My Uncle Jim was a charismatic member of my family, as well as my guardian, my mentor, and my friend.
|I wrote this.|
Jim was a firefighter at Red Bank Fire Department for over 10 years. I always liked to visit him at the fire station so I could climb on the fire trucks and wear his helmet. When I moved to Chattanooga to attend college at the University of Tennessee, Jim and his wife Jenny were living in Hixson. Jim was still a member of the fire department and he knew I had been a volunteer firefighter in Gallatin during my senior year of high school. He suggested I apply to join RBFD and attend training, which I did. I was the only female firefighter in the department during those years. It was challenging and often intimidating to say the least, but Jim was always around to offer support and encouragement.
When I was involved in a car wreck during my freshman year of college and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, Jim was there immediately to comfort me and get me home safely.
|As a child, Jim's nickname was "Dammit" because his dad was always yelling at him for something.|
I remember how excited and protective Jim was while Jenny was pregnant with Morgan and how he beamed with pride and joy after she was born. I was honored to be one of the first people to hold his baby daughter at the hospital.
I know Jim also appreciated how close I was with my grandparents (his parents, Jack and Barbara Patterson). When Granddaddy got sick, I would go over to their house on Godsey Lane to visit and help take care of him. When he was in the hospital, I would drive with my grandmother so she didn’t have to be alone. But Jim was the one by his side in the hospital room when my granddad took his last breaths.
We all left Chattanooga around the same time. I got a job with Delta Air Lines and moved to New York City to be a flight attendant. Jim, Jenny and Morgan moved to Terre Haute, Ind. so he could start a new job with Industrial Supply. We didn’t see each other as much in the following years, but I tried to come to as many family gatherings in Tennessee as possible and even flew in from California once to visit them in Terre Haute. It was always hard to believe so much time had passed, since the minute we were together it seemed like we had just talked yesterday.
|Grandmother Patterson's 80th Birthday - March 28, 2009|
More recently, when I quit working for a couple of years to travel around the world, Jim asked me point blank how much money it cost and how I had been able to save up so much while living in New York City. He had a hard time understanding how I was able to have such an exciting, adventurous life. I reminded him that I had been sacrificing for years, always living with roommates and minimizing possessions, plus I didn’t have a spouse or children. He acknowledged that and said he wouldn’t trade Jenny and Morgan for anything.
|May 25, 2015|
|May 26, 2015|
|Memorial table we set up at the funeral home|