What do you say about the man who has made more of an impact on your life than any other…and now he is gone.
My father-in-law, Bud Hewitt, was that man. You see, my real father was more of hero icon, sports figure, baseball card than anything else. He played professional baseball when I was a little kid, and divorced my mom before I was out of elementary school. Never abusive or mean – just not around. He hung out with hall of fame players, and was a great player himself for the short time he got to play at that level. I have his baseball card.
He impacted my love and talent for baseball, but not much else.
My step-dad was an astute businessman and a world class duck caller/hunter. A nice guy, but once again, not much impact on my character and trajectory as a young man. I had countless teachers, preachers, friends’ dads and coaches who no doubt contributed to my constitution as a man, but no one impacted my life (and will continue to) like Deda.
My precious sister-in-law couldn’t say “daddy” very well as a toddler, so she called her dad Deda (pronounced “dee-dah”) instead. Well, for those of us who were privileged to be family or close friends, it was a fine name. Deda began to imprint my life as a young middle-school aged boy. You see, I began to fall madly in love with his daughter way back in junior high (we called it that back then). I knew who he was because he owned a local variety store in our neighborhood. Seemed like everyone knew him, and loved him. The same was true about his daughter….she was easy to love…and still is.
He was always friendly..to everyone…all the time. He should have started a blog about customer service because he was the best. Every employee in the store got infected with the same “disease”. He taught them, and the rest of us, what it means to truly care about your customer…and people in general. I can honestly say that Deda was the most affable man I have ever known. Everyone loved him and enjoyed being around him.
What strikes me more than anything as I reminisce about his life is his generosity. Generous with smiles, with greetings, with hugs, with encouraging words, with time, with service, and yes…with money. He didn’t ever make a lot of money, but he was always willing to give you what he had. He would carry a folded up $20 bill in his wallet, just waiting for an opportunity to hand it to someone who had a need. He once met a college buddy of mine who was wanting to transfer to the University of Arkansas, and within minutes had offered to pay his out-of-state tuition for the next semester. I tear up just thinking about how loosely he held on to money. He knew, and he taught me, that it really wasn’t his money anyway – but God’s – and God wanted him to use it to bless other folks…… and he happily did so.
He generously gave his money, and his time to help others. His family always came first, but Deda was involved as a Big Brother, a Boy Scout leader, a hospital volunteer, Sunday school teacher, deacon and elder – for decades. He didn’t just sign up for a semester, he was all-in. Another great lesson for yours truly. He taught me what doing whatever you do “as unto the Lord” really means. He didn’t volunteer in order to become loved, or to build his “what-other-people think” resume – he gave much because much had been given to him, and he wanted to be a living witness to other people what the love of God really looks like.
Well, I can tell this will not all be possible in a single post – so, please bear with me as I continue on with a Part 2.
Very appreciative son-in-law.