Seven months ago, I celebrated the birth of my first grandson, Roger William Lytle. A beautiful baby, always happy, he was a joy not only to our family but to everyone who met him. I was lucky to spend a week with him in Dallas at the end of March. On April 7th, Roger died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving us devastated to be without him.
Although you didn’t know our baby, if you’d like to participate with us, we ask that when you see the chance to do some small act of kindness for someone else, take that chance. Do a good deed or perform some act of kindness in honor of Roger Lytle today. If you’d like, email firstname.lastname@example.org to let his parents, my wonderful son and daughter-in-law Zac and Heather, know what you did. They will read the messages to cheer themselves up when they are blue.
The following is the eulogy written by one of their friends and read at the memorial at Twelve Hills nature trails…a cold late afternoon, but the sun came out for us:
When I first heard that Heather was pregnant, I have to admit, I was a little jealous.
But it wasn’t jealousy in the way that aging single women often are envious of their
pregnant friends. No, I was jealous of that baby. Usually, when I’m trying to explain
how great Zac and Heather are to people who don’t know them, I just tell them that
every December, they have a holiday party wherein they invite all of their friends
to come over and make Christmas cards for political prisoners. They’re the most
loveable pair of do-gooders I’ve ever had the privilege to know. They’re the type of
people who make you feel like a better person just by virtue of knowing them. And
besides that, they are so much fun to be around. They have a way of making you
feel entirely at home in their house and in their presence. So yes, I was envious of
that little baby because being born to two such amazing people is like winning the
lottery. What a great life this kid would have.
At Heather’s baby shower, we all wrote little messages to Roger, and I wrote,
“Hi baby, you are so lucky because your parents are awesome!” What I couldn’t
understand until later is how unbelievably lucky Zac and Heather are to have Roger.
And we’re all lucky to have known him.
We’re all here because we love Zac and Heather, and we love Roger.
On the death of her daughter at age 14, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton wrote, “Love enjoys
and triumphs for eternity.”
Roger is gone to heaven in God’s eternal love. And I think that means the love we
feel for him also is eternal. It’s here right now, and it’s with us forever.
And there never was a baby more loved by so many people.
Everyone at Parkland watched Heather grow bigger and bigger and bigger
throughout her pregnancy. When Heather was admitted to the hospital, her friends
watched the heart-rate monitor and cheered her and Roger on. Her friend Elizabeth,
who also is a doctor at Parkland, slept in the call room down the hall from the
delivery room to make sure Heather and Roger had the best care and their preferred
He weighed nine-and-a-half pounds when he was born the afternoon of Aug. 25, and
he was so beautiful. Now, I’m not saying that Zac and Heather aren’t good-looking
people. But I had to agree with Heather’s mom when she said the other day that
it’s a marvel such a beautiful baby was born to the two of you. I have to agree with
Heather when she said that Roger is an even better person than she and Zac. Such a
sweet, precious boy.
Zac and Heather are the most laid-back parents I’ve ever known. Some friends and I
once saw Zac at a party down at the Santa Fe Trestle Trail, and when we asked after
Roger, he goes, “Oh, he’s asleep in the van.” They were very European about it all.
And they were very generous in sharing Roger.
When Heather had two months of night rotations, lucky friends and neighbors,
including myself, got to act as what Heather called “surrogate mothers” to Roger.
He was such a good baby and a joy to see, always looking around intensely, taking
in everything around him. There was nothing quite so wonderful in this world as
seeing him smile or hearing him laugh.
There probably are a few of you here today who don’t know the Lytles all that
well but maybe had the pleasure of holding Roger or playing with him at some
neighborhood event where Zac and Heather were volunteering. I know you’re here,
as we all are, because Roger touched your life. And I want to say thank you to Zac
and Heather, on behalf of Oak Cliff, for being servants to our community and for
sharing your beautiful boy with all of us.
Roger attended his first bike race, the Tour of Austin, when he was a week old.
