Today, the memories of my youth came flooding back and my waterproof eyeliner didn’t hold up.
The occasion was a special ceremony inducting Daddy (Tom Braddock), Dr. Hazard, Jerry Smith and Leon Betterton (left to right with minister Steve Davis) into a rare fraternity called “Elders Emeritus” (It’s a Presbyterian thing.)
As I watched Daddy and Dr. Hazard join hands in the front of the church I grieved for days gone by when Daddy and Dr. Hazard, young and robust, would be rounded up out of church services – Dr.Hazard to save a calf, and Daddy to deliver a baby. We would hear the phone ring in the church office and within minutes someone would come pull them out of church.
The pair have been best friends for 60 plus years and served on the governing body of the church throughout that period. They even have the same birthday for Pete’s sake.
After the appropriate comments about their long and faithful service, Dr. Hazard said he wanted to say something. In his slow and usually carefully measured style, he put his hand on Daddy’s shoulder and said “This man,” then broke down. So did the rest of the congregation. What a bittersweet moment. Two men who lived their lives so admirably, giving and never taking, would finally get a rest from running a church.
It was refreshing to witness such a genuine expression of love between two men who have been through life, death, joy and taxes, and survived it all to come out the other side and get to enjoy their golden years together.
Sorry, Steve, but my mind wandered briefly as I recalled all the major moments of my life which occurred in the First Presbyterian Church. I remember Miss Nell directing the choir with her bun falling down the back of her neck, and becoming blood sisters with Olivia in the Women’s Rest Room. (We slit our fingers and rubbed them together.) Neither of us had sisters and we solved that problem.
I remembered my wedding (vaguely), my mother’s funeral and Tom Are. He was our minister growing up. He had been orphaned at birth and all he knew about his name was that it started with an “R”. So he became Tom Are. What a charismatic and wonderful man.
I remember Willie Millard taking out his glass eye and tossing it to me during the Doxology. I remembered learning my first cuss word from Judy Moseley while we were sitting on the back row. I received a well rounded Christian education at First Pres.
Love that church. It hasn’t changed one iota since 1963 that I could see except that many people I loved are gone….Miss Melinda, Clark Young, Homer Catledge… the list could go on and on. But I felt their presence today.
You can go home again.