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My cousin Bev (Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr.) was born on 26 September 1940 and died on 22 September 2003.
In 1960, both Joe Torre and my cousin Bev (Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr.) went to their first Spring Training with Braves. Joe went on a great career as player and manager (now of the Yankees), but Bev, not having much luck hitting curve balls, did not become a Braves player. However, Bev continued to work for the Braves for many years, and got to know a lot of people with the Braves, like his good friend Paul Snyder.
On 11 May 2001 I wrote a letter to Brian Jett of the Cobb County Water System, saying:
"... My name is Frank D. (Tony) Smith, Jr., and I am a lawyer representing my cousin, Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr., who lives in Cobb County at 2451 Irwin Road, S. W., Marietta, GA 30064, telephone 770 428 8555.
Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr., is 60 years old, and for the past 40 years or so he has been living and farming on 2451 Irwin Road, which farm now has about 112 acres. He has planted corn, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, beans, potatoes, onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, watermelons, okra, squash, and fruit trees, and also raises rabbits, chickens, and beagle dogs.
Ever since the Cobb County water system was extended to his farm, he has used it for irrigating and watering his crops. He has two other water sources, a lake and a well, but they are not now connected with his irrigation system, and it would require him to buy and install a pressure tank and connections to connect his well to his irrigation system.
As a child, he had a dyslexia-type learning disability that was not corrected, so he does not have much formal eductation, and his disability made it difficult for him to hold a job when he was growing up. His father, now deceased, bought out the interests of other family members in the farm at 2451 Irwin Road so that he (Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr.) would have a place to live and work. That is where Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr., has been living and working as a farmer for the past 40 years or so. The farm is small, and does not produce enough income to fully support him. His mother, Miriam Irwin of 4055 North Ivy Road, Atlanta, GA 30342 (phone 404 233 6920) inherited the farm from his father when his father died. She now owns the title to the farm, and gives him money from time to time to help pay farm hands who work there and for his groceries, utility bills, etc.
He and his mother do not get along. She refuses to acknowledge his work as farm work, and claims that he is merely totally dependent on her, and she does not back him up when he insists that he is working as a farmer, even though that has been his life work for the past 40 years or so. He and she get into arguments quite often, with her telling him that he is worthless and useless and incompetent, and with him getting upset and cursing and verbally threatening. (Sometimes he gets mad at me, too, but I know that his apparent anger is really just frustration at his situation, and that deep within, he has a good heart.)
Unfortunately, he now has cancer. A while back he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which was removed by operation. He declined follow-up chemotherapy, and the cancer came back and spread to his liver. A little over a year ago, he had radiation treatments, and for the past year or so, he has been taking Xeloda chemotherapy (a form of 5FU chemotherapy). The chemotherapy seemed to be holding the CEA blood level indicator of cancer activity in check until a few months ago, since when the CEA level has been going up. The prognosis is not good for him to live much longer, but there is a possiblity that he might be able to use an experimental drug, if the FDA approves it this summer before he is too far gone for it to help. Dr. Charles Henderson, M.D., 95 Collier Road, N.W., Suite 6015, Atlanta, GA 30309 (phone 404 350 9853) is his doctor for his cancer chemotherapy.
He has received two warnings from Cobb County for watering during periods not permitted for residential outside watering. The latest one was evidently due to watering by farm hands while he was visiting his mother, because he just found it on his doorstep when he got back to the farm.
He (Robert Beverly Irwin, Jr.) would like to get an exemption as a farmer from the residential water ban, as complying with the water ban would make it difficult for him to grow his crops, from which he gets some of the income on which he lives. Also, it would be emotionally very hard on him to give up his farming activities now, while he is dealing with the advance of life-threatening liver cancer, not to mention his difficulties in dealing with his mother.
Thank you for your consideration. ...".
That request was approved and granted by Brian Jett on that same day, 11 May 2001.
Around 5 PM on 13 July 2001, Bev collapsed at his mother's house at 4055 North Ivy Road. He had difficulty breathing, and wouldn't let us (his sister, his mother, and me) get him into his sister's car to take him to Piedmont Hospital Emergency Room, so his sister called 911 and an Atlanta fire truck came, with firemen William Pharr, Rick Benitez , V. Jackson, Curtis York, gave him oxygen that kept him alive.
