The lifespan of my grandfather, Charles Richmond, if I have the dates correct.
How do you sum that up? When he was born, Oklahoma wasn’t a state yet. He grew up in central Louisiana where the soil was rich (wholesale nurseries supplied the entire US) and the people ironically “dirt poor”. His education was in a one-room schoolhouse, each grade occupying one row, taking turns at the front for their lessons and then rotating back to work quietly on assignments as the next group came forward. (Imagine managing an all-ages classroom by yourself and you see why teachers resorted to hitting kids with rulers.) He saw a lot, and generally kept a sense of grace and humor throughout.
Small detail: The program at his memorial service listed him as “Charles Lee Richmond”. I was surprised and then embarrassed – I didn’t know that was his middle name! Well, it wasn’t. Turns out he had no middle name. Somewhere along the way somebody (maybe the military?) required him to list a middle name on some official form. Apparently that’s the one he made up on the spot, and it followed him around.
I’ve been procrastinating, trying to think of the right things to write in his memory.
But really you can’t memorialize 103 years in a blog post. Other than to say, he was a great man who rose above more trying circumstances than I hope I’ll ever experience. A friend from his church described him as having dignity, but it wasn’t the stiff kind. It was the kind of dignity that comes from being consistently humble and true to yourself. So the world’s a tiny bit poorer in his absence.
If you care to contribute to his memory, just give an extra smile to somebody you love today. And think, ‘That one’s for you, Mr. Richmond’.