My aunt just sent me an e-mail. Actually it was for my dad, but I'm the only one in the house with an e-mail address, so she had to send it to me. Today it's been six years to the day since my uncle Randal was murdered. He was shot in the head in his sleep by his wife. She had tried to kill him before, once or twice she had set the house on fire with him in it, and claimed he fell asleep with a cigarette or something. They were never able to prove that it was arson, but everyone, even the cops, was sure it was. She shot him in the head, and claimed it was a suicide, but she shot him with her gun, and he was still covered up like he was sleeping, when they found him, and with where he was shot, he would've had to have done it with his right arm, and he could barely use his right arm because of a war injury. They charged her with first degree murder, and they went ahead and convicted her for these old arson charges, so now I think she's serving two life sentences. The saddest thing about all this is that he was in Vietnam, and stepped on a land mine, lost an eye, and couldn't use his right arm very well, but he survived that. He survived a war, and survived stepping on a land mine, only to be killed in his sleep by his own wife.
It was a very sad funeral, it's the only funeral I ever cried at. I don't know why his death upset me, and still does, I didn't even really know him that well, I wasn't close to him or anything. Other deaths, like my grandparent's never bothered me that much. His was a very nice funeral, he got full military honors with a 21 gun salute, and flag folding, and all that. The eulogy was very beautiful and sad, and they played some very sad songs, such as the ending song from the Roy Rogers show, "Happy trails to you, until we meet again," and the song Go Rest High on that Mountain.
Here's the letter my aunt sent:
It is 12:52 a.m. and I am feeling very melancholy-sad, as I remember that Randel was murdered six years ago today. I will never forget that call that awakened me September 17, 1997, at 6:15 a.m. Janice's mother was on the line saying: "Gail, we picked Janice up at the police station this morning. She and Randel have had some trouble and Randel's gone." I said, "Gone? Does anyone have any idea where?" She responded, "I mean, he's dead, Gail." At this point, I remember falling back on the bed and sobbing and wailing and telling Bill: "Randel is dead! Randel is dead!" He told me that I'd had a bad dream....
The next year is really somewhat of a fog. I remember when I saw the first pictures of his murdered body. Of his head with a hole in it and mal-shapened because it was so swollen from the injury to the brain. They showed these pictures on a big screen in the courtroom. I remember the prosecutor asking me if I thought I wanted to stay in the courtroom when they showed them because, he said: "You will always remember your brother this way and you might rather remember him differently." I told him that I had to be in the courtroom for every witness and every aspect of the trial. I had to be there to help bring justice for my brother.
I loved Randel. He was my pal who rode stick horses with me and called himself Roy Rogers and me Dale Evans. He loved women--not in a lustful way (although he appreciated fine looking women), but in an appreciation of their gender differences. He never told me that I couldn't do something because I was a girl. He encouraged me to cross the gender broundaries when he treated me just like one of the guys. He did so as kids growing up and playing baseball in a pasture with the Cypert boys and playing "horse" with our dilapidated basketball goal. He never insulted me by "letting me win." He praised me when I beat him even though he was highly competitive. He never begrudged me even a single accomplishment.
I remember when Doug took us water skiing for the first time. It took Randel (normally a fine athlete) seven tries before he got up on the skis. When my turn came, he said to Doug: "I'll bet she gets up on the first try because she has very strong legs." He was right and he yelled and screamed and laughed, telling me "way to go!" when I came right up on the skis. A lesser man would have been jealous that I "showed him up."
I sometimes cannot believe that he is no longer traveling this earth (at least not in the form that I knew). I do know he is here though every time I remember something funny that we shared in a sense of humor that we believed unique to our way of seeing the world. What a wonderful brother. What a wonderful man!
I know that you must miss him too. I also want you to know that I love you too. I am very proud of you and your family and the hard work that you do every day. You have two beautiful, intelligent children and that doesn't just happen. There has to be some parenting going on to make that happen.
I have also not forgotten the time I called you from Dallas after that man attacked me when I was managing those apartments. You are a good, decent man with a warped sense of humor that I love. Please take care of yourself. My heart was broken when Randel died and it is breaking for Valorie now.
I love you,