Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Terry Price Saul - R.I.P.
I'd just been thinking about Terry the other day, trying to remember how far apart we were in age. Something you do as you get older. Along with wondering who in the family will be next to go.
The answer came tonight in an email from my aunt, that Terry had died last evening. I quickly called my cousin, Bobbie, Terry's sister who has so faithfully looked after him and cared for him over the past 14 years. Terry has long been a troubled soul. He unfortunately inherited his mother's genetic disposition to alcoholism and was known to binge off and on through many years of his life. He served his time in the Air Force, then was employed as a baggage handler for a number of years at Dayton Municipal Airport where he was one of their most dependable workers. Eventually, he had to retire early because of physical problems with his legs and feet, which the drinking surely didn't help. He became so incapacitated a few years back that he spent time in a nursing home, barely able to walk. In time, and with Bobbie's continual encouragement and help, even as she raised three fine boys and took care of her husband, her high school sweetheart, Terry literally got back on his feet. In recent years he managed to live alone in the house he inherited from his mother after she died of cancer in 1974. Terry never really got over her death, a combination of genuine grief because she suffered so much, and a lot of guilt. While my godmother and dearest of my five aunts, Florence, had gone into recovery in AA, Terry continued to hit the bottle for years afterward. When I visited him in 2001 (the occasion for the picture on the right above), I noticed that the house was a virtual shrine to her.
In our phone conversation this evening, Bobbie told me that Terry had begun acting erratically this past summer: refusing to see a physician and going off his medication, despite his complaints of windedness, nausea, etc. Nevertheless, she and one of his neighbors had continued looking in on him, seeing that he had food, etc. Bobbie said that when she spoke to him last evening he sounded weak, but apparently had eaten a bit. That was her last conversation with him. His neighbor found him on the couch where he'd been resting most of this week.
Though we didn't see each other much in recent years, I'd usually call Terry from time to time, at least on his birthday each year. We'd been very close in our earliest years, having grown up together most of the time, along with Bobbie, who was four years younger than Terry. She and I share the same birth day, only six years apart.
Terry and Bobbie's dad, my Uncle Bob, early on nicknamed Terry "Bunchy" and me, "Coggy". Terry and I knew that my nickname originated from the fact that Terry couldn't quite pronounce "Cowboy", but we never knew or could figure out how his nickname, "Bunchy", came about. As many of our early childhood photos show, I, for one, was really into cowboy hats, toy guns, etc. Frequently Mom and I would visit Florence and her family, who lived only about 40 minutes away by bus in Troy, OH. At the time, they lived at the end of Water St. which dead-ended into a large grassy field. In the back was the Miami River and a huge levee. Behind the house was a small forest of trees and bushes (you can see some of them on the picture above on the left, taken c. 1941). Later, on one side of their property a huge factory was built, Hobart Manufacturing, I believe. Kitty-corner across Water St. was Troy High School, a huge (to us, at least) red brick edifice, surrounded by an ample campus with wide cement sidewalks meandering through and around the grounds. All in all, it was an ideal area in which two boys could play and get into all sorts of mischief -- which we did!
One of the particular delights for Terry and me were the times Mom and Aunt Florence took us to the Troy Swimming Pool. They bought each of us a pair of inflatable canvas water wings, and we'd spend endless summer hours in the water at the shallow end of the pool. He and I loved jumping from the side of the pool and splashing each other. When it was time to go, of course, we pushed our mothers to the limit trying to get "one more time" to jump in!
Well, my wonderings of a few days ago have been answered. Terry was 69, two years younger than me. And, sadly, it was he who was the next in our family to pass on. As I've done for years and years, I'll continue to pray for "Bunchy" each morning, celebrating his new-found peace beyond his troubles and sufferings in this life, and his reunion with his mother and dad.