Archive for August 8th, 2008


My Don Juan Roses

My Don Juan Roses

Early yesterday evening, we received the call that Uncle George had passed.  Not even an hour before that, I had been thinking that this week I could afford to get new tires for the car and next weekend we’d go back to Mississippi to see him (he actually died while I was thinking about it). 




About half an hour before his death, Tina had called him, and one of our uncles said he was asleep.  Tina told them to tell him we loved him when he woke up.  From what we’ve heard, he woke up a little after that and they moistened his mouth (for the last day, he hadn’t been able to drink anything…George began to hemorrhage a couple of weeks ago…Dad was alone with him, but luckily, it stopped), and when they came back in a couple of minutes later, he was gone.  It was peaceful, and without too much pain.  And for this we are truly grateful.


There haven’t been many tears here.  Uncle George was very clear that he didn’t want people mourning him.  That’s the type of person he was.  He’s said many times, “If they don’t cry over me when I’m alive, I shore as hell don’t want ‘em cryin’ when I’m gone.”  We didn’t cry much while he was alive either.  When he was told that his colon cancer had spread into his stomach back in November, we were told that he had 3 months at the outside, and after we saw him at Christmas, I’d have agreed.  I didn’t think he’d make it past March.  He was a shell of his former self, and we refused to take any pictures of him over this last year because that isn’t the way we wanted to remember him.  By spring, he had improved and he was back to laughing and joking although he’d sometimes fall asleep while we talked to him.  Even so, we knew there was no beating the cancer.  It was a matter of time.  No, there haven’t been a lot of tears here.


Instead, there’s been laughter.  Last night, my brothers, sister, and I sat around talking about the funeral arrangements and what flowers to send.  Uncle Tom, the Baptist preacher, is affiliated with Phelps Funeral Home back in Kentucky; so, the people there are giving him a special license that will let him take Uncle George back himself.  I don’t exactly remember which one of us mentioned the heat, but it didn’t take long before one of us said something about a “giant beer cooler” (*cough* Dave).  I am pretty sure it was Tina that said something about folding him up.  I could hear George saying, “Hell, it don’t bother me none; hey, stick a beer in there with me!”  It was me that said we should send the flowers with a note that read, “Well, George, you said you didn’t want no flowers, but you ain’t here!”  That was another of his requests; he didn’t want flowers in death that people didn’t give him in life.  I guess I have an out since every time we went over I took him some of my Don Juan roses (they were a favorite rose of his that he had grown where he’d retired in Florida).  I guess if you don’t know our family this all sounds unfeeling.  It’s anything but.


George is was the eldest of my Dad’s side of the family, and he’s the first to die since our grandparent’s deaths over 20 years ago.  I’m glad that some of his brothers were there with him.  I’m glad that Dad didn’t have to be alone with him when he went.  I’m grateful for the morphine that kept him comfortable for the last year.  Most of all, I’m glad that he’s gone on to something sweeter.


Bye, George.


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