Have you ever missed someone so much that your bones ache? Have you ever wanted to pick up the phone and call someone then remember they are no longer a phone call away? Have you ever craved a hug from someone so much that you dream of it?
Today is Rusty’s birthday, he would have been 85. I miss his laugh, his playful nature, his obnoxious way of making every situation inappropriate, but mostly I miss his hugs. He told the best stories, was always ready for a drink, and loved to smooch – any of that sound familiar? I wish he could have met Kenneth, I wish he could have held Peyton the way he always held us. There’s not many pictures of us with him that someone is not sitting on him.
We speak of him all the time, like he’s in the other room or something, and it hurts to realize he’s gone. One of my favorite stories that was shared at his memorial was of the Friday night dates my grandparents shared with their friends, the Paces. This was a long standing ritual as both families were with Texaco and moved around the country together throughout the years. As Mr. Pace described the typical banter of each weekly meal, he said it best “You could never compete with Rusty, he was just that good.” One week Mr. Pace had the up, he had hit a hole in one and was excited to bring something of honor to the table. He listened and waited patiently as Rusty elaborated and exaggerated the weeks accomplishments, waiting for the perfect moment to play his “Ace”. Mr. Pace finally got his brag in – a hole in one, wow – and Rusty’s simple reply was “That’s great, I had 2 this week.” Their friendship was admirable, and I’m sure they are celebrating together in Heaven with Pecan pie.
I miss Rusty every day, and I laugh when something reminds me of him. I’ve been told that I have his ability to relate and talk to anyone, I know I have his hair and I pray that mine keeps it’s color as well as his. His zest for life and learning was contagious, we spoke often of my symptoms but never got to finish the puzzle of determining diagnosis before he passed.
He and my Grandma Houston were charter members of their home club in Houston, Northgate. They dedicated a hole to him after he passed, Rusty’s Hole, where he hit 4 of his 7 career hole in ones. To commemorate, they put in a bench because “there was nothing Rusty enjoyed more than a place to sit down”. What a legacy to leave behind to future golfers enjoying a shady spot on the course.
I know he’d be proud of my Grandma Houston for being tough through the changes that came with his passing, especially her new found use for technology. I miss his hugs, being called “The Sweetest One”, and his laugh. I miss the way the room felt fuller when he entered it, and I miss his hugs.
He said “This is us when we were movie stars” after we took this picture at Thanksgiving 2013. Cheers to Rusty. May we all have the opportunity to live a full life, to fill a room with our presence, and to give really good hugs.