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Written 9/3/2016. Your memory lives on!
Uncle Bill: Always on Call
I told myself I wouldn't say anything today... I woke up thinking about him. That day. The bedtime phone call. I called the ER and asked for Dr. Fitzgerald. I knew he would tell me the truth. But the secretary stammered and I heard someone in the background say, " Transfer her to the family room". My heart sank. The world stopped spinning. I knew.
If you've never experienced loss you may get weary of people posting their memories. I hope you never have to know what it's like when memories are all you have left. And the cliche " hope they get over it",- well, that is so wrong! But my thesis on loss is for another day.
Uncle Bill was more like a big brother to me. There was a generational age gap between my dad & him. (As you may have guessed my dad was the oldest & Bill was the youngest). He doted on me as I was the first grandchild in the Jiles family. Presents, " dates", and plenty of horsing around.
I'll never forget the Christmas he took my siblings & me shopping. We went to the "Big City" of ATL. Now what young man voluntarily takes 3 kids shopping alone??!! Hey, he loved us! He told us to sit in the car while he popped the trunk. I didn't follow directions too well and peaked out the drivers side of the door to see him slide a gun down the small of his back & down one of his socks underneath his jeans. I asked him why he was doing that since he was not working. He replied that he was ALWAYS on duty and he didn't want anything to happen to us.
And, he was ALWAYS on duty. It was rare he had a holiday really free. He was single for many years and volunteered to work so others could enjoy their families. But he always stopped by Granny's to grab a bite on the run, open presents, & share a few laughs. We used to play with the lights in his patrol car, the siren etc.
His mind was always on protecting others. After we were grown he stopped by my sister's house as he was in that jurisdiction. We were standing around outside cracking jokes & laughing til our sides hurt. We all looked up when a car buzzed by at such record speed we barely saw it but definitely heard it. Without a hint of alarm he kept smiling and stepped backwards toward his car as he said, " I'll be right back". He eased the car away from Noah ( just a toddler) and then squealed his tires as he left a plume of dust and gravel at the end of the drive. We heard him turn on his siren after he was out of sight. Sure enough he was back in what seemed like a few minutes. I asked if the driver had gotten away as he was back so quickly. With his typical sense of humor & boasting he replied, " Nah, girl! I caught that bad boy & wrote him a ticket so fast he didn't know what to think. And he admitted he never saw me. I told him I had a niece & nephew with a baby in the area & he better never come barreling down a residential area like that again!"
I was followed from work one evening. I first noticed a young guy beside me at a red light - just a short distance from the hospital. I glanced toward his direction as I " felt" him starring at me. He gave me a teasing smile & then raced ahead of me when the light turned green. I just thought he was a young kid trying to show out. But he kept slowing down until I caught up to his speed on the 4 lane. I ignored his glances and attempts to get my attention. I really thought he would give up in a few minutes. However, he became aggressive as I began to speed up. He sped up, too, & passed me again. I noted his tag number. I was quickly approaching a section of the road that merged into two lanes and the remaining stretch home was mostly trees & sky. I had escalated to 70, 80, 90 miles per hour. The driver kept up and swerved his jeep toward my car in an attempt to run me off the road. At this point I was already going too fast to safely make a call on my cell phone. All I could do was pray and try to remember every driving lesson Uncle Bill had given me. My speed reached 100 but I was focused & was not stopping for a creep who had begun making lewd gestures. And I was determined he wouldn't run me off the road. I left him somewhere in the wind at 110 miles an hour. My heart was racing. I was scaring myself!
I made it home & called GA State Patrol. The area where the incident took place was not their jurisdiction. I pressed them on who I should report to as this man had dark intent and I didn't want another young girl in harms way. After reporting to another county I called Uncle Bill. He took my information, told me it wasn't his jurisdiction and made small talk for a minute or two. He ended the call abruptly which I though was unusual. He was always chatty & never seemed stressed (what I didn't know was he was running this guys tag number as we talked).
He called me later that evening and told me I wouldn't have to worry about being followed again. He had gone to this guys house & given him a man to man talk that left him visibly shaken. Now Bill didn't have to do that. He knew I had already reported the incident to the appropriate jurisdiction. He also knew my call could easily have been overlooked if officers became distracted with more pressing issues.
Not only did he protect his family. He protected his community. He had worked undercover and was offered a state promotion. However, he wanted to be near his family as he had young children. As Lieutenant he had been doing paperwork the night of his last call. He had gone home to kiss his children goodnight. He intercepted a call on the way back to the office.
I listened to his recorded back up call over & over. Clear directions. No sense of " alarm". Silence. He died protecting his family, friends, & community. He gave clear directions to his fellow officers as the perpetrator was armed ( he had already murdered an elderly man during the pursuit).
As I stood beside his stretcher in the ER he looked like he had just stepped out of a salon. Summer tan. Fresh haircut. And, not one hair out of place. The ER crew had done a phenomenal job of preparing him for his family. He had a peaceful expression on his face. He intercepted a fateful call he could have easily ignored. He could have gone back to the safety & comfort of his office instead. But he didn't. He was ALWAYS on call. # 908!
September 5, 2016