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Death in a small town

I'm not really a small town kind of person. I'm not claiming that Nashville is anywhere near Chicago, NY or Atlanta status, but it does have multiple incredibly good diverse dining options, movie theaters that show non-blockbuster films, places to drink coffee and professional sports. Small towns may have a few good restaurants, but coffee usually is only available at the corner diner, and it may or may not be fit to propel diesel engines.

Small towns, at least in the movies, and in my mind, don't know what to do with the out-liers, the artist who dreams beyond Thomas Kinkade, the goth-kid, the outwardly gay and the people who scream that it's time for a change. A lot of this is based on books written by people who fled small towns, or movies made by the small-town expatriate. Some of these thoughts are based on experiences of people I know....

But there's also another side: The unity, the support, the friendliness, the village of parental watching out for each other, and the sense that everyone here matters. I got to see the good side this past week in a little town called Liberty, Texas. Oddly, there are at least eight towns in Texas named Liberty. Only one of them is actually IN Liberty County, the county I was visiting.

My friend Nick, described somewhat in the previous post, was a principal, a coach, a teacher, a friend, a husband and a dad. All those words are mere outlines to the man. He was a gentle giant, a listener, a great singer, a lover of history and a person who knew how to make you feel comfortable.

Liberty, Texas celebrated their son last week in a way I'll never forget. Schools closed early..athletic events were cancelled. The line at the funeral home for visitation stretched through the funeral home, out the door and down the block and continued to build for hours. Signs in tribute plastered the city. Mountains of food were supplemented by more mountains. The art of the deviled egg has been perfected in Liberty.

More importanly, in those days, there weren't white folks, black folks, hispanic folks, gay folks, straight folks, Catholics, Baptists or C. of Christers. There were people unified in their love for Nick whose generosity amazed those of us who came from far away. They took us into their homes, fed us (way too well!), gave us beds to sleep in and ferried us to where we needed to go. In those homes, I got to hear a lot about Liberty and why a guy who tasted the Big Apple and other 'big places' wanted to go back to Liberty.

I still am not a small-town kind of person, but I understand a lot more, now that I've viewed Liberty though the prism of my late friend Nick, and a village of people who know more about community than I've ever known...I suspect they understand a little more about the world and acceptance than I've been lead to believe, as well.

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About me

  • I'm John H
  • From Salemtown, Tennessee, United States
  • Cruising past 50, my wife and I have reared three kids and several dogs. I work for state government and daily conspire to deflate bureacracy.
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