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03/22/2010

Words Just Can't Describe . . .

Cody and I have been together for a little under nine years. He first brought me home in December of 2001 to meet his immediate family and I met his extended family that Christmas.

His family is totally different than mine.

I grew up a military brat, so holidays were spent with my parents and sisters. Going to grandma’s for the holidays wasn’t something I was used to. So that first Christmas was well, a bit of a shock. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, significant others . . . They were all there. And everyone was so nice, especially Cody’s grandparents who hosted the event, Robert and Mavis.

Cody's grandpa, Robert, was such a character and a master storyteller. Sitting across the dining room table with him, he’d have a cigarette in his mouth, drinking a cup of coffee, and you couldn’t stop him from telling story after story. Mavis would sit there and laugh as though she’d never heard them before.

He started smoking when he was in elementary school. He would head to school, as his Mom told him to, and, "Head in the front door and right out the back." He’d have to dig the outhouses his family used and one day he got tired of the neighbors using it, so he put a stick of dynamite down in the hole to teach them a lesson. He was once saving up for a motorbike by shining shoes and he received a $100 bill from a guy in a “fancy” car with seats that swiveled to the side. He caught a train that took him to a town an hour's drive away (2010 standards) with no way to get home so he had to hitch hike back. He'd owned ocean-front property in Florida. He once was at a restaurant he owned and a guy announced that if anyone had $12,000 cash he'd sell them his fully restored Model "A" sitting in the parking lot; Robert casually opened up his wallet, pulled out the money, and got the car.

Man, the stories were just amazing. If Cody called and said we were going to or at a specific place, Robert and been there and done that (and he really had!) and would tell us a story about it.

Last Wednesday Cody and I were at work when our phones began to ring off the hook. Robert had not been feeling well Tuesday night and had finally been convinced to head to the hospital. They ended up care-flighting him to a hospital in downtown Fort Worth. Since Cody and I live the closest, we got over there as soon as we could to meet him there.

It didn’t take long for us to see him, and he was his usual self. He called me out that we still owed him dinner, and wanted to make plans that night. He told the doctor his heart rate was high because he kept looking at pretty women. He told us how he refused to let the staff take off his cap—it just wouldn’t be right if he didn’t have it on. He told the nurse that Cody was his favorite first-born grandson. He was doing what he did, which was making everyone laugh.

Once Cody’s family made it to the hospital, we left the room so Mavis and Cody’s dad could come in and see him.

The next 48 hours ended up being extremely hard to watch. Robert and Mavis have been married for 55 and a half years and are the only couple I know who still truly love each other after that long. They did everything together. Their love was like nothing I’d seen before. You’d just feel it when you were around them.

I walked into the Critical Care Unit to see Robert Thursday and was surprised to see him respond when the nurse asked him to put down his leg (which had the dialysis machine hooked up to it). When Mavis saw him respond too, she walked over and said, “Robert, you know I love you, right?” He shook his head. She then asked, “And, you love me back, right?” And he shook his head again. She didn't leave his side, just holding his hand and talking to him.

Later that evening Dace and Jacque came over to the hospital (such a measure of a friend when they are there when you need them the most) and Dace prayed with Robert, Mavis and the rest of the family. Wonderful to reassure Robert that it’s never too late to make peace with God. And to let him know that it was okay to go; that God would take care of his family.

Sometime during Thursday night Robert became unresponsive. Cody had left for the hospital Friday morning early and I quickly followed after he called to let me know they were considering to take him off life support. After the final decision was made, I walked into the room to see Mavis holding Robert’s hand. She asked him who would take her a cup of coffee in the mornings. She’d tell him how much she loved him. She would tell him his lips looked dry, as she made sure he had enough Carmex on. We sat and waited. At approximately 2pm, Robert’s blood pressure dropped to zero and the nurse switched off the ventilator. He was gone.

Robert

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a life so fully lived. Robert was an amazing man who had a deep love for his wife and family. If he wanted to do something, he'd do it. That attitude left him with an unmatched legacy and a grandson, Cody, who thought the world of him.

We'll miss you so much, Robert. Words can't describe the impact you've had on our lives and we'll see you soon.

Keep on truckin'.

Comments

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Just beautiful

I miss him so much, thank you so much for this.

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