Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr., 85 Years loved!

Rufus Higginbotham
Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr.
25 Mar 1934 – 1 Mar 2020

Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr., my father, passed away on March 1, 2020 surrounded by his loving family. It’s taken me quite a while to be able to write this. This was a really hard one. I never thought Dad would last very long without Mom, but he sure gave it a good ole try.

In the end, his heart and body just simply gave out on him because he I know he wasn’t ready to go anywhere even though I know he missed Mom something fierce. He was a fighter til the end.

I thought I would just share here what I wrote out for his Memorial as it sums him up pretty good. I couldn’t read it that day, but my brother Butch read it for me. Dad would have been very proud of the friends and loved ones that showed up for him that day. It was a wonderful tribute to him.

From the memorial:

I would like to say that my Dad was a man of few words, but as everyone here knows, that simply isn’t true.  He had many words, and mostly inappropriate ones.  He was funny and loved a good joke as long as he wasn’t the butt of one.  He loved telling jokes with a good shock factor and in fact, one vivid memory I have as a young teenage girl was him calling me into the kitchen to tell me a joke.  When I arrived, John and all his friends were there, most of which I probably had a crush on at one time or another.  So, Dad called me over by him and they all stood as silent as I did, waiting on the joke.  He put his arm around me and pulled me close and said, “Susie, I’m going to tell you a joke that is going to knock your boobs off.”  He looked down at me, smiled and said, “Oh, I see you have already heard it.”  Of course, the kitchen filled with cackles and I was mortified.  But that was Dad.  I didn’t get to spend much time with him as a kid, his passion was hunting and fishing and that’s where he was most of the time.  But when we were together, he would take me fishing on Indian Head Lake and I loved sharing that time with him.  As I grew older, and Mom and Dad spent so much time at the racetrack, I tagged along.  I loved going to Oaklawn with them.  One time, either Dad or someone else with him super glued a silver dollar to the ground right outside of their row of seats in the main walkway and we spent hours watching and laughing at the people trying to pick that silver dollar up.

My Dad was generous.  If you needed something and you called him, then he would do his best to give it.  He always told me his favorite thing to give someone was credit that they couldn’t get anywhere else, because he believed everyone deserved a chance to make a good living and he wanted to see people succeed.

He wasn’t known much for patience unless he was waiting on that deer to walk by or that fish to bite. But as he grew older, and especially since Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I realized his patience was never ending.  He answered each of her questions, the exact same way, with love and kindness, no matter how many times that day she had asked the same question, and no matter how many times he had repeated the answer.  One time I counted in the car; he handed her a red tube of lipstick 22 times because she couldn’t remember putting any on, and he did so each time with a smile on his face.

Dad and I were able to really bond over the last three years that he lived here with me.  It wasn’t always easy, but we were team Mary Helen and after she passed, we were team Rufus.  I wouldn’t trade one minute, the good ones or the hard ones that I spent with them.  I promised I would never put them in a nursing home and somehow, by the grace of God, I was able to keep that promise and I would do it all over again, if given the chance. 

However, there was a time two years ago, that I didn’t know how I was going to make it, or if I was going to be able to keep that promise, and then Ashlie Tanner showed up.  She brought her “A” game and got me through that hard time, and over the last two years she has guided me through, offered support and comfort and lovingly cared for my parents as if they were hers.  It has been something I truly could never repay to her and I thank you, Ashlie, for everything you have done for me and my family, from the bottom of my heart.  I love you so much.

I also want to thank my kids for sharing me with my parents, for their sacrifices as well, and for being so loving to their grandparents.  I love you both so much.

Of all the things you know about my Dad, there is one thing you may not know about, and that was his faith.  He had a strong faith, and it never wavered.  He prayed for a miracle for my mother right up until she took her last breath.  About a week before he passed, we talked about his defibrillator, and that I thought it was time we turned it off.  He wasn’t so sure about that, and I asked him if he was scared and he said “No”.  I told him I knew Mom was up there waiting on him, tapping her foot and asking Jesus, “What’s taking Rufus so long?”  Of course, Mom was the one that had no patience.  He smiled at that and said he couldn’t wait to see her again.  Three days later, as he was in and out, he grabbed at the air, and said “Come sit here Baby Doll.”  There is no doubt for me, they are together again.  I will miss them terribly, but I have great joy knowing they are together again.

He thought of his friends as family, and I know he loved each one of you here in this room.  I know this because I heard him pray for each of you every night.  Thank you all for coming and thank you for being good friends to my parents.

RIP in Dad. I love and miss you terribly.

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4 comments on “Rufus Earl Higginbotham, Jr., 85 Years loved!

  1. Hi Susie. Enjoyed reading your blog post about your relationship with your parents. Your writing and sentiments expressed about your relationships seem to correspond with my own. It seems the direction of our lives has paralleled as my mom suffered from Alzheimer’s and passed away on March 16, 2018. Dad had his own health problems, too, so I was their primary caretaker until dad’s passing on August 22, 2020 (would have been my mom’s 92nd birthday). Our other life parallels include my blog site of eight years: OUR UNBOUNDED HERITAGE: 12TH CENTURY & BEYOND; Reflections of the past, mirrors to the future…, my love of genealogy (Joanne_Dickinson_Family_Tree6(1) ) on, and my first cousin 4x removed was Moses M. Higginbotham (1862-1939) of Missouri. However, the earlier Higginbothams in my family line primarily lived in Amherst and Tazewell, VA. Nice meeting your cuz!

    • Very nice to meet you, too. Very sorry to hear you had a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s as well. It’s a journey I don’t wish anyone to take. I will check out your website!! Thanks for stopping by here and leaving a kind note!

  2. Very well done Susie!
    I was very sorry to hear about your Dad.

    • Thank you, Ken. I hope you are doing well!

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