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|Heroes leave lasting impression|
Editor's Note: This column was first published in The Ouachita Citizen on July 12, 2007.
When we were growing up, we all had heroes. When I think back, my heroes were Jesus Christ, my mother and my daddy.
I did not have any athletic heroes or anyone famous that I would call my hero. I have more heroes today than I did as a little boy.
When I think of heroes, I think of the now deceased Howard Hicks of Farmerville. When I became the head football coach and baseball coach at Farmerville, Howard was the man who took care of washing, cleaning the dressing rooms, and every little detail that you could think about. When Howard was born, the umbilical cord cut off his blood supply and caused him to have many problems that limited him physically. It took me awhile to learn how to understand Howard, but after being around him for a little while, I could understand everything that he said. I have never seen anyone take care of his job like Howard. Would I call Howard handicapped? No. I would not. For whatever his purpose was upon this earth, he met it 100 percent.
Another hero of mine is also deceased. His name was Milton Day. Milton was a bad diabetic. I had met him years before in a Christian men's organization. Over a period of three or four years, and half a dozen surgeries or more, I watched Milton lose both legs up to his thighs. Yet he could still smile and thank God for his life. I would never promise that I could do that. He would get depressed every now and then, but he always snapped out of it, and when you walked into his hospital room, he would give you a big smile and say, "Praise God. Isn't life good?" Yes. Milton is a hero of mine.
Then there was my covenant partner Randy McLemore. We lost Randy five years ago. Randy and I met every day somewhere. We talked and prayed over the phone several times a day. Randy was a businessman who ran a multimillion dollar business, but his emphasis was Jesus Christ. I never saw him put his business or his money before his Lord. I admired many of his attributes. Family man. Business smarts. Financial expertise. His leadership. His Christian devotion. I always thought that Randy would have made a tremendous statesman. What I cherished the most was his loyal friendship.
Then I have another hero who was in my Life Group class at First West. Jerry Durham had been needing a kidney transplant for quite a while, but he had never let it stop him from enjoying life to its fullest. He and his wife, Mary, took long trips that they planned out in advance so that he could be medically attended to if need be. Jerry took dialysis at home, or wherever he and Mary might be.
We almost lost Jerry one morning at our prayer group. I will have to give the 911 folks and the ambulance service an A+. I could hear the siren before I hung up the phone. Jerry had a heart attack, but recovered fully. He did not let this delay his zest for life more than a day or two.
Jerry and Mary's presence in our class was always a great encouragement. I knew that Jerry did not feel good on some of these Sunday mornings, yet he and Mary were there. I was so honored to have visited with him, to have held him so he could sit up in his bed to ease the discomfort and to have prayed with him only hours before he passed away.
I have always been admirers of ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
Robert Charles Payne is an inspirational writer who lives in West Monroe. He can be contacted by e-mailing email@example.com.