My earliest memories from childhood are of me as a 2 year old standing on my Mimi's bed, raising my hands asking my Aunt Charlotte to "take your baby darling" and riding down the hallway at my Mimi's house on Uncle Bill's shoulders, he was a tall man and he would act as if he was going to bump my head on the doorframe and at the last minute duck down, he was such a trickster. It was no suprise when I came to pick him up in MO this last time, he tried snorting as I leaned in to give him a kiss, I think I may have let him down because I didn't flinch (when he and your grandfather did that from early childhood into adulthood, you know it's coming). I remember Uncle Bill coming home from the Army wearing his uniform and thinking he was the most amazing human I'd ever encountered. From my earliest memories he was my Superman.
If I shared every fond memory it would take years to write them all, from him picking me and my Tigrett Jr High bestie April up in his shiny new blue Corvette to being at a huge campfire playing with a goat and waking up the next day looking for the goat only to be told he'd been cooked over night. Uncle Bill was the founder of Blue's Hog Barbeque Sauce. World known and recognized! His sauce is a main staple on the BBQ circuit. He was very proud of all the awards he had won.
My Superman gave me my first sip of beer at the age of 10, which I spit out immediately, it was only a few years later that I aquired that taste. In the 4th grade I had shingles and it was so painful, I remember him blowing a marijuana shotgun in my face and telling me it might help me. Times were so different then. My childhood was so different than anyone of my friends, it was my normal. Fire pit BBQ's, loud music, motorcycles, pool at the southside biker bar at The RedDog Saloon, passing joints between adults and always wanting a sip of whatever poison the adults were drinking.
I was born in 1973 the same year my mother and Uncle Bill graduated. My mother Teresa Arnold was born July 22 1954, Uncle Bill Nov 1955, Uncle David Nov1956 and my Aunt Charlotte 1960. My grandmother Lottie and grandaddy William Paul divorced when Charlotte was a year old. My Granny said she had 4 kids in 7 years, found out what was causing them and got rid of him, guess it was her way of dismissing any further questions from an inquisitve granddaughter.
I don't know who had the bigger personality in my family, my Granny who was a gun toting Madison County deputy, my flashy Grandaddy with his shiny black cadillac or my larger than life funny sweet charismatic Uncle Bill... I just know they all made me feel safe from the alcoholism and abuses that tended to surround my young life.
I started to only share the good, but today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and I don't want to skew the good and bad memories. Today being that day is what brought me back to my blog. I don't want to ever forget the memories and when I finally greet whatever awaits me on the other side of this spiritual journey I want my glam kids to have some of my memories. It's too cool that I can actually write on a blog and that someday my great grandchildren might get to know me, my thoughts, my history....
Back to my Superman, the end of July 2021 I recieved a phone call, it was the social worker in Mexico, MO and my Uncle Bill. He didn't have anyone that would come pick him up at the hospital and his insurance wouldn't pay for a facility. We left our house and drove the 920 miles and picked him up. We couldn't leave our son and animals alone for too long but after much discussion and debate, Uncle Bill decided to come home to Savannah with us. Unfortunately, after only a month his daughter's rent came due and she realized her bank was gone so she flew down with her girlfriend and picked up Uncle Bill to take him back to MO. Within a few weeks he was messaging me, telling me he'd made a mistake, that her promises of staying with him were not honored. After his passing my daughter shared the messages that he sent her and it broke my heart.
The end of September a whole week had gone by without him reaching out (he suffered from anxiety, so I always let him contact me, as not to bother his anxiety), I reached out to his daughter to no avail. So I called the local chief of police and he said that Uncle Bill had laid abandoned in his home for over 2 weeks, he had not been given his seizure medicine regularly or his mood pills. He said when the ambulance came after 10 some odd calls to life alert, he made the decision to have him admitted into the mental health unit at the closest hospital.
I called the same hospital we had picked him up at in July. It was one of the saddest calls I've ever made, I was told they had originally thought he was suffering from a drug overdose, but then they realzed he had not been taking his meds. He was being very aggressive with the staff, the first time I spoke with him he was so relieved. We both cried and he asked if I could come back and get him and that this time he wouldn't allow any outside influences pull him away. So my hubby and I made the second 920 mile treck back to Missouri.
