A biker to the end
The line of mourners reached beyond the funeral parlor door as friends and relatives paid respects to a special member of my husband’s family, gone too soon. Our nephew’s death from cancer, at just 52, was a grievous blow, not just to his wife and daughter, mother and siblings, but to many friends with whom he’d shared the open road.
The man we always called “Bubba” was a biker. Many of his happiest times were aboard his Harley. A man of few words, he preferred the roar of an engine to the sound of his own voice.
“Sometimes we’d ride together all day and not say a word,” his best friend said, a sad smile creasing his face. “We would both look at something, then look at each other. We each knew what the other was thinking. We didn’t need to talk.”
As the line inched forward, I learned that Bubba had given his wife strict orders about his funeral. “Don’t bury me in a suit or I’ll come back and haunt you,” he had said.
Approaching his flag-draped casket, I was pleased to see that she had honored his wishes. Bubba was laid out in his favorite all-black biker garb, including a Harley-Davidson t-shirt, leather jacket, assorted pins and biker paraphernalia.
“Thank you for letting him be himself,” I said, embrancing the new widow. I wasn’t just referring to Bubba’s funeral attire, and she knew it.
“He wouldn’t have let me do anything else,” she said, managing a soft laugh.
I nodded, but then shook my head. A petite pillar of patience, she wasn’t giving herself nearly enough credit. She’d been married for 33 years to a sweet, lovable guy who saw the world from a different angle than most.
“Thank you for letting him be himself,” I said again. “Maybe you couldn’t have changed him, but a lot of wives would have died trying.”
Going to bat for JB
I was troubled to learn that the 8-year-old grandson of cherished friends is battling a brain tumor. But the way that I found out warmed my heart. I hope it will warm yours, too.
John Buchan James, grandson of former LaGrange College dean Frank James and his wife, former LaGrange High English teacher Erskine James, underwent surgery at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis on Aug. 28. By pure chance - although due to considerable hard work and impressive baseball skills -the Dixie World Series champions from LaGrange were in Memphis on the same day, for a national tournament.
Several of them, along with other relatives, went to the hospital to wish JB well. The youngster’s father, Dr. Erksine James of Macon, was called to the hospital lobby while JB was still in surgery and the sight that greeted him was LaGrange youngsters waiting to give a wonderful poster to JB.
“This was a wonderful, giving and loving gesture and all of JB’s family are so very appreciative of their visit and their concern,” Frank James said.
His son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Candi Nobles-James, will take JB back to their home in Macon in a few days, then later return to Memphis, where’ll JB will undergo treatment at St. Jude, the fantastic pediatric hospital founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas.
I’ve assured the Jameses that all LaGrange is praying for and pulling for their grandson. Don’t make me a liar.
And one more thing. The sports pages reported that the local Dixie champs lost their game in Memphis.
Don’t believe it. These kids are winners, all the way.