Winfield’s Funeral (also Jazzy’s Funeral)

I should let this story be the final one for Winfield, but I will go ahead and tell it now, because there are many other chapters between the one I wrote earlier about him and the end. I’m sure a lot of people wondered what ever happened to him.

His family was pretty well off in terms of most of us. His dad had a good job at one of the dams in the area and also had a large hog farm. Winfield left Marble Falls in a Porsche headed to LSU in the fall of 1969. He became a CPA and went to work in Houston for one of the big national firms. He aced all parts of The CPA exam which I’m told is very hard to do. Winfield had a fantastic memory and very seldom studied for anything.

After several years as a CPA and working for me, he decided to go to law school and by the early 1990’s Winfield had finished law school and had become a successful attorney. He was doing personal injury law in Houston. We remained friends and kept in touch during those years. I would see him when I was in Houston for business. We talked often on the phone. Things were wonderful for a time for him. He made a lot of money. Houston was a bad place to be if you had a lot of money and were single. The party life began to take a toll on him. The alcohol was bad but the cocaine was his real problem. Cocaine was everywhere in Houston in the 90’s. I got a call one from him in 1993 I believe. He told me he was no longer interested in being an attorney. I later found out the he had been disbarred for cocaine possession. He was really in denial about his circumstances.

The new Winfield was moving on to become a Goat Rancher. The Valley as it is called is far south part of Texas and has a large Hispanic population and the need for meats goats. Cabrito, was a real burgeoning market. He had become involved with a gal in Houston, at his old law firm, that had family ties to the Valley and through that connection he could sell as many goats as he could find. This was Winfield’s new meal ticket. He enlisted my help finding anyone with meat goats for sale. I never referred him to any goat raisers I knew. Nothing really seemed right about anything he ever said. He was a mess. I really didn’t want any part of him. I knew real trouble wasn’t far away.

One day In May, 1995, I opened the Austin paper to the obituaries. Winfield was listed. I wasn’t surprised. The funeral was that afternoon. I was already in Austin on a jobsite, so I called my wife, Madeline to tell her. She brought clothes for me and we attended the graveside service that was held in High Grove, a little community southeast of Austin where his Dad had been raise. Only a handful of people were there, perhaps 25. The only one’s I recognized was his Mother, his older Brother, his Daughter and the Ex-Wife. The remaining attendees were just local folks that had known the Scott family from years ago.

It was a somber day, rainy. A very pretty Hispanic lady picked me out. We had never met, but she knew who I was. She was the girlfriend. As we waited for the service to start, she led me aside to tell me what had happened. Winfield had rented a little house out in the country south of Houston, with place to pasture goats, waiting to be shipped south by the truckloads. You could tell she was a believer in the goat business. A drug deal gone bad had left Winfield floating in a bathtub full and overflowing with water. She seemed to know more than she told me. I wasn’t surprised and I suppose it made no difference.

The service finally got under way. The casket was left open during the brief words that were spoken. That was strange to me, but everything was strange that day. Everything in Winfield’s life was strange, so why was his funeral going to be any different. Afterwards the funeral director closed the lid on the casket. His mother accompanied by her remaining son arose and approached the casket to place a rose on the lid. As she reached out with the rose she fell across the casket, hugging it. The emotions were high, for a mother burying a son, they always are. At that moment she cried out “Oh Lord why did it have to be this One”. Everyone was stunned, hesitant to look at each other. A short few minutes later Madeline and I were on the road back to Austin, unsure of what had just transpired.

In the years since then it is hard for me to go to a funeral without thinking of that day. Madeline and I have talked on many occasions about how bizarre that whole thing was.

A few days ago (I wrote this awhile back) on Feb. 12, 2010 my miniature Beagle named Jazzy ran under the rear wheel of my truck when I arrived home. She had only been in my life for about a year and a half but she had really found a place in my heart. I am not a typical dog lover but I don’t hate dogs either. I can make it fine without one in my life. We have had several different dogs over the years, each meeting death for one reason or the other. I let Jazzy get to me. She was the only dog I ever bought myself. All the others being someone else’s idea. Given the short life span of a dog compared to a person, you expect to out live them the day you bring them home. But that was too short of a time for me and Jazzy. I was very saddened by the loss.

Madeline wasn’t home when it happen. The rear wheels of the truck rolled over her rear legs. I took her to our local vet. I knew it was serious. She was in real pain. I left her there for x-rays. It was only a short time before I got the call. The damage was extensive. Not only were several bones broken but her intestines were also very messed up. The vet said she could be fixed, but healing was going to take many months and be very costly. There was no way to know how many complications she could have. I saw no reason for such a sweet puppy to suffer the pain she would have to endure just so I could continue to have her in my life. I decided it was best to terminate her life.

I went out under the big oak tree where several other dogs and a hamster were buried and dug yet another hole. I returned to the vet clinic to retrieve her remains. Upon returning I saw that Madeline had returned home so I phoned to tell her I was back. She said she would come right out so we could bury her together. I placed the little lifeless body in the hole. Lucy (a mutt that had been left her by one of our sons) and I stood there at the edge of the hole looking down while Madeline walked the 50 yards from the house to the burial plot. Just as she arrived beside us I fell to my knees and wailed “Oh Lord why did it have to be this One”. I think my wife was as startled then as we both had been some 15 years earlier at the funeral of our friend Winfield. I looked up at her and we both broke out into a fit of laughter that lasted until the grave was filled in and we both were back inside the house. If not for the opportunity to laugh in a moment like that, the sorrow would have been much worse, with no purpose being served by it.

I am giving serious thought to making my last request be that my funeral be presided over by a standup comic rather than a minister. We’ll see how that plays out.

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