Tuesday, December 13, 2011


37 years ago, and yet I remember it like it was yesterday.  December 14, 1974.  Heart attack.  He was 5 years younger than I am now, a reality that I cannot get my mind around.

I remember the pastor coming to the house to be there when Mom told me. I remember taking it very badly. For about 10 years, actually, but that's another story that's been told here. I remember many people in our living room, though I see only a crowd & not individual faces in my memory.

I remember selecting a casket. I remember an aunt explaining death to her grandson there in the funeral home. I vaguely remember that the church was packed to overflowing on Monday. I clearly remember stepping out into the back yard after the funeral, literally shaking my fist at the sky, and letting God have it. I told Him if this is what He's about, I'm finished with Him..."leave me alone!" Thankfully...graciously...He didn't.  (As I wrote about in this space this time last year.)

I remember presenting his brother with the Christmas present I had purchased all by myself for Dad. I was so very proud of it: Hank Williams' Greatest Hits. His brother--a huge help to me in the years after--lost his country boy/military officer composure there for a brief moment.

I remember a group of friends awkwardly inviting me to hang out with them a few days later. I will always be grateful to them for just being present in my life, and for reminding me that life does go on, even when it seems like it shouldn't.

December 14, 1974 changed much about my life's course. But oh my...the 15 1/2 years prior really affected my life's course! Mom & I agree that I got more "daddying" in 15 years than many people get in a long lifetime. For which I am forever grateful.

Dad wasn't a perfect man. Nobody is.  But he was a very, very good one. I still miss him very hard on a regular basis. But especially at Christmas time.  And especially on December 14.  (Which explains the occasional random tear or smile or chuckle or faraway stare tomorrow...)

I would so love to introduce him to his daughter-in-law; I know they'd love each other and enjoy each other's company. And it is with a physical ache that I long for him to know his grandchildren and more, for them to know him. This was a man who had a poem "The Little Chap Who Followed Me" printed on the back of every business card he ever gave out for Madaris Printing & Office Supplies. Who taught the 3-year-olds in Sunday School for 15 years until he left us. You know how you think some things might be a certain way? Well there are two young adults in MS who I know would be dearly loved by their grandpa and who I know would love him and enjoy his company. I'd love to talk about, well, grownup things with him. Business. Money. Politics. Church.  And, of course, there's our shared love of Alabama Crimson Tide football.  (Related aside: I am totally confident that he would also proudly wear Ole Miss Rebel garb since his grandson & namesake went there.)

One grandson is an engineer.  Another is in the Air Force.  Both of those two are newlyweds.  Grandson #3 is in his last year of pharmacy school.  Granddaughter #1 is training to be a cosmetologist.  And #2 is about to begin high school.  He would be nuts about every one of them.

Our nation faces a severe shortage of men.  Oh, there are plenty of males around; that's not what I'm talking about.  I mean MEN.  Who take responsibility for their actions.  And for the families.  And for their churches.  And for their communities. Who know how to love & honor & cherish a lady.  (That is in desperately short supply these days.)  Who are good stewards of their financial resources.  Who are wise, regardless of their education level.  Who are not selfish punks worrying about getting "disrespected".  I knew one once, and still miss him.  Perhaps one day I'll live long enough to be more like him.

Until then, I will live in the grace of God and in the hope of Heaven.  And in thanksgiving for one very good man in whose orbit I once lived...and still do.

With love and hope because of Christmas,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article - very heartfelt. Our relationships with parents never end, but are rather suspended in the time and at the place we last interacted with them. I too have dates in the forefront of my (suspended) relationship with my parents.