Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Folks He Loved

I have a strong feeling the McDonald family pictured here had a lump in their throat today. Some things you never forget. And some people you never forget. On December 3, 1983 Hugh McDonald passed away. He left behind a beautiful family, consisting of a young wife, three daughters and a very young son.

I remember that day well because I was the 29 year old funeral director who took care of the funeral arrangements and had the honor of serving my heartbroken friends in their most difficult time. They remember that day well because their lives would never be the same again.

When Hugh died, my dad had been having health problems and my wife was taking his place and was assisting me on funerals. She was in a world in which she was unaccustomed to say the least.

The girls remember the kindness of their neighbors. In small towns such as Reynolds, GA, kindness is shown in tangible ways. One of the daughters remembers their neighbor, Opal Wilder, lending her a dress to wear at the funeral. Sixteen year olds usually don’t have a funeral dress in their closet. The girls also remember Delano and Faye Amerson treating them like they were their own kids and giving them a place to hang out… and run.

This family also has mental pictures of grown men such as Bobo Bartlett, Tom Wainwright, James Trussell and Randy Lowe standing at attention at the graveside service with tears rolling down their cheeks. They were friends who served with Hugh in the National Guard. Twenty five years later, Randy is the only one of that foursome still alive.

The funeral service was held at Andersonville National Cemetery. My strongest memory was watching the honor guard fold the American flag and present it to the little boy sitting on the front row who could not begin to comprehend the moment, with these words, “On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation I present this flag to you in memory of your dad in appreciation of his service to our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

And then I remember my own chill bumps when Taps was played from a distance.

I also remember by wife going behind the huge magnolia tree that is located close to his grave and weeping.

Tonight my wife and I discussed that December day over dinner.

The little boy who received the flag got married a few months ago. The world kept turning in spite of all the heartache.

Hugh McDonald died 25 years ago today.

But he continues to live on in the hearts of the folks he loved.


Judy S said...

I remember it to just like it were yesterday. I was taking care of Jonathan that day. I didn't want to tell a 5 year old little boy that his daddy was dead. We decided that the best thing was to wait until his mama go home from the hospital. Hugh's death was very hard on so many of us. Thank you for remembering.

Anonymous said...

Very inspirational story. God bless this family.

Anonymous said...

I received a link to your blog from Wanda on December 5, which was the day we buried our dad. Tears fell and I re-read your post several times that day. When I got home from work, I let my children -Aaron (age 13) & Hannah (age 11) read about the grandfather they never knew. Thank you for remembering our family in such a moving and heartfelt way. Lisa McDonald