Monday, August 30, 2010

We Lost a Good One Today

Mr. Earl...we will miss you.

When I was born, my mom still had a year of college to go. Then she went to work after that. For around the first two years of my life, Mrs. Liz kept me (I was made aware a few years ago that 'kept me' is a regional term, but it just means she was my babysitter...although 'babysitter' in my mind is not a good term for what she was for me). I am from a very small community. Everyone knows everyone and more often than not, everyone is like family. Mrs. Liz was married to Mr. Earl. Mr. Earl was very good friends with Daddy. They were like family.

At some point while Mrs. Liz was keeping me, Mr. Earl got hurt and was basically bedridden for a good chunk of time. I don't remember any of it, but am told that I became his big buddy then...would just hang out with him all day long.

They went to the church I went to growing up and were part of our community and our families were close friends, so of course I saw them all the time even after Mrs. Liz stopped keeping me. I was her first son's flower girl in his wedding. I ended up babysitting her first grandchild some. Again, like family.

About 10 1/2 years ago, Mr. Earl had a huge stroke. He lost all ability to speak (in a way that one could understand him...he did always still speak...ha) and lost movement in his right side. He learned to walk again (with a cane) and to do basically all of the things he wanted to do. He would go hunting by himself in his mule (sort of like a 4-wheeler), ride through the woods to visit Daddy or Mama (again, in his mule)...and never laced for smiles and hugs all around, a joyful spirit, and conversation. Thank goodness his translator was always nearby.

Funny story: When I was single and living in Longview, I went over to see them when I was home one weekend. We were sitting out on their front porch in their rocking chairs just chatting. Mr. Earl motioned over to my Saturn and asked me something...his sentences usually went something like, 'Dada da da dadada?' :) I wasn't understanding what he was trying to ask me so I looked at Mrs. Liz. She immediately said, "Does it get good gas mileage?" She knew her husband. They were the perfect team.

I remember that when he had the stroke, I was so sad. He had always been such an active man. I knew he wouldn't want to live incapable of doing things that he would want to do. I was afraid he would get depressed, get bitter, get angry. I'd taken care of a few people like that. Understandable, but sad. But...not Mr. Earl. He lost his ability to communicate through words that could be understood...but that didn't stop him from still saying them and communicating in other way. He lost his ability to use his right arm. That didn't stop him from doing anything. He had the best partner ever...and three good sons with families that all pitched in to help him still achieve all those things that he wanted to.

Exactly a year after his stroke, he was there to watch Joel and me get married. I had often wondered through the years who would walk me down the aisle if something should ever happen to my dad (wasn't being morbid, but had several friends who didn't have their dads...just normal thoughts to think). Mr. Earl was always one I though about (along with an uncle who never had children). I wish I had it here with me, but I have a picture of me walking down the aisle with Daddy...and there is Mr. Earl right next to us. He and Mrs. Liz were sitting with my family and he was sitting at the end of the pew along the aisle where we walked in. It's a very sweet picture...he looked proud.

Back in May of this year he had some sort of stint placed. At the first part of July, his blood pressure starting acting up, so Mrs. Liz took him in. He never went home. One thing led to another and Mr. Earl went to be with Jesus this morning.

We are so very glad to have been able to spend some time with him just recently (above picture was taken just 2 days before he went into the hospital...1 day before we left Saline). Our kids just adored him. One said one time, "He talks like us." So cute. They felt a connection with him...but, then again, most did. He was just that type of fellow.

So, yes...we lost one of the best today. Please say a prayer for Mrs. Liz, their boys, and their families. Big adjustments ahead. Sad day, but a life to rejoice about.

These were taken February 2009, on our unexpected trip back to the states for a couple of months. Mr. Earl and Mrs. Liz came over to see us right before we were about to head back to Brazil. Eissa crawled right up in his lap like they were long lost friends. :)

So cute.
So glad our kids got to know him. He will definitely be missed.


Nena said...

One of the sweetest things about Earl "talking" was that a pastor they had would call on him to pray. And he prayed. Not a dry eye in the church. No one knew what he prayed - but God did. I love Earl!!! He has visited me so many times and lifted my spirits. He'd make those kissing noises and I'd hug him for him to kiss me on the cheek. He loved us.

Nena said...

Forgot to tell you this - When Earl was hurt he would be on a sleeper sofa made out into a bed during the day. You would be right up there with him - after all, he never had a daughter. I came in one day and he showed me how he had taught you to kiss - in the lips, no less!! He was thrilled!!

Kecia said...

Has i was reading this post i couldnt stop the tears that came down... We are sure that he was a great person! And he had a very beautiful smile. He went home... He went to Jesus!
We are praying.