Can you remember when you met Rex? He probably said “Hi my name is Rex, Rex like a dog”. And then every time you said: How are you? He replied “never had a bad day in my life”. Rex was born on April 1, 19xx. It is said of those born on this day that they are straightforward, self-disciplined, thoughtful and hardworking. Although they may be masters of their craft, they rarely flaunt their talents. Wait a minute there’s a glitch in the birthday book; everything is true except that last part. Rex was far from modest. He’d tell you he was the best at his job and that he could work circles around you and then of course he’d do just that. Often he’d even place a wager on his skills. There were countless bar bets on how many one armed push ups he could do and as recently as 6 months ago he was gambling on himself at the gym.
What kind of person was Rex? As a child he would pick fights with the neighbor boys, run home, into the house, lock the door, and let his big brother Joe finish what he’d started. Rex grew up in Memphis, TN in a house with no indoor plumbing and ironically became a plumber/pipe fitter. He was a bit of a gypsy. He left home at age 14 in search of adventure. As a young man he served his country in the army. He truly experienced life so he always had a story to tell, and he’d tell anyone. He knew no stranger. Rex was born on April Fools Day, but the joke was not on him…it was in him. He always had a joke to tell. I’d repeat one, but there are children in the room.
He tried to settle down a couple times, but just couldn’t get it right until the third time around. He always said “third times a charm”. He married Lee (but never called her that) in Marianna, AR in August of 1968. A few years later they had kids and he tried to hold on to the tough guy, macho man image. That was hard to do when he was throwing up while changing diapers. He didn’t let kids interfere with his hobbies either. When Rex went fishing he’d tie the kids to the pier – so they wouldn’t fall in of course. He went on to teach his children practical things like rope tying and sarcasm. Later when he had grandchildren he said “if I knew how much I’d love having grandkids, I’d a had them first”.
Here are some things you may not have known about Rex. He cried during the movie Rudy. His favorite color was purple. Back in the day he liked to wear brightly colored bikini underwear, and he liked coconut meringue pie at Thanksgiving.
Rex was many things. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, and a brother-in-law. He was a friend and co-worker to many. He was a Dad, a Papa, and a father-in-law. Rex was a lot of things to a lot of people but what he liked being best was a husband. He loved his wife more than anything in the world. Even more than ice cream topped with coconut and peanut butter fudge that she would make. “Red” as he exclusively referred to her was his best friend, his life partner, his lover, and his dance partner. He called her his private nurse and he serenaded her (but tortured the rest of us) daily. Theirs was a love like you see in the movies. Their marriage was an example of how you grow through the better and worse, the good times and bad, and in sickness and in health. After 40 years they still held hands, snuggled, and got caught making out in the kitchen.
Rex did not want today to be filled with sadness and tears. So when you think of him, smile and remember how he made you feel. Honor him by living your life being present in the moment. And remember: his name is Rex, Rex like a dog, and he never had a bad day in his life.