A good friend and co-worker of many years recently lost her brother. This blog is an excerpt from a letter she wrote about Jim. I was so moved that I asked her permission to share it. Jim didn’t get the recognition he deserved in life but his story is his legacy. Please take a moment to read and contemplate the life of this “simple man.”
I debated for some time now on the best way to thank each and every one of you for your support dealing with my brother’s death. I started hand writing cards several time now and can’t ever seem to get it done. I know email is sometimes impersonal but that is not my intention. I finally decided that this was the best way to get the message out there that ALL of you are appreciated for whatever roll you took to help comfort me directly or indirectly.
I thought I’d share with you a bit of my brother Jim’s story.
My brother was the second child in the family of nine. He was the first boy between the two oldest girls (3 kids in 3 years) He had a hard life from the day he was born he was weak and sickly, nearly died several times and did not rank high on any intelligence tests, he struggled to get through 8th grade and dropped out of school. He could barely read and write. He was on his own at that point doing farm work to support himself; as soon as he was able he joined the Army where he served 4 years. He married the woman he loved to the day he died and had 2 children with her. His heart was broken when she left him, but he never stopped loving her in all the years they were divorced. He worked a Packerland Packing doing back breaking work for little pay 42 years until his retirement. Packerland normally does not hold “official retirements” but when they checked his service record and found that he had never been late or missed a day of work in 42 years they decided to throw a party which meant a lot to him. Shortly after his retirement he had multiple health problems.
This past Mother’s Day I talked to him and he said he thought he had the flu- wasn’t feeling well, when I expressed my concern he said “I still have got a couple years left in me!” The following Wednesday, 2 of my sisters tried to get him to go to the doctor with no luck. Wednesday evening I stopped by to check on him and my dog’s barking outside his home brought him to, he had been passed out on the kitchen floor for 3-4 hours before this but still would not go to the doctor because he had a regular checkup scheduled for Thursday and there was, in his words, “no point to pay for 2 doctor visits in 1 week”. Thursday my sister took him for his appointment; from there he was sent to the specialist and Friday afternoon the verdict was he only had 6 months to live. The prognosis of the 6 months was a shock to everyone, but at least we had 6 months. I went to his house after work and brought him Friday night fish fry, we had dinner together and I brought my dog. He even got down on the floor to rub the dogs belly and play with her against my advice. He was very weak and tired but other than that seemed fine, no pain or anything. They had given him 3 units of blood at the hospital on Friday. When he got a nose bleed at the hospital, he jokingly told the nurse” I think you gave me too much it’s coming out my nose!” The doctors said after the transfusion it would take 2 weeks for his energy to come back up. I left Friday night to go home. Saturday morning my sister called and said he was in a lot of pain and she had called the doctor to get him some pain medication. Saturday afternoon I went over there to stay with him and was told he took his pain pill, was sleeping, and that his son was going to stay with him. He passed away in bed later that night.
As his obituary stated he was a simple man, some would call him dumb. He lived in a house that was falling down around him. He put on his coat and hat to go to bed at night to save on heat, and had no material wealth at all. Many took advantage of his simple and giving nature, but he never gave up on the people he loved. He would rather go without something he needed to buy you something you wanted. He was a shining example of how to treat people and will forever be missed! I was truly blessed to have been part of his life.