Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Harold 1920-2014

I was asked by Harold's family to speak at his service. It was an honor but probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. 

Several people have asked for a copy of my remarks. Here they are. I hope I did this wonderful man justice. 

Bailey's Pool Hall  - How many of you have called Harold and had that as his greeting?  
Harold lived a good life.  No, Harold lived a great life and I know all of you are proud to have been a part of  it.  I know I am.  That is why we are gathered here today, to honor and say good bye to a man we loved.
What a true Southern gentleman born and raised in Walstonburg. Affectionately known as the Mayor of North Walstonburg.
He was pulled away from Walstonburg only two times. Once to attend his beloved Carolina, where he graduated, and proudly wore that class ring till the very end.  The other time was as a soldier in WWII.  
Harold was kind, polite, loving, faithful, and had a heart  led by God.  Don’t think I ever saw him lose his temper.
Every Friday night, Harold and I went to join friends at O’Cools, a sports bar in Greenville.  Don't remember exactly when it started but it’s been going on for many many years and Harold did look forward to it.  If I had not called him by Thursday night to tell him when I would be there to pick him up, he was calling me.   It was on those trips to O’Cools that he shared his life. We talked about politics, sports, how he was feeling and about his family.  And speaking of family ...He was so proud of his grandchildren and great grandchildren. On our last trip, he talked on and on about his very young great grandchildren, Hunter and Davis, who called him Big Daddy,  "They are starting to get their own personalities he said….and I think I'm going to like them."
At O’Cool’s he had his own special chair, it was Harold's chair, and if they didn't have his favorite sandwich, a Reuben, on the menu that night, well, it didn't matter, all he had to do was ask for it.  There's a regular crowd that comes each Friday night and he always had a lot of people stopping by to say hello. Everyone there loved Harold, and not many nights passed that he didn't have a cute young girl sharing time and stories with him.  
On the way home from OCools, we always stopped for an ice cream cone at McDonalds.  One time, he wanted to try one of those chocolate dipped cones.  Big mistake.  Harold ended up getting more chocolate on himself than he ate.  From that night on, I just ordered a regular cone for him.
When I dropped him off at home, he always said, "Now call me when you get home.  I don't want to worry about you being in a ditch somewhere."  So when I got home, I would call.  Every now and then, I would forget and the phone would ring.  "Are you in a ditch somewhere?"  No Harold, I am not in a ditch, just got busy and forgot to call.  He always looked after me.
Harold came to eat with my family quite often over the years.  Once, when my youngest daughter was home for the weekend from Carolina, Harold was there for dinner.  My daughter was all excited about receiving a scholarship from the university for summer travel and she was telling him how she was going to backpack through Europe…live with the people.  Harold listened intently and when she finished, he said, "You know, I did the same thing when I was your age, got a free trip to Europe, and a back pack."  She turned and looked at him surprised, "and they gave me a gun too".  
Harold served faithfully in WWII at the Battle of the Bulge, saw the horrors that war brings.  I can't imagine the fear and misery he encountered.  One night he was telling me about a church in Germany and the beautiful bells that would ring there.  Tears welled up in his eyes.  I know it must have brought back a flood of memories.
My husband John traveled to Washington DC often. On several of those trips, Harold and I went with him. So when the WWII Memorial was finished, it was important to us that we get him there.  We were blessed to see the World War II Memorial with Harold 3 times. Once, while walking around, Harold struck up a conversation with a lady whose father had served also. Her father was ill and unable to travel so she came alone, to see the memorial so she could tell him about it.  He flew one of the big planes that bombed the enemy for Harold and his fellow soldiers to advance.  It was a beautiful day with blue skies and those big white fluffy clouds. They talked and shared stories, just had the best time.  I stood there, watching them. I could see tears in her eyes as she talked with Harold. He brought her a lot of joy that day.  He had a way of doing that for people.
On another trip, we went to the Capitol for a tour.  As we approached the first gate, the attendant told of all the restrictions…no guns, knives, .  I took Harold over to the side knowing he usually carried his pocket knife with him. Yes, he had his pocket knife.  It was one he had since he was a little boy and it was very important to him.  Oh my, what to do.  We walked around for a while trying not to look suspicious but we made a decision.  We would hide it under a rock.  So, we did.  Noting our location and expecting to have a SWAT team pounce on us at any minute.  I mean we were right at the Capitol steps.  Nothing happened so we entered the Capitol for the tour.  But, not only did Harold have that knife which we hid, he also had a pocket full of stuff, a cell phone, two sets of keys, a camera, handful of change, his wallet, and a handful of screws, wire nuts and bolts.  His pockets were full. Have no idea why he had so much junk in his pocket, must have weighed 5 lbs. and if you have ever been to Washington to the capitol, you know how many times you are checked and must empty your pockets. We were checked going in the building and when we went to the Senate Chambers.  Took him 10 minutes to get all of his stuff out of his pockets in the bucket and be scanned, then put it back in his pockets so we could enter.  What a day.  From that day forward, I always checked his pockets.  And yes, after the tour was over, we went outside, found the rock and his knife was still there.  We always called that trip our Easter egg knife hunt trip.
On another occasion, we visited with Sen Jesse Helms. Helms took us all over, showed us where the British started the fire that burned the Capitol, even allowed Harold to sit at the desk Pres. Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.  He really liked Harold and wanted his trip to be special.
Harold was not only my friend, he was like my father....and he was my beach buddy too.  Every summer, a group of our friends, stay in a beautiful ocean front cottage at Atlantic Beach.  Harold always came to visit us.  This summer he offered to cook breakfast for us one morning. That was breakfast for 16 people.  Little did we know, he would be in the kitchen rattling pots and pans at 6:30, waking the entire cottage.  Pretty incredible for a man his age.  And it was a mighty fine breakfast.  But he was asleep in a rocking chair shortly afterwards, mouth open, catching flies.

I’m going to miss that sweet, dear man.  I’ll miss that wild hair.  I miss those bags of wonderful cheese straws he made.  I’ll miss the bouquets of flowers he shared.  I’ll miss having a glass of red wine with him.  I’ll miss those talks about life.

Harold always made me feel special.  And I am really going to miss that.

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