An hour before meeting for lunch with my husband’s oldest brother Forrest he called. “I got Marie up but she is not responding.”
“Sounds like you need a doctor,” I said.
Forrest called. An ambulance took his wife Marie to the hospital where she stayed a couple weeks receiving treatment for a severe infection.
“We will meet for lunch next time,” we said. Then Forrest contracted Covid. Maybe he was exposed while working at the food pantry. Maybe he caught it when he delivered vehicles for dealerships. It doesn’t matter. Covid sent him to the hospital for a month. Finally we received news of his transfer to rehab to rebuild his strength.
A few days later, early in the afternoon, the next older brother Frank called, “Forrest had to go back to the hospital.”
“That does not sound good,” my husband observed.
Within hours Frank called back, “Forrest died.”
Not the outcome we anticipated for the brother who defied his doctors after heart surgery and shrugged off his prescribed medication, “I don’t need that stuff,”
He survived and kept active. Some concluded, “He is just too stubborn to die.”
His health, energy and stubbornnes meant his wife could stay home. Years ago she fell and broke her neck. As a paraplegic she could answer the phone, cook, do dishes and laundry and supervise the home schooling of a couple grandchildren. Still she depended on him every day for help getting up and going anywhere. When the infection cleared she left the hospital with many prescriptions.
Forrest brushed aside the necessity of the hospital. He insisted, “I usually catch the signs of infection and give her vitamin C I just missed it this time.”
After she returned home, he shoved aside the prescriptions and gave her massive doses of Vitamin C several times a day to finish clearing the infection. That same medical assertiveness challenged the nurses during his Covid hospitalization. Other than oxygen and some help, he knew what he needed. He had been right about his wife and his heart. Why wouldn’t he be right about what he needed for Covid?
No oneh told Forrest what he needed to do and he lived to see his 85th birthday. He lived to see six adopted children grow up and have children and grandchildren of their own.
He left us all with a mixture of memories.
“He had such a good hearty laugh. I am smiling just thinking about it,” my daughter recalled. No matter what time it was, he always greeted folks loudly with his signature, “Good morning.”
“He called all of Dad’s kids, ‘George,’” my son recalled.
In the days after the phone call, my husband mused, “he sang baritone and competed in musical competitions in high school. After high school, Forrest, Frank and a couple of friends formed a quartet and made a record. When the friends moved away, Forrest singing career ended.”
Such a contrast to his work as a heavy equipment contractor including years of fixing and cleaning septic systems. His work with sewer lines took him to a convention in Tennessee with his wife, son and his son’s bride. They left right after the young couple’s wedding. They all traveled together to the sewer system workers convention in an RV. Not a typical honeymoon. But it fit Forrest and his family. He was a character. He was loud, hard and stubborn with a voice that carried music and confident assertions on everything. It is a voice we will not hear across the table the next time we visit the old home town.