Taken back in the 1940s of two first cousins and best friends who grew up to be two of the most important men in my life...my daddy and Elbert.
Of course, I wasn't around to witness any of their boyhood antics, but I know that what one didn't think of the other did. Because that's how they were as adults, the countless memories I have of them and our families together.
Elbert was like my second daddy as I was growing up. Yep, that's me on the left with Elbert and his oldest Freddy on the right, us two toddlers begging bites from Elbert's heaping bowl of ice cream. Elbert and Wilma and their 5 children lived just a few miles away from us, and seldom did a weekend pass without us spending time together.
Going to church. Camping. Picnics. Suppers when the adults played cards while us nine of their offspring came up with our own antics together. Our home movies are sprinkled throughout with film clips of our families together.
Wonderful times. Precious memories.
As they grew old, Mama and Dad (on left) counted Elbert and Wilma among their closest friends. They didn't get together as often and didn't always agree, but they always loved.
In October 2014, I snapped one of the final photos of them together, Daddy and Elbert. The occasion was Elbert's 80th birthday, a milestone Dad had reached 2 1/2 years before. Dad was already mightily battling Alzheimer's, and Elbert was beginning to show early signs of that same horrific disease.
January 2015 was the last time they were together, at the launch of my first book "Unsinkable." By that time Dad did not comprehend what was really going on, but even though he wasn't able to call them by name, he always knew "his people." These cousins had no idea this would be the last time they would be together...the next gathering was Dad's funeral 4 months later when Buddy went to Heaven at the age of 83.
This was the final time Dad and Elbert (pictured here with Elbert's youngest son Billy) would see each other this side of eternity.
This past Friday, 2 1/2 years after Daddy's passing, Elbert joined Dad in Heaven, both he and Dad having graced this earth and everyone who knew them with their presence for 83 years. And I can only picture the hand-shaking, back-slapping, arm-wrestling, bear-hugging, and philosophy sessions that are going on between these two cousins and best friends right now in their eternal home.
I know someday I will see them both.
Two best friends.