At about six o'clock this evening, our brother Charles died at his home in Houston. According to his good friend Kerry, who was with him at the time, his death was very peaceful. "Just like it's supposed to be," Puddin said. As some of you know, the family is fortunate to have had some quality time with Charles these last few weeks. Puddin and Butch, Larry and I, Erin, Missy and Danny, Hans and Dianna, Dimmer and Cam, Nevin and Nate, our cousin Roger ("Abie")--all of us had an opportunity to reminisce with Charles quite recently and, ultimately, to say our last goodbyes. Though he wasn't able to speak much at the end, Charles never lost the ability to communicate with us--sometimes with a nod of approval and a smile as we looked through photos from our last trip to Concan or Christmas in Cozumel, and sometimes with the kind of irreverent sneer for which he was so well known. Saddened as we are by his passing, we are also grateful for the two and a half years we had with Charles since his original diagnosis with cancer. As much as possible, he dealt with his illness with equanimity and wit. Throughout his final round of radiation, for example, he kept us posted on his daily excursions to and from the VA. Describing his ride home one day last summer, he wrote, "Driver pulls up, I step off the curb to ask if she's there for me, she gets all official and tells me to never step out until she's pulled up, made a full stop. Must not have trained her on how not to run over people who aren't really in the way. I get in, ask her how her day's going. 'Better than yours,'" she tells him. "Copy that," Charles thought. "We are through talking. I could've said a lot, no point in it. For instance, 'I think my day is better than yours, even with 2 kinds of terminal cancer, I'm not as hateful as you.' I figure some people aren't worth the breath." Art shows and music, his garden, good friends, good Mexican food, his Bouviers (the last of whom died this year), his work as a massage therapist at "the Whole," his role as hero to his four great-nephews--these were some of the things that gave Charles pleasure and made his life a rich one. His description of one of his last trips to the VA was pure Charles: "Beautiful day to wait outside. Clear skies, lower humidity, sitting on my new walker in the shade. All ended well. "Fell in instant love with the new heavy duty walker. It balances me in a way a cane couldn't so I don't have to do the old geez shuffle like when on a cane. I can take real strides like healthy people. And the seat is most welcome. Little luggage compartment. Love everything about it! "And knowing my last treatment is next Tues. the 28th, I cross the finish line of radiation . . . ahhhh, I am a lucky man."