To Junior, with Love 

Published 11:22 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

Those of you who have followed my column for the last couple of years will know of whom I speak when I mention the dear gentleman that I met, Junior, after delivering a Mobile Meal to him and then promptly backing into the culvert on the side of his driveway and finding the back wheel of my truck stuck fast. 

Junior, then not quite 81, insisted on driving me along the rest of my route and from that moment, we struck up an affectionate friendship. In the weeks that followed we went ‘riding’ in the candy-apple red T-bird he had bought for ‘my little darlin’,” Margaret, the love of his life, who left him a widower a few years before. The grief never lessened and Junior could tell you to the day exactly how long it had been since she passed.

Up Glassy Mountain we wound, a framed 8 by 10” photo of Margaret resting between us on the console. I was shown the places where stills used to operate and poker games played. We walked together upon the summit, over that mantle of rock, where he and his siblings used to picnic and his daddy had spent a week’s pay watching a group of guys push a Model-T Ford over the cliff.

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Junior left us this past week, his numerous, extended family assisting his request to leave the hospice facility and pass peacefully at the home he had shared for decades with Margaret. The day I went to visit wasn’t a good day for a visit and while I would have liked to have held his hand and tell him goodbye, it wasn’t about me. It was about what was best for him in that moment and I honor that completely. I loved him and I know he loved me, as he gave his love unwaveringly to so many. 

We should all be so fortunate to have the love soaked transition that Junior’s family gifted him as he left this earth… I find that I’m not feeling the despondency of grief. I keep thinking how his face would crumple when he mentioned Margaret, pulling the wallet sized photo out of his shirt pocket to show me, yet again, as he recalled their time together. How he was absolutely certain she would rearrange his pillows at night. How she spoke to him in dreams.

Until death did they part and with Junior’s death comes the sweetest reunion.