There was a lot going on for yours truly in my first week (sort of) back at The Herald, both good and tragic.
First, the good. As someone who usually votes Democratic (not always, but most of the time), I voted for a rare winner in a statewide election last Tuesday in Doug Jones.
So far, I’ve liked what I’ve seen and heard from Jones. I believe that he’ll be a centrist Democrat who will serve our state well.
I know that the Republicans will come at Jones with guns ablazin’ in 2020, which is when the Sessions/Strange/Jones seat comes open again. But maybe – just maybe – Jones will have established some appeal with moderate Republicans by that time and we’ll have us another stemwinder of a race.
As for last Tuesday’s loser, have we seen the last of Roy Moore? The man who defied federal judges twice as Alabama’s Supreme Court chief justice then had to fend off child molestation charges more recently?
Fact is, for the good name of our beloved state, we should all hope that Moore rides Sassy off into the political sunset. To my mind, he was an embarrassment.
But it wasn’t anything good that took most of my time in the week past. Instead, it was the death of my father-in-law, Charles Holley, of Kent.
Mr. Holley’s death came unexpectedly and my wife and her sisters took it hard. He was proud of his daughters and treasured every moment he spent with them. He lured them to his home with fresh vegetables when they were in season and in every other way he could.
He couldn’t spend enough time with them.
But two Saturdays ago, he developed an aortic aneurysm and a blockage adjacent to the aneurysm was throwing small blood clots to his brain. Between Sunday and his death on Wednesday he was intermittently lucid and not.
If you are among those who knew Mr. Holley, you knew his passions for family, his garden, cooking, fishing and Alabama football. To put it simply, he had the greenest thumb of any man I’ve ever known, but part of that came, I’m sure, through his constant care for the little patch of ground that was his garden. He would work it immaculately clean of weeds and it would thank him in produce for that care.
He didn’t take extravagant vacations, but preferred the banks of Lake Martin, near which he had grown up along Elmore County Road 80. He and his brother, Clyde, who preceeded him in death, fished the lake regularly and Mr. Holley and his wife, Jo Ann, frequently camped alongside other friends at Wind Creek.
One of the most recent times we joined Mr. Holley and Jo Ann at Wind Creek, he cooked fish for us. You’ve rarely tasted any better. He was a magician with a fryer, a smoker, a grill or a plain ol’ stove. And this time of year I’m reminded of his star creation, an orange cake he made every Christmas season.
When I began to date Lynn, Mr. Holley welcomed me into his family like I was his own son. I never, ever felt like an outsider in his home. We ragged each other about Auburn and Alabama, each respecting how the other felt.
My wife will miss her father dearly and I will miss him, too. In fact, an entire community will miss him.
As I looked at the packed Bethlehem East Baptist sanctuary on Saturday, I was struck by how a man who lives his entire life in a small area can leave such a large impact and how, perhaps, that’s the way to live to truly affect the lives you come in contact with.
At least that’s the way it was for Mr. Holley.
May you rest in peace, Charles Holley, knowing how much you’ve touched other lives.