Wednesday, December 29, 2010

to honor

I have known Lawrence by seeing him within his daughter Toni: the integrity to self, the humor, the steadfastness of purpose, the devotion to express that of God in the world. Any of us as parents could wish for no better than to live again so fully in the children we love without condition.

Lawrence Edward Williamson

a man,
a man who knew how to be a man,
and how to be a man well,

grounded with deep roots in the pride and clay of the upper piedmont of North Carolina,
that state which values humility, being real and true over seeming and pretension,
with deep roots in Rockingham County, his home his whole life,

born while the country still reeled from Depression, World War II,
and opportunities limited by the color of your skin and the money in your pocket,

born into a farming family with those most American of values at our best:
hard work, from dawn to dusk and beyond,
working with the earth and hoping for the right rain
so that vegetables can grow to fill our stomachs,
so that tobacco can grow to pay the bills,
so that animals can prosper and thus the farmer,

there was always enough love to fill his heart
and enough food to get by,
though times were hard,
and sacrifices had to be made,

Lawrence was very private and didn’t whine his problems;
to appreciate the glory of his life, though,
it’s good to acknowledge the effort he gave every day,
he never planned to retire and gave himself fully every moment of his life,

grounded in family, for in family you can have a partner
who is at least half of a whole you love yourself to be,
for in family you can have children whom you love more than life itself,
and of whom you are more proud than you can bring yourself to say,
the loss of a beloved niece wrenched him to the core,
as he imagined losing a daughter himself,
Lawrence was the baby in his birth family,
and as such his lot was to lose both a brother and a sister
before his time to be lost to us,
family and wife as completely devoted to him as he to them,

though grounded in body and place, in family and history,
Lawrence’s spirit soared,
for in his mind, in his spirit, in his imagination,
he flew up, out, beyond,
always willing to take a risk,
imagine him on the front porch with a cigarette
as he enjoyed long moments of contemplation,
imagine all the jobs he had as he expressed more and more parts of who he was,
who he could be, a jack-of-all-trades:
working wood and making cabinets,
a barber,
a school bus driver, what a way to find “Zet,” the love of his life!
painting cars, a love of maintaining his vehicles always with him,
and then he found a calling in small engine repair,
keeping neighbors’ lawn mowers going,
fiddling rightly with the small
so that the tool would be ready for the large,
a musician, whose bass guitar at church helped worshippers keep to the faith,

he loved the mountains, and the Native American, though not the sea,
and Maggie Valley spoke to him enough for him to get his family up there for years,
and, speaking of years, could the Washington Redskins have a bigger fan?

in his last few years his sensitive side revealed itself more and more,
losing his mother brought forth his tears and his softer side came more to the front,

Lawrence was a gift God chose to give us,
and it’s wonderful how much he continues to be here,
we are lucky to still have his wife and his children,
and all who have been touched and transformed by him,
those who are still here and who honor him with the fabric of their lives
within which he is interwoven deeply,
it’s good to think of him now released and back home:
standing up straight with his hair just right, and no more pain,
may we honor him by remembering the gift of the life he worked so hard to give.

by Henry Walker
December 26, ’10

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