on a mission trip to Mexico City with his stepdad Bill, he would order boiled chicken feet on the street and happily down them.
One of our close friends complained after she had a child that Brent was false advertising for parenthood, since she expected a child as sweet and easygoing as Brent and was rudely awakened to the fact that that was not the case.
Brent and Nick were very close. They both had big imaginations which included dressing up a lot when they were young. Brent was a Gator from the time he was a toddler. The Gainesville newspaper published a picture of him at the homecoming parade in his blue and orange at age three.
Sports were important too. He did soccer and karate. Brent started at Trinity Prep in the sixth grade and played football beginning in his freshman year. Brent would go on to try to walk onto the Florida Gator football team as a freshman there. He made it down to the last few people and was able to keep his shoes and helmet, which he proudly displayed. He rarely missed a game on TV and we talked through every season, including the fall of 2019.
Brent was physically very healthy growing up. The only time he saw a doctor for anything other than regular checkups was when he broke his arm in second grade and when he was knocked out on the football field in high school.
Brent was diagnosed with late onset juvenile diabetes in his late 20’s. By then, he had probably done damage to his body. Not having known he was diabetic would greatly affect his life.
My last visit to see him was in June of 2017 in Louisiana, where he was living with his best buddy, his dog Kaito. Soon after, neither of us was well enough to travel and we had to rely on texts and phone calls to connect.
In Louisiana, he was going to the gym regularly and was on a paleo diet. He would send me pictures of his paleo meals and assured me he was doing great.
However, later that year, he scraped his leg and got a staph infection in his bone. Surgery and a wound vac machine were required. Then he fell and broke his hip. More surgery. Joanna came from her home to care for him. Ultimately, he moved in with his dad in Maitland, since he could not live independently.
During the two years he lived with his dad, he had to have amputations to his feet and got around on a scooter. He did work from home with his Dad.
Despite all the health challenges, Brent remained easygoing, didn’t complain, and his faith grew.
I need not say “what if” we had known of his diabetes earlier since “what ifs” are futile and Brent never dwelled on them.
I last talked to Brent on Monday, March 9. On March 11, our friend Tandy talked to him. He was loving his new job teaching artificial intelligence to write better for a company called Knightbridge in Ireland. He was excited about the intellectual challenge and stimulation. He gave all the glory for his new job to God. He was humble and content.
Later that day, he appears to have had a diabetic seizure and aspirated on some food. He was taken to Florida Hospital, where an MRI confirmed he had suffered massive brain damage from a lack of oxygen. On March 20, he went to be with the Lord. His last week on earth was St. Patrick’s Day week, one of his favorite holidays.
I see Brent now free of insulin, prosthetic shoes, and his scooter, running through the fields in heaven with Kaito. I have no doubt he is there because our Lord takes all believers into His arms and forgives them of all their sins.
My father and Brent were very close. I like to picture them having long talks and praising God together. Two of my favorite men in life.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Brent’s name to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
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