One of Those Days

They say each generation has that one flashbulb memory moment where they can remember in great detail a specific moment. They remember where they were, who they were with, and what they were doing. Some even remember weather or clothes or other minute details of that event…

My parents had November 22, 1963, JFK’s assassination, and my grandparents had December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor…

My generation has two – January 28, 1986, the Challenger explosion, and September 11, 2001…

I can remember both events in detail, especially September 11th. I remember our office huddled around a small black and white television watching fuzzy news reports and listening to NPR through our office phones (NPR was our hold music at the time). I remember the disbelief, the confusion, the fear…

Janet and I had just purchased our first home less than two weeks before and were still in the moving and unpacking stages. I remember wanting to cry, but the utter shock of the day preventing any form of emotion from exiting the body…

These flashbulb memory moments can also occur individually, and, for me, November 22, 2003 is one of those days…

This is not a memory created by a single event, but actually forged through multiple little memories in an almost surreal manner…

This rather warm Saturday started with the funeral for Janet’s hero – her father. I don’t remember much before the funeral, other than being in multiple rooms, but I remember the funeral itself. I remember the slideshow and Janet speaking to everyone while quoting lyrics from a Ten Shekel Shirt song. And I remember the ride back to her parent’s house after the funeral, the speed bumps and listening to ESPN Radio trying to learn whether or not Michigan defeated Ohio State (Des was a Michigan alum)…

But back to the funeral – the one thing that will always stay with me is the people…

I was amazed at the number of people who drove to Charleston, SC, where very few of actually resided, to celebrate Des. People I had never met told me stories I had never known because they were impacted by a man they hadn’t seen in years. There were people from jobs and churches and neighborhoods, some of which go back 30-40 years…

Seeing all this gave me a beautiful picture of family – and its power to heal. Janet and I didn’t expect many, if any at all, of our friends from Bluffton to make it. But afterwards, as we were speaking with some of those who attended, we saw one family we recognized. But, to be honest, it wasn’t one of the families we thought may come. It was actually a family that felt compelled to be there to support us – and I am still grateful…

However, the greatest gift of friendship didn’t come from the sacrificing of money or time or comfort, but of pride. One of Gail’s good friends is a USC alum and fanatic, and as we were speaking with them, we noticed something out of place – she was wearing a Clemson necklace in honor of my father-in-law and his three Clemson educated children (and two educated sons-in-law)…

What made this gesture even more humbling was that later that evening would be the Clemson – Carolina rivalry game…

Following the ride home from the funeral is a bit of memory gap – until kick-off of the Clemson-Carolina game…

We had two tv’s going – one upstairs and one down. The downstairs version was the entertainment version, where guests and food were king, but upstairs…upstairs was serious football watching…

Anywhere from 5-10 guests – all Clemson alums – gathered to watch the game. Most of us were looking for a reprieve from the day and the emotions – excited about the distraction…

What we were granted with was divine…

We were able to do something we hadn’t done in a while – genuinely smile. We looked at each other in disbelief and awe at what we were watching…

At one point Janet and I glanced around the room and saw everyone smiling and relaxing and knew Des, with his forever gracious and hospitable heart, would have his own celebration no other way…

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