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Up and Down - A Man I loved

 The only reason you haven't heard much from me over the last several weeks is because I have been ill and have had to respond to the death of the man you all should honor if “the love doctor” has meant anything to you or our community.

First, at 62, I am learning that something has to give, and therefore my approach to living must be adjusted to accommodate a generally healthy... but less resilient body. My philosophy has been “work hard and play hard” but now I'm adopting a different mantra. I still intend to work hard, but I'm giving up the photography business to my eldest son who deserves it and who is only forty, and so much more equipped for carrying that thirty pound pack all day, and lights and backgrounds... I think few people ever consider the physical effort involved in carrying and using professional photographic equipment.

Our work in the Silverback Society has taken off, and my excitement and commitment for this impact-full work sometimes makes me feel like Superman... but I know better, especially now after three weeks of relapsing into the same nasty strength draining cold. That didn't use to happen (LOL), and it doesn't help that every time I thought I had recovered, I got caught up in the Mardi Gras – Superbowl – Mardi Gras celebration with strong spirits and late nights, and most recently the need to drive nine hours each way to attend the funeral Mr. Robert Campbel and visit with his bride Celestine and our extended family in Blytheville, Arkansas, the birthplace of our marriage... (Do you know you cannot fly to Memphis in less that 6 hours)

People who know me well know that both my parents loved and supported me, but there was not a lot of joy in their marriage for quite some time. I knew I wanted better, and we did so much better that I've shared it with all of you over the last quarter century, and that is why you owe Robert and Celestine Campbell if my writing has done anything for your family.

Four days after we were married, we literally showed up on their front steps with no place else to go. We had tried to rent someplace to live for a couple of days only to have the vacancies denied when our black faces showed up (high yellow or not). Then remembering a lesson from my recent experiences as a Free Southern Theater techie, I located the railroad tracks and crossed over into Mecca and asked the first person we saw if they knew anyone who rented to “airmen” in this military base town. They gave us directions to the Campbells. So we knocked on their door.

There are dozens of stories I've told over the years about how this man and woman just opened their hearts and home to us. I think it may have been our willingness to clean up and repair a trailer that had been vacant for over a year (and they they initially refused to rent to us). I think that once we saw the place and presented him with a plan to replace window glass, clean the walls and ceilings and appliances, oil the blower in the heater, replace carpet, re upholster a couch and all I needed was some help fixing the plumbing, they saw a little bit of themselves in us. Mr. Campbell was the only black master plumber in the county and the source of my considerable plumbing skills as he also provided a hustle to supplement our income.

I could tell Robert Campbell stories all day long... but alas me not feeling good doesn't stop the world from turning, and my last annual report gig needs me to get done... and that brings me to my new mantra, “Work Hard... Rest... Play Reasonably... Rest.

You Live and You Learn.