I remember it like it was yesterday.
I got up at 8 a.m. On a Sunday. This was not like any other day though.
I had a craving. A craving for a banana split. I thought to myself, “I don’t care for banana splits. Why am I craving one so badly this morning”?
It seems like I should be craving eggs, bacon, flap jacks or at least something that you would eat in the morning.
I put my shorts on and drove to Wal-mart. I got vanilla ice cream, bananas, chocolate and caramel toppings, cherry toppings, the little sprinkles that you sprinkle on top of the ice cream. I hate to admit it but all in all, it cost 40 dollars for the banana split. I bought other items to go with the banana split making my total grocery bill, 60 dollars.
I drove back home thinking, “I need to call Tony and tell him what I’m doing”. Tony loved banana splits. Heck, Tony loved sweets but he especially liked things like banana splits. “With all the toppings I bought, I bet Tony would drive up here to Huntsville to enjoy a banana split with me”. I then remembered that Tony was sick. I had talked to him last night and he had a migraine. He sounded horrible. I remember that I forgot to tell him “I love you” before getting off the phone.
I got home and hurriedly unpacked everything. I got my bowl out and made the biggest banana split that I’d ever made. It was delicious! My mouth was sticky because of how messy it was. I finished one banana split and made another! “Tony would love this, I’ll call him this afternoon and tell him, he will probably feel better then”.
Tony was my brother but he was like a best friend to me.
It was now 9:30 in the morning and I had ruined my breakfast!
I was feeling sick myself from pigging out and I went to lay down.
By the way, I’m a bachelor and when you’re a bachelor, you can do things like this.
I put the T.V. On the History channel and got back into bed to take a nap.
At or around 12:30 my phone rang. I let it ring too. I was still a bit sick from my early morning breakfast. The phone call went to voice mail. The phone immediately rang again, this time, I answered. It was papa and he said, “An ambulance is taking Tony to the hospital. I’m at his house and I found him unresponsive”.
I replied, “I’m getting in the truck now and heading that way!”
As soon as I hung up the phone, it hit me, “Tony’s dead”, I thought to myself.
The day had been so weird and I felt something, something that told me that Tony was dead.
Before leaving, I text-ed a friend and told him that I had to go to Birmingham and could he check on Max, my dog. He asked what happened and I told him I think my brother has died. At the very least, he is at the hospital.
I arrived at the hospital at around 2:00 p.m.
I found out that Tony was in fact dead. He had a massive brain hemorrhage and had died instantly.
I will not go in to everything that happened at the hospital.
To this day though, I wonder if Tony was somehow, enjoying that banana split with me.
Maybe vicariously.


My Nana died May 18th, 2005. Just two days after Tony’s birthday. She had fought cancer once already and was in remission when the cancer came back. The second time it came back was in her brain. She had taken chemo again but the cancer did not go away this time. The doctors said to call in hospice.

I was working in Huntsville and I drove from Huntsville to Crosston everyday after work. An hour and a half drive. For the first 2 weeks, Nana was coherent and was able to walk around and take care of herself with little help. We all knew, as well as Nana, that it would get worse soon. Much worse. Knowing that I had very little time to spend with my Nana, I decided that I wanted to get some “life” advice from her. Something that she had learned about life and wanted to pass down to her grandchild. Momma and I went into her bedroom one day and Momma said, “Nana, Lynn wants to get some advice from you about life”. Nana looked at me and said, “Come sit down next to me Lynn”. I did as she asked. What she said to me next would be something that I have never forgotten. Nana said, “As long as you have a breath, you have a purpose”.

Something so simple yet so true.

A week or so after that, Nana slipped into a coma. She laid in the bed day after day. Hospice said that she could still hear us. We would go into her room through out the day and talk to Nana. Hold her hand. Play some of her favorite songs.

The day came that I got a call at work and was told that Nana was about to die.

Pappa and I got in the vehicle and rushed down to Crosston. We made it in one hour. The whole community was there. I did not recognize half the people. Everyone was there so Nana would not have to leave this earth alone.

I rushed into Nana’s room and momma said, “Nana, Lynn and Pappa are here now”. I grabbed her hand and kissed her on the forehead and said, “I love you Nana”. Pawpaw came in the room and asked the family to gather around Nana.

I was at her feet. He asked that we all hold hands. What would happen next is something that I will never forget. Pawpaw, positioned at Nana’s head, started praying to God. He prayed the most sincere prayer I have ever heard. He thanked God for giving him Nana. He thanked God for the life he had with her. Tears streaming down his face as he prayed. I know this because I couldn’t close my eyes for the prayer. I was fixed on Nana’s face. Watching her take a small breath in and exhale that small breath out. I kept saying to myself, “Just one more breath Nana”. When she exhaled that breath, I would say to myself again, “Just one more breath Nana”. I was being stubborn and my flesh did not want Nana to die. “Just one more breath Nana” I kept saying. Pawpaw praying so hard that sweat was forming on his forehead. Tears were streaming down his face.

Then Pawpaw said it, “God, I commit Nana into your hands now”. Nana took in a shallow breath and exhaled it. She did not take in another breath. That was her last. I immediately remembered what Nana had told me. “As long as you have a breath, you have a purpose”. Nana had finished her purpose on this earth. She was now in the hands of the Lord.

We each kissed her. Someone put a CD into the radio and started playing “I can only imagine”. It was one of Nana’s favorite songs. It was also played at her funeral.

Little did I know that our family was about to go through some tough trials. Everyone would go their own way for things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things that we used to do at Nana’s were now done some place else.

Tony would soon die 5 years later and 5 years after that, Carson would die.

Our family has not been the same since Nana died.

I always remember though, “As long as I have a breath, I have a purpose”.

I love you Nana and I will see you again one day in Heaven.