I met Pam and Karen Dickey when I was five years old and we became fast friends. I spent much of my time at their house in Waynedale where we grew up.
Mr. Dickey had a pet name for me which was Kathy Ray. He had nicknamed me after an old gray cat that was named Smokey Ray. I didn’t mind the name and thought it was sweet that he had named me after their beloved pet. Then, I remembered that he was allergic to that cat and finally had it put to sleep, so now I’m not sure how sweet it was. It was one step above his nickname, Digger Dickey.
Pam and Karen lived next to the funeral home and Mr. Dickey was the local undertaker. This opened opportunities for some unique experiences. Once in a while we would sneak into the funeral home, even though we knew it was not allowed. Like most kids, we were curious and needed to explore. The embalming room and casket room were the creepiest! We tried to scare each other, but most times we would just scare ourselves. One time we wrapped someone up-I think it was Karen, in toilet paper, head to toe like a mummy. She stalked stiff-legged with outstretched arms through the funeral home scaring the wits out of some unsuspecting neighbor kids. Although we played dirty tricks on each other from time to time, over all, we were good kids who just wanted to have fun.
The Dickey’s always had fresh flowers in their house. I thought it was wonderful that Mr. Dickey always brought home flowers for his wife. Then one day I realized that the flowers were not purchased by Mr. Dickey, but brought home from a funeral that day.
Mr. and Mrs. Dickey were fun people who liked kids. I was lucky enough to go on a few vacations with them. I remember once on the way home from Florida, Mr. Dickey let me drive his car when everyone else was too tired. It really made me feel special that he not only trusted me with the car, but also the lives of his sleeping family.
One time, Mr. and Mrs. Dickey were brave enough to chaperone all the neighborhood kids on a trip to Florida. We had a great time and by the time we flew home, we were broke, but had a wealth of stories to share.
When we approached our teenage years the Dickey’s did something wonderful. They remodeled their basement so we would have our own place to hang out. I’m not sure if they did it for us, or for their own sanity, but it worked out well for all of us. In the Dickey basement we played records, sang, danced, and gossiped. A few times Mr. and Mrs. Dickey went out of town and we had some wild parties. It’s amazing the house is still standing.
Our youthful lives flew by too quickly. Karen fell in love and married John-much to Mr. Dickey’s relief. Pam gave birth to Eric which turned out to be the most wonderful gift she could give the Dickey family. Eric was like the son that Mr. Dickey never had.
Eric grew up to love sports just like her grandpa and they spent much of their time watching sports on TV and participating in little league, bowling and golf. Mr. Dickey supported Eric in all ways and helped with the college of Eric’s choice where he received his PHD. The Dickey’s were blessed again when Eric married Monica and added two daughters to the family.
I last saw Mr. Dickey at a birthday party for his great-granddaughter at Pam’s house. He had lost weight, but his spirit was not diminished. We talked and laughed together as we celebrated Maria’s birthday. Before I left, I sat down beside him and held his hand. I knew that it would be the last time I would see him. His last words to me were, “It’s all going to turn out just fine.” I said, “I know it will.” He was not afraid to die. He had been around death most of his life and he knew that someday he would be riding in the back of the hearse instead of driving.
A few days before Mr. Dickey died, I had a dream. In the dream I had gone to see him, and he wanted to play cards. As we played, I heard a voice coming from the other room. I knew immediately that it was Ollie, Pam and Karen’s mother. I looked up and saw not only Ollie, but my own mother walking with her. I was not surprised to see them together, because they had been close friends. I knew that they were supposed to be dead, but they were very much alive. The two of them looked radiant. I couldn’t believe how young they looked, and I asked my mother how old she was. She said that she was 40.
When I woke up, I thought to myself that they were waiting for Mr. Dickey to finish up his business here on earth so they could escort him to his new home. Right now I imagine that they are playing cards together, or out on the golf course playing a round of golf. I’m sure they are having better weather than we are here!!!
I’ll miss you Mr. Dickey. You made my life better in so many ways.
Thanks for being you!
Love, Kathy Ray
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