The great gift of friendship
By Leonard Rizzo
It was nearly 15 years ago when Chuck Davis and I first met at the now defunct T.J.’s Café. Chuck is a large, quiet and unassuming man with a big heart. I, on the other hand am much smaller and openly boisterous in all I feel and believe.
The one thing we both have in common is that there isn’t any pretentiousness, what you see is what you get.
Chuck and I quickly became best friends who enjoyed breakfast together and later shared the same table at Kiwanis and the V.F.W. I jokingly called him Uncle Chuck but he was more like a big brother to me that had my back under any and all circumstances.
When I first began my urgent care fund, which later became Lennie’s Kids, Chuck supported my cause from the beginning and has been so ever since.
About six years ago, just before I was struck with a cascade of illnesses, Chuck asked if he could foster some kittens. I arranged for him to foster a two year old momma cat and her male and female kittens that were born under a trailer and were recently weaned. It took one week for Chuck to become a foster failure as he adopted all three. The young male kept going over to a neighbor’s house so the Davis’ allowed them to keep him which left them with Asia, the momma and Chissai, the young female.
When I was found with a cancer tumor on my lung it was Chuck who drove me to the hospital for radiation and waited till I was released. Shortly thereafter I was admitted to Pardee because my toes were turning black from lack of oxygen and the pain was excruciating. All my toes had to be removed and I had to learn to walk again. Chuck became my personal chauffer who called me daily for my rides. Before that I was rushed from Pardee to Mission in Asheville for my kidneys were failing and they feared I wouldn’t make it through the night. I was placed on dialysis all night and spent five weeks in intensive care. I had many visitors over that span, one constant was Chuck Davis. I’ve been on dialysis for the last six years and three years ago I had a four way heart bypass surgery.
Though Chuck and I are of different denominations, on more than one occasion, I have sat and worshipped with him and Virginia at their church. I have stated out loud and unabashedly, “I love Chuck Davis.”
A little over three years ago Chuck was diagnosed with the onset of Alzheimer’s. I did my best to be there for whatever needs he had but true to form, it was he who called and asked if I needed anything. It seems that life wasn’t through with me just yet. I began to get tumors on my bladder and was urinating bloody clumps.
Besides being put on chemo five times, I was back at the hospital to cauterize the tumors. Many times it was Chuck who drove me and waited many hours.
On ore than one occasion we got a little lost and would just laugh about it until we found our way.
As Chuck’s memory deteriorated, his kind and gentle demeanor never altered.
Chuck’s wife, Virginia, called a few weeks ago to tell me Chuck’s memory is almost all gone. At the end of August they will be moving to be near his granddaughter.
“He loves his cats very much Lennie, especially Asia the momma. We can’t take them both with us. Could you take Chisai and find her a good home?”
Since the phone call I have taken Chuck to lunch, he knows who I am and is comfortable in my presence, but I’m not sure if he knows how he knows me. Still in all, we had a wonderful lunch and he visibly enjoyed himself.
It took a few days to catch up Chisai but she is now at Landrum vet on a mild tranquilizer. Changes are very traumatic for cats, especially one that is six years old and has bonded with Chuck and Asia all these years. I have Dana Meyer (Po’Kitties) and the staff at P3 in Landrum and Dr. Donna Raines and her team all on the lookout for a home for my dear friend’s dear friend.
With all humility,
Thanks for listening.