Tuesday, February 16, 2016

OLD MAN WOOODARD

Sister Sharon came by my place, unannounced as always, to tell me that Old Man Woodid died. People called him Old Man Woodard but that Woodard was not last name, he just got tired of correcting people. Amos Woodard and I go way back, we have known each other since elementary school; he was called him Old Man Woodard back then.
The grown folks called him a peculiar child because of he never associated with the rest of the children, made excellent grades, and was always clean and dressed nice. He was raised by his grandparents who weren’t real strict but maintained high expectations, as a result he kept to himself until he entered high school.
Unfortunately, by that time the kids in the neighborhood started accusing him of being gay. He had a lot of female friends who assumed such but very few male friends. I on the other hand maintained my distance even though I knew he was not homosexual, I knew he wasn’t because I asked.
Anyway, Amos went away to college and when he returned he was married to an Asian girl he met on campus. This did not ingratiate him with the community but he was determined to care for his grandparents as long as they lived which he did. He and Meeka, his wife, had three children who were home-schooled. When his grandparents died the family moved to a community that was more appreciative of the couple and their lifestyle which included traveling around the world.
Amos, who had accomplished a lot and anonymously contributed quite a bit to the community he grew up in never achieved the respect he felt he deserved.
Sharon, Sister Sharon as she preferred to be called, came to see what I knew about his death. I stood in front of my door not letting her in and me not coming out. Sharon just came to gossip, she kept make general statements to get me to respond: “He never went to church, I wonder if he was saved;” “They say his wife left him and married the real father of the children;” “Somebody said he died of AIDS.” I refused to even respond to her words.
It took her a while but she finally got the message. I stood at my door and watched her leave. I use to be a gossip; once upon a time I made it might point to know everybody’s business and then I heard someone gossiping about me, it did not feel good.
The book of Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything even a time to speak, it took me some time but eventually I learned to shut up. The funny thing is, I know more people’s business now than I know what to do with. When I die a whole lot of secrets will go down in the ground with me.

Amos Woodard was a good man. He never had a problem with gossip and he knew a lot about the people in the community. He paid light bills of people who had lost their job, he even paid the mortgage of one of the people who used to tease him when he was in elementary school when that man got behind in his mortgage after loosing his job. It was all anonymous of course. Was he a Christian? When Meeka told me he had pancreatic cancer and the doctors did not give him much longer to live, I made a point of sharing the gospel to him, it took a while but after two weeks of gentle sharing both he and his wife made Jesus Lord of their lives.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26 New King James Version

He lived a year after making Jesus Lord of his life. In that time he was able to share the gospel with his children and he and his wife traveled a bit. On my last visit to the Woodard's home Amos told me he was tired, that was three days ago.

Amos and I are the same age, when someone your age or younger dies it makes you think about your own mortality. To many people don’t have the spiritual or financial house in order thankfully both Amos and I don’t have that problem. I am a child of God and I manage my finances well. In case of my death my family will not be burdened with outstanding debts or expenses they cannot afford.
And that is the world according to NETTIE xxx Short Stories and essays by Marsha L F Randolph