November 2019 is finally over, and I’m glad. I don’t mean to wish my life away, but it was a miserable month. Big plans blew up and the deaths of two special people in my life made it a month of tears and sorrow.
Paul Bates died this month after suffering for a long time. A person can grieve a loved one is gone but can also rejoice that the suffering has ended. It’s one of life’s paradoxes. My Uncle Chub died very suddenly. He passed while in surgery so basically, he died in his sleep. It’s the best way to pass away, but the shock and disbelief of the survivors is hard to bear.
While I mourn for both of them, my tears have also been for my dad who has lost two of his closest friends. Living to a ripe old age is very hard when your friends leave this world before you. Another side of loneliness is being the one left behind.
I’ve known Paul since the mid-1960s and practically lived at his house growing up. Melony (his daughter and my best friend) were almost inseparable growing up. Her house was filled with I-love-yous, hugs, and encouragement, and I absorbed what I could of that good feeling. I decided that’s how I wanted my home to be someday so Paul and Owalah taught me how to raise my kids. He baptized me and married Hubby and me. He was a major part of my life and the thread of his influence on me continues.
Dad and Paul went through a lot together. They faced a lot of adversity and accusations, but through it all, they defended the faith. They studied and talked about the Bible all the time. Their collective wisdom will be missed.
Uncle Chub and Aunt Mary were often at our house or we were at theirs. I was close to my cousins, Mary Ann, Lorie, and John (aka Spud), and we spent a lot of hours playing together. Uncle Chub designed their amazing underground house. I’ve never slept in such a quiet and even-temperatured place as it was. Using his metal detector, he explored old fort sites and collected buttons and bullets to give to the local museums. He knew so much about guns he could identify what kind of weapon fired the bullets he found. He even let me fire his muzzle-loading pistol one time. It had quite a kick!
Uncle Chub spent at least one day a week at Dad’s place. They’d sit on the porch or out under the shade tree and trade stories. He and Dad went to a lot of Breckenridge football games together, cheering on their old high school team. Sometimes, Uncle Chub would bring his guns over to use Dad’s shooting range to practice and let the rest of us practice too. He taught me a lot about gun safety and self-defense moves. The last day Uncle Chub visited, he and Dad took a walk through Dad’s beloved woods. They probably both had pistols, hoping they’d find a wild hog to kill.
Paul and Uncle Chub have moved on to a better place, and I’ll really miss them. I know Dad is looking forward to joining them and his other friends where there’s no more pain, suffering, or dying. To quote one of Dad’s favorite verses from Isaiah 57:1, “The righteous perishes and no man takes it to hear; Merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.”