Vida Davenport died Sunday. She was 94 years old.
Vi was a dedicated bream fisher. If there was a lake, pond, creek or mud puddle that held bream, she knew where it was. I spent an afternoon in Redbay, Florida, with Vi and her son Lum years ago. They were set up on the bank of a small pond with all their gear. They were had crickets, numerous cane poles, chairs, cold drinks and an umbrella for Vi. They stored their catch in deck buckets. They caught fish.
Vi caught a hand-sized shellcracker. I unhooked it for her and tossed it into a bucket.
It was the wrong bucket. It was Lum’s bucket.
“Get that damn fish out of his bucket,” she said. “That isn’t his fish.”
“It goes in this bucket right here,” she said.
Vi took her fishing seriously. She took other things seriously, too.
She took my father seriously.
My father, already in the early stages of dementia, had hip surgery on December 22, 2001. The day before he was moved to Destin Healthcare, Vi showed up at the FWB Hospital. She was dressed in a starched white uniform. In no uncertain terms, she made it clear that she would take care of my father.
And that’s what she did.
In the time between January 1, 2001 and January 8, 2009, Vi and her family took care of Chuck Morgan. They did not miss one minute of one shift, 24 hours a day, in over eight years.
Vi and her beautiful family—Regina, Anna, Caroline, Willie, Chiquetta, Chiqueda, Roderick, Jennifer, Ted and others—were all accomplished, educated, busy people. Around my family, they all seemed to have one overriding priority in life. Taking care of my father.
And that’s what they did.
The Davenports have taken care of other people. Vi’s husband was “Possum Joe.” He was a long time fixture in Fort Walton. He sold produce in Fort Walton at the corner of Hollywood and Carson. There may have been some questions as to Joe having the proper permits to operate a business out of the bed of his pick-up truck. No problem. Joe would get a citation and then move from one of the four corners at the intersection to another corner. Then to another corner. And then to the fourth corner. Then he would start the process all over. In the south, good turnip greens trump business permits every single time.
Joe suffered from Alzheimer’s in his later years. Vi’s experience with her husband had to help with her care for my father. The concern the Davenports showed our family was based on dedication, attention to detail, dependability, humor, friendship and love. They made a heartbreaking situation bearable. During my father’s illness—at a time when there wasn’t a lot of joy in my family’s situation—Vi’s family made everything bearable.
Vi had 10 children. She had 32 grandchildren. She had 72 great-grandchildren. She had 15 great-great-grandchildren. Needless to say, she will be missed.
She won’t just be missed by her family and her fishing buddies. She’ll be missed and forever appreciated by the Morgan family.