My cousin, David and I were born the same year. He died in 1983 while working on his doctorate in music at North Texas State University. He was an amazing classical guitarist, a brilliant and gentle young man. David’s death was heartbreaking to his parents, my Aunt Lucille, and Uncle Reese, his sister Carol, and our extended family.
I learned a lot about how to deal with a loss by watching their lives. Uncle Reese wrote a book that was a great tribute to David and comforting to friends and family.
For several years, David baked whole wheat bread, sharing his recipe with me. I don’t remember ever using it while he was alive.
After David’s death, I began to bake his bread recipe each Christmas. This baking of bread became one of my annual traditions and a time for me to think about David and what his life meant to our family.
Not long after his death, fellow musicians held a tribute concert in David’s memory. Proceeds went to a memorial concert fund at Stephen F. Austin University where David got his college degree and where Uncle Reese worked as an art professor. Our family drove down to Nacogdoches for the concert held at a local coffee shop. It was a wonderful event.
Both Uncle Reese and Aunt Lucille died several years ago, but David’s death was a constant shadow of sadness in their lives. The memories of our loss of David still sting today. I sometimes wonder how his talent and kind spirit would have influenced the world if he had lived longer.
A couple of summers ago, I took Becca to Santa Fe. We stayed at the Saint Francis Hotel. We weren’t roughing it but had access to some beautiful hiking trails. I would rise early and hike, and then return for some afternoon touring with Becca and a good meal. We called it food tourism, and it was great fun!
While taking a break on a day hike up to Santa Fe Baldy, two ladies approached up the trail and asked if I was alright. Maybe I looked tired from the elevation, but I replied, “It’s 60-degrees with no humidity, so this guy from Arkansas feels great! It’s in the upper 90s back home.”
One of the ladies said she knew about high humidity, having lived in East Texas for several years. I said I used to have family in that area. She asked where, and I said Nacogdoches to which she replied, “That’s where I lived.” I mentioned Reese and Lucille’s name, and she said she knew them well.
It turns out that she owned the coffee shop where the memorial concert for David was held, and she remembered it well. We shared memories of Reese, Lucille, David, and Carol. The lady with her just stood there stunned at what she was hearing. I only saw two hikers on the ascent up to Santa Fe Baldy that day.
At the end of the day, while preparing to drive away from the trailhead, the two ladies came off of the trail. The one who had lived in Nacogdoches came running up with a trail guide she thought I might like to have, saying it was an older edition but had some good hikes around the area. I thanked her and gave her an Ozark Highlands Trail Association water bottle.
As I drove away, I was thankful for this chance meeting on the trail and the kind words I heard about David from this “stranger.” I was reminded that there are no real strangers on the trail, where we often have connections with others just waiting to be discovered.
This evening Becca and I tasted David’s bread, and it was good. I read an excerpt from his father’s book and pulled out the old hiking guide to view the trail to Santa Fe Baldy. I thought about David’s far reaching influence and how memories of him and his parents live on in others.
What a great story….. Very heartwarming
Beautifully written, Jim. Thank you.
There is no such thing as coincidences. You have been blessed.
Jim, My name is Paul I was David’s roommate in Denton at the time of his sad passing. His death affected me in a big way. I have never forgotten him and the tragedy, the funeral. I was at the funeral in Nacogdoches that December, 35 years ago this year. I usually remember the anniversary of David’s passing each year on December 9, though not always. I was not able to express my feelings in written words to be included in Reese’s memorial booklet. I remember that some of us held a memorial concert at a church in Dallas, I think it must have been in 1984.
I probably met you at David’s funeral. I remember your wife’s name, Becca, now, after reading this post. And I had met David’s sister, Carol. And another cousin (perhaps it *was* you?) who lived in Lewisville, with whom I rode by car to Nacogdoches. If that was you, forgive me for not remembering!
I wish you all the best and I will pray for you and your family especially this Christmas season.
Peace of Christ be with you.
Thank you for making contact and sharing your thoughts through this blog post. It means a lot to know others were influenced by his life and keep David’s memory alive.
I was extremely fortunate enough to play guitar with David although I will admit he was more of a mentor as far as guitar playing goes. I met David along with Dr. Chris Grooms about the same time in Nacogdoches.
My Lord, looking back on those time it was like reaching the end of the rainbow and finding that pot of gold!! David was such an inspiration.
Thanks for sharing your memories! I remember listening to David’s guitar surrounded by his parents’ and sister’s art and feeling immersed in creativity. I think your “pot of gold” analogy is exactly right.