Five More Minutes With Chris and His Loose Tooth

Written by Linda Endebrock on October 31, 2011

Of all the stories that have ever been published on the Five More Minutes With website, this one has elicited the most comments and response. Thanks to Linda Endebrock for sharing these precious photos of Chris, as well as his most moving of stories.

Chris Endebrock

Chris, just two weeks before he died

My little boy, Chris, was only 5 years old when he was hit by a car and died on December 28, 1976.  He would have been six years old the following month, on January 26, 1977.  We had celebrated Christmas that week, and he had had the best time – playing with all his new toys and being on Christmas break from kindergarten.

Chris Endebrock and Family

Chris and his siblings shortly before he died

He was my middle child.  He had a brother, Jason, who was 2 ½ years older than he was, and a baby sister, Angel, who was only 4 months old.

He could do so many things that are so important to a five year old.  He could ride a bike without training wheels, even riding with “no hands.”  He could keep up with all the “big kids” in the neighborhood, and seemed to be such a “big boy” for his age – but he was still such a little boy to me, and he still liked to sit on my lap for stories and to crawl into bed with me at night.

He had a loose tooth, the bottom tooth which is the first tooth that most children lose when they are about six years old.  He was so excited that his tooth was loose and that he was going to put it under his pillow and wait for the “tooth fairy” to leave him some money.   His brother had lost a lot of teeth, and many of his friends had lost their teeth too.  I kept telling him that the tooth wasn’t loose enough to pull – that he needed to wait for it loosen up some more, and that it might even come out by itself.  He kept moving it back and forth, hoping that it would become loose enough to pull.

He never got a chance to pull that tooth.  He died in a hospital bed with all his teeth intact.

If I could spend just five more minutes with Chris, I would read stories to him while he sat on my lap.  I would put as many hugs and kisses into that five minutes as possible – and at the end of that five minutes, I would go ahead and pull his tooth.

Inspiring Moment: Plump Pumpkins and Yellow Mums

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The Red-Headed Cubs Fan

Written by Marilyn Moore on October 24, 2011

My dear friend, Marilyn Moore, was one of the first people to post on Five More Minutes With. Thank you, dear Marilyn, for sharing your memories about your dear son, Linden, who died at the tender age of 51. . .

Linden (left) and his buddy Marvin at a Cubs game.

Linden was supposed to be a red-headed girl named Elizabeth Ellen. I got the red hair right, but he was definitely not a girl. With a crew cut, thick glasses and a grin on his face, he was a boy you gave a big hug to when no one was looking. His bad eyesight would keep him from pursuing his childhood dream of going to West Point and becoming a real-life war strategist.

My little red-headed kid was indefatigable. He was a Cubs fan and kept pencil-written spiral bound statistics notebooks of every Cubs game he attended or listened to. I doubt he ever missed one. Later he used that attention to detail to become a top-notch auditor for the state of Illinois. His hobby was war-gaming.

Linden played LaCrosse. He coached his girl’s softball teams. He umpired local baseball games, sometimes being escorted off the field if his calls were unpopular. He taught Sunday School to toddlers.

Linden studied law online and passed the California bar, hoping to forge a new career after retiring from his current job.

Then the phone call came. Linden’s wife Deborah told me Linden had died in his sleep. He was diabetic. That may have been a factor. He was 51.

Funerals have their good parts. Going out for dinner with Linden’s family, and the families of his sister and brother, brought lots of smiles and laughs. The next day was the service.

I was raised by Mennonites. I am stoic.  I do not cry at funerals.

Linden’s girls, Rebekah and Rachel, along with their cousins, Bonnie and Lillian had made a photo display of Linden that they propped on an easel at the front of the church. To pass the time before the service started, I went up to look it over. I think it was the picture of Linden and the girls walking down the beach – away from the camera. They were holding hands, one on each side of Linden. I started to cry. Embarrassed, I returned to my seat. I don’t remember much of the ceremony. I sobbed all the way through.

There were many things that were left unsaid. I wish I had called Linden more often. I could have praised him more. I could have encouraged him more. I could have listened longer. I’m glad I was able to cry.

More stories from: With My Son

A Legacy of Hospitality

Written by Martha Marino on October 20, 2011

One of my very best friends in the world, Martha Marino, describes her Scandinavian grandmother, who definitely new the in’s and out’s of hospitality and died on her own terms.

