Last night (Tuesday) as we were about to sit down to dinner, Big Dave got a call from his mom. The news was heartbreaking. His dad had lost his fight with lung cancer.
He'd won his first battle with the illness at the end of 2011, but last week we'd learned that it had returned with a vengeance, although we surely weren't thinking it would take him this quickly.
We're all absolutely heartbroken. Big Dave immediately raced to Alabama to be with his mom, and Lizzy and I are following tomorrow. It's like a slap in the face, so sudden... leaving us dazed and asking, 'what the hell just happened?'
Thankfully, I know he is in Heaven, enjoying God's grace, pain-free and perfect. This gives me comfort.
I hadn't seen Bill and Carol since this past Summer when they came to Tybee with us for July 4th. He was so healthy! So this is how I will remember him... cancer-free, energetic, telling the same jokes and stories he's told us for the last twenty years.
This photo's from our Tybee time a couple years ago...
He loved a good hunting story, and Big Dave would call him every week during hunting season to describe each minute detail of his adventures in the woods. When he killed a deer and it immediately dropped to the ground, he would say, "It went down like the sky fell on its back." He was a good hunter... he taught Big Dave to respect the animals they hunted.
Bill was a good dad, and a worthy role-model for Big Dave. He loved to tease 'Davey' about his teenage exploits, like the time he dumped the Moped Bill bought him, in a ditch and had to push it home waterlogged and dripping. Or the time when Carol found a condom (unused, don't worry) in the dirty clothes... both David and his brother denied it, but when she accused Bill of being the owner, the boys had to confess or suffer the wrath of their dad. Ha!
Of course there are hundreds of stories like this that Big Dave and his siblings share, and I can add several from my own experiences as his daughter-in-law. Like the time I bought him red thong underwear for Christmas and included a poem suggesting that he wear them when he snuck into the kitchen at 2am for a 'midnight snack.' He was SO bashful, and I pretty much embarrassed the heck out of him. It was perfect!
And of course his grandbabies LOVED him. The poor guy was surrounded by girls, first with his two daughters, then with his four granddaughters. I wonder how many hours of his life were spent waiting for his turn in the bathroom? He doled out his grumbly papa bear love to all of his girls, and they worshipped him for it. Goodness knows the man knew how to spoil them!
Bill was a beautiful soul. Rough around the edges, but a true tender-heart on the inside. He played his role as a father figure in my life longer than any other man. My entire adult life, I have looked up to him and loved him. And now I am left with a heart FULL of memories.
He left behind a legacy of love.
Bill, you were a good man. You will be missed.