Happy Birthday to my cousin, Duane, who is my senior by four years. I remember we were both going to be at our Great Aunt Violet's for (or near) our birthdays one year. She made us a cake and let me decorate it. I thought it would be funny to put a fence across the middle. I used toothpicks for the posts and thread for the barbed wire, tying knots in the thread. From the time we were young, I've thought of Duane as my intellectual superior. He must have thought so as well because he didn't think I could learn how to play chess with him, and told me so when I asked.
Duane was a freshman at Abilene Christian College while I was a freshman in high school struggling with Algebra. Mother invited him to come to our house for dinner as often as he'd like, but especially on Sunday nights when the Bean (campus cafeteria) was closed. Most Sunday nights he would patiently try to help me with my Algebra homework, sometimes using the salt and pepper shakers to illustrate a point. I did make good grades in Algebra, but only by following a pattern to solve the equations; it still never really made sense to me. Other than a free home-cooked meal, his only reward was pralines or something else Mother made for him to take back to campus with him.
Another memory of that time is, knowing he liked listening to classical music, I was surprised to learn he had heard and LIKED Simon & Garfunkel, so I often think of him when I hear certain songs of theirs.
Sadly, this is also the day my Daddy passed from this life in 2005. I'm not writing this to be morbid or as something intentionally depressing, but simply to record Daddy's passing.
At 95 he was experiencing congestive heart failure, but was in amazingly good health otherwise for someone his age. It got to the point that his doctors in Lubbock told him his options were to let nature take its course or try heart surgery. My brother and I told him we were behind him whatever he decided. After thinking about it over night, he told us he knew he was between a rock and a hard place; he wanted to try the surgery and if it didn't work out, it would be OK. His decision to try to extend his life was so he could take care of his wife, Mable, whose health was failing.
He came through the surgery even better than the doctors thought he would. They kept coming by his room and marveling at his recovery. However, when he was released, he just couldn't get his strength back and had no appetite. My brother and I took turns staying with him at home a week at a time. After another trip to the hospital in Lamesa, the cardiologist decided to keep him in the hospital for a week for rehab to help regain his strength, so we both went back to work. A friend stayed with him at the hospital at night to help out. Daddy told me he actually started to feel like he was going to recover his strength and was getting better.
On Saturday, I was to pick him up to take him home. However, at about 4:00 AM, I received a call that he had had a stroke. When I arrived at the hospital, he knew who I was and was trying to get up out of bed because he was ready to go home. He did not realize he'd had a stroke and one side was paralyzed. The decision was made to take him to the hospital in Midland because Lamesa was not equipped to give him the care he needed. The stroke took its toll in a matter of days and he succumbed Wednesday evening.
Rest in peace, Daddy. I was so blessed to be your daughter.