Monday, July 10, 2017

RIP: Carl Wilsey

Tony Adams took this at Woodstock Fire Tower
My Brother died yesterday.

He took his final breath while I held his hand.

His final whispered words to me were, "I love you too."

We knew it was coming. I sat up with him for two all-nighters in a row, watching cheesy action films, Godzilla and the Antique Road Show. Mini strokes had taken the left side of his body, but his channel surfing finger was fit until the end.

Carl moved to Virginia about six years ago after he almost died from another health crisis. I flew to Pensacola Florida to get him and Roadtrip back in his car, packed with all his stuff. Carl wasn’t a guy that had a lot of stuff. He traveled light.

He said many times that all he needed was, “somewhere to sleep that will keep the rain off.” He lived for many years on boats. He made living in an RV seem like a waste of too much space. He had built a 300 square foot tiny house before they were cool.

For the last six years, he lived near me, here in Manassas Virginia with my sister’s family. Amy has one of those big, wonderful, houses, always full of children and grandchildren and friends and family and chaos. It more than just kept the rain off.

On Carl's Boat in the 80's

He had a few other small requirements for life: A comfy chair, coffee, “good tuneage,” wheels, movies, and a nice place to sit outside.  

Every week he spent a couple nights at my house. We have a couple guest rooms, but he loved sleeping on the sofa in front of a big HDTV watching chick flicks or Pawn Stars after we had all gone to bed. We had watched over a thousand movies together in those years. Most of them were crap, we knew it, but it wasn’t about the movies. It was about being there.

He liked to cook for us once a week. He’d spend the day shopping, then usually roasting meat in my smoker. Some meals were complete disasters, worthy of sitcom comedy. Some were the best meals of my life. Some were tragic within the last year as his alcoholism got the better of him. But we were together.

Camping at Elizabeth Furnace in 2015

I will miss our camping trips. I will miss sitting outside on lovely days, playing music and telling stories of how the music reminded us of past loves or adventures. I will miss driving out to the airport to talk while we watched the planes and choppers come and go. I will miss what Carl liked to call, “exploring.” We’d wander to placed that were off the beaten path, like the Woodstock fire tower, abandoned factories, cemeteries, creeks, or under bridges to check out the graffiti. Bonus points if the place was restricted in some way. But mostly I will miss our talks. He was there for the publication of every one of my books. He was always encouraging, and interested. Even though he never read a single one of them. Until they were released as audio editions that is. He’s made it easy to decide who the next novel will be dedicated to. I will miss the coffee stops with him. He wasn’t a Starbucks coffee guy, more like McDonald's, Waffle House or better yet a mom and pop diner in the middle of nowhere. I will miss his dreams of winning the lotto and buying a big boat and sailing it from the Chesapeake to Pensacola. He never bought a ticket as far as I know. But he owned that dream.

My coffee went cold as I wrote this. It seems fitting. Carl was the self-proclaimed, “King of Cold Coffee.” Hail to the King.

He didn't want a big funeral service. What he wanted was a quick cremation and his ashes placed in a Folgers coffee can like in the movie The Big Lebowski. We will scatter his ashes in one of his favorite places in all the world. The last roadtrip.

I still have not written his Obit. It will be impossible to boil his life down into a few column inches. So it will be just the facts. Sigh.

--I love you, bro. It has been a pleasure, a privilege and an honor to have you in my life.


  1. Perhaps you wrote a tribute instead. That was as beautiful as your love for each other. I am so sorry

  2. Beautifully put. My best friend in the world and I sat here for a week trying to get the courage to tell him what he meant to me and all that came were tears.I couldn't bring myself to call him back bc I knew I wouldn't be able to hold my composure and the last thing he would've wanted was me bawling my eyes out. It's ok though, because deep in my heart,I know he knew. His famous tragedy dinners were the best of the best! When I first met Carl, His heart and effort to find delight in the small things brought me back to me and what life was really about and I truly believe he was my angel lighting my way as I was lost.I will forever love and honor Carl Wilsey and the friendship we held so dear to the soul will live long and strong as I see love and life through his eyes as he taught me. I love you Carl... Sincerely, your Butterfly <3

  3. Well put, and perfect for Carl. He was unique and added light to the world with his smile, his warmth, and his kindness. I know how very close you two were. Hugs and prayers to you and all your family. Carl will be sorely missed by so many people, myself included.

  4. Such a beautiful, loving tribute, Marty. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending you a big hug.

  5. What a very well put tribute to your brother, he was a great guy with a big smile who loved life. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  6. CarolSue Doug and Juliann YaegerJuly 10, 2017 at 4:15 PM

    Doug and I have known Carl forever. He loved our daughter Juliann. We had a lot of good times together. Carl graduated from school cus I stopped-got him UP and out the door with help from Mom Wilsey-one day Carl shows up with his father's boat-says to me-"Let's do the canal" OK got Dana Mike (RIP) Tom and me then pulled up to a dock in Middleport and sprung Doug from work-we had a great trip until the motor stopped a few miles from the truck-that was fun...sitting watching him and the Trolls-so many good times. We love ya Carlos

  7. condolences and peace to you and your family Martin. Eric Mileham