Chapter 21-The Life and Times of William Roy Caple-1920

Samuel Hugh Caple 1945-1920

Most of the next year passed in a blur. Iva continued to delight them and now that she was mobile Mae spent a lot of time chasing after her. Roy continued to work in the logging camp but now had a safer job as a saw filer. In October he finished the stone porch.

Mae came out and stood on it the day he declared it done. “I can hardly wait until the weather warms and we can sit out here.”

In late November a shadow hung over their heads when his father developed an infection in his foot. His diabetes complicated the situation and despite the attention of his mother and doctor the infection grew worse.

On December first, his mother came over to his house with a grave look upon her face. “Roy, the doctor just left, he said your father’s leg has turned gangrene. It has to come off.”

No, he thought, how can it be this bad.

“Your father has absolutely refused to allow it. You know what that means, I can’t bear the thought of losing him. Please talk some sense into him.”

Chills rolled over Roy’s body. Over the years he and his old man had had their differences, but he’d always been there for him all the same. He wasn’t ready to lose him either. But his dad had a stubborn streak. Once he made up his mind, it was impossible to change. Still, he had to try. Maybe if he let him think about it overnight, he’d be more amendable to listening to him.

The day next day he trudged up the stairs to his parent’s room. His hand quivered as he turned the knob. His father lay on the bed under a blue and white quilt his mother had made. A putrid smell of rotting flesh filled the air. A deathly pallor sat upon his father’s cheeks.

He approached the bed, “dad.”

His father’s eyes fluttered open. “The doctor says he needs to amputate your foot if you want to live. The family still needs you; I need you.”

“No, you don’t,” answered his father. “No one needs an invalid and I don’t want to spend more time living in the soldiers’ home. Once was enough for me. It’s better this way. My life has reached its end. I am okay with that.”

Roy felt a sadness squeeze his heart as he took a deep breath. “Dad, there’s still time to reconsider.”

“No,” said his dad. “My mind’s made up; I saw enough legs sawed off in the war to know it’s not for me. If it means the end, then so be it.”

The family kept vigil over his dad for the next few days as his father became delirious with pain and finally on Dec. 6th, he drew his last breath. They buried him in the Soldiers cemetery in nearby Orting with a simple headstone, bearing the name Sam’l H. Caple and his regiment in the Civil War, Company B, 5th Iowa infantry.


Writers notes.

Details of Roy’s father’s death come from what my grandfather and aunt told me and from Samuel’s death certificate.


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