On Tuesday October 16, our son Maxwell was struck by a semi-truck in his little red Cavalier on the way home from school. He died the following day as a result of his injuries. He was 19 years old, our firstborn child, our first home school graduate, and a freshman at Kent State University. He was a protective big brother to his 9 brothers and sisters. More importantly, he is a child of the King, so we know he has gone to be with the Lord. Though we are beside ourselves with grief, we are holding fast to our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and the prayers and support of friends, neighbors, and strangers.
You can read his obituary at the Baxter-Gardner Funeral Home website.
Roger wrote and delivered the eulogy at his funeral. It was a beautiful and moving tribute to a dearly loved son and remarkable young man:
Romans Chapter 8, verses 28, 29 and 30 say: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom he foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom he predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."
Praise the Lord!
Today, we are here to celebrate the life of Maxwell Dennis Romeo. My and Alison's son, and the oldest brother of 10. He was our first cute little baby, and he quickly became a "hand-full". We didn't realize it at the time, but Max was on a fast-track through life.
At only 9 months old he would wave to others in the supermarket from his seat in the shopping cart shouting a friendly "hey!"
At his two-year birthday party, he sang (sing) "Happy Birthday To Cake" when the cake came out even before the guests had a chance to start singing to him.
We lived in New Mexico at the time, and for Labor Day that year, Max (about 27 months old now) and I flew out to NY to be with my Mom and Dad, my siblings and his cousins for a reunion party. At one point during the day, I was talking about the country band I had been learning songs for and mentioned the song "I Should Have Been a Cowboy". Now, he had been accompanying me in the car on the long drives through the desert into town as I listened over and over to the rehearsal tape, and he knew the song pretty well. (I didn't know how well.) I asked him if he wanted to sing it, and he then launched into a perfect a capella version with both verses, choruses and even the guitar fill in the middle (bamp, bamp) with a perfect air-guitar flourish. This boy was on a fast track in life. Astonished, everyone begged for him to sing it again, but he only made it half-way through this time, and then burst into tears when he realized everyone was staring at him. He never sang the song again. I guess he needed it to be perfect. That was how he would be the rest of his short life. It had to be perfect, and Max was on a fast-track through life.
Oh, Max. You did everything so well, but along with being so capable, came the challenges of raising such a strong-willed, I "want-it-when-I-want-it" kind of boy. Maxwell presented us with trial after trial, joy after joy, and more "proud Mom and Dad moments", one after another, than we could have imagined.
Max was definitely the "third parent". I can't even begin to recall all of the times I reminded him that Mom and Dad were supposed to correct the other kids. If only he heeded his own advice, he would have been the perfect child! In spite of the fact that Max harped on and cajoled the rest of the kids, they all looked up to him, but when he had the chance, he had praise for his siblings, lifting each of them up, waxing enthusiastically about their talents and accomplishments.
He loved to read, and read, and read, and read some more. For example, he read James Ussher's 882 page "The Annals of the World", first published in 1658, TWICE by the time he was 14. Did I say he loved to read? He especially loved world history, and became a student of the major conflicts, battles and famous warriors and generals of history. He was proud that his grandfather Anthony Romeo was a United States Marine, and seriously considered enlisting. He was on a fast-track through life.
4-H is big in this part of Ohio, as most of you know, and so we got Max involved in it soon after we moved here. The best Carroll County Fair 4-H still-project producers get to compete state-wide at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. You guessed it: Max went to State every year for 7 years, winning top-honors in his discipline of shooting sports 2 years in a row. He became very versed in fire-arms and could name all the most famous brands and models, and what they were used for.
Max was also selected to be County Fair King for 2010, and was the youngest of the applicants. He was picked in spite of the fact that they usually didn't choose the youngest applicant. He was only 16. Again, Maxwell was on a fast-track through life, and stayed there.
He worked with me in my wood shop, and had been joining me on my many cabinet delivery and installation trips to NY since he was only 12. He saw more than most kids his age about the real world, and learned early on the importance of organization, timeliness, providing a service, follow-through and standing up to adversity, not to mention the hand skills he developed. Maybe most importantly, he learned what it takes to be a representative of Christ in an environment where the name of our Lord is taken in vain with the regularity of the usual obscenities on a construction site.
At home, Max eventually took over from me the responsibility of being Mom's main farm-hand. He organized the rest of the kids running fence, moving the goat herd, building and repairing fixtures and all the things Ali needed to be done to care for the animals. He was always the specialist when it came to handling the big bucks and beef-feeders. When he took over heading up the meat chicken processing, he increased the average rate of birds-per-hour from 11 to 13 the first time out.
It became time for Maxwell to begin to move out into the world, and move he did. He was hired by Camp NEOSA to do handy-man preparatory work for the coming 2012 summer season, which he used and built on the skills he acquired in the family cabinet business. He was then asked to join the camp's youth staff to help run the camp program. Again, he jumped in with both feet, and to all accounts, performed remarkably well, becoming part of the team and displaying great leadership and becoming a friend to all.
Maxwell is the first graduate of the Romeo Homeschool Academy, and we are so proud of him for being accepted at the Tuscarawas campus of Kent State University with an Academic Scholarship. His plan was to learn about the video-gaming industry, and figure out a way to make video games a more respected medium. He attacked college with typical urgency, just wanting to fast-track to the next phase of his life.
There is so much about this young man that I am still learning, and many of you here could add a thing or two about him; but let us suffice it to say, that God has called him now for His own purposes, which will be unfolding for much time to come!
Through his passing, I have discovered things about him that I might never have known otherwise. He was a true friend to many, many more people than I could have imagined, and he was full of passion for people, life and his future. He was only 19, yet he had become a leader, and poured himself into every task that was handed to him.
I am especially touched by the fact that, even though Maxwell was so capable, when he didn't know what to do, he would still come to his Mom or me for answers.
Ali, the kids, and I are going to miss Max. We are starting a new chapter in the life of the Romeo family. God has used him in so many ways, and even today he is changing lives through the way he was out there in the world. If it wasn't for his passing, I would have never known what an incredible, loyal, fun loving, determined and above all godly young man that he had become!
Every parent wants the best for their child. Maxwell doesn't have the best now - rather, he is home, and now he has the perfect!
He can say with the Apostle Paul in 2nd Timothy chapter 4, verse 7: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; ...there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."
Maxwell doesn't need to be on any track, anymore...