ROBERTA — Greg Cape always has been known as “Big Greg.’’
At 400 pounds, he is a mountain of a man. He played football at Southwest High School and was a well-respected umpire in the Macon-Bibb County Softball Association.
He was big enough and strong enough to do the work of several men, whether it was construction jobs, inspecting buildings, running softball tournaments or splitting firewood.
Cape doesn’t move around much any more. The past 14 years have taken a toll. The past year has been particularly tough.
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He suffered a stroke the week before Christmas in 2008. He learned he has congestive heart failure. On Wednesday, he returned to his home in Crawford County after being hospitalized following hernia surgery.
He has seen some things in his life slip away — his health, his marriage, his career and his ability to walk and drive.
But it has not thwarted his resolve.
“I have never backed down from a challenge,’’ he said.
In August 1995, Cape was beaten in the head and his skull was cracked open during a brawl with several fans during a T-ball game at South Macon Park. He was struck with a baseball bat and a metal pipe during the altercation.
“The doctors didn’t give me much of a chance to survive, so I guess I’m a miracle,’’ he said.
Cape’s daughter, Kacie, was playing in the game. She was only 6 at the time, but said she watched her father struggle with memory loss and a change in his personality.
“That’s just part of it. I have to keep going,’’ Cape said. “I had no control over how I acted after it. I realize now I should have gotten some help at the time. But now I’m as peaceful and easy-going as I have ever been. You really have to work hard to make me mad.’’
He had a major setback Dec. 17, 2008. He was living in a small apartment inside a warehouse on Ga. 247. He had been having vision problems during the day. That night, he woke up sweating. As he reached for a lamp near his bed, he realized he was having a stroke.
“My whole life flashed before my eyes,’’ he said.
Doctors later determined that a blood vessel had ruptured in the back of his head.
For the past eight months, Cape has been living alone in an old farmhouse on his sister’s property in Crawford County.
His furniture is sparse. He said he doesn’t need much, but the two things on his wish list are a lift-chair recliner and a kitchen table.
“This stroke changed everything,’’ he said. “I can’t walk or drive. It’s frustrating.’’