An Atlanta ambulance, with JoAnn Copeland and Frederick Seabrook, arrived shortly after the fire truck, but he still refused to go to the emergency room. After conversation with his family, it was decided that he had to go to the emergency room or die, so the firemen and the ambulance crew put him into a chair, carried him down the steep front steps, and put him into the ambulance.
When he got to Piedmont Emergency, the doctors (including Dr. Charles Henderson, who was treating him for colon cancer that had spread to his liver) found out that he had bacterial sepsis, or blood poisoning, that had come from E. Coli bacteria in his digestive tract getting into his blood stream through the colon cancer tumor. They immediately put him on IV antibiotics and he survived. The doctors said that if he had gotten to the emergency room an hour or two later, he would have died. After he recovered from the bacterial sepsis, his cancer continued to progress, and he died of liver cancer on 22 September 2001, the last day of Summer.
During his last two months, Bev was at Hospice Atlanta. He had some happy days there, did not suffer much pain in his final days, and died peacefully.
Ironically, Bev came down with cancer about the same time that Joe Torre and Darryl Strawberry came down with it. Bev loved baseball, his Frank Torre bat, his Hank Aaron weights, and his baseball from Hank Aaron ( who Bev described, a few days before he died, as the greatest baseball player of all time in all aspects of the game ).
The day of Bev's burial,
24 September 2001 (Monday), was two days after his death on 22 September 2001 (Saturday, the last day of summer) and two days before his birthday, 26 September 2001 (Wednesday, Erev Yom Kippur 5762).
He was buried in St. James Episcopal cemetery in Marietta, with a service by our cousin Tom Martin (son of Junius Martin), who is the Rector of the Episcopal Church of Ascension in Cartersville.
My job was to do what Bev had asked me to do: after he was buried, to put Old Crow Bourbon and Planters Deluxe Mixed Nuts in his grave. After everybody had left but the grave-diggers (and two curious folks from the funeral home), and the casket was in the vault, and the vault was in the grave, and the dirt had covered the vault, I scattered a can of nuts over the dirt, then poured over the dirt a liter of Old Crow Bourbon (even Old Crow, "The Original Sour Mash since 1835", has gone metric), and then scattered another can of nuts for good measure. Then the gravediggers (some of whom were grieving over the poured-out bourbon) finished filling the grave with dirt, and I left Bev with his nuts and bourbon.
One of the curious funeral-home folks was associated with Al-Anon, and she asked me "Did you drink with him a lot?". I said "Actually, bourbon smells and tastes too good to me, and, since my father was alcoholic (and not a happy drunk), I try to stay away from it myself, but Bev liked it now and then, and had no problem with it."
It seemed as though the curious funeral-home folks had never seen such a service before. I guess most folks around here don't do such things. Speaking of the funeral home, it was Mayes Ward-Dobbins in Marietta, far from NY and DC, but they have a service scheduled for one Pentagon death and for one WTC death. The body had not then been recovered from the WTC. I asked whether they would put a bit of the wreckage in a casket as a symbol, and they said they could do that, but what they actually do will be determined by that family, who were then still hoping for recovery of the body.
Monday, 24 September 2001, (according to weather.unisys.com) a cold front came through
and (according to a 25 September 2001 BBC article by David Whitehouse) "... at 1038 GMT, a huge explosion occurred on the Sun above sunspot region 9632, which hurled a giant cloud of magnetic superhot gas towards the Earth. The first arrivals from the explosion, a mass of energetic protons, reached the Earth a few minutes later. The magnetic cloud travels more slowly and is expected to disturb the Earth's magnetosphere on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning GMT. ... Another solar disturbance buffeted the Earth on 23 September, prompting a magnificent display of aurorae
captured in this stunning picture by Juha Kinnunen in Finland. ...". Bev would have been 61 year old if he had lived until 26 September 2001 ( 9 Tishri (Erev Yom Kippur) 5762 ).
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