A couple of weeks ago, my friend Daryl and I had planned to paddle the RZ96 today. Probably at Woods Reservoir, but we hadn’t really talked about destination or distance goals. Would’ve been an opportunity to test the efficacy of the patch I applied to the hull last summer, which is the last time I used the boat – paddling with my cousin Daniel upstream from Henry Horton State Park.
But last week, I think it was Wednesday (Later – found out it was Tuesday), a family friend died, and today my family and I will attend his funeral here in town.
Mr. Rose seemed old to me from the first time I met him at which time he was probably not much older than I am now. He seemed to me a tall man, thin and dark, with prominent nose and features that resembled the rocky face of a weather blasted mountain, reminding me of Johnny Cash or the latest and final iteration of an ancient native American race.
And a final iteration he was, for he and his wife were unable conceive and bring forth young after their kind. Mrs. Rose had the wistful beauty I’ve observed in other Southern women who have experienced loss. I thought her an intelligent woman; trained as a teacher, but I don’t think ever worked much in that field. I have a photograph I took of them years ago arriving at my mother’s house for a holiday on a rainy day. She is wearing a bright-red raincoat and he is helping her across an odd arrangement of steps at the patio to the door. In old age, they remained a handsome couple.
Like my wife and I, the Roses were, for whatever reasons, genetic dead-ends. Mr. Rose said that many years ago, he and his wife built a large house and hoped to adopt children through the state’s agency for adopting orphaned children. However, he said the only children the state was willing to give them the chance to adopt had special needs, and they didn’t feel they were able to parent them. The pain of childlessness, according to long-time observers and Mr. Rose, himself, carved them. Mrs. Rose learned to decoratively paint furniture and paint representationally on canvas. Mr. Rose built and sold houses, traded in real estate. I never knew what his regular occupation was.
Mr. Rose a number of times assured me that life without children was worthwhile.
I remember fishing for perch with him and my grandfather many years ago while visiting my grandparents in Tennessee during a summer vacation.
I remember as a teenager playing golf with Mr. Rose and my grandfather. One of us, probably me, made a horrible shot. “That’s what we call an ‘Elephant Ball,’” Mr. Rose said laughing.
“Why an ‘Elephant Ball?’” I said.
“Because it’s as high as an elephant’s ass, and it stinks.”
Mr. Rose was a member of one of the town’s First Churches, but liked to attend a Primitive, or Foot-Washing, Baptist church on the west side of town that shared alley access with a coin-op car wash.
This morning I took a walk and thought I would walk past his house, but the time was short because I spent a lot of it after waking up playing with my young son. In a little while we will attend Mr. Rose’s funeral.