When I was five, Timmy Joe Ramsey was my hero. I can't really say why he was my hero, since I'd only met him in person a few times, it just felt that way. I suppose it was that he was always a good guy, and I wanted to visit with him more. At that time he was twenty years old and was the last to move out of Grandma and Grandpa Ramsey's old house. He was born Timmy Joe, the baby of six children, but to me he was Uncle Hambone. When he was a toddler he survived a nasty rattlesnake bite, and as a teenager he lifted weights and listened to The Steve Miller Band. He was awesome. Uncle Hambone worked in the woods, though I'm not exactly sure what he did. He loved my Grandma to pieces, and he was definitely the apple of her eye. The last time I was in Thomaston was for Mother's Day in 1989. We had dinner at Uncle Bebo's house then headed over to Uncle Hambone's for supper. Aunt Kelli, Hambone's wife, made ham and homemade peach ice cream, and I finally got to meet their daughters, Brooke and Beth. Uncle Hambone was older then, only twenty six, and as much as he'd grown, he was still the big blonde fun muscle man I remembered - and he was still my hero. In recent years, after Grandpa passed away and Grandma moved into a nursing home, the aunts and uncles entered a time of strife, and at times were not on speaking terms. Uncle Hambone and Aunt Kelli split up, and he remarried just last year. In the nursing home, when Grandma wasn't doing so well, Uncle Hambone would show up and she'd be just fine.
I will never get a chance to visit with Uncle Hambone again. He died on his way to work yesterday morning from a heart attack. He'd had some warning signs the night before, but ultimately, his passing was totally unexpected. He was only forty nine years old, and he will be sorely missed.