My teenage years in Tuscumbia, Alabama were some memorable times. It was during those years while living in the Richmond Hills neighborhood that I met one of my very best friends. He is two years younger than me but lived almost directly behind me. I spent so many nights at this house sleeping on the couch, the floor, or the old bed down in the basement, that his mom got me a really nice blanket as a graduation gift. We often joked that it was because she was tired of seeing me in my underwear sprawled out across her den. I’m not sure she was joking. It was during my senior year that my buddy, William Christopher, told me that he liked my little sister (Jill). Because I knew how he was being raised and what kind of person he was, I was fine with it. I knew he’d be a good guy to my little sis. And, he has been. He and my sister have been married for over 25 years now, and his family is like actual family to me.
Tommy and May Woody Christopher were an extra set of parents for me in the years that mean so much as you transition from kid to adult. May Woody was the more talkative, sweet, outgoing one. But Big Tom was always there. He didn’t talk just to hear himself speak…unlike some of us. But, when he spoke, you’d do well to listen. He was the kind of man who spoke for the sake of the other person. Tommy Christopher grew up in Tuscumbia and was an amazing athlete. He ended up attending Auburn University where he was an All-American in Track and Field in the Pole Vault. He set a record there that wasn’t broken for many years after he’d gone. He was V.P. of the Foundry of the Shoals and founded Shoals Fabricating. He was a hardworking and fair boss for many people who came through there over the years. I think one of his employees at one time was my buddy, and his son, William. He served in the National Guard Reserves for 32 years and retired as a Colonel.
When you think about the people God brings across your path in this life, the ones who seem to matter most are often those that aren’t looking for attention or a pat on the back. They are more content to work hard, take care of the ones they love, and who enjoy their time with their families and friends. That was Tommy Christopher. Tommy Christopher passed away Friday, July 3, 2020. I went up to be with my brother-in-law and best friend William, his mom May Woody, and his sister Mary Cecelia Youngblood earlier this week. When I said, “He didn’t talk that much,” May Woody laughed and said, “Really?” We all smiled, and I then said, “But he was just…just…he was just solid.” As I said earlier, when he spoke to you, he was doing it for you. He was just solid. I used to love seeing him and my dad talking and laughing. They “got” each other.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to know if your life has made an impact, at the end of your time here on earth, if the people who knew you best know that they were loved well because you were in their life, you did it. You had an impact. You made a difference.
As I looked at hundreds of people wearing face coverings and standing six feet apart gathered at Oakwood Cemetery earlier this week, I could see sadness in their eyes. But I could also see a sense of admiration that they had. They knew, this was a good man. More importantly though, was the time I got to spend with his son, daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and a boatload of grandkids. They knew that Tommy Christopher had loved them well to the very end. They will all miss him so much. If you’re friends of their family, keep them in your prayers and check in on my other Mom sometime. I know she’ll appreciate it and so will her son and daughter. Meanwhile, I am hoping that at the end of my life, my wife, kids, and other loved ones will know they were loved like Tommy’s family knew he loved them.
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.