“When we hauled him up this driveway, I thought my world had come to end,” Paul Bilodeau said with tears in his eyes.
Bilodeau was Ben Grogan’s best friend, and most recently, caretaker.
Grogan died Friday from smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in his Reed, Kentucky home. Authorities believe a fallen space heater may have been the cause.
Bilodeau lives down the road from the remains of the home. The two met when Grogan’s car broke down one day.
“And I gave him a ride, and from that day on it’s just been an ongoing friendship,” Bilodeau said. “I was down here everyday almost, you know, it’s just, seeing whatever he needed. We had a thing. He’d call me in the morning and the afternoon, make sure he was okay.”
Grogan was a proud veteran, a devout Christian, and an active member of the Audubon Beekeepers Association. He was a jokester, too.
“He would hand you a million dollar bill, of course it was fake money, but you know, he said here, you know, you’re a millionaire today, you know, stuff like that,” Audubon Beekeepers Association President Larry Stone said.
Bilodeau says Grogan privately suffered from dementia, a health issue that confronts millions of Americans. Finding a relative of Grogan’s wasn’t easy, but eventually Bilodeau made contact with his niece and nephew.
“This is not what any of us expected to see as his final days,” Grogan’s niece Jennifer McKee said. She made the trip from Poseyville to Reed Wednesday. “He didn’t have nothing, but he would, if he had a pint of honey from his bees, he’d give you half of it.”
The three spent the day looking through the ashes for paperwork or anything to help give Grogan the send off he deserves, but to no avail.
“And without insurance, life insurance, that’s, that’s gonna be difficult,” McKee said.
She and Bilodeau don’t believe Grogan had life or home insurance. Scrapping together the money for a funeral will be challenging, but the hardest part was saying goodbye.
“And I had a prayer with and gave him the last rites. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, somebody that close. He’s just a wonderful, wonderful fella,” Bilodeau said.
Bilodeau and McKee are asking for help to raise money for a funeral.
You can contact them via email:
(This story was originally published December 3, 2017)