A beautiful and sad story in this weekend’s New York Times.
When two gay men, Timothy Mannion and Timothy Vanover decided they wanted to adopt a child with specifically-difficult physical needs, they never realized they’d end up with a miracle.
Maurice Mannion-Vanover was born to a crack-addicted mother in Washington on September 11, 1990. The issues surrounding the birth of he and his twin sister meant she would only live 20 months. Maurice was born with AIDS and when “The Tims” as they came to be known, took Maurice home, they were told he wouldn’t live longer than 6 months. “We’d cry at night thinking we were going to lose him” Vanover said. But as Maurice grew older, his health improved greatly, He began to gain weight and thrive. He also wound up with a brother. Kindoo was adopted by the Tims in 1997, a year after Maurice’s adoption became official.
The family moved to New Jersey after Tim Vanover got a job in New York. They lived in the busy suburb of Montclair, NJ so what happened next was a bit of an improbability. You see, as a young man, Tim Vanover rode horses back in Goshen, Indiana and their son seemed to pick up the same fascination as his Dad. When lessons became too expensive for Maurice’s fathers, they surprised him with a horse of his own one Christmas. In 2002, Rocky became a part of Maurice’s life.
Everyone in the neighborhood noticed how fast Maurice and Rocky became friends. The children of the town would constantly be at the fence to visit Rocky, who was hard-to-miss, this being quite literally a one-horse town. The two were “like one” as Tim Vanover said. After Rocky came into Maurice’s life, his studies improved and his health was excellent. There were ups and downs of course, like when the Tims separated in 2003 (but remained living in the same house so as to raise the children together) and Maurice’s health wasn’t always perfect, but a change definitely occurred for the better with Rocky around.
Then in December, after receiving his black belt in karate, Maurice went to visit Toronto to see his beloved dog, Hunter. Then on December 29th, just before he was going to head back home to New Jersey, Maurice came down with a mysterious fever and was rushed to the hospital. After a few days there, he told Tim Mannion “Daddy, it’s time, the clock is ticking.” Within a few moments, Maurice was gone.
Later that same night, Maurice’s dog, Hunter wandered into the parlor hall alone and quietly passed away.
On Saturday, Maurice was laid to rest. On-foot, walking ahead of the hearse were Maurice’s Dads, Tim Mannion and Tim Vanover, his brother Kindoo, and Rocky. While standing there, Rocky used his head to pull Vanover’s head close to him as if sharing in the grief.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Lake Logan Episcopal Center, 154 Suncrest Mill Road, Canton, N.C. 28716, or to The Shepard Schools, 10 Columba St., Morristown, N.J. 07960. Please indicate that your donation is for the Maurice Mannion-Vanover Scholarship Fund.
An additional tribute can be read at Barista Kids.
h/t: Kappy Griffith