Ruthie Leming and Steve "Big Show" Shelton, February 2010

Ruthie Leming and Steve “Big Show” Shelton, February 2010

That’s my late sister and her firefighter buddy Big Show, just before he asked her to shave his head out of solidarity with her, given that chemotherapy was about to make her hair fall out.

Show is one of those guys who make living around here so great. He was so faithful to Ruthie and to our family. Still is. From The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming:

Big Show often drove up from Zachary to do chores for Paw around the place. He never came to Starhill without stopping in to check on Ruthie. As her cancer progressed, Ruthie had fewer visitors. Many people were afraid to stop by. As her muscles wasted away, and she began to appear more skeletal, people were frightened. They didn’t know if she was too sick to see them. Some didn’t trust themselves not to cry in front of her. (Even Paw couldn’t see her in this condition without crying, which made Ruthie feel bad for causing him sorrow.) Others, perhaps, were afraid seeing their friend like this would remind them of their own mortality.

Yet Ruthie was lonely. Big Show saw that side of her suffering, and did his best to take it away.

“She just wanted somebody to talk to,” he says. “We’d talk about our kids, how hard-headed our kids were. I’d try to keep her spirits up, joke around with her. But I’d feel bad because if she’d laugh too much, she’d start coughing. I just wanted to spend time with her, because I knew how much she was hurting for company.”

In one visit, Show confessed that he was furious with God for allowing her cancer.

“You can’t be!” she said. “I’m not giving up hope. He has a plan for me.”

Big Show would listen politely, and he’d try to believe. He really would. Yet he invariably drove away from Starhill mad, and stay mad all the way home to Zachary.

As I explain in the book, Show got his nickname after a charity boxing match between cops and firefighters, in which he dazzled the crowd by knocking out a much bigger cop. They named him after a professional wrestler. He’s been Big Show ever since.

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