06/14/04 — Reminiscences

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By Gene Price
Published in News on June 14, 2004 1:57 PM

Remembering Rab

Not everyone reading this will have had the opportunity of knowing Charles Barnes. Those who did knew him affectionately as "Rab" -- an abbreviation of "Rabbit," a nickname given him by older folks in the community.

As a boy, Charles made his spending money by catching rabbits in boxes he set on what is now Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and wholesaling them to an accommodating grocery store operator on George Street.

Those who knew Rab then and now enjoyed, admired and loved him. And we have been especially blessed by the inspiration he has been to all around him during his last months among us.

A personal experience: Rab called one day a few months ago. He said he wanted to take me and our close friend Dan Ward to Tony's Sanitary Seafood Restaurant in Morehead "for one more good lunch of spot." The doctors had told Rab he had less than a year. More if he elected to prolong his life (or prolong his dying) through nauseating and difficult treatments.

Rab chose to go back to teaching his Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church -- and inviting us to "have another mess of spots at Tony's." In all honesty, I dreaded the trip to Morehead. What does one talk about on a half-day trip with a close friend who is --- dying?

It wasn't a problem!

Throughout the trip, Rab Barnes -- who insisted on driving -- entertained me and Dan with recollections of experiences we and Macon Michaux and Mayron Pope had shared over the years.

It was one of the most meaningfully enjoyable days of my life!

Rab and Dan and I chuckled, smiled and laughed all the way there and back.

Despite the fact that we knew ...

It would be Rab's last trip to Tony's.

Rab's attitude was upbeat from the day of his diagnosis to the very last. He would call friends in the evening to chat, share hilarious stories -- and tell them how much he loved them.

Charles Barnes was a man with an abiding Christian faith and one deeply devoted to his family.

He also was a great inspiration to all who had the privilege of sharing with him his last endearingly memorable days among us.