Two days ago, my brother called. This is pretty normal. We talk nearly everyday, but this was different. I was leaving soccer, hopped in the van, and realized I had left my phone in the car. I checked it- 4 missed calls from Will and a message that said, "Call Me."
There are times in your life when you just know something is wrong. It is that gut feeling that radiates to your heart and lets you know that bad news is on the way. One time, when I was in early elementary school, my parents both came to school to pick me up early. When we left, I sat between them in the front seat. (This was back when kids still sat on the "hump" in the car.) They let me know my Aunt Sis had passed away. It was a horrible feeling. Ever since that day, anytime my parents would pick me up together, show up at my house for no reason, or start out a conversation in a certain way, I immediately assumed that something bad had happened. In my head, I knew that something was wrong just by the missed calls.
"Lori, did you get my email? Pop died today, Lori. Grandaddy let me know that Pop died." I am going to be honest. I was scared it was my Mamaw, who is probably one of the most special people to me in the world. She is suffering from dementia and is confined to a wheelchair now. Yes, she is still here and is my grandmother, but my "Mamaw" has been gone for really almost a year.
Let me explain who Pop was. I grew up on an oak tree lined street. Our neighborhood was filled with children who played together until dark. There was an empty corner lot across the street and down a block. I bet over a thousand wiffle ball games were played there. We rode our bikes to the swimming pool and ball parks in the summers. I even rode my bike across town to get snowcones. All of the neighbors on our street knew each other. To the right of my house, a sweet older couple, the Tarzi's, lived next door. They were like grandparents to me. Everyday, I would ride my hot wheels to their front sidewalk, park, and walk up to their door and ring the doorbell. I would be greeted by them, and I would proceed to make my way to their piano to find the stash of gum they bought for me. I would grab a piece, steal a few hugs and kisses, and be on my way. Every Christmas and Easter, they would come over early in the morning to see our "loot." Every special occasion, my mother would make my picture with them. I have pictures with them with me in everything ranging from recital outfits to homecoming dresses. They came to some of my ballgames. Granny passed away when I was young, and I was devastated. Pop was lost without her, but up until a few weeks ago, he was still living in the house next to my childhood home.
He was a great man. He was active in the community, and I am positive nearly every citizen of Clarksdale knew him. He was a veteran and was involved with youth sports. When the neighborhood took a turn for the worst, he stood his ground and refused to be forced out of his home by not-so-nice neighbors. A few years back, an arsonist in the town burned my childhood home down. They came back the next night to finish the job and burn my playhouse in the backyard. Most of the neighbors I knew growing up had moved, but Pop still remained.
During the phone call with Will, I knew that he was trying to hold it together. My brother is strong. He is a rock in hard situations. He takes charge, and I know I can depend on him. In a span of 4 years, we buried both of our parents, both at the age of 56. I watched him at both of their funerals take the podium and talk about our life with them. When I couldn't even look up to face anyone on those days, he stood tall and spoke about my parents, making sure their story was told in a way that others would understand their love and their life. After Will told me that Pop died, his voice cracked and he couldn't talk. Losing Pop was like someone chipping away at the last pieces left of our childhood on School Street. We have lost a grandfather figure in our life. Although I live 5 hours away, he was still there and still a constant in the life I once knew growing up.
I don't like multiple phone calls in a row from the same person. I cringe. I literally sit in silence trying to prepare myself for the worst. Josh and I have an understanding about phone calls and messages. Don't call multiple times in a row for the little stuff. If you text "call me", make sure it is followed by no big deal or some explanation.
This really wasn't a post about MS or our family, but rather a piece of my childhood slipping away. I hope to leave half of the legacy that Pop did.