In the past week, Birmingham lost 2 prominent figures: Dr. Thomas Wilson, Mr. Bob Esdale. These men have represented all that is good in humanity. They loved unabashedly everyone who crossed their paths. They gave back to Birmingham all they had received. They have raised families who continue to make lives better. In the midst of chaos, they have been the anchors which keep us steady.
As we gather together to mourn the loss of these friends and family, I am reminded of the memories I shared with each of these men. Tommy was my uncle, my dad’s brother. He was one of “Those Wilson Boys” tribe; an elite group of misfits. He was fun, funny and always had a smile on his face. He would hold court, smoke his pipe and greet you with one of the greatest smiles I have ever encountered. He loved his family fiercely and they in turn loved just as hard. Even though I live in the same town, I do not get to see them enough. But they welcome me with open arms each time. He was the last of “The Boys”, leaving my dear Aunt Mimi to hold down the Wilson Fort. She alone has been able to whip Birmingham’s ass into shape.
One of my most favorite people in the world, Mr Bob Esdale, went to Heaven as well. I LOVED THIS MAN!! His daughter Mary is one of my oldest friends. They became my backdoor neighbors when we were in 6th grade. Hurricane Bob entered my heart and never left. I have special spots in my heart for people like him. I am not one to show outward love to those even close to me, however, he was able to draw me out of my shell. His big bear hugs could sustain me for weeks. I could feel his smile. Does that make sense? Just like Tommy, he loved completely and unconditionally. His kids love just the same. I had the chance to spend some time with Mary and other old friends last night sharing Bob stories. At times, not a dry eye was to be found. Other stories drew gut splitting laughter. He exuded shear goodness. I have no other way to express it. I know each of you knows someone like him.
Do you see a common thread among these men? LOVE. So many ways to define love exist. So many ways to express love exist. So many levels of love exist. It is there for the taking. If you are fortunate enough to know someone like these men who loves hard, keep them close. They make everything in your life better. Let down your guard and truly experience this love if only for a minute. You will be a better person for it.