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Unexpected death of a brother leaves hearts shattered

Points East

This is probably the hardest column I’ve ever tried to write and there are no guarantees that I’m going to be able to pull it off. Tears keep falling on my keyboard and every time I attempt to type another word, my vision blurs and a baseball seem to be stuck in my throat. I had no idea that a totally shattered heart could be this devastating.

My brother, Keith “Keeter” passed over to the other side last Friday and I was too physically incapacitated to even make it to his funeral on Sunday. Not a minute goes by when I am not thinking that it wasn’t supposed to be this way. In my mind, I was supposed to be the first of the Adams boys to go and then Keeter simply snuck up on us.

In the first place, Keeter didn’t normally get sick. He got aggravated and then he got over it in pretty short order. I hadn’t seen him for about six months but I knew he was under the weather and that he had lost a lot of weight due to a problem he had with swallowing food. I fully believed he would wade right through it like he always did. And, to be perfectly honest, I have been too self absorbed with my own little pity party to give my little brother the attention he so deserved.

There was no way I would have been able to get to the mountains to see him, but I could and should have been calling every day. Instead, we got by on Facebook messaging even though our younger brother, Andy, had been telling me for weeks that Keeter was much worse off than he and I thought he was. Apparently Keeter didn’t want me to be worried about him and I fell for it.

We four brothers, Keeter, Andy, Steve and I, have always been close and in frequent touch with each other. As children, we grew up in a family where everybody was expected to pull his weight and help each other out. Cooperation was an essential part of daily living and there were no exceptions. If someone did get out of line, Keeter was generally the self-appointed peacemaker. I’ve often thought that he would have made a great diplomat. He was not only the glue that held the four of us together, but his diplomacy skills served him well throughout a career that spanned almost 50 years.

He worked his butt off operating super heavy duty surface mining equipment. Most of that career involved a minimum 50- hour work week and, when he wasn’t on the time clock, he was almost always doing something for somebody else. He could and did fix almost anything with moving parts, be it an automobile transmission or a riding lawnmower with the engine locked up. His idea of playtime was to tend a huge vegetable garden and/or help someone else hoe theirs. He would tell me, “Catch us some bait and when I get done here, we’ll go fishing.” More often than not, those fishing trips required a couple of Coleman lanterns. Still he loved fishing, particularly in the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Letcher County, better than anyone I have ever known.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve mentioned my kid brother in this column over the last four decades, I could take a week-long vacation to Kentucky Lake about now but I would not enjoy it unless Keeter went with me. Unfortunately, my fishing days are over and Keeter is no longer here to tell me how many he caught. That tale would have been as enjoyable as catching them myself.

So, Keeter, in the words of Vince Gill, “You go rest high on that mountain. Son, your work on earth is done. Go to Heaven a’shouting. Love for the Father and the Son!”

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