Last Thursday my husband died.
If you’ve read many of my posts, you knew him as “The Dawg.” It was a nickname he loved.
During a medical visit on June 1st, we were told he had Stage 3B lung cancer. It was in both lungs and in the fluid around the lungs. We left the doctor’s office and went to a Waffle House for a late breakfast. He said one thing he did not want was to linger. He was not afraid of cancer; he was afraid of lingering. Even so, we all thought he had at least several months ahead of him.
He certainly didn’t linger; he lasted only 24 days after the diagnosis.
The Dawg – Carroll Smith – was an avid sports fan who played basketball and baseball but enjoyed all sports. He passed on what could have been a major league career because he felt it was his duty to serve his country in the military. He joined the Air Force, and, fortunately, was able to play baseball for the Air Force in Europe.
An 18-month-stay in the hospital with tuberculosis and subsequent arm injury dashed all hopes of a major league career, but his love of baseball only grew.
Following military service, Carroll went to work for the federal government; he retired from the Charleston Naval Shipyard as Employment Superintendent and Deputy Director of Industrial Relations with responsibility for over 8500 employees.
He was also a pigeon fancier. He started the hobby of breeding, raising, training and racing homing pigeons as a Boy Scout to earn a merit badge. Carroll continued this hobby until a few months ago and was known world-wide for his pigeons, selling them to people as far away as Taiwan. He visited the Queen of England’s pigeon loft and was friends with the Queen’s trainer.
Friends often referred to him as “the gentleman from Georgia.” He loved his birth state of Georgia and his adopted state, South Carolina, his home for 40 years. And he most definitely was a gentleman. He was one of the kindest, nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever known.
Carroll was a man of principles, integrity and loyalty. He could carry on a conversation with anyone because he was interested in people. He loved to learn - about people, places, history, events and more.
Together, we enjoyed working crosswords, playing games of trivia, going to movies, playing cards, worshiping together at our church and hanging out with friends.
I wish I had known him longer. We met casually in July 2006 but didn’t start seeing each other until sometime in 2007. Once we did, we were inseparable.
Last Wednesday afternoon, evening and night, I slept with him in his hospital bed. Thursday morning, at 9:30, Carroll peacefully and gently slipped away, gripping my hand as I said “Peace be with you, Carroll.”
My head knows he is at peace, but my heart hurts just the same.