As a regular columnist for this fine publication (isn’t Jackson County Home a huge plus for all local residents?), I feel bad that I haven’t submitted an epistle lately. To be honest, I’ve had some things going on in my life that have been rather distracting. So, if you’ll permit me, I’ll use this column as an opportunity to tell you about some of what’s been up, plus about a couple of cool things as well.
- On February 11, my lifelong friend, Larry A. Smith, passed away after a long, courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease. Larry and I met in the fifth grade (1958) at Beach Elementary School and were literally the best of friends for the next 60-plus years. We were roommates at Ole Miss and constant companions throughout our adult lives. I calculated once that Larry and I had attended over 220 Rebel football games together. He and I were the kind of friends who could always turn to each other for absolutely anything. Our six-decade friendship was truly exceptional. Larry was a damn good man, and I miss him every day.
- On March 24, I was refereeing a basketball game at my church, First United Methodist in Pascagoula. While backpedaling, my New Balances caught on the gym floor and I toppled over backward, hitting my head with great force. Long story short, I’m OK, but only after concussive symptoms, some anxious moments, a trip to the emergency room, eight staples in the top of my pate, and a period of recovery. I don’t mind telling you that I was scared there for a while. Thanks to some providential medical help ( including from Dr. Amber Colville at the gym )and the support of my beloved wife Mary Jon and my family, I press on.
Incidences like losing Larry and my head injury really make you take stock in how precious life is. Together, those two moments in my life have been quite sobering. Still, and anybody who knows me will tell you, I’m a half-full kind of guy, and some positive things have taken place lately as well. Such as:
- Dick Ingwersen, another lifelong friend of mine (and of Larry’s and others locally), recently received an extremely significant award from his alma mater, Auburn University. On March 2, he was named as a recipient of the Auburn University Lifetime Achievement Award, the school’s highest honor. Dick, a 1966 PHS graduate and four-sport star for the Panthers, finished Auburn in 1970, where he played defensive end for the Tigers and has since built a sterling career as a tax accountant and consultant in Atlanta over the last 40-plus years. Through it all, he has been a very loyal and generous supporter of Auburn. Like one of the speakers involved with the ceremony said, “Dick is a good Auburn man”. Those of us who love our alma maters know that is the highest praise you can get. No surprise that Dick has always been loyal to Auburn, as he has always been the same to Pascagoula and PHS (never misses a class reunion or event). Kudos to Dick, his wonderful wife Terry, and their sons Wes and Lance.
- So, I went to see a rugby game. New Orleans has a professional rugby union team, and my New Orleanian son Wesley, ever the sports enthusiast and seeker of new vistas, took me to a match a few weeks ago. OK, I didn’t understand the rules and it was kind of weird, but it was fun. Let me tell you , these guys are big (mostly), tough athletes, and without pads, they knock the stuffing out of each other. Try it, you might like it, and then you, too, can start throwing around terms like “scrum”, “ruck”, and “maul”.
Hey, thanks for bearing with me, as I needed to put a couple of reflective thoughts into words. I know this: Larry is looking down from Heaven, proud of Dick for his award and winking at me about one of our thousands of shared stories. Life is wonderful but challenging at times, and we’re all the better for having family and friends to traverse it with together.
(Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected],)