This post was first published in April 2010.

Martha Marino

Three generations proudly surround Grandma

My Danish grandmother lived all her life in Nebraska, and since I grew up far away in California, our family would visit just twice a year.

When we did, Grandma bustled about with genuine, but soft-spoken hospitality. Meals with the extended family were fun and abundant with vegetables she had “put up” from her garden and fruit trees.

Grandma had a special fondness for her many grandchildren: on the third story of their farmhouse she had built low shelves stocked with a Santa’s-workshop array of toys, dolls, games, dress-up clothes, blocks, puzzles, stuffed animals, blocks.

It now seems bizarre but she even had a toilet in the corner of the room, out in the open, so little ones could “go” without interrupting their play.

She was a gentle soul, a quiet leader, with high expectations of herself (she was born in 1900 and went to college, rare at that time for a woman), her four daughters, and all of us grandchildren.

When she was nearing the end of her life in her 90’s, still healthy in her mind and body, I wrote a letter to her, asking what legacy she wanted me, as her oldest grandchild, to carry on in her memory.

When she died, I was at a loss because I had never heard back from her.

She even died with hospitality. My mom was with her and Grandma said to her, “Janet, it’s my time. Please call the pastor, take the cookies out of the freezer for him, and make some coffee.”

After he had said his words and had his dessert, she was gone. Hospitality even at the end.

When my mom and her sisters emptied out her apartment, they found my letter to her. She clearly had kept it, intending to respond at some point, since she always answered correspondence. My mom sent it back to me and I still have it.

If I had had five more minutes with Grandma, I would have asked her about that legacy. Or perhaps if she had had five more minutes, she would have written to me.

A few years ago when I visited our relatives in Denmark, I heard them use the word hygge frequently, especially when visiting someone’s home. It was the highest compliment.

The word translates most closely to “cozy” but not in a cutsie way. It means warmth, intimacy, cheerfulness, good simple food, relaxation, enjoyable conversation, and a heartfelt sense of togetherness.

I had experienced Grandma as the epitome of hospitality, and I think the legacy she would be happy for me to carry on would be from her Danish roots, hygge.

More stories from: With My Grandmother

One More Hug, One More Time

Written by Liz Boenig on October 17, 2011

This is one of those stories that literally made me start to cry the first time I read it April 2011. In subsequent emails, Liz and I became Internet friends. I admire her strength and courage very much, and so wanted to share her story with you a second time.


Liz and Miles

Dear Miles,

It has been six-and-one-half years since you died. You were only 21!

There is so much more I wanted to teach you and tell you.

If I had five more minutes with you here on earth, I first would hug you one more time nice and tight and tell you that I love you very much!

Then I would tell you what I have learned since your death and how important it is to live in the present moment.

Yes, it’s fun to dream and think about the future. Yes, it’s nice to remember the past.

But I have discovered that the important thing about life is living in the here and now.  Each moment is a gift.

I am trying to use all of my senses, including my intuition, to take in as many everyday moments as I can.

And by living in the moment, I look at every person or animal that I come in contact with, however briefly, as important.

I try to smile at them and encourage them. I’ve found out that sharing my love in small ways is extremely powerful medicine.

I try to listen earnestly to what people are saying without trying to fix them or judge them for their feelings or thoughts.

It is not always easy to do these things, but because of your life and death, I know that showing love and living in the moment is crucial.

It gives me a heartfelt purpose for being alive.

I have you to thank for my renewed outlook on life.  I think of you each and every day and hold your love precious in my heart.

Take care, my darling son,


Note: Liz Boenig is an elementary school teacher and Miles was her and her husband’s only child. During our e-mail exchange, she told me, “Now-childless parents like myself have a set of difficult issues to deal with. I subscribe to Alive Alone newsletter, which has a website and an Other Links page with additional resources.”

Losing an Angel

Written by Tawnya Bulger on October 13, 2011

Losing a best friend to death, or even simply by falling out of contact over the years, is so hard. Tammy Bulger’s story explains this sort of loss in such a moving way. This was first published in March of this year and bears sharing again.

I lost my best friend 18 years ago. She committed suicide and I’ve often wished that I had more time with her; she was 17. I was 16.

Angel and I had been friends for 7 years; she was a riot.

