The urge within man to protect home, family, country cannot be quieted.
We didn’t see the wounds, my cousins and I. We were children. We saw things clearly, people clearly, the way children do. We saw our Pop Pop for the man he was, radiating goodness and joy from within some inner, ceaselessly brimming, well.
Memories can be funny things, but those of my childhood remain clear.
Timmie Eugene Stephens was a good man. I knew it then. I know it now. Love made him more so. He radiated unfettered love like the sun relinquishes it’s heat out into the world.
Pop Pop taught us young’uns (his word) about God.
He taught us when we stood beside him, following his movements as he grasped handfuls of white bread and held it up into the air. We stood beside him in the knee high water of the murky Coosa River and waited for the ducks which must have watched from overhead for this old man who beckoned daily. And down they would come in swoops so close that we trembled in fear at the onslaught of such undisciplined beasts.
Bird in the brush, tune in your heart; life was pure and simple in his eyes. Hard work and pleasure went hand in hand. He would call us to him, show off his newest creation -a miniature water wheel in the front courtyard; a sunken porcelain claw foot tub filled with fresh dirt, compost, and red worms for fishing. He taught us about the fruits of the Catawba trees -you know, it’s worms! The fish we would surely catch filled our dreams, and his.
The knowledge he shared, the lessons he taught, are the things I still believe. They are the way I see the world. And through his appreciative eyes the world is beauty all around.
Never will I forget his influence on my young life, the pride I felt when we listened to him quietly play his guitar in church, singing a hymn he had recently penned. Never will I forget sitting near as he shared his stories of Anzio and the brave men he called ‘buddies’, nor the sacrifice he so willingly made for our country.
God bless them all, every man and woman. Honor and Remember.