RIP, Christopher… “Like Pieces of Glass in My Head All of the Time…”

The last image taken of Christopher, holding his new niece.

The last image taken of Christopher, holding his new niece.

I wave the white flag. I cry “Uncle!” I can bear no more losses this year. There’s been too much death. (In a future blog, when I’m feeling ready to talk about it, I will share the story of my bio-mom’s death in March of this year. That, too, was heartbreak.)

If there were any way I could take away the pain Darlene, my BFF since kindergarten, is feeling, I would. Her heart is broken. In a million pieces.

My BFF since kindergarten, my beautiful friend Darlene, and her beautiful son.

My BFF since kindergarten, my beautiful friend Darlene, and her beautiful son, gone too soon.

Here is a link to the eulogy she wrote, and below is the funeral program I wrote for her son Christopher. While one of the saddest assignments I’ve ever received, it was also the greatest honor and privilege that they entrusted me–the irreverent friend who attempted slipping a “There Once Was a Man from Nantucket” poem into my own wedding ceremony–to do this for them. (Darlene was my official photographer that day.)

So…here it is:

Christopher Ryan Nauman grew to become a big man with an even bigger heart. In fact, he had one of the biggest, most loving hearts many of us ever knew. Like John Coffey, the character he loved so in The Green Mile, Christopher lived his life vibrating on a different frequency than the rest of us…feeling things more deeply and intensely than we could ever possibly understand. He was God’s instrument, so sensitive and finely tuned…so fragile inside of a body seemingly so sturdy and strong.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.53.55

There was never a doubt of Chris’s deep, abiding love for his family and his friends, which knew no bounds. He was loyal to a fault. There were times in his life when those who would prey on loving souls mistook his kindness for weakness. But that was not Chris’s journey. He continued being kind, overlooking their faults.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 16.05.05

From the time Chris was small, his love for children was obvious to anyone near him. He relished his time with every one of the children in his orbit—Riley, Mazie, Colbie, Teagan—protective and clearly smitten, always playing with the little ones and loving on the babies.

Chris was blessed in being raised with family who always saw the essence of who Chris truly was, despite the challenges he faced; they saw the true potential in his God-given gifts. They nurtured his love for reading, feeding him on westerns by Louis L’Amour, adventures by Clive Cussler, and the diverse fiction of Stephen King, informing his vivid theater of the mind.

They also encouraged his natural talent for art. Illustration came easily to Chris. His parents helped him parlay that gift into the imaginative tattoo art that was innate to Chris. We treasure those who forever carry the touch of his ink on their skin.

Christopher, the Illustrated Man.

Christopher, the Illustrated Man.

Being outside surrounded by nature gave Chris so much peace; mowing the lawn was the chore requiring the least amount of prodding. One of his favorite jobs was installing piers, since it combined being on the water with being outside, although his fair skin would pay the price at day’s end. He loved working in the yard, helping Darlene build their brick flowerbeds and plant the gardens in front of their home, working tirelessly alongside her on those ambitious outside projects.

The beautiful flower bed Christopher helped build and plant with his mom.

The beautiful flower bed Christopher helped build and plant with his mom.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.56.30

Another joy in Christopher’s life aside from music, art, books, and video gaming, was his dad’s cooking. He’d regularly call home and query Robert with “What leftovers do you have?” or “Dad! What are you going to make?!?” His favorites were Robert’s spicy chili mac and his barbecued pork steaks. If he’d had the luxury of choosing, those would have been on the menu for his last meal.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.58.17

Joining his Uncle Darrell, another gifted artist, we believe–no, we know–Christopher is in heaven, collaborating with all of the artists in residence, making heaven an even more beautiful place.

We ask that you pray for each member of our family to heal our heartbreak, and that you always remember Christopher in your prayers. He will hear you.

Screenshot 2016-06-02 15.59.11

My sweet friend wrote this on Facebook just now:

True Blue.

True Blue.

Advertisements

Cousin Judy

Beloved Cousin Judith Anderson, RIP

My Beloved Cousin Judith Anderson, My Life Saver

My cousin Judy never, ever sought the limelight in her life, so I wanted to cast the kliegs on her, just this once. I owe her that. I attended Judy’s funeral on Monday. As usual, when asked to say a few words, I couldn’t do so without totally losing my shit, so I decided to say a few words about Judy here, where my eyes can leak in private.

