Sparing you a lot of trivial details, Wednesday was a sad day. Not a things will never be right again kind of a sad day, just a “Can I have a do over, please,” dealing with things I didn’t want to and “tired of no one listening to me” kind of day. If you know what I mean.
But I was home, in the comfort of my recliner, faithful pointy-eared dog by my side when I got the text message. Lynn Pittard, whom they’d only just learned a few weeks ago had terminal cancer, had died. That was all I needed to let loose and have a good cry.
And boy, did I ever.
Then, as I dried my eyes and shuddered the few last whimpers that make a good cry worth it, I thought, “Lynn, you’ve done it again. Found a good way to provide for me some token of friendship and concern that’s going to get me up and back at it.”
Like that time, I’d worked a long Saturday at the Bulletin and drove home about 2 a.m. on a Sunday on what must have been fumes of gas. My car wouldn’t start when I got ready for church, so I found a ride, and that afternoon, before I could call my roadside service, Lynn showed up in my driveway with 3 gallons of gas and a funnel to pour it into my tank.
Like that summer I recalled fond memories of being at my grandparents’, feasting on homegrown tomatoes, black-eyed peas and cornbread. How I missed those times, I must have said. The next day when I got home from work, there on my porch stoop was a small basket of tomatoes and a paper sack of unshelled peas from Lynn and Barbara’s garden. The gifts were not just the homegrown garden goods, but the time I savored sitting there shelling peas and counting blessings.
When we moved to Brownwood in 2002, and joined First United Methodist Church, Jack Miller and Lynn were some of the first people to reach out to us. My two younger, high-school-age sons were in the youth group, so that was the introduction. And when after church, the boys wanted to go with friends to lunch, which meant I was on my own, Lynn, Barbara and Jack invited me.
For 10 years, after church on Sunday, I had a standing invitation for lunch — and in those rides to and from the lunch spot, we solved the problems of the universe, grieved what needed to be grieved, laughed at all things funny or peculiar and shared concerns at whatever level necessary.
There are times of counsel too numerous to mention. Sons leaving home to seek their fortune, sons coming home to regroup and get resolution. Free advice on controlling my utility bill and for what to do about a sudden mice invasion in my pantry. Some of the best advice I got was from Lynn, when I started teaching a children’s Sunday school class. He told me to get a list of the class members’ birthdays and send them cards. What a blessing I found in that happy task.
That summer of 2012, before I moved to San Angelo, when everything in my life, it seemed, was operating in a downhill slide, I remember Lynn told me often that somehow it was all going to work out, and work out in ways I couldn’t imagine. “You’ll be fine,” he said, and I am.
The Pittards and Jack were lessons in faith in so many ways on so many days.
They were as good as anyone I’ve ever known at finding the good in everyone, for showing up and offering to help, but stepping out of the way when accolades were being given.
Friends pointed out Lynn’s and Jack’s deaths were three years to the day apart. I’m sorry to say, I only just learned that Barbara’s death was a little more than a year ago.
I liked waking up in a world knowing there were people like Lynn, and Barbara, and Jack and I am sadder than I can say to think of this world without them. I will miss them, and cheer the Aggies — even more — in Lynn’s honor.
I do know now the answer the age-old question, “What is heaven for?” It is for these three, who I believe with all my heart are celebrating a reunion there now — perhaps as the angels sing the Aggies’ War Hymn.
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, formerly of Brownwood, now living in San Angelo. Her weekly columns are published Sundays in the Brownwood Bulletin and Thursdays in the San Angelo Standard-Times and are unique for each paper. She can be reached at email@example.com.