In Memory of Ricky Charles – My big brother
<p style=”font-weight: 400;”>After a 7-year battle with ALS, I lost my big brother Ricky on March 21 this year at age 70. He died at home in Spartanburg, SC, our hometown, after fighting bravely against this horrible illness. ALS also took my mom in 1992 at age 63. Rick was a 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran and a 30-year county & state law enforcement detective. He was survived by his wife & caregiver Beth, two sons, three grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.</p>
<p style=”font-weight: 400;”>Rick and Beth’s marriage is a true storybook. They met in high school and were married for 51 years. I remember the day Rick came home from school at age 16 (me 10) talking about a new girl he met on the school bus who lived down the street. He was so smitten and never dated or even mentioned another girl from that day forward. Neither one of them knew then the road life would lead them down and challenges they would later face as young parents, a military family life, and dealing with a debilitative illness. But God new and that is why I’m convinced he brought them together so early in their lives. God new that Beth would someday be his guardian angel and believe me, she was every bit that. With minimal help from hired caregivers and family, she was there 24/7 until his final day.</p>
<p style=”font-weight: 400;”>Because of his military life and my career in software which led me to relocate to California, we were separated after his 20th and my 16th birthdays. But distance never faded our family and brotherly bond. We visited often and always stayed connected by phone/texts/emails. But the phone calls we had 6 to 8 months after he was diagnosed and before he lost his ability to speak were ones I’ll never forget. He was still able to make me laugh as always (since we were kids). And I never heard a word of anger, bitterness, or pity. His only concern was how this would change Beth’s life and be so hard for his two boys.</p>
<p style=”font-weight: 400;”>What did I want him to know in those last phone calls? That I loved him, and he was my hero. But, most importantly, his life would not be defined by this evil, awful illness. Rick did not lose a battle with ALS. It may have ended his physical life, but his legacy is and will always be bigger and stronger. RIP! Ricky Wayne Charles! God had ended your suffering and taken you to paradise in Heaven. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with big hugs from Mom and Dad.</p>
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