You know a man is a good man when you can clearly remember the last conversation you had with him.
You know a man is a better man when that last conversation took place several years ago and involved nothing more than a routine phone call asking for a vote in an upcoming election.
I don’t recall the year, probably sometime in the mid-to-late-1990s, but that was the last time I spoke with Ted Lacy, who called my parents’ house seeking their support in the jailer’s race in Powell County. Ted knew the entire household would be casting their votes for him, but he made the call anyhow to thank my parents and because that’s just what a man does.
While I didn’t know Ted well, he had two things going for him that were all I needed to know: 1. his son, Teddy Ray, respected him beyond measure; and 2. my dad respected him beyond measure.
Ted died early this morning, unexpectedly for some although the family had a chance to gather the last few days to say their goodbyes. Anyone who knows the Lacys knows they are some of the best storytellers around, born with the ability to make you laugh despite your mood. Today, though, (and for some days to come) we’ll be mourning with them.
As I usually do when I’m emotional, I turn to some music. I’m finding myself drawn to Wilco’s “On and On and On,” a song Jeff Tweedy wrote for his dad after his mother’s death.
“Please don’t cry, we’re designed to die
Don’t deny what’s inside
On and on and on we’ll stay together, yeah
On and on and on
On and on and on.”
Fortunately, amidst the tears for Ted and the rest of the family will be the stories that make us laugh until we cry. That’s the beauty of a life well lived – we always leave something behind for those who loved us. On and on and on …