He was diagnosed too soon after his retirement. He and Gail had made plans to travel and enjoy life. I wanted him to have time and freedom to play, have fun, since he had always worked hard even as a young boy. He chose not to take chemotherapy that would ruin his quality of life. He had planned to go to China, and they did before he was too sick to make the trip.
I moved to North Carolina, and he came up every summer for the festival on the square. We had wonderful visits with other family members who joined us. He became a big fan of a local group, Butternut Creek and Friends, and wanted to see them perform when he came up from south Georgia.
The times I cherish most are those trips he made, alone, to see me. We spent hours talking, sharing and planning my role in our family business when he was no longer here. Although I had worked with him in many capacities through the years, I'd not known how much trust he had in my abilities.
I wrote a poem during the last days of his life. I want to share it with my readers.
Early Morning Hope
Fog like a band of cotton
obliterates the lake.
Gunmetal faces of mountains
float against a pale sky.
Naked arms of December trees
fade into the ashen scene.
Winter's late this year.
In the front yard, a red oak
clings tenaciously to leaves
that should have fallen long ago.
You still hang on, hairless,
face puffed from steroids
arms and legs, bones barely covered.
You question, wanting good news,
knowing you can only borrow time.
The clouds lift. We see more clearly
the silvery blue water on Lake Chatuge.
Truth hits us square in the eyes.