More recently, Zac would show up to the Thursday night bike races at Fair Park
sometimes not knowing before he arrived exactly who would be watching Roger
during Zac’s hour-long race. He didn’t have to worry about it because we practically
fought to serve as Roger’s domestique, there to bring him bottles, protect him, love
and entertain him, even though none of us could figure out how to use those hippie
diapers. Roger was a “junior race promoter,” as Zac put it, doing his duty as head
baby in charge at Spookycross and the Tour of Corsicana.
Roger loved the outdoors. “Any time he was upset,” Heather says, “you could just
take him outside, and he would brighten up.” He loved seeing flowers and would
always grab for them. Heather’s mom gave them an orchid plant, which they set in
their breakfast nook, and Roger could sit in his chair and just stare up at the orchid
blooms for a long time while they were preparing his food.
He loved to watch the hennies in the backyard and to feed the ducks at Kidd Springs
Park. Heather first brought him here to Twelve Hills Nature Center when he was
three days old, and they came here on walks many, many times. They also went on
hikes to Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve and walks at the Dallas Arboretum.
Roger got to have Thanksgiving and Christmas at home with family. He got to see
snow in Dallas. Zac tells the story that during one of the ice storms this past winter,
he bundled Roger up in his little fuzzy bear suit and walked to a friend’s birthday
party with Roger strapped to his chest. Zac says he slipped on the ice and “busted
his ass.” Roger didn’t even wake up.
Roger was a traveler. He traveled in utero to Colombia and Nova Scotia. After he was
born, he traveled to San Antonio many times. Recently, he went to England, where
Zac and Heather both have family. He got to meet three of his great grandparents.
While they were in England, Heather, Zac and Roger spent a magical day at Kingley
Vale National Nature Reserve in West Sussex. It was one of the happiest days of
their lives, and it was particularly special for Zac, because Roger’s namesake, Zac’s
late grandfather, Roger, used to bring Zac to Kingley Vale as a child. Now Zac and
Heather plan to return to Kingley Vale to spread Roger’s ashes.
In England, they took Roger on hikes in the countryside and to the sea. There are
pictures of Roger on a pebbly beach, crying with his feet in the cold, wet sand. Later,
at a sandy beach in England, he had fun knocking down sand castles.
Roger really started to eat a lot of solid food in England. He tasted lamb stew that his
great grandmother made, as well as curry, fish and chips and English breakfast. He
loved English food so much that he gained more weight during that one-week trip
than he had in the previous two months.
Even though he was only 8 months old, Roger experienced many forms of
transportation. He never even cried during the nine-and-a-half hour flight to
England. He’s taken the London Underground, a gondola down the Thames, trains, a
ferry, busses and bikes.
Roger liked to be read to, and his favorite book was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
He loved music and he enjoyed sing-a-longs in Zac and Heather’s living room. By
the way, he also swam in a dumpster pool BEFORE it was cool for babies to swim in
He loved to watch older children run and play. He loved seeing baby Catalina and
was among her first visitors. He got to meet and hold hands with baby August down
in Austin. He loved playing with baby Will. And when baby Hannah was born at
Parkland, she was in good hands with Roger sitting in the red chair to watch her
monitors. Right now, Heather’s best friend, Roger’s godmother Vanessa, is possibly
in labor with her baby, Jeremiah.
Roger was absolutely doted upon by all of his grandparents and his aunt and uncle.
The Lytles had been planning to take a trip in May to Iceland and then a trip to visit
family in Minnesota in August. And they were busy planning their move to Malawi in
Now that Roger is gone, everything has changed. Nothing will ever be the same
without him here. And we are so sad. We miss him so much. Our hearts are broken.
But Roger was here. He was here, and he made the world better.
In true Lytle fashion, Zac and Heather asked that this be a day of kindness in
memory of Roger. I think we can do better than that. Baby Roger makes me want
to be a better person in general. He was so easy to love, and he brought so much
joy to everyone he met. So I say, let’s all try to be like that too. Spread joy. Love one
another. Remember that you’re here to do good in the world and to love. Roger left
us tragically too soon, but in his short life, he accomplished that.