StoryCorps
1:35 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Saying Goodbye To A Friend Who's 'Ready To Go Home'

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 1:26 pm

When we first heard from Eddie Lanier Jr. and his friend David Wright in 2006, Eddie, the son of a former mayor of Chapel Hill, N.C., was homeless and a recovering alcoholic.

In that StoryCorps interview, the pair talked about their friendship, which began on a highway exit ramp where Eddie held a sign asking for help. David would occasionally give Eddie money and a can of food.

Eddie recalled how one night, on New Year's Eve, David walked over to him "and says ... 'I'm going to take you home with me for a New Year's Eve party. How would you like that?' "

"I went to your home and had a shower, and you gave me some clean clothes," Eddie explained. "And we sat down at the table, and I told you some stories about who I really was, and who my daddy was. There was a lot more to me than you might imagine."

Four years later, David persuaded Eddie to move into his home.

Today, Eddie is suffering from an advanced stage of emphysema and is in a hospice program. His doctors say he has less than a month to live, so David brought Eddie back to StoryCorps in Durham, N.C., to talk once more about his life.

"I honestly tell you, I look forward to dying," Eddie tells David. "There's a lot of people out there that'll do anything to stay alive. Heart transplants, anything. But I'm telling you, I've done my business here, and I'm ready to go home.

"And when I wake up in the morning, to tell you the truth, I'm pissed off that I'm still here," Eddie continues. "Only way I get through a day, David, is to say, 'Well, I'm going to make my life worthwhile by saying something of value, that you can keep with you and can help you.' "

"And I'm grateful for that," David says. "You're certainly an inspiration to learn about how to live — and the last chapter here, over the months, how to die."

"I want to say one thing about you," Eddie says. "You really, really been patient with me, and you cared for me tremendously. That's going to count on your record upstairs, and you got the finest record of anybody. Thank you for helping me so much."

"Oh, you've helped me so much," David replies. "Thank you."

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WUNC.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It is Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. The project's mobile recording booth is currently parked in Durham, North Carolina. It was last there several years ago when David Wright recorded an interview with his friend Eddie Lanier, Jr. At the time, Eddie was homeless and a recovering alcoholic. He also had a history that few people knew about.

He was the son of the former mayor of Chapel Hill. Eddie Lanier and David Wright spoke about Eddie's past and their friendship, which began on a highway exit ramp where Eddie held a sign asking for help.

EDDIE LANIER, JR.: Every time you came by, you used to stick out a $2 bill and a can of tuna fish. And it was New Year's Eve and I had nowhere to go, couldn't drink. Everybody's partying and you walk on over and said, you remember me? I said, yeah, you're the $2 bill man. He said, I'm going to take you home with me for a New Year's Eve party. How would you like that?

I went to your home and had a shower, and you gave me some clean clothes and we sat down at the table, and I told you some stories about who I really was, and who my daddy was. There was a lot more to me than you might imagine.

DAVID WRIGHT: I hope I was a little bit of a help along your path.

JR.: Well, you know, David, without your kindness, I don't know. I wouldn't say I'd have gone back drinking again, but I'd say it would've been rough.

INSKEEP: Eddie Lanier is no longer homeless. In fact, he now lives with David Wright. Today, Eddie is suffering from an advanced stage of emphysema, so David brought him back to StoryCorps in to talk about his life one last time.

WRIGHT: You're now in the hospice program.

JR.: I guess it's my turn now.

WRIGHT: It's your turn.

JR.: My prognosis is I should be dead a month from now. And honestly, tell you, I look forward to dying. There's a lot of people out there that'll do anything to stay alive. Heart transplants, anything. But I'm telling you, I've done my business here, and I'm ready to go home.

And when I wake up in the morning, to tell you the truth, I'm pissed off that I'm still here. Only way I get through a day, David, is to say, well, I'm going to make my life worthwhile by saying something of value, that you can keep with you and can help you.

WRIGHT: And I'm grateful for that. You're certainly an inspiration to learn about how to live and the last chapter here, over the months, how to die.

JR.: I want to say one thing about you. You've really, really been patient with me, and you care for me tremendously. That's going to count on your record upstairs, and you got the finest record of anybody. Thank you for helping me so much.

WRIGHT: Oh, you've helped me so much. Thank you.

INSKEEP: David Wright with his friend Eddie Lanier, Jr. at StoryCorps in Durham, North Carolina. Both of their interviews will be archived at the Library of Congress. You can learn about StoryCorps Legacy, an initiative to record the stories of people living with a life-threatening illness, and you can also see an animated version of Eddie and David's first interview at NPR.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.