Goodbye old friend

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 4, 2016

George and Theolia Ball brought home a little blue-eyed baby girl from their trip to the hospital in Jackson. Carol, Dianne, and Paul couldn’t wait to see the little person bundled in their mother’s arms. Carol and Dianne grinned happily, but Paul’s eyes held just a little disappointment. He felt outnumbered by all the girls and had prayed for a baby brother.
Fortunately for us all the prolific pair produced two more little ones. Paul’s prayers were answered when John and Max rounded out our family.
Paul grew up fast and though he was not the eldest child he stepped into position of protector of his siblings. Our father and mother unfortunately had a myriad of health issues, and Paul became the man of the house while he should have been a carefree child himself.
The sacrifices Paul made for his family carried throughout his life. He met and married a lovely girl named Jeri. They had three wonderful children, Jessica, Travis, and Garrett. His grandchildren, Taylor, Flint, and most recently little Eli were the joy of his life.
At any moment I could call my brother and in a matter of minutes catch up on every niece and nephew in the family as well as my other brothers and sister. The love and concern he felt went so much farther than lip service.
When my late husband, Glen R., died Paul was there for me. He asked me to move in with him until I figured things out. I didn’t do that, but how many people would actually go that far to help a sibling in distress?
On Tuesday of last week I called Paul to see if he was coming to my house that day. We had been trying to get together for a little while because I had something to give him for his new home. He was one happy man moving nearer his grandchildren and remodeling an awesome rustic home on acreage with a creek running through it.
We had many conversations over the years concerning his faith in Jesus. He accepted Christ as a young boy, and it always impacted his life. He would help anyone he could and was a man with many friends. He absolutely never met a stranger and loved people.
I found out he was in the hospital and though it didn’t seem like anything serious I wanted to go and see about him. My sister, Dianne, and I drove to Hattiesburg never knowing it would be our last visit on this earth. When we walked into his room Jeri was standing by his side. I kissed Paul and thought something serious could be going on. Soon the doctor was there.
Taking my leave my hand gently touched my big brother’s arm. He must have seen fear in my eyes when I said, “I love you”. True to his character until the end my dear old friend looked at me and whispered, “I’m ok”.
You never know what a day will bring. This one brought goodbye to my big brother and friend. It’s only goodbye for now; we will meet again.

By Jan Penton Miller

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