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Safe Haven for a Young Family
To honor the 20th anniversary of Roy Gaffke’s death, his daughter, Katie, made a movie on her laptop. Her 17-minute tribute uses Roy’s favorite music as the sound track for dozens of family photos.
Two of those photos were taken at Bailey-Boushay House where Roy died, at age 36, in 1993.
Though she was only 13, Katie remembers feeling her family had found a safe haven during the worst time in their lives.
“As a kid,” she says now, “I couldn’t express how much appreciation I had that my dad was at Bailey-Boushay when he died. It’s like a completely different planet there. Everything was so peaceful.”
“You couldn’t talk about AIDS back then,” recalls Roy’s wife, Ann. “The public didn’t want to touch anybody with AIDS or even their water glass. I couldn’t talk about it at work. The stigma was all around you, all the time.”
Ann and her young children — Bryce, 11, and his older sisters Krista, 15, and Katie — felt stunned, overwhelmed, and isolated as Roy’s health declined.
Two places helped the Gaffkes feel safe. The first was Rise n’ Shine, a support group that matches adult buddies with kids affected by AIDS. The second was Bailey-Boushay House, where Roy lived his last two months.
“Our connection with Rise n’ Shine and with Bailey-Boushay gave us, as a family, the strength we needed,” Ann says. “We had somebody to talk to. They knew. We didn’t have to hide or to explain. They understood, and they cared.”
Roy was kept comfortable, and his family had a welcoming place to be with him. Katie didn’t want to leave her father’s side once he drifted into a coma.
“So they moved another bed into his room for me,” she says. “I lived there his last week.”
“He loved to laugh,” says Krista. Ann agrees. “He was a very gentle, genuine, free spirit.”
Roy was a family man. He married young and loved being the father of three. The dad they remember baked bread and cooked meals with gusto, gladly did laundry, cleaned house with a vengeance, and went all out for holiday celebrations. His “other baby” was a beloved red muscle car.
He was also a commendation-winning employee of the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle for nearly 20 years.
Katie’s movie is a gift to Roy’s loved ones. “We’re a close family,” she says, “and I wanted everyone to be able to be with him again whenever they felt like it.”
Bailey-Boushay is honored to be remembered as Roy’s last home.
Roy died at Bailey-Boushay House on May 8, 1993.
You can watch Katie’s movie online.