Saturday, February 9, 2008

Peace Be With Him

Heard from my mom today that my Uncle Hardy passed away yesterday. He'd been plagued by illness most of his life, and as my mom said had always been sickly or frail. She told me that at one point he hadn't been expected to live past the age of 20. Well, he wasn't called "Hardy" by accident. He entered into rest in the early morning last Friday. He was 82.

I remember his unique colloquialisms, and being mesmerized by the story telling on the rare occasion when he and his brothers and sisters were able to get together and talk about growing up in rural Georgia in severe poverty. My mom is writing her recollections, trying to capture the honor and grace of family, of kin, of blood. Like her father, who evidently was a good farmer, she is working the soil and planting seeds and tending to the sprouting, nascent essence of life, chronicling the memories of her siblings and ancestors, fertilizing with her own perspective and nourishing her reminiscence. God's speed, I wish for her.

I recall Uncle Hardy once saying "I've never been wrong. I thought I was once, but I wasn't. I was mistaken." Upon the completion of the last few syllables, his face would ease into a warm, playful grin that seemed to time-travel, if not slow the moment down to a calm, relaxed hum.

Last year, Suzy and I traveled back to the Southeastern states, visiting both Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. The trip was designed around seeing the San Francisco Giants play at Turner Field in "Hot-lanta" and again at Pro-Player Stadium in Miami, FL. But the main impetus was getting back to see relatives of mine that Suzy had never had the pleasure of meeting. I'm so glad we were able to get back and visit Hardy and his wife Jane in Springfield, GA. We first drove to my Uncle Sandy and Aunt Kathie's house in Rincon, GA, and then went to Hardy and Jane's, picked them up and the six of us went out to dinner at Love's Seafood in Savannah (picture above, Hardy is on the rear right). It was a very short visit, but it was long in quality. When we took Hardy and Jane back home after dinner, we stayed to visit awhile. Then as we were leaving, Uncle Hardy pointed out his BBQ grill to me, and said he wanted to have us over for a grand cookout.

I said I looked forward to it. But I couldn't stop the prescient thoughts which forecast that this moment would be last time I would see him. He'd nearly died a few years back from infection in his life-wracked knees after surgery to repair or replace them-- I'm not sure of all the details. (I invite my mom to fill in the cracks, correct mistakes I've made, etc.-- I'll even provide the correction tape...) And his doctors had ruled out any further procedures because they didn't feel he could survive the taxing effects of surgery, so he struggled with pain and had limited ability to get himself around.

A number of days ago, he had a bad fall, which broke his hip and injured his shoulder. Soon he was transferred to Hospice. So when I heard the phone message from my mom today, I sensed that she was weighed down with something. And when I called her back and she told me, I wasn't surprised. But as she said, even though we expect it, it's still hard. It's natural to resist the suffering, the grief, the inevitability of death; But we all get there.

It's part of life.

God's speed, Uncle Hardy.


Suzy said...

I am so glad I got the chance to meet him. That was a wonderful trip and I hope we are able to make another one someday to continue to get to know that side of the family better.

I look forward to reading Mom's stories and am glad she is taking the time to share them. So many lives were affected by this wonderful man. I remember him showing me a card he was most proud of. It was a Father's Day card from Jane's daugter, Diane, that thanked him for being such a wonderful father. That meant a lot to him and also showed so much about his character.

David said...

Nice tribute. I'm sure,between you and mom, the family historical preservation goals will be successful.

Gerri said...

You are such a wonderful writer...I got all teary just reading your wonderful review. I hope I can do a fraction of what you are capable of doing.