She was a very beautiful person who had a lot stacked against her in her life. She lived with abuse her whole life and finally believed that it just didn’t make sense for her to gut it out any longer.

If I had five minutes with her, I would encourage her to not take her life (obviously), but I would also want to tell her that we are created to live eternally. Even after our bodies are dust, our souls–that which makes us “us”–continues.

I would tell her that amazing news that the God who created her has an amazing plan for her and that He died for her sins and to give her a place in Our Father’s arms.

I would tell her that what she was going through was never part of God’s plan for His creation, but that the gift of free will can be a double-edged sword that brings hurts and pain into our lives.

But this free will also allows us to choose to love God and the sacrifice He made.

I would encourage her to choose to accept that Christ died for her and to live eternally with Him.

Because I know that I know that I know, all sins are nailed to the cross when He covers a believer with His righteousness, even suicide.

But I would hope that she wouldn’t chose to end her life and to live it instead for the Author of her Life.

Lastly, I would tell her I love her.

And even if I got to choose again whether or not to have befriended her at age nine, I would most certainly choose to be her friend.

I loved her dearly and there’s rarely a week that goes by that I don’t think of her.

Editor’s Note: Tawnya Bulger is owner and founder of Tate Publishing in North Dakota, where she writes and sells her books including “Katrina: Growing Wings.”

Alma’s Grace and Style

Written by Kate Heyhoe on October 10, 2011

This was the very first story ever published on the Five More Minutes With website, written by my friend and fellow cookbook author and food writer (turned artist), Kate Heyhoe.

To the Momster!

I’ve only got 5 minutes, so I’ve got to talk fast: You already know, I hope, how much I love you. Thank you for being my best friend and such an extraordinary person. You really got the fact that in this life, love means everything.

Dying doesn’t look easy. We were amazed how such a tiny person could last a full seven days and nights without food or water. But then again, you were never less than super-hero strong in character. Still, it wasn’t until both your children were in your room at the same time did you finally release and let go. We believe you were waiting for that very moment, with each of us holding your beautiful hands, to remind us to go on together as family. Your last breath was your exclamation mark.

I wish I had known better how to tell what your thrashing really meant, whether you were in agony or just seeing something that the living can’t. Were those “Oh, mama!” moans of extreme pain, or expressions of awe and wonder as you touched the next plane of consciousness?

The hospice nurses explained what each drug did, but they didn’t really prepare me for the rest of the details, the ones that drugs can’t fix. I figured it was okay to ramp up the morphine. But comforting a person transitioning through death just doesn’t seem to work the same way as cozying a person with a cold or the flu. Wish I could have done better. And I’m sorry we encouraged you to try cancer treatments; they bought a couple of years, but you may have been happier without them.


I think about you every day, and try to make those thoughts of joy now, rather than sorrow. Not always successful; I miss you so much. You are my muse, and as I work at your old oak drawing table, I feel your presence. You were and still are so inspiring, something I wish I had told you more often. And you were such a good person, going out of your way to bring a smile to everyone’s day just through a little comment or action. I think you were scared going into death, but I hope you’ve found a bright new phase of being, plump with joy and peace and all things good.

Until we play together again…
Lovey doveys,


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An Allegiance with Al

Written by Alicia Arter on October 6, 2011

Here is the moving story of my friend and fellow food-writing colleague, Alicia Arter’s, first memory of her adoptive father. It was first published on the Five More Minutes With website in March 2010.

Alicia’s very first dinner with Al

Dear Dad,

Your work here is done now and in moments it’ll be no more bills to pay and no more house repairs for you. You won’t have to wonder if your investments will last you through your retirement anymore, or if you‘ll end up in a nursing home – it’s clearly yes and no, in that order.

What a relief! And if anyone’s going through the Pearly Gates, it’ll be you.

In our family you always said to be nice to you  while when you were still kickin’ rather then send flowers to your funeral when it’s too late. We lived like that, and it sure makes for an easier time spent on earth.

While you know you are the best Dad in the world (married to the greatest Mom) there’s a hidden truth I need to tell you about that. It’s kind of the flip side of that.
Going back a few years, remember how you took me in when I was a stranger, a bewildered and frightened 10-month-old girl? You gave me a new life full of learning, caring and laughing. You taught me how to say “Daddy” and how to tie my shoes.