In my mind I thought I'd be picking up the same spitfire Superman I had traveled back to Savannah with just a few short months before. That was one of the most fun road trips I'd ever had. When we left for MO the first time, Jay Wade (my hubby) and I had traveled in my white 2019 VW Beetle convertable thinking we could drive my Uncle Bill's truck back, little did we know the daughter had that truck and it was in no way road worthy. So Uncle Bill had us buy a truck to bring his things to GA in. He and I traveled in my little bug, at times letting the top down, he would just smile so big. We stopped at the cast iron factory for him to get an omlet pan, he wanted to make certain I had been setting my cast iron up correctly. As if all the cooking lessons that came from the same grandmother that raised him didn't get passed to me as well.
Even though Uncle Bill was 17 years my senior, the same woman who raised him had raised me until I was 15, at that age, Mimi fell and broke her hip and never came home. My mother is currently in the same facility my Mimi was in for 8 years.
Uncle Bill put me in charge of his affairs, as he said "tag you're it". I remember the day we went to his attorney of 20 years office. He wanted to redo his will and I wouldn't let him, Jay Wade still says I was an idiot, but I didn't want anyone to think I was helping for any other reason than my love for him. In his later years so many people took advantage of his kind spirit. He did do what is called a survivors deed on his house, so it's sitting in Perry, MO, waiting to see if I ever want to turn it into the BlBQ Bliss AirBnB, or do as he wanted and sell it and have a little nest egg.
See our trip back to MO didn't end as I had in my mind, I thought he would be back for a long life. I regret when he was here in GA the day we went to the VA clinic, I had
an appointment setup for his Covid shot at CVS afterward. He was so exhausted and his anxiety was high so I told him we would wait until next month, not knowing in a few weeks his daughter would be taking him back to MO. He kept saying "Dr Sanjay says I need my vaccine". Everyone in my house including his nurses were vaccinated so I wasn't worried about him not having the shot yet. When his daughter picked him up I said please get his vaccination when he gets home, that never happened.
We stayed at the hotel while we were in MO, the house was in such bad condition. Jay Wade cleaned it up and winterized it to pass the time until Uncle Bill was ready to be released from the hospital. We got there on Monday Oct 25th. They were going to release him on Friday Oct 29th. We went to visit him on Wednesday and he wasn't feeling well, it felt like he was running fever when I touched him. I asked the nurse if he had been tested for
Covid and she said no, so they did and thursday we found out he was positive.
Monday when the doctor did rounds he told me Uncle Bill was so bad he was going to send him to the University MO hospital in Columbia. i have never cried so hard in my life when the doctor at Columbia told me I had a choice to make Uncle Bill had told me he didn't want to live like Mimi had, I spoke with his daughters and ex wife and we all agreed not to put him on a ventilator. Even though he was Covid positive they let us briefly visit with him, he had his hands in restraints as he had tried to hit one of the nurses, he was in and out of sleep. The last thing he said to me was "Cat, I have so much left to do"...... The next morning we came back up and hospice had the soft music playing, he was no longer restrained and it was so peaceful in that room. I leaned over and told him Mimi, Grandaddy, Granny, Uncle Charles and his best friend Rush were all there waiting for him, I asked him to please hold on one more day, his older daughter was flying in to see him the next day. We tried to get his other daughter to come but, she declined, she had to wait for them to install internet at her house. We had even offered to drive the hour to get her and take her home, but she declined.
There were so many people at the end of his life that had been there for the plentiful good times but ran from the responsiblity and tough times, ironically I see it as a blessing he knew in the end I was there...
My Superman left his earthly vessel on November 4th 2021. I recieved the phone call from his doctor at 6:31 am, When the phone rang, I knew what I was about to be told. I called all those who had abandoned him for years and arranged for his cremation, I took his things we'd packed for the trip back to GA to the house. As we were there, his ex wife started talking about the house and it upset me, so we just left. What she didn't know is what he had told us at the attorney's office, He said, "the only time anyone wants to help me is when they need money, that don't give two shits about the house or anything in it.
Alot of what's of value in there was Mimi's, it's not worth monetary value, but only you can appreciate it".... We decided to come home to GA.My other Uncle David is the executor so my time of assisting was over. We opted not to travel home to TN for the memorial, my soul couldn't handle it, my thought was I was there when it mattered the most, when he was alive.
In closing out this blog, I want to leave this with you. Let the people you love know you love them while they are still present, always help a family member in times of trouble, we are only here for a brief while, make the most of it! In the end even Superman leaves his body behind.......