Whitesburg KY
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Richie was my brother and friend

Southern Ohio

Hello again everyone!

Fall has surely arrived as the mornings and evenings are so cool. The weather is really beautiful this time of year, but oh how I dread what’s coming next as Old Man Winter is just around the corner.

This year has surely flown by and so many changes. I wish I had a remote control that would let me rewind and start this year over.

Thanks for all the comments about missing my column. I am sure by now most of you know I lost a very special brother, Richie Hall. Not only was he my brother, he was my friend, my almost son.

I had a five-way bypass surgery the later part of March. I had rather had five open heart surgeries without anesthesia than endure the pain I feel in my heart and soul with this loss. Yet, it is his wife Wanda and his children and more so the grandchildren that I feel the most pain for.

If every man had a wife like Wanda, you would be a very lucky man. If everyone had a sister-in-law, no more of a sister like Wanda has been, I can’t say enough about her and Richie in the same column. Thank you, Wanda, for loving my younger brother all these years.

There was another woman who Richie loved very much, Barb Jones, and her husband Rick, who lived just up the drive from Richie and Wanda.

I would like to share a few things in this column about my younger brother. I hope you don’t mind.

Richie was born one day before my 11th birthday. We lived up on the hill at Roxana. I held him in my arms not long after his birth. Elsie Raleigh was the midwife, the same one who delivered me. Elsie delivered all of us children except two.

If a child of 11 years of age could have a baby, Richie would have been mine. I carried him around, diapering him, dressing him when Mommy would let me. He tagged after me every step I made when he started walking.

When I left home at the age of 14, it hurt me to leave him. When I left home for good and married so young, Richie decided at the age of 10 years old that he was old enough to come to stay with my husband and me during the summer. For many years Jack and I would go back home and bring him to Ohio to stay the summer with us.

We bought Richie his first bicycle, he had his first pizza with us, oh how he loved root beer or creme soda floats. We took him to places he would have never gotten to go.

Richie remembered the fluffy fresh donuts from the bakery so last year when I went home, I took him two donuts freshly made from Harrison Bakery here locally.

My husband Jack taught Richie to drive a tractor, and let him help him work on vehicles, which led to Richie being a good mechanic.

My in-laws loved him just like my kids. A favorite sister-in-law would take Richie and my son Keith, who is just five years younger than Richie, fishing or let them wade in the creek as the two would stay all night with them.

Richie was not perfect and neither am I. We had some difficult times, however I never ever stopped loving this kid brother of mine.

I hadn’t been back to the mountains since last October until a week before Richie’s sudden death. Richie and Wanda h2ad been at my house a month or so before. We hadn’t seen each other very much in almost a year. However there hadn’t been very many days in the past several years we haven’t talked every day and sometimes more than once on the phone. Richie knew I was an early morning person. He has called me at five in the morning saying, “If I can’t sleep you aren’t either!”

Richie had a favorite name for me. He knew I would fuss at him for calling me that, and so help me he would make sure he used that name half a dozen times during some of our conversations.

At Richie’s funeral, a few told me he would talk to them each night. I had to smile through tears and say, “Well, he could have called you in the morning.”

Richie and I had one strength we both shared. Even though our hearts are broken, somehow we seem to be able to manage a smile. I am so very wrong as this time there’s only sadness in my heart and soul. I guess everyone saw me crying and I really don’t care.

To be such a small place in the heart of the mountains, this brother of mine sure must have been cared for as there were over 200 people who signed the visitation book. I know a few didn’t sign it because someone gave me the pen to write something with and I put the pen in my purse and my niece asked what did I do with it?

I didn’t remember using it, so I went to the car and looked in my purse and there it was. Yes, I stole the pen at church, never even remembered. I automatically just stuck it in my purse then got tired of carry my purse around.

Richie was laid to rest in the old family cemetery on Big Branch beside our dad. As we followed the line of cars, I thought of the time that Richie took me there on his four-wheeler. At least that time I didn’t eat dust like I did this time.

Richie was especially loved by several of Wanda’s family. Bruce Jones, I wish there were more people in this wicked world like you. Actually everyone was family, not in-laws, to Richie.

Bessie Shepherd, Berma Matthews, Linda Hall, Oma Hatton, I will never forget your kindness. A very special thank you to a young man, Joey Ison, for being so thoughtful to me. Joey is the nephew of my friend Polly Maucher of New Trenton, Ind.

Thanks to everyone who brought food, for flowers and anything and everything you did for the family in this difficult time.

Thanks to someone special who made a contribution to Letcher Fire & EMT Service, as this was who came to the house.

A very heartfelt thanks to my niece Sue Hall and everyone who stayed at Cowan Chapel Church two nights with Richie as I wasn’t able to do this.

I almost forgot I met a cousin, Lois Ison, for the first time, and got to visit with my cousin Beverly Adams and Jack. I almost said little Jack. He is taller than me and so handsome.

Thanks to the singers, Austin Johnson, Mickey Tolliver, and others. Willie Perry, I can’t start to express what it meant to meet you and listen to you. Richie loved everyone’s singing. Richie was a good singer as he would sing to the radio when we would be out gallivanting together when I was down there.

Richie took me to Hemphill Community Center to see Will Caudill and to Campbell’s Branch to meet Libby Day Smith and Jon Caudill in the same evening. Then he took me to Revelation Ranch across the mountain somewhere to hear East KY Time. This was a year ago, and Richie wasn’t well then.

These are memories I have to hold onto right now.

I have a complaint. There were signs posted close to Cowan Chapel Church that plainly said funeral. Evidently some drivers either don’t know how to read or plainly have no compassion for others as they came speeding up and down the road.

A special thanks to my son Keith for being the caring person he is, for calling several times to see if I was alright. He had to work and couldn’t be there.

There’s not much news to write about. Again, my heartfelt thanks for all the kindness from everyone, the phone calls, messages and cards, I have received since I got home.

A few asked me who came with me. If I waited for someone to travel with me, I still would be sitting here. I am very thankful I have the courage or stupidity to travel alone.

Oma Hatton wanted me to go spend the night with her as I was leaving after Richie’s burial. Oma saw something that I didn’t know as I told her I would be alright driving home. I did have to pull over and get myself together before I could get back behind the wheel. Oh well, I made it home safe and sound.

I did talk to Ann Calihan. It seems her family is all doing pretty well.

Gwen Huff Farmer and Shirley Wells, thanks for your phone calls and a very special thanks to my little dancing partner Alphine Stacy calling as I was on my way to make sure I had money for the trip. How really blessed I am to have good friends.

Alphine had surgery on her eye or she said she would have gone with me. At a time like this I really needed to be alone.

Don’t forget September 29, Letcher County/Kentucky Picnic, Harrison Community Center, 300 George Street, Harrison, Ohio, at the big shelter behind Center. 12-? Bring covered dish and beverage. Please, no alcoholic beverage or I might confiscate it and take a swig or two. If you play music, please bring your instruments.

Maybe next time I will have happier news. Hug those close enough and be kind to each other as no one has the promise of tomorrow.

Until next time.

Rose Ballard, 9110 Lawrenceburg Road, Harrison, Ohio 45030, email Bluegrassmama4@aol.com, telephone 513-367-4682.

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