My first father abandoned me, something I can only partly fathom. So frightened was he of fatherhood that he left the country and stayed away for years. When he came back he never even looked me up. I know he thought about me because later, when he married, he told his wife and daughter that he may have left a baby daughter in the lurch years ago. When I was a kid I understood that better, but now that I’m a parent I don’t understand it anymore. It’s a cold thing to do.

Dad, it left a hole, a sorrow, in my bewildered little heart. And you understood perfectly because 30 years before your dad abandoned you too. And you know, I think that between the two of us we patched up the hole, and started our days together with joy and optimism. You taught me to walk, to do arithmetic, to fish and to make toys in your woodshop. And to try to become strong and gentle, like you.

I know you always wondered how I felt about being adopted, and if I ever found my first parents would I abandon you. Never. You are my dad and nothing will ever make a speck of difference in the love between you and me. You saved a little girl and she grew to be your daughter forever. And even though you’re through with the earth now, we’ll talk and laugh every day. And I suppose you noticed that your grandson is growing up to be just like you. Through him you live on.

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Henry-san the Lifesaving Cat

Written by Grace Young on October 3, 2011

This story was first published in June of 2010 and is so moving, I thought it worth reposting. Thanks to my good friend, Grace Young for this contribution and photo of her beloved feline.

Hendi-san the Cat Photo

In Memory of Henry-san: July 22, 2003

Since June 6th when I found out that Henry-san had lost nearly two pounds within two weeks my little universe has changed. Watching him decline in health and knowing that our time together would soon end has been unbearably painful at times. For the last three weeks he had a remarkable rally, gaining a half pound and returning to some of his old habits. Michael called him the “miracle cat” last week saying that he thought Henry-san was aiming to reach his twentieth birthday. It was a nice illusion to live with–half believing I could postpone our parting.

This weekend he continued to have a good appetite and was very alert, but on Monday the appetite disappeared and he seemed to have trouble swallowing. His walk suddenly showed stiffness and by the middle of the night when I got up to feed him I realized we had entered the last stage. I lay beside him for two hours on the living room floor. There was no denying he was ready to go.

Yesterday in New York City we had horrific thunder and rain all day. The kind of piercing, jarring sounds that would’ve sent Henry-san scurrying under the bed when he was younger. But he chose to be in the living room and I stayed with him. It seemed to me nature was literally calling him back. In the early afternoon Michael came home and a short while later the thunder and rain stopped.

When it was time, Henry-san died in a room bathed in sunshine. He was helped by Dr. Berg who came with her assistant Marcos. She was loving and kind and I will always be grateful that she made it possible for Henry-san to die so peacefully. We placed Henry-san on Michael’s sleeping shirt because he loved napping on Michael’s clothes. I placed a white silk scarf that His Holiness the Dalai Lama blessed for me many years ago on Henry-san’s body as a covering to give him spiritual warmth and protection. Henry-san has a photograph of the two of us together so he will always remember we are soul mates. A favorite toy was added and a few petunia and geranium flowers from our window boxes–surrounding him with the scent of his home. Dr. Berg wrapped him in Michael’s shirt like a baby. And that is how he left home yesterday.

The moment Dr. Berg stepped into the cab the rains began again and shortly after, the thunder came. It rained for many hours. We took a walk in the early evening when it was drizzling—my tears flowing together with the rain. Towards the end of our walk I suddenly realized we were one block from the animal hospital and it was still opened. I stepped in for a few minutes just to tell Henry-san silently I was there. On the way home we passed a beautiful chocolate shop two blocks from our apartment. I told Michael that we should each have a chocolate. After Chinese funerals it is customary to eat some sweets to take away the bitterness. I didn’t have my candy until we arrived home and it was only then that I noticed I had chosen a heart-shaped chocolate.

Last night we woke up at 2:30 in the morning. We got up, returned to bed, but by 3:30 we still couldn’t sleep. So we went into the living room where Henry-san’s resting area is all in plain sight. It was almost twelve hours later and I think Henry-san’s spirit pulled us in. From that point on we slept quite soundly.

I have often said over the years that I believe Henry-san saved me in a previous life. It was a way that helped me to understand or explain the deep devotion I had for him. In the last few weeks I came to realize it was in this lifetime that he rescued me.

More stories from: With My Cat