The dreaded phone call came in the middle of the night. You know, the one you are expecting, but hope doesn't come. The one that makes you feel sick every time the phone rings? Around 4:30 RL got the call from one of his brothers. Their Dad passed away around 1:00. We don't know details and are afraid to call right now for fear of waking anybody who was up all night. Tomorrow morning we head for Florida.
RLs Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer last year after the doctor accidentally found an aneurysm. The tests for the aneurysm revealed cancer. He finally quit smoking about five years ago, but he would have told you it was ten. He told us he started when he was six. Unbelievable.
There are many things I can tell you about him, but the most important thing would be that he was true to himself to the bitter end. He spoke his mind whether you liked what he had to say or not. He was bigoted some times, but other times he would tell you about one of his best friends who was black. He ALWAYS wore white socks with black shoes and black socks with white shoes! He loved babies and they seemed to love him too. When the kids were little he would just pick them up like he'd been doing it all his life. When my nephews would overeat at some of our holiday get togethers, they could always be found sitting on his lap with him rubbing their little extended bellies! Oh - and don't ever mess with that man's Lazy Boy! That was his chair and his chair only! If he was on the porch swing, it was fair game. Otherwise, STAY AWAY! I'll never forget the day he actually let me sit there. I was VERY pregnant and he graciously gave the chair up for me. He had two speeds - on and off. When a job needed to be done, he put the call out to his three boys and they were there to work until the job was finished. However, if he was teaching you how to do a job and it was frustrating him that you just weren't catching on fast enough, he would do it himself. He took care of his family too. His father had died when he was 17. He quit school and got a job to help out. When he married my MIL a couple of years later, he held down two jobs so she could stay home - he swept a body shop by day and drove a diaper truck by night. She never worked the entire they were married. (Next month would have been 55 years.) He got a reputation for his body work on cars and would have them sold before he could finish them! If they needed school clothes, he'd look for a car to work on in his spare time. Christmas? Another car. Vacation? Another car. RL told me about a job his Dad wanted, but to get it he had to be a high school graduate or have a GED. He remembers how hard his Dad studied so he could pass his GED. He got the job too! It drove me nuts when he was in his 'off' mode. He would sit on the porch swing or in a lawn chair and hardly move. I'd never seen anybody do that! He'd talk about the birds and squirrels and take in everything around him. There were times we didn't see eye to eye and I didn't know if we ever would. However, things worked out better than they had ever been before. I haven't seen him since Thanksgiving 2006. It will be strange to see my MIL alone. It will be strange to see his empty Lazy Boy, but I bet you anything - it will be empty and in more ways than one.
R took the above picture one of the last times she saw them in Cades Cove. It just seemed tthat she really captured him.