I received news last night that my Uncle Bill Rice died this past weekend. I read about it on Facebook when a cousin of mine posted a prayer request for the family.
As a child, though he never knew this, Uncle Bill was a hero of mine. He worked for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and wore uniforms that I thought always made him look dapper, handsome and very important. I thought my Uncle Bill could probably save the world, if the task ever presented itself.
He had lived the last four years of his life in a nursing home, a victim of Alzheimer's. Upon his death, My Aunt Mary Lois, my mom's sister, said, "At least now he knows where he is."
Alzheimer's is the cruelest of the cruel in neurological disorders. Taking the mind of a person who has lived a long, productive life, filled with memories both good and bad, and erasing it all as if it were an Etch-A-Sketch waiting to be utilized as a blank slate. My eldest sister told me time and time again how sad it was to visit him.
She loves him like a father. And rightly so. Our father, ill-equipped to totally give himself to his three daughters, always kept us at arm's length. Uncle Bill and Aunt Mary Lois took her in at a devastating time in her life and treated her like their own. She told me today via email (I live three states away) that during her morning coffee just this morning she had a good cry recalling lots of morning coffee times spent with Uncle Bill ....just the two of them sharing stories early in the day before the busyness of life took them their separate ways.
My heart hurts today. I haven't seen Uncle Bill since my own dad passed away back in 2001. That's my bad. But I have memories of a man who was good, honest, loving, caring and hardworking.
Rest in Peace, Uncle Bill. I'll see you again someday.
Photo: Lonoke Baptist Church, now torn down....the church our family attended in Lonoke.