Isom Ray Plyler was born on October 28, 1938, to Isom Frank and Velma Plyler. His family lived a simple life in a little farming town, which is known as Pageland, South Carolina. All of his life, he was very close to his parents, his three older sisters, and his younger brother. His parents struggled to raise all five children and pay their monthly bill. So, when he became a teenager, he found a job working on the Edwards’ farm.
There he met a tall, skinny, yet graceful brunette and they fell madly in love with each other. After dating for awhile, she became the love on his life and they decided to get married, on November 10, 1957. As newlyweds, they learned that their new family was going to get bigger. Soon, they welcomed a beautiful baby girl, named Susan that was the apple of his eye. His new wife and baby daughter meant the world to him, so he worked hard to take care of them.
His beautiful daughter was a toddler, when they learned that they were expecting another baby. This time, they welcomed a handsome little boy named Christopher, who immediately stole his heart. As a proud father with dreams, he began saving money for them to move to North Florida. His children were small, when they finally moved to Florida and began their new life. After several moves, he finally bought a house in a small Jacksonville, Florida neighborhood.
It took a little time, in order to rebuild the small house to accommodate their needs. Then, he decided to build a large garage in the back yard, so he can work on automobiles and his other projects. Unfortunately, life began to change for their blue-collar family, as their children became teenagers. He always tried to work hard and raise his children, in the best way he knew.
In December of 1974, my grandfather met me and my brother Thomas, who he loved with every ounce of his being. Soon, he began working hard and doing odd jobs, in order to make extra money he needed to support us. Then, life drastically changed again for everyone in the family, when his son was hit by a drunk driver. As a proud father, he felt helpless and broken by the tragedy that struck his family.
The doctors had to amputate Chris’s left leg, due to the injuries he sustained. He struggled with his emotions throughout his son’s rehabilitation and struggle to lead a normal life. Life began, looking up for him as his children got older and began following their dreams. Soon, my mother married and moved out with her new husband. Not long after that, she gave birth to another handsome little boy named…Jamie.
Then, he decided to follow his passion, which was building race cars and fixing them at the local racetracks. Despite his amputation, my uncle joined him and they became a racing team that the other drivers admired. Sometimes, they would work all night, in order to get the car just right for the next race. My brothers and I enjoyed tagging along and watching them compete each week.
In 1981, at the local race track, his son took home the late model stock car championship. Even though their passion was racing, they were unable to chase their dreams, due to their rocky finances. However, he never did stop fixing things like: cars, trucks, washing machines, tools, refrigerator, and anything else that had broken. No matter what he chose to fix, his personal success was important to him. However, he never did boast about his achievements, because was truly a humble man.
My grandpa was never rich; nor was he poor, but he gave his all and never wanted for much. As we grew up, he continued to work long hours and odd jobs, just to give his family the absolute best he could. Then, his heart broke in two, when we had to move away with my mother and her second husband. Life moved on for my grandparents, while we were away and we missed them a lot.
My grandma faced serious health issues and the family’s faith was shaken. Once again, he never asked for anything more than he thought his family could give him. Soon, his son married and later moved to a small town, just outside of Jacksonville. However, he always tried to come see his parent’s, as often as he could. Soon, we came back after mom’s divorce and we enjoyed seeing our grandparents once again. He was happy to have us home with him, but he had to work harder to support everyone.
My mom left home several times and always moved back home, in order to help her parents. My grandpa loved each of his family members the same and he gave up his own dreams, in order to watch us grow. He always taught us how to fly and chase our dreams, even when we crash landed. Luckily, he mended our broken spirit and pushed us to try harder, instead of giving up or quitting. We grew older and eventually moved out, so we can also marry and raise a family.
Each one of us, have made drastic mistakes that he helped us to correct and make it through. He never gave up or stopped loving us, even when we hurt him with our actions or decisions. His love for us made us stronger, in times of strife or trouble. Although, his love was unconditional, he urged us to listen to his advice. However, he never thought of himself, as the glue that held our entire family together. No matter what we faced together, we all valued his wisdom and guidance in our lives.
But, once we began parenting our own children, each of us understood the sacrifices that he made for us. Each family member has left behind, to carry on his memory and follow the example he has set for us. However, during his life, his love has become immortal and will be remembered by those that he truly loved. Now, it is time for us to lean on each other, as we remember him in our own special way. Honestly, he is the greatest man that I ever knew. I hope to see him again, once my journey is through.