Young men dream dreams and wonder how to make them happen. Old men remember memories and wonder why things happened the way they did.
Sometimes, life events cannot be explained or understood. For example, Sunday morning, Feb. 28, 2010, my younger brother Harold Lee Gillispie suffered a massive heart attack that proved fatal. The day before he had been working in his backyard with a chain saw cutting up an old oak tree. He was just over a month from his 66th birthday.
His death was almost identical to that of my father. On Feb. 28, 1990, my father suffered a massive heart attack that proved fatal. The previous day, he had disassembled a mower deck in preparation to install new bearings. He was just weeks away from his 76th birthday.
Both events happened shortly after they woke from a night’s sleep. Harold died 20 years to the day after his father. Both appeared to be in relatively good health, having worked the day before. How do you explain that?
Harold was a good man. Like many of my family, he was essentially self educated. Yet he started several successful businesses. He was a proud father of two sons, the husband of one wife, and a loyal supporter of his friends and extensive family. His death will leave a vacuum in our lives.
As the elder brother battling cancer, I fully expected to die before either of my brothers. That is one reason I was so stunned by Harold’s sudden death. So now I don’t know what to expect. As my 70th birthday approaches, I am clearly past the dreaming dreams stage and well beyond the “how” questions and fully in the “why” stage.
The dreams of my youth are almost past. A few were accomplished, many were abandoned and others took totally unexpected turns. Founding a newspaper was not one of them, yet that is probably the most significant of my accomplishments. I have always loved to write, so writing a newspaper came naturally to me. But this week will, I suspect, force a change. I will spend less time writing about social and political issues, and more time recording the mass of memories that I have accumulated.
A number of you have commented on the columns about growing up in the rural South, and I have a lot of those stories I can tell. Perhaps I will collect those memories into a book that I can call “Growing Up Redneck.” You will likely see these stories frequently in this column.
I apologize for rambling today, I am not in a condition to concentrate on anything else. I am sure you understand.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
Lenton Tony Ganey
03/06/10 at 10:28 AM
Frank, I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of your brother. I can certainly have empathy for you for I have experienced the same pain. My pastor once said that pain in life is enevitable but misery is optional. I like to think of the memorial service as one of a home going to better situation. I pray that you can find comfort.
Frank, my thoughts and condolences to you. Harold was a good guy. My wife and I were in school with him - way back when. This is a trip we must all make one of these days, but that still doesn't make the loss for those of us who must remain any easier. God's grace and love to you.
Brent A. Mikel, Maysville, GA
03/08/10 at 05:07 AM
Frank, this was a well written op-ed because you just simply stated what is in your heart and on your mind this week. Thanks for sharing.
I try to read your articles on-line when I can. I appreciate the openness and the candor of your writing style.
May God continue to bless and strengthen you through your battles. May the peace that passes all understanding comfort your family as you cherish the memories of both your brother and your father.