Celebrating Pete

Uploaded 29 Nov 2009 — 9 favorites
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© May Lattanzio
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

George Groves Roberts, a proud graduate of the Citadel, and one of the first Mustang P51 pilots in WWII (19 years old), is my friend, found in my writer's critique group. He had his 84th birthday in August.

Stooped with age, not really able to be independent anymore, but fiercely proud, he is partially blind, deaf, arthritic, forgetful to the point he forgets to eat. He would rather have a nicotine pill than a sandwich. He is alarmingly thin and rarely leaves his apartment in a senior citizen high rise on St. Andrews Bay.

When we speak, he never fails to tell me that he misses his Rosie, a small shaggy dog I found for him. He couldn't take her with him when he moved. His daughter took her to visit him. Rosie passed away last year, an old dog.

Pete was quite a story teller and remains so, recalling his WWII days, a special woman he visited often who worked in an Alabama brothel, his alcoholism (he never flew sober), his job as a civil engineer, losing everything and the virtues of AA and being sober for over 40 years. Through his sponsorship at AA he has touched and saved many lives. He was also a poet and age, until recently, did not steal away his intellect or his wit.

He has turned into a delicate little bird. Always a wisp of a man, he is now a bird who walks with a cane or uses a wheelchair.

Once meticulously, militarily neat, with hair neatly comb ed, he is reduced now to shabbiness and clothes that hang and sway on his fragile frame.

Another writer friend, Chuck Adams, looks on. Nearly as old and nearly as thin, Chuck is also fiercely independent and still trying to get published. He seems pensive as if he sees his future. They are friends, drawn together by the writers in the critique group.

Our critique group is virtually non-existent now. There is sickness, age, relocations and deaths of our members.

Pete was one of the ones who never let up on me until my book was finished and would often call me when he disagreed with grammar or a divergent back story. We celebrated when my book was accepted for publication, and popped up at every one of my local booksignings.

So now we celebrate Pete, who tried so hard to read his card with hands afflicted with tremors. Not so long ago, he was teaching himself Latin.

Pete has often declared to me, "Getting old ain't for sissies."

I think we all were surprised at his appearance. I was, though I speak to him often.

He picked at his cake, but nevertheless, he enjoyed being with friends and family and feeling loved that day.

10 responses

  • Mary Brown

    Mary Brown gave props (29 Nov 2009):

    What a moving story about your friend who is trying to remain as independent as possible! You're right, age isn't for sissies. Thank you for the wonderful and moving story!

  • daniele castellucchio

    daniele castellucchio gave props (29 Nov 2009):

    fantastic capture!!!!

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham (Deleted) gave props (30 Nov 2009):

    Oh May!! This is a fantastic story!! I bet the most incredible stories are in his head. Thank you for the introduction.

  • Kaki J. Luitjens

    Kaki J. Luitjens said (30 Nov 2009):

    Beautiful story. Very heart felt. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (30 Nov 2009):

    What a heartrendering story and photo May, very well done!!!!!!!!!!

  • Michael Lynch

    Michael Lynch gave props (1 Dec 2009):

    Excellent photo and story May, thanks, again !

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (1 Dec 2009):

    Wonderful tribute.

  • Carlo Pagan

    Carlo Pagan gave props (1 Dec 2009):

    GREAT!!!!!!!! Brava

  • Victor Ursabia

    Victor Ursabia said (5 Dec 2009):

    absolutely wonderful story and great capture!

  • Paperini Renato

    Paperini Renato gave props (24 Jun 2011):

    the photo of the book seems a photocopy of the person behind it, good intuition.

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