Remembering Rod

Ever since we learned Wednesday morning that it might be brother Rod’s last day here on earth, I think some of us have been moving like robots, going through motions, doing what we needed to do.

It’s around midnight now, and I can’t sleep. I’m tired. Very tired. But I still can’t sleep. So, I'm writing what I'm thinking - and posting without proofing.

It’s just hitting me that Rod is gone – forever. Some wonder what it’s going to be like on the political scene without him.

I wonder what it’s going to be like at Christmas, Thanksgiving, family gatherings and such. I wonder what it’s going to be like not having him to call, e-mail or text when I have a question. I wonder what it’s going to be like not having him making fun of me – good-naturedly, of course. (I think.)

Fun times, crazy times, tense times – all of these come to mind tonight. All kinds of random thoughts.

I think back about the two times when our family was on “Family Feud.”

I think back to the 1980’s when our parents had just moved back to South Carolina from Tennessee; Rod was chairman of the county Republican party and was trying to recruit candidates. Dad had to go out of town for something; Rod asked him to sign a blank form as a candidate before he left town, just in case Rod couldn’t find a candidate for some office. When Dad returned, he learned he was a candidate for the state Senate. Rod ran his campaign. They won.

I remember playing board games with family members. Rod was fun to play with – and also frustrating to play with. He knew too much, especially insignificant things.

I remember a “fuss” we had when I was driving in California (when we were out there taping “Family Feud”) and Rod had to go to the bathroom; he wanted to stop at a service station. Instead, I stopped at a hospital, insisting this was a clean place and better than a gas station. He protested, but finally went in. And he was gone forever, it seemed. Back and forth, we wondered if someone had caused a problem for him or if he was just being stubborn by not returning to the car promptly. (Use your imagination to figure out why he was gone a while.)

Rod and I didn’t always agree on candidates. There were times I didn’t want to know which campaigns he was running.

We didn’t always agree on the best approach in a campaign either. During one of my candidacies, he told me that if I wanted to have a shot at winning, I should just leave town so people wouldn’t get to know me.

I remember him describing an easy job one time.  Bear in mind, he was often controversial and colorful.  He said he had been retained by a candidate to "do nothing."  In other words, don't work for him, don't work against him.  Easy money, huh?

I remember some of the great campaign slogans he came up with - for me and for others.  He was a creative genius!

I remember when his favorite color was “geen.” He just couldn’t pronounce “green” and called everything “geen.”  (By the way, this was a long time ago; he eventually learned to pronounce "green.")

I remember when I won a spelling bee in school. He ran to Mom that night and told her my news first – and I was SO mad at him for not letting me tell my own good news.

I think back about delivering the eulogy at Dad’s funeral without breaking down. This was probably because Rod told me beforehand that I wasn’t going to be able to do it.

(photo "lifted" from Wolfe Reports blog)
I recall when he took me to the golf course to teach me how to play golf, ending the day by saying he'd never do that again.

I remember that, for a long time, he drove the junkiest van in the whole world.  Returning from a political meeting in the Charleston area late one night, he realized he couldn't see through the windshield clearly.  The windshield seemed dirty, maybe blocked with a multitude of papers, notes and books.  After a while, though, he realized a snake had taken up residence on his dashboard. 

I remember family Charades games and one particular time when we played a joke on Rod, giving him something embarrassing and almost impossible to act out – and with his own team members planning ahead NOT to guess the correct answer.  Can you picture him trying to act out "The Vagina Monologues" while his team members played ignorant?  It was hilarious!

I remember when Rod and Shawn (my other brother) made the trip from Columbia to Charleston by water, skiing behind a boat, emulating what our dad had done on a few occasions many years earlier.

Which reminds me of something else: when Mom was pregnant with the fourth child after a10-year-break of not having children, the three of us already in existence got to help pick names for the new baby. Rod wanted to name him Sidney after our dog. Rod’s choice didn’t win, but he called the new brother “Sidney” instead of Shawn for quite a while.

I remember him rounding up as many people as he could to go to bowl games in an old delivery truck, complete with printing press, ink and all sorts of stuff. As a game ended, they’d start the presses, printing bumper strips and signs with the final scores, and selling them to happy fans.

I remember him playing his guitar and singing, often entertaining crowds and never meeting a stranger.

I remember his laugh, especially when he got started laughing and couldn’t quit.

When I got the call Wednesday morning about his sudden and dramatic change, I was with my two-year-old grandson. No doubt, he could sense that something was wrong, and he looked at me quizzically. I told him, “My brother is sick.” Harrison said, “Go get him.” I told him I couldn’t because my brother was in the hospital. Again, he said, “Go get him.” I told Harrison that I couldn’t, that I thought my brother was going to live with Jesus. In a typical two-year-old style, he said, “Come sit ‘side me.” I did, and he rubbed my back.
Rod singing to Shawn's daughter, Kendall.

Rod would have liked that, because there was a side to Rod that I remember so well which many people never got to see. He was very sensitive and tender-hearted. Oh, yes, he fought hard in political races, but he had a heart of gold.

Our family will never be the same, but we’re a richer family for having had him in our midst.

                            December 22, 1953 - August 18, 2010

~             ~              ~                  ~                 ~


earlcapps said...

I've gotten to know various members of the Shealy clan over the last twenty or so years of my life, so my heart goes out to those of you I have come to know, as well as those I don't.

It's been a pretty tough afternoon and evening, but every time I start to really sink down into thinking about it, I could almost imagine him telling me to cheer up. Somehow, I think he'd want us to talk about him, have a good laugh, and keep on with our lives.

I'm guessing that by now, he's tracked Lee down and they're already talking your dad or some unsuspecting soul into doing something outrageous.

Hang in there, and if there's anything I can do, all ya gotta do is ask.

Wondertwins211 said...

Sherry, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. Jimmy and I are thinking of you and your entire family right now. Hugs from North Carolina.
--Leigh Fickling

Sarge Charlie said...

2 Timothy 4:7,8
7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8) Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Sarge Charlie said...

I did a post about Rod today, he will be missed.

j said...

I am truly sorry for your loss.

Sandee said...

Big hug honey. Sarge did a fine piece at his place. You'll like it.

Your family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers. :)

Garrett and Allison Reed said...

Sherry, I am so sorry to hear about Rod's passing. I can't imagine the loss you are feeling. How amazing to read his own words about his faith and his readiness to continue his life with Jesus. I love you so much and am praying for your family. And praise the Lord for sweet little Harrison who can make even the most difficult moments precious.

allison reed

Unknown said...

Sherry, I can't believe he's gone, and I have no words to describe him. I do remember that while Rod may have finally got rid of the snake, I finally succeeding in killing that van on the side of I-26 coming back from getting the paper printed down in Bamberg.

I we never did know the words to "La Bamba."

The Retired One said...

{{hugs}} and prayers!

Sarge Charlie said...

I remember him for the strength he game me to keep up the fight.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Oh Sherry your post is filled with so many wonderful moments and memories of your brother. It sounds like you both share the same sense of humor. What fun it must have been growing up together! I love Harrison's words of comfort.

Blessings & Aloha, dear friend.

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