During our November General and Executive Board meetings, WE decided that we wanted to support a needy family during the Christmas holiday season. We did not have to search long or far for who we wanted to support and on November 25th, Rosalie Scott, widow of Clyde Scott (our departed member) was notified that she and her family had been selected this year to receive support from the Post.
The Post Officers and Executive Board were thinking that the Scott family would be in-need of meals for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but being the classy and humble person she is, Rosalie said, “No, we don’t need food, I can handle that, but what we really need is a Christmas tree and decorations, so my son Ronnie will have a good Christmas this year. Ronnie just loves Christmas trees and we don’t have money to buy it or decorations, so please bring us a tree.” Before I go any further, let me tug on your emotions and heart strings for a short while.
You see, this past year the Scott’s lost everything they had in a house fire and what they have now in their home was donated by loving people and what they had stored away inside a storage facility. Luckily enough, Clyde Scott (Navy Korean War Veteran) had stored what he had left of his military memorabilia in the storage facility. The fire struck Clyde and the family hard, as anyone would be when they lose everything, but it struck Clyde harder. Clyde shortly afterwards suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side and speechless. The family had to find a new place to live and Rosalie was now having to learn how to take care of Clyde’s special needs on top of their son Ronnie’s special needs. Clyde and Rosalie developed their own way of talking to each other through hand movements, but I will talk about that in a little while.
After serving his country, Clyde became a police officer in Kansas. Clyde eventually moved up the ranks at his police department and honorably retired as a Lieutenant. Serving wasn’t over for Clyde yet, because he felt the need to protect the children going to and from school as a School Crossing Guard. Clyde finally decided to settle down and retire, so the family moved to Arizona. Now here is where my personal relationship with Clyde and his family started.
Back in May 2016, our Post received some “Project Stay Active” cards from Department HQ. I was on the recovery road being injured during my job, so I decided to drive to a few homes labelled from the cards and meet future members in-person to see if they wanted to join our Post. I met Rosalie out in front of her house where I caught her off guard; her not knowing I was coming as she was getting ready to throw trash out inside the garbage cans ready for pick up the next day. Rosalie had a warm welcoming smile on her face as I approached her wearing my Legion cap and I could tell that she was glad to see me stop by. I was about to discover that I wasn’t the recruiter, but they were.
I explained to Rosalie why I was there and she walked me inside the house. Prior to she warned me that Clyde was not in a talking condition and he replied using hand gestures and that he was currently eating his dinner. Not wanting to intrude I explained I could return at a better time, but Rosalie would not have it and marched me inside the house to the kitchen area. I met Clyde as he was attempting to eat his food with every effort of his muscles in his good hand and arm. I was pleased to see that he did not have paralysis of both arms and he greeted me with a smile that reached from ear to ear and the water in his eyes began to swell; I am guessing because someone from the Legion came to visit him at his home.
Not wanting to waste any time, I explained to Clyde why I was here to visit and the discussion transitioned to why he had not paid any dues and why he had not joined a Post in Arizona yet. Knowing the good men and women of our Post, I assured Clyde he did not need to worry about the cost of being a member and the good men and women of the Post would take care of his membership dues.
Our conversation further transitioned to his careers after he had inquired what I did for work and they returned empathy knowing that I was on the mend from my injuries. He shared through Rosalie how he had been hurt on the job numerous times and both wished me a speedy recovery.
As Clyde and Rosalie communicated back and forth in their own personalized language, I could already tell that Clyde was an “All-In” type of guy. Rosalie shared with me that Clyde wanted to get out of the house, so she inquired when our meetings occurred, which I was happy to report back to her on. Rosalie responded that she would have Clyde at our next meeting.
Prior to leaving the residence Rosalie took me by the shelving that contained what was left of the military and police memorabilia where I got to see firsthand this warriors service to our country.
As I turned to depart the residence, Clyde began moaning about something, so Rosalie went to discover what the problem was and she returned to tug me by the arm and bring me back to Clyde. I asked what was wrong, Rosalie replied, “Clyde wants to hug you.” I moved forward as this frail giant of a man attempted to stand and I received the best one armed bear hug a man could receive. Trying not to break down emotionally and fearing if I looked into his eyes I would, I said, “Thank you Clyde.” Here I came to recruit and I left a better man and was truly humbled by a warrior.
When I left the Scott home, I immediately called Commander Kobojek and he agreed that WE would take care of Clyde’s membership dues without questions and WE wanted him in our Post. When I got home I rushed to complete the membership card and paperwork and hand delivered it the next day to Department HQ. Unfortunately for us, Clyde never made it to the next meeting, but was hospitalized because of another stroke and now heart attacks. When Clyde and Rosalie did not show for the meeting, I called to find out what happened and once I knew which hospital to go to, I sped off to give support from the Post.
I arrived in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) room to find Clyde hooked up to every machine imaginable to man and I found Rosalie weeping in tears with one of her sons, her granddaughter and a representative from the hospital in the room discussing the future of Clyde. Once again I was caught off guard and I felt extremely uncomfortable, but once again, it was Rosalie making me feel like I was part of her family and asked me to stay.
As I waited a short while as they spoke to each other, I looked at Clyde and began to say a prayer. I was pretty sure the Almighty had better plans for Clyde, but who was I to go against the plan, but I became selfish thinking how I would miss getting to know this warrior better.
Feeling more uncomfortable, I begged with Rosalie to let me return later when their family business with the hospital was over and Rosalie came to me in comfort. Rosalie said what I had been dreading out of personal selfishness; Clyde would not want to be this way and the family had decided to let him go to heaven. Damn! Talk about having your emotions thrown all over the room and barely escaping before I broke down and began crying like a little boy.
I made it out of the hospital thinking of how I was going to explain this to Commander Kobojek. In mid stride I changed my thinking about first meeting the Scott’s and how a simple recruitment attempt had changed my life for the forever. So did I reach your heart strings yet?
Clyde within a few days later accepted the membership card for Post Everlasting and he was gone. Funeral services for Clyde soon followed and I was proud to know Commander Kobojek and Senior Vice-Commander Joe Dellamarggio represented our Post at the funeral ceremony. I wish I could have attended to, but I was laid up from medical procedures. So in case you had not caught on yet as to the how & why, this is why the Scott family was chosen this year.
On November 26th, Commander Kobojek, Senior Vice-Commander Dellamarggio and myself arrived at the Scott home and delivered their new Christmas tree and ornaments to the family. I have to tell you that Ronnie took a liking to Joe quickly and stuck to him like glue wherever Joe went inside the home. Ronnie had lots of questions for Joe as Joe made a new friend in life and it was an absolute honor to give something small back to the family.
Rosalie and Ronnie will be at our Christmas Holiday Luncheon at the Dillon’s BBQ restaurant on December 17th as we continue to honor Clyde and his family a little more. Thank you Clyde, Rosalie and family for allowing US to become part of your family. Ronnie you have brought joy to all of our hearts buddy-friends forever.
Dan Palmer, Post Adjutant