I owe my life to Judy. At age eight, I had all of the symptoms of an appendicitis. My mom rushed me to the hospital that January afternoon in the midst of an ice storm. Judy worked there as an X-ray technician. It was Judy who connected us with the right doctor and fought to ensure they didn’t send me back home, as they were trying to do. Thanks to Judy’s feistiness, I got the surgery I badly needed. In those days (a lifetime ago) they kept you in the hospital forever, it seemed. I was there for 10 days. Judy visited me daily without fail. I always looked forward to seeing her. She was the steadfast ally I needed at that time.

Judy was a quiet, private person. On the rare occasion that Judy would talk with me about her job, she would share her rage over the children and women she X-rayed, who were clearly victims of physical abuse. Judy’s highly charged emotions over this–usually dormant–stayed with me. Made an impact. Later in life, I worked for projects in Northwest Florida like Children in Crisis and Shelter House, advocating for protecting children and domestic abuse victims–the vulnerable among us–from further cruelty.

When I was a kid, Judy had her own boat, and she would take us boating and fishing on the Fox River and the Chain o’ Lakes. It was Judy who taught me to fish. She seemed to intuit the magic spots where the fish were always biting. I can remember one instance where I could barely keep my hook baited long enough to handle all of the fish I caught. Judy also taught me to clean my own fish. Anyone who knows how squeamish I am finds it unfathomable that I clean my own fish–I can’t even watch surgeries on TV. During one of our fishing adventures, we were caught on the Chain o’ Lakes when a storm arose out of nowhere; it was Judy’s masterful boating that got us back to shore unscathed in that terrifying, wicked weather.

A hysterectomy in her 50s set Judy off on the medical odyssey that she suffered in silence. The blood transfusions at that time weren’t as closely scrutinized, and they gave her hepatitis.  She was unaware she had hepatitis until her liver failed. The liver transplant they gave her was from a cancer patient. Adding insult to injury, she had to go through chemo. She endured so much pain the past two decades of her life with little complaint, other than yearning so for another dog that she physically could no longer care for. It broke our hearts that she couldn’t have that dog. I’d like to believe that now she is surrounded by the black flat-coated labs she loved so  much in this life–her show dogs.

Judy never married, and never had children. She is the final person with the last name of Anderson in this lineage, which makes her passing the exclamation point on a storied family with more impact than you can imagine on the history of Elgin, Illinois. Wing Street. McLean Boulevard. In fact, the hospital where she worked–Sherman Hospital–was named after the side of our family that included a Civil War hero with the same last name. I doubt her co-workers ever knew that. Judy preferred to remain in the shadows. In fact, she’ll probably haunt me for casting the kliegs on her today, but as I said, I owe her that.

God bless you, Judy.

 

Dave Daughtry, R.I.P. A Close Friend, Mentor and Bon Vivant

When I moved to Northwest Florida, I formed a production services association to network with fellow production people. One of the first people I befriended was Denise Daughtry, who was the Pensacola film commissioner. When I was pregnant with Jack, she invited Dave Dorman and me over for lunch one day. As we sat in her fabulous kitchen, adorned with gorgeous antiques–my favorite thing–in walked her tall, gorgeous husband, bigger than life. He had this enormous stage presence, and reminded me a lot of western star Clu Gulager, but better looking.

Dave Daughtry, my friend, mentor, and someone who was just as beautiful on the inside as he was on the outside.

Dave Daughtry, my friend, mentor, and someone who was just as beautiful on the inside as he was on the outside.

It was then that I witnessed my Dave–who has met everyone from George Lucas to Guillermo del Toro–become starstruck. I’d never seen this before! Since I was new to the area, I didn’t realize Denise’s husband Dave Daughtry had been the nightly newscaster on the Pensacola TV station. But my Dave, who had lived there for 25 years, adored and admired him from afar. And now he was getting to know Dave Daughtry up close and personal.

For the remainder of the time I lived in Florida, they were an integral part of our social circle. They were with me at 5 p.m. on November 2nd when my first labor pains kicked in, and they were the first to meet newborn Jack in person, after Dave and my parents.

