Let Me Tell Ya!—Looking Back on a Life Well-Lived

July 6, 2020


Feebly clutching the fingers of two of his daughters his time to go was imminent.  As he breathed his last air, after 93 years he passed into eternity. 


As a soul moves into afterlife, there are questions about physical form in heaven.  Does a person appear in the image of last remembrance or as a younger man or woman, even maybe a child?  Are those who were blind or physically or mentally infirm on this earth restored to perfect health and vigor?


Before entering an assisted living environment a year or so ago he had occupied the same dwelling for more than 50 years.  There was a garden in the back and a couple of pecan trees.  Having a scientific background he experimented with a variety of tomato bushes, forever seeking permanent solution to the eradication of those pesky nematodes.  When not piddling around the yard he immersed himself in “National Geographic.”  “What a great magazine,” he would remark.


More than 30 years ago he had retired from his professional career, and began a public service journey as a school bus driver.  His riders required significant attention:  all were compromised in many ways, either physically, mentally, or both.  He wondered how much of a difference he made for those incapable of comprehension.  Though many of the kids may not have known their parents certainly did.


During that same period his church began a prayer initiative.  The objective was that at least one parishioner would be present in the sanctuary at all times so that there was continuous prayer, 24-7.  Volunteers were asked to participate.  He selected a time disagreeable to most:  2 am on Sunday morning!  For 20 years he arose from deep slumber, hopped in his car, drove 15 minutes to the church, knelt and prayed for an hour, drove back home, and returned to bed.  Rarely was his assignment missed; if it was he always had a sub.


Might he be observed at the heavenly gates adorned with the dental smock he wore for more than 30 years as a Pedodontist (children’s dentist)?  He was a great one with the kids, kind, patient, and always teasing in a thick Tennessee drawl.  He was a throwback really, to a slower time when things were less rushed and there was opportunity to share a joke or story.  Often the tale began with, “let me tell ya…” 


He’s found in innumerable family photos.  How he loved his family.  His last daughter arrived in 1965, another daughter three years before that, a son in 1959, and his first daughter a couple of years prior to then.


A highlighted remembrance was the picture of a delighted groom on that Christmas Eve in 1953 when he wed his bride.  What a happy memory of that day they shared until her untimely death 47 years later. 


His time was gentlemanly, with rules better understood, lines more distinctly drawn.  As newlyweds his wife worked in administrative support as he attended dental school.  She encountered a flirtatious supervisor who made her uncomfortable.  Her husband methodically confronted that situation by identifying the address of the supervisor, procuring a roll of pennies, knocking on the door, and proceeding to chase the alarmed culprit down through the neighborhood.  Ten days later his wife remarked that, “her supervisor must have taken ill as he hadn’t been in the office for some time.”


A lifelong learner, he was a proud graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and served his country in the United States Navy.  The photograph of his receiving his undergraduate degree was a memorable image imprinted in the minds of those he welcomed to his home.  An honorable photo it is.

He was a feisty member of the Lawrenceburg High School football squad, a strapping gridiron warrior equipped with leather helmet and high-topped cleats.  His dad ran a grocery store.  Frugality was valued in his household, especially during The Great Depression, a lesson lasting through the years and without question contributing to thriftiness throughout life:


·         Lights always turned out in an unused room.

·         Used coffee grounds into the garden compost pile.

·         Water never on unless a dish was being rinsed.


As the seventh of 10 children he entered the world in 1927 much the same way he left it:  helpless, dependent, oblivious.  So, when the time comes to be reunited with Charles Held what version will greet us—baby, child, teenager, young adult, husband, dentist, father, school bus driver, senior citizen?


Charlie was my father-in-law.  He epitomized the Fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  He was one of the best men I have ever known and without question the most moral.  He was relaxed and easy to be around.  His wit was quick; he took it as well as he dished it out.  He departed our world on good terms.  He was a great father-in-law.


The day will come when I too, will meet my Maker.  I fully expect that in the early entourage of those I see again will be a 50-something looking year old man to welcome me with, “let me tell ya…”


The Seed Sower