Saturday, January 03, 2009
I don’t think God makes folks like He used to make them. If He does, I certainly don’t know where they are. When I look back over my life, I realize I was very fortunate to know and rub shoulders with some rather amazing people when I was a young man.
Mr. Cincinnatus Dugger Lucas, better known as “Mr. Nat”, was definitely one of them.
Mr. Nat never had to worry about whether a financial institution was going to foreclose on his home. He never had a mortgage. In fact he lived all his life in the house his father built when he married his mama. For those of you who like numbers, Mr. Nat lived in the same house for 99 years.
In fact I think it would be safe to say that Mr. Nat did not like being indebted to anyone. And I have a strong feeling he never was.
He was never concerned about airport delays or whether an airline was going to charge extra for checked luggage. In his 100 years and 6 months on this earth, he never traveled further than the north Georgia Mountains and Florida.
Mr. Nat Lucas meant it as a young man at the wedding altar when he said “till death do us part.” He was married to one woman for 67 years. His beloved wife Sara died in 1985. I remember the funeral well because my wife was very pregnant with our third and last child during that funeral and I was wondering if I, the undertaker, would get the call from my wife before the funeral was done. She had our baby the day after the funeral and the Lucas family was the first to send a beautiful arrangement of flowers to her hospital room.
I never forgot that.
Mr. Nat spent almost his entire life farming land that had been in his family since the Civil War days. Like most of the farmers in the well to do Crowell Community outside of Reynolds, GA, he was a very successful farmer. A man growing up in the late 1800’s and early 1900's didn’t have a lot of educational opportunities, but that never stopped him from learning. He consumed newspapers and kept up with news on television with great interest throughout his years. He had a great memory and neighbors and visitors were amazed at his incredible recall of people and their stories that happened years earlier.
If there was ever a steward of the land it was him. Among other things, he grew corn, cotton, peaches, pimento and pepper. He also raised cattle, hogs and chickens. And he made a lot of money along the way. He also served as Justice of the Peace for 40 years. And as you might imagine, he was an avid fisherman and hunter.
Mr. and Mrs. Nat Lucas also raised children. And they did an incredible job doing that as well. They had two sons and two daughters and all ended up to be very successful, Christian folks very active in their churches and communities. Three of the four children celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their spouses (one of the daughters never married). They had 7 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren, and at last count, 8 great grandchildren.
Mr. Nat had a physical constitution unheard of these days. When he was a young man he had a ruptured appendix. His father had to take him by train to a Macon hospital where he was confined many weeks. In the late 1940’s he cut his arm through broken glass and severed arteries while attempting to push off his pickup truck. He drove himself the 8 or so miles to the hospital. In the late 70’s he had a horrific head on collision with a big truck moving a mobile home and he almost bled to death.
Mr. Nat had a mind of his own and didn’t mind giving orders and liked to do things his way. When he had the automobile accident, though barely alive, he first refused to let them put him in the ambulance at the accident scene because his funeral home of choice was not there to pick him up. In those days, ambulances and hearses were one in the same. When they finally got him to the local hospital, Dr. Whatley had to ride in the back of the ambulance with him to the Macon Hospital to keep him alive. Although confined to the hospital for several weeks after the accident, he somehow recuperated and came back strong.
Dr. Whatley called him the Miracle Man.
Mr. Cincinnatus Lucas died on June 7, 1992. His grandsons served as pallbearers. At the graveside I noticed his casket was facing the wrong direction on the lowering device. I explained the problem to the grandsons after the service and asked them to hang around after the crowd dispersed so we could turn the casket around.
One of the grandsons laughingly said later that he could almost hear his Grandpa speaking from his casket, “Can’t y’all do one last thing right?”
The truth is Mr. Nat Lucas did an awful lot right in his lifetime. And all of us would do well to take a long look at the example he set. Like I said, God just don’t make folks like him anymore.
By the way, if he was still living, this Miracle Man would be celebrating his 117th birthday today.