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Relatives of Oklahoma Victims Consider Life After McVeigh

Ronald Brown looks past Timothy McVeigh's execution Monday and sees a pizza.

It's already planned. He and his almost-10-year-old son will go to a restaurant near their Florida home, and Brown will tell the boy how it felt to see Grandpa's killer die.

Sheryl Gottshall, too, has a vision of life after McVeigh.

She sees her two children splashing in a pool outside Houston, oblivious that McVeigh is dead and that vengeance has been won for the big brother they'll never know. When they are not looking, she'll cry.

"I do not anticipate feeling better at all," said Gottshall, who reserves her tears for the 6-month-old baby killed in the daycare center that was in the federal building smashed by McVeigh's bomb.

She and others talk of the future and mean Tuesday or Wednesday. McVeigh's act forced them to live that way, day by day.

Some talk of healing. Some hope that McVeigh's end might end part of their pain. Many make simple plans — to gather and hold those who are dearest.

"I'm going to get back to my daily life," said Paul Howell, whose 27-year-old daughter died with the 167 other victims of McVeigh's bomb. "I have neglected my kids and grandkids too doggone much."

Richard Williams plans to find his peace in the quiet of his desk, the pages of his manuals and books.

After the TV crews leave Oklahoma City, he'll get back to helping manage government buildings, which is what he was doing when McVeigh's bomb crushed his hand, slashed his skull and left his right ear dangling.

"For me, it's just another chapter in the journey we've been on these six years or so," Williams said of the execution. "I don't understand or believe in the term 'closure.'"

Kay Fulton expects a wild ride. She was one of 10 witnesses chosen to watch McVeigh's execution in the federal prison at Terre Haute, Ind., for the murder of her brother, Paul Ice, and other federal agents.

She'll seek the bright lights, the circles of reporters, to tell the world about how her brother cared for his country as a Marine and as a proud federal officer. She thinks it's important his country know that.

When she's done, she'll slip home to Red Wing, Minn., to her five cats, two dogs and the "World's No. 1 husband."

"I'll probably crash emotionally," she said. "You tend to get overwhelmed."

Brown, too, planned to be in Terre Haute to watch McVeigh die. He lost his father-in-law, Robert G. Westberry, a federal agent.

When the execution is over, Brown plans to catch the earliest possible flight home to Keystone Heights, Fla., and have that promised talk with his son.

He will go to the private Christian school where he teaches fifth and sixth graders, and put his maps and posters away for the summer. And then, he and his family will enjoy a vacation that will include fishing.

"I don't plan to catch anything," he said.

Gottshall has a 5-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, and a warning for anyone who dares to mess with her children: If she could wrap her hands around McVeigh's neck, she would.

She'll never forget standing on the rubble of the federal building telling a police officer that somewhere there had been a daycare center. Her baby, Kevin Lee Gottshall II, would have been sleeping in his crib when McVeigh's bomb detonated.

Some day she will tell her children about McVeigh. They already know about the brother they call Lee, and that is what is most important to her.

"We ask everyone to learn about him," she said. "To think about him, and don't forget."