HERNDON, Kansas -- Jasper Kendall Grafel, the first child of Benjamin and Mariah Grafel of Herndon, Kan., was born at 9:53 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, at Presbyterian Saint Luke's Medical Center.
Not only was Jasper's arrival, 12 weeks early, a surprise, but when he let out a little yelp and began to fuss all on his own, he turned every head in the room.
Throughout his stay at PS/L, Jasper continued to amaze his caregivers. The little baby, that should not have made it out of the operating room, began to grow. Jasper showed every sign that he was a fighter and that he was determined to stay right where he was.
At 1 pound, 13.6 ounces, he was so tiny that even his parents were not able to hold him, but they were allowed to spend as much time with Jasper as possible. Every time Jasper heard his mommy or daddy's voice, he would open his little sleepy eyes and watch and listen as they read stories and sang, "Jesus loves you" to him and told him of all the people waiting at home to hold him and love him.
Mariah and Ben were able to do many of Jasper's "cares." Every three hours around the clock, they would be at his bedside to change his tiny diaper, check his temperature, wash his little face and eyes and make sure he was tucked in just right.
Jasper loved to suck on his mommy's finger as the milk filled his tummy, and talk sports with his daddy. Jasper was glad to see his grandmas and grandpas when they were able to visit and spend some time with their precious little grandson.
Ben and Mariah were overjoyed when at 3 weeks of age, Jasper was strong enough to be held. They took turns holding him at every opportunity. With many answered prayers for his little body, he was a perfect little miracle. At only 7 weeks old, Jasper weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces and was ready to make the trip across town to The Children's Hospital, where they would be able to do the surgery he needed to fix his little heart.
After an ambulance transport with mommy at his side, Jasper settled into life with new caregivers. At Children's Hospital, Jasper continued to be a very brave and happy little boy who amazed his nurses and doctors. When he reached double his birth weight, 3 pounds, 11 ounces, the doctors were hopeful that a surgical procedure would help him continue to grow.
The morning of the scheduled surgery, Jasper developed an overwhelming infection.
Jasper was a daily miracle and a blessing to everyone around him and everyone that knew of him. He died at 9:21 p.m., April 21, 2011.
Preceding Jasper in death were his two great-grandmothers, Gayle Grafel and Betty Aman; great-grandfather, Melvin West; great-great-granddad, J.D. Bell; and great-uncle, Mason Bell.
Those remaining behind to cherish his memory include his parents, Benjamin and Mariah Grafel; grandparents, Kyle and Cindi Grafel and Gregory and Gwendolyn Jones; great-grandparents, Don and Joan Grafel, Archie Aman, Nancy West, David and Nola Jones, Roger and Melinda Carlson and Dennis and Adda Bell; great-great-grandparents, Ada Fae Bell, Ruth and Tony Tucker and Alberta Carson; aunts, Sarah and Rachel Grafel and Susannah and Aliah Jones; uncles, Josiah Jones and wife, Mandi, Elijah, Noah and Obadiah Jones; many, many cousins; other relatives; and friends.
Funeral services were April 27, at the United Methodist Church in Atwood, Kansas, with Pastor Keith Reuther officiating. Interment was at the Herndon Covenant Cemetery.
Memorials may be addressed in his name to be designated at a later date.
Williams Funeral Home of Atwood was in charge of arrangements.