My uncle, Lawrette Franklin, is one amazing guy. He was born on my wedding anniversary, but decades before that event, in 1934. In fact, I got married on his 65th birthday.
Raised in a family with 10 children, he didn’t have an easy childhood growing up during the depression and into World War II. As a young man, he chose to serve his country and served two tours in Vietnam.
If you think I’m going to tell you about a guy that’s really messed up, you are wrong.
Lawrette got married once, but in a matter of weeks, it was over. For years I was afraid that I might cry at weddings, because I feared that if I did so, the marriage would crumble like his.
My uncle Lawrette continued to work hard, live hard and play hard. He was one of the best apple tree pruners in the famous Yakima valley, and taught many immigrants and locals his trade. Never asking anything in return, his knowledge was passed along freely. Living the bachelor life, he continued his life of work and play, with only an occasional dart game or Eagles Lodge event for distraction.
Eventually, his mother needed help. Most of her 10 children had lives, careers, and children of their own. Without help, she would be going to a nursing home. A proud woman, I think she would have rather prayed for relief in the form of meeting her maker than to be confined to a strange room, surrounded by strange people, and sleeping in a strange bed. Another uncle, still very much in the height of his career, purchased a house for grandma to live in. She was one lucky lady, with 7 sons and three daughters looking after her!
My dear uncle Lawrette stepped in. He eventually, though not immediately, settled down from his wild ways.
He took care of the laundry, let her supervise the garden, canning, drying of food, putting up meals in the freezer and root cellar. Eventually he did the laundry, chopped her food, fed her, bathed her, and helped her with personal needs.
Almost until the end, my grandmother stayed in her own home. Although she did pass in a hospital, I’d like to think that she knew her son did everything in his power to keep her home as long as possible.
A few months before my grandmother passed away, I came to visit for about a week or so. I saw firsthand how much dedication and sacrifice Lawrette had given. Watching his mother age had taken years off of his life. He loved that woman probably more than any one person could love another. He was a truly broken man when she died.
Today, my uncle Lawrette Franklin lives in a small community, Pe Ell, WA – just west of Chehalis and Centralia on the way to Raymond. If you blink you might miss it.
Known as one of the old codgers of his community, he is feared by some, dearly loved by others. Guess that makes me an “other”. I think he’s a great man!