I signed in to Facebook today and found a message from Diane. A simple message of only a few words but my heart contracted as I read it.
"Ernest passed away yesterday."
I reread and reread this message. I posted back out of disbelief.
"Are you talking about Ernie?"
It was 1971 or thereabouts. Sheriff McCoy was in office. Deputy Otis Raines, Deputy Chester McClain, Deputy Ed Speece and Deputy Ruth Brooks, myself the evening radio operator and Ann Landfried the midnight operator were the staff at the Jackson County courthouse.
I counted Otis and Chester as friends. Otis had a barber shop in town and a son name Ernie. Ernie was considered one of the "older" guys around town which meant he was probably 5 or 6 years older then me.
Just as Otis, Ernie had an infectious personality. He liked to laugh and tease me. When he laughed his eyes crinkled up and the sound was all Ernie.
I liked hot cars and the crowd at that time were all gear heads. Sometimes I would see Ernie at the 1/4 mile runs with his buddies or around town with his friends.
I suppose after all these years, I can tell you that at one of the races at Fairplain, the deputies showed up to bust everybody. Otis and Chester waved me though with instructions to get myself home. They knew I would lose my job had it be known that I was breaking the law. Working at the Sheriff's office and being at a late night drag race was not going to go well with the boss.
Otis used to cut my hair. Chester would loan me and friends horses to ride. They were part of my growing up and tried to guide me through my stupid years.
I haven't seen Ernie in years. When I friended him on Facebook, I smiled and grinned as the teasing Ernie was true to form. It was great to see he and Diane on my pages.
When I was diagnosed with the big "C", Ernie was quick to offer his reassurances. Just a few days ago he sent xxx's to my page and I knew he was thinking about me. A day or two later Diane sent her best wishes.
They were part of my past and I was devastated to learn the news of his sudden passing.
I'm saddened today more then I can say for his family.
Tomorrow I enter the hospital for surgery. I will be remembering Ernie and Diane and their best wishes. I never felt as though they were far away. It was easy to conjure up a mental image of Ernie and Diane.
Peace be with you my old friend.