MCLEANSBORO, IL (KFVS) - They were separated by divorce and circumstance for more than 50 years. Now a sister reunited with her Vietnam veteran brother is trying to honor his memory, but having a hard time.
On Easter weekend, Rebecca Rush of McLeansboro reunited with her brother, Doug Flannery of Bernie, Missouri for the first time since the 1960's.
"He says I was about four years old the last time he saw me," Rush said.
Rush, Doug and eight other siblings were separated after their parents divorced. Late last year Rush says Doug contacted her and wanted to meet.
"He said he wanted to find me for years but didn't know how," Rush said. "We talked on the phone maybe three times and sent e-mails."
Just before their Easter meeting Doug told her he was dying. He was a Vietnam veteran who'd been exposed to Agent Orange and he told his new-found sister, that liver cancer would take his life.
"I talked to him about what he wanted funeral wise," Rush said. "He said he didn't want to be cremated."
His end came much sooner than expected. Now Rebecca, who was practically a stranger to her brother just two weeks ago, is trying to plan his funeral, with no money to do so.
The funeral home wants payment up front, and Doug had no life insurance and left no money behind to help pay final expenses.
"I assumed our country took care of them. They don't," Rush said. "They'll give $750 for a funeral, but that's nothing. The basic funeral costs $4,000."
He can be buried at the Veterans' Cemetery in Bloomfield. There he'll have a plot and a headstone provided to him as a veteran. The casket, embalming and other funeral arrangements have a price that Rush doesn't know how she'll pay.
"There's no money to bury him," Rush said. "I think that's terrible. Someone who served our country deserves a burial. Even though he hadn't been in my life, he's still somebody."
Doug Flannery's body remains in financial Limbo. Rush says Doug's church in Bernie is trying to raise money to help bury him but more help is needed. The funeral home is waiting for answer from Rush whether she will pay for a proper burial or if they should dispose of his remains.
If you'd like to donate, contact Rainey-Mathis Funeral Home located at Bernie at 573-293-5366.