The Shining Legacy of a Man Named Tex
It’s been a long time since I became a John Grisham fan, thanks to a friend loaning me two of his early novels.
Having since caught up with all his releases, I grab the latest once a year, usually as a vacation read.
Though Grisham has written many, it’s one of those earlier novels that remains one of my favorites: The Chamber.
Not only was it one of his deepest and most intriguing, in a vivid way it demonstrated the adverse legacy created by hatred.
The Effects of Hate
For those who don’t know the story, it’s about a former Klansman facing the death penalty for bombing a Jewish lawyer’s office during the Civil Rights era.
The results of the way Sam Cayhall lived can be seen by a fragmented family, including an alcoholic daughter and other children and relatives scattered across the landscape.
No love, no treasured memories, or laughter-filled reunions. Just division, separation, and misery.
The only person willing to have anything to do with Cayhall is the attorney grandson who appeals his sentence.
Honoring a Hero
That’s why it’s such a joy to have recently experienced the opposite in real life.
For the second time in a month, my wife and I attended a funeral recently where family, extended family, and church family gathered to honor a man who meant so much to so many people.
His name was Tex. Not a nickname, but the name of one of the most good-natured people I have ever known.
Because of family connections, he started attending our church about a decade ago.
Gradually, he worked his way into becoming a greeter, regular Communion preparer, and eventually head usher.
Tex patrolled the hallway during praise and worship time, keeping an eye out for any late visitors before coming back to the sanctuary door so he could listen to the sermon.
During his funeral message, our pastor recalled how Tex would make sure to shake his head after a sermon Tex found particularly meaningful and tell him: “You did a pretty good today, preacher.”
Tex went quickly after suffering a massive stroke. When our pastor mentioned the need for prayer the Sunday prior to Tex’s death, he labeled him “everyone’s grandpa.”
That was true. Whether in the parking lot before service or standing just inside the front door, Tex had a smile for everyone.
Whenever he said, “Get in here” to someone as they approached, it wasn’t a command but an invitation, said with a huge grin and a wave of one hand.
Little children especially loved these enthusiastic “welcomes,” pats on the head, and the feeling they were
His caring for others was evident in his inquiries about their job, health, family, or general wellbeing.
Caring for Others
The most touching of the many stories shared at Tex’s funeral came from his daughter-in-law.
She recalled how she and her husband, an employee of the federal government, had wound
up in New Jersey just before Thanksgiving one year.
The long distance from home meant they would be unable to see extended family.
Just then, the doorbell rang.
“Hold on,” she said. “Someone’s at the door.”
When she answered it, there stood Tex, who had called her on his cell phone. In his hands were several holiday dishes.
He had made the nine-hour drive by himself, just so his son and daughter-in-law would know the joy of having other family around on Thanksgiving.
Knowing such a man has been an honor.