James Bond had nothing on Dave Daughtry.

James Bond had nothing on Dave Daughtry.

Last year I got to spend more time with the Daughtrys than usual. They hosted me in their lovely, historic home on many occasions as I traveled to the area on business. Dave would drive me to the airport with his two beloved standard poodles, Peachy and Pal, in his Jeep. We had great conversations and plenty of laughs. To say I will miss him is an understatement.

Without further adieu, here is his obit:

Services Saturday

Longtime broadcaster Dave Daughtry dies after more than 50 years in radio/TV

Funeral services will be held Saturday for Dave Daughtry, a popular figure in local radio and television for more than 30 years.

Mr. Daughtry died Tuesday at a Pensacola hospital. The native of Macon County, Ala. was 76.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Pensacola. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m.

Mr. Daughtry, who got his start in broadcasting at a small radio station in Andalusia, Ala., had hosted the morning show on WEBY-AM in Milton for the past 14 years. In addition, he moderated a Sunday night BLAB-TV show, “Justice for All,” featuring attorneys Barry Beroset and Tommy Ratchford.

Although he also had been an anchor on WEAR-TV in Pensacola and a reporter-anchor on WALA-TV in Mobile, “radio was what he loved most,” said Denise Chenel Daughtry, his wife of 26 years.

His love meant long and early hours. He started preparing for his two-hour show at 2:30 a.m. and arrived at the Milton station at5 a.m. in order to go on the air at 6 a.m.

“He joined us in 2001 and he’s been our morning guy ever since,” said Mike Bates, owner of WEBY. “We even ran a promotion called ‘Wake Up With Dave’ and that’s what a lot of people did.”

In addition to delivering news, weather and sports, Mr. Daughtry created a whimsical character, “Farmer Dave,” who dispensed folksy bits of philosophy. The “Farmer Dave” title was tongue-in-cheek, his wife said, because he knew a lot about gardening but little about farming.

However, he knew a lot about broadcasting in a career that covered several states and innumerable assignments. From that first job in Andalusia Mr. Daughtry went to Huntsville and worked his way up at other stations before moving to Nashville, Tenn. and switching to television. He was news director and anchor for WSM television and dominated the ratings there for several years.

He was press secretary for the City of Knoxville and also worked at television stations in Memphis, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Daughtry came to Pensacola more than 30 years ago to anchor the news at WEAR-TV and then spent several years with WALA-TV.

Along with his love for newsgathering and writing, he had a strong voice and loved to belt out songs. His beloved dogs Peaches and Pal often accompanied him on trips from his home in the Historic Seville District in Pensacola.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children: Bonnie Daughtry Barazza (Mike), Michael Daughtry (Sheila) and Patrick Daughtry (Lynn), all of the Auburn, Ala. area. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren: Lindsey Seal, Shannon Barazza Hlcome, Evan Barazza, Patrick Houston Daughtry Jr., Amanda Daughtry Van Ausdal, Shelby Prestridge and Benjamin Daughtry. Mr. Daughtry also was eagerly awaiting the birth of his first great-grandchild by Amanda and Don Van Ausdal.

New Hashtag: #FirstSundaeBarAtAFuneral

 

Sundae assembled by my cousin Tami (Follman) Borman to commemorate my dad today at his funeral. Photography by Tami, also.

Sundae assembled by my cousin Tami (Follman) Borman to commemorate my dad today at his funeral.                               New Hashtag and Photography by Tami, also.

Jack’s Eulogy Today for His Grandfather/My Dad:

Grandpa is cool and awesome and he is funny and he likes eating fudge sticks a lot.

Grandpa was funny and we would always eat our fudge sticks together while watching “Gunsmoke.”

We used to play bowling on Wii sports and Grandpa would always beat me.

My favorite thing about Grandpa was that he made funny jokes. He was always happy and he would always be smiling.

Grandpa liked taking naps with Jonesy the Cat, and he liked playing with Jonesy.

I love Grandpa and I will miss Grandpa very much, and every time I find a penny, I will know he’s thinking of me.

A Post Today About My Dad from Darlene Nauman, My BFF since Kindergarten:

#WordsThatMakeMyEyesLeakWater

#WordsThatMakeMyEyesLeakWater