A Life Lived: Brian Mathes showed us how to live despite our losses

Published 10:44 am Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Life was not easy for Brian Mathes, who had suffered physically most of his life. But, if you had never seen him, only heard him, you would have not known he lived with diabetes most if not all his life. He had lost a kidney, a leg, most of one finger and was soon to have another finger amputated, and at the end of his life was on dialysis. He was also blind in one eye — all because of diabetes.
Brian died July 30 at the age of 54. Despite his physical losses, he lived a full life — one blessed with lots of love and friends.
Among his best friends were David and Samuel Timbs and the entire Timbs family. He and David had been friends since first grade at Valley Forge Elementary School. They had fished together, hung out together, attended church together, and enjoyed a lot of good times and laughs.
Brian was a graduate of Hampton High School. After high school he worked at several different jobs. He pumped gas for Ronnie Little at Blackberry Station, was a flagman for the Tenn. Dept. of Transportation, worked at Blue Ridge Trash, picking up garbage, and had sold cars. “He was a hard worker, and was never afraid of work,” said his long-time girlfriend, Debbie Buckles.
She said she never knew Brian to be down and out. “He was happy go lucky and considered himself blessed, and he was in many ways. In spite of his disabilities, he was a fighter. He showed us how to live,” she said.
In addition to bass fishing, Brian enjoyed NASCAR races and bluegrass music. He even played the banjo some. Debbie said Brian especially enjoyed bluegrass gospel music.
Before losing his leg, Brian enjoyed deer hunting and he enjoyed staying at his brother’s cabin on Ripshin.
Brian was a Christian, and showed us how to live in spite of our infirmities and weaknesses. “He showed us how to go through trials and to live in the strength of the Lord,” said Debbie. “I never, not one time, heard him complain about his lot in life.”
Brian was a member of Hampton Christian Church but often attended church at Beck Mountain Baptist, where he had many friends. Debbie noted that when he was unable to attend church, especially at the end, he enjoyed listening to First Baptist Church’s radio service.
Brian was the son of the late Gene and Roma Jean Mathes and was brother to John Paul Mathes (deceased), Greg Mathes, and Debbie Bunton. He had several nieces and nephews, including JP and Leona Mathes, who did the music for his funeral.
Brian was a fun-loving fellow. His friends said he was colorful and entertaining and loved to laugh. “He could be the life of the party,” shared Debbie.
“His friends were so good to him. They were always there for him. Brian was a loyal friend, and appreciated anything and everything anybody did for him,” Debbie shared. “The Timbs family was his second family. They had spent so much time together,” she said.
Debbie said Brian wasn’t a big eater, but he enjoyed Thai food, especially egg rolls.
“I think more than anything Brian showed us how to live in spite of our infirmities and weaknesses. He was brave, positive, never complained, and felt blessed. And, he was. Despite his diabetes and losses, he gave so much and was a good friend to so many,” Debbie shared through tears.
Helen Keller is credited with saying: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
Brian Mathes showed us how to live despite our losses and pain. He made a smile part of his everyday wardrobe.

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