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Thu, Jul 25, 2024 03:30
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Difficult times are relative to what you're going through

As a jack-leg millwright, I had quite a few difficult days at the mill. just like everyone else that's ever walked through the front gate.

After I retired in 2019, I had lots of time on my hands. I took care of stuff around the house pretty well. I was looking around to see if there were other things I could do to help someone that was needing a hand, it didn't take long.

I got word a machine room tour foreman that had retired a year or two before me was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I drove over to his house out in a small community about 15 miles away. I was his shift millwright for 4 or 5 years, so I knew him pretty well, he'd already had surgery and had a feed tube to his stomach.

He had no family relatively close, so he was going through all this alone. Home health came daily to clean his feed tube and whatever else they do, but that was it. I had him make a list of things he needed, let him know I would drive him to his Doctors in Little Rock.

I'll make a long story short - he chose chemotherapy. I took him to UAMS in Little Rock and sat with him every treatment he had. That went on for a month or two every week, until he gave up the fight.

I called his son in Ohio and a brother of his in Texas and told them he didn't have much time left. They came, his son was with him when he passed away.

I'm sharing this with you folks for more than one reason. Difficult times are relative to what you're going through, haying out all night is a bitch, a raw cook in the digester is a bitch. This story is about a guy that spent his life at the mill, he came to the Cypress Bend mill from IP in Texarkana in '77. Nothing that happened at the mill amounts to a hill of beans to what he went through. Here's what this story is about - a few years earlier, Mike Fitzwater found out that his ex-wife had cancer. He went and got her and brought her to his home and did whatever he could for her. She passed away in his home.

Mike was my machine room tour foreman that was the subject of this story.

Tom Johnson is a well known retired papermaker and contributing writer to Paperitalo Publications.


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