Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fighting and loving

On Monday, we will be attending funeral services for to my brother-in-law, Cliff Bishop.

Cliff was a hero and a fighter. He served as a Marine in the Vietnam War where received two Purple Hearts.

He fought for his health the entire time we have known him. Some of his health issues were related to the injuries that he endured during the war. Nancy and Cliff have had an incredible love and commitment to each other. They were perfect for each other. I don’t say that lightly—they were. I truly believe the love they had for each other is very rare. He adored her, supported her, listened to her, and cared for her. 

She was his constant and never yielding caregiver. The best adjective for Nancy is strong. My mother has said many times in the last few years, “I just don’t know how much a body can take” referring to Cliff’s struggles. In that sentiment, she was also making a statement of how much pressure, work, time, sacrifices, and emotions my sister was giving and the possible toll Cliff’s health was taking on my sister. Certainly their faith held them close and strong.

Cliff adored Nancy from the early dating days to his last moments. My extended family spent a few days of Christmas holidays at the beach this year. Cliff struggled with what he ate, his energy level, and his overall health, at Christmas, as he had for many years. But, though he was not well, he was always kind and gentle to Nancy in all of his conversations. He touched her lovingly and called her sweet names, including “Beautiful”. His eyes told everyone present he was still very much in love with Nancy. Nancy gives this advice to all her nieces, “Don’t marry anyone who does not adore you”--wonderful advice from someone who knows what it is like to be adored.

Though they would have made great parents, they never had children. Cliff told Nancy that he felt that her nieces and nephews were his own. He particularly enjoyed working with Owen and Ellen (the two who lives in the same town) and having them over at their house.  Always supportive thinking of our kids, he and Nancy would bake cookies and desserts, made especially for the kids.

Cliff was a wonderful carpenter—one who was not satisfied unless it was perfect. The results of his skills will last decades and decades in homes in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas. He was also a perfectionist in the kitchen. His chocolate chip recipe is example of his perfection, describing down to the number of seconds one should beat the batter before adding the next ingredient.

Cliff was a fighter. He fought for his country, for his health, and for every breath he made in his last few hours. Cliff modeled how to love a wife, to adore her, to fight, and to live when life throws you one difficulty after another. Their pastor, Randy Tucker, told Nancy an hour after Cliff passed away, “Cliff influenced many people, not only in his healthy years, but also when and how he struggled with his own health.”

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