Roy was one of the most honorable men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He was my brother in-law and I observed him over the years continually taking care of his family and people at his various jobs, and living life with gusto. He was a people person, and a man of impeccable honesty. Time after time, he chose to pay for his expenses when he could have easily charged his boss for a work related expense.
“I have to live with myself,” he would say. He was also generous to a fault, choosing to give to anyone he saw in need. He contributed to or purchased flowers for those who had died or those who grieved for the deceased.
He was there for any special occasion and he gave freely of his time as well of his finances. He helped me move my belongings several times, never complaining, lending his pickup and himself. His loyalty was legendary. He was educated and articulate. He did not curse or put others down. His humor was often self deprecatory and he told stories about himself that made others feel better about themselves.
Perhaps that was why, after all the years as a policeman, he rose within the ranks to captain and then chief. He also headed several city management positions. He was loved and appreciated by all who had the opportunity to work with him.
Because of his numerous outstanding qualities, I was only one of many who called him friend. When he retired, a large reception room was filled to capacity while others waited outside to show their respects . To everyone’s delight, he was toasted and roasted for his accomplishments, generosity, his antics and pranks.
Roy was tall and strong, exercised regularly, and watched his diet faithfully. Thus, when he began remarking about loss of upper body strength, the doctors listened and checked him out. His heart and lungs were good and he was sent home. His strength continued to wane and his wife, my sister, drove him to various doctors, hoping for a diagnosis and a cure. Finally, a specialist in San Francisco diagnosed him as having Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Within a month he was hospitalized. Shortly thereafter, oxygen tubes were inserted because his breathing had become labored. It wasn’t long before he had trouble even with short breaths.
I visited him regularly but soon we could not communicate. He could not talk. He could not hold a pencil. He became frustrated with my feeble attempts at communication. He wanted his wife, my sister, to stay close, making sure he did not suffocate, making sure his life lines were working. Finally, he cut himself off from the outside world. He wanted no visitors to see him in this helpless condition.
My sister told him time after time how much he was loved and appreciated but his eyes were troubled, not the eyes of peace, and we thought he believed he was forgotten by his friends.
He continued to deteriorate and we knew the end was near. The end of his life came sooner than we expected. It was only two months from the time he noticed his weakening upper body strength until the day he died. There was little time to prepare for his impending death.
There was a memorial for Roy, a time for sharing memories and milestones of his life. There were pictures and testimonies from friends as they talked about what he had done for them and how his life impacted so many people. His friends and family filed in, paid their respects, wept openly and left, all feeling a piece of their own lives were missing.
I had my own feelings to deal with. “Goodbye, dear friend. I will miss you,” I said. “I hope you get a heavenly reward. You are truly deserving of a mansion in heaven.”
My life felt hollow and once again, I saw the urgency of telling everyone not to count their future years. Love your family, friends, and neighbors while you can. Time on earth is short and no one knows when their time will run out. Roy was a good man. I hope he and I will meet again. I believe in life after this life. I want to see Roy again.