Down the Lane: Honoring brotherly love, memories

By Sue Staton

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write. I wanted to dedicate my column this week to my dear brother, who passed away this week.

In October, my brother was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was told he had about four months to live, and since his cancer had progressed, doctors said chemotherapy would probably not make much difference at this point.

He still opted to try chemo and it did shrink some of the tumors.

We all hoped for him to be healed. The chemotherapy did buy him more time with his family. Those extra days were precious to his family and to his brothers and sisters.

However, from April on, his body has seemed to get weaker and weaker. He stood up one morning beside his bed and fell, breaking his back. From that time on he has been in constant pain and his health continued to decline. He was tough and tried hard to get through his  days of pain.

His days were often spent sitting on his back porch watching Martins flying in and out of the many houses in his backyard. He got to know them personally through watching them and even told a story to his daughter about two of them. His kids loved to hear him tell stories about anything.

Oh, the stories I could tell about my oldest brother and growing up together. He was tough and has worked all his life. His tenacity and desire to work has been harder than the pain he has had to endure. He missed working.

He had such a love for gardening and I have written in times past about this. He missed working in his garden so much this year.

He always worked on farms to buy his own school clothes each year. He spent his time in the Army writing letters to us from Germany. I always wanted to see where he was stationed and was so blessed to have gotten to go to Schweinfurt, Germany. I got to see where he served our country and missed his Kentucky home. He often wrote about missing “Mommy’s” food.

His love of schnitzel was born while in the Army. Every year on Christmas Day, it became a dish on his table.

A week ago he said he wanted to go camping at their church in Camargo. His daughters prepared him a Christmas meal. His love for his family knew no ends and their love for him did not either.

Robert gave orders to my mother and father about who I was to date before he left for the Army. The one he suggested for me was one I laughed at when he said it, but I ended up marrying him and had my two beautiful daughters.

My brother was always keeping on eye out for me. He told my daddy he was not going to get another whipping from him when I was a teenager and I had better not get one either, I never again got another spanking from either of my parents.

All three of my brothers looked out for me. That is one reason I am so close to them. I love them so much, and they know that.

There was one time Robert was waiting in the hospital for the birth of a child. He called me in near shock to tell me he just found out he was going to have twins. Back then, there was no ultrasound, and for some reason they did not know his wife was going to have twins. I will never forget the excitement in his voice. My sister and I each got a namesake. He had two beautiful daughters that day, Hazel Mae and Mabel Sue.

My brother ended up having four beautiful daughters, all born in April. His oldest daughter, Ramonda, was a beautiful German girl who passed away from breast cancer. His youngest daughter, Ashley, has a young son who just turned 4 years old that has been the love of Robert’s life. I think it helped to keep him alive a little longer.

While we were waiting in the hospital room yesterday, one of his daughters remarked how just last year Robert had canned 100 quarts of green beans from his garden and tomatoes while his wife was at work. He was retired, but he never stopped working.

My brother passed on July 16 at the age of 73.

He gave life his all. His family meant everything to him and he didn’t mind telling any one that.

Through his battle with cancer, it was evident how much love there was from his wife, Darlene, and his family down to the youngest grandchild. They were just returning the love he had given to all of them. Not everyone gets the good care he got.

I am so thankful to all who so willingly gave up their own comforts to make sure he was comfortable.

I was shocked to pick my phone up and out of the blue hear the song “When I’ve Walked the Last Mile of the Way” playing. The words I heard, so perfectly described my brother: “If I walk in the pathway of duty, If I work til the close of the day, Lord I shall see the great king in all his beauty, when I’ve walked the last mile of the way.”

It was as if they were written for him and for me to hear this morning. The picture I saw was of a dusty road that looked so much like the lane we used to walk down. I could not help but think of the many miles that we five kids had walked down that dusty lane together to catch our school bus, our laughter and conversations as we walked together, our closeness knowing we were family and our love for one another.

As you all know, I write only from my heart and I guess you can tell my heart is hurting, but I also have a peace in my heart.

The last little smile I saw on his face was when I told him he was handsome even when he was sick. The last little squeeze from his weak hand and my memories of him will be with me forever.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.