I came across this picture, the other day, and I felt like telling y'all about one of the greatest men to ever walk this earth. John O. Eddins was heavily involved with Camp Seale Harris back in the day. Of Course, Camp is where I met him. There's even an award named after him, at the camp. It's the John O. Eddins Most Outstanding Counselor In Training Award. I won this award in 1994, and from there "J. O. E." became more like a grandfather than anything. I wish I still had pictures from that night. I was 17.
Fast-forward to 21. Thanks to my Mother's connections, I landed my first grown folks job, with an actual salary and benefits. The job was in Birmingham, so I had to move. In my $75 Volkswagen Fox, with a nightstand, all my clothes, stereo and $40 to my name, I headed north on I-65. My first couple of months there, I lived in the attic of friends of Camp Seale Harris. They were awesome folks as well.
After that, I left them to take the vacancy that Mr. Eddins had in his basement. He had offered it to me months before. It was more of an apartment than anything. I was grateful. Most nights, I'd join him upstairs to watch tv. There were three tv's sitting side by side, with different basketball games on each one. We'd talk, we'd laugh, and he'd tell me stories of his younger years growing up and in the Navy, and stories of his beloved wife Jane who has passed years before. I'd ride with Mr. Eddins to Lions Club meetings, fundraising events, and to check in on folks he cared about. I am always grateful for opportunities to sit with elders, hear their stories, and gain new perspectives. For they've lived things we only hear about, read about, or see shitty Hollywood renditions of.
After increasing my finances and credit a bit, it was time for me to find a place of my own. John was sad when I told him I was moving out. He told me that I didn't have to go and that I could stay as long as I liked. I guess I was good company, but I knew he was a bit lonely there. Over the following couple of years, I'd catch up with him at the Eye Foundation downtown, or I'd swing by his house. I believe the last time I saw him was around 2001. I took my eldest daughter to meet him. She was a little less than a year old at that time. He adored her. We lost touch after that. My life went on a ridiculous roller-coaster ride, but that's no excuse for not being better about keeping in touch with my adopted Grandpa.
John O. Eddins was an amazing example of Love, Humility, Compassion, Wisdom, Honesty, Care, Leadership, Devotion and so much more. I miss this old dude! Got me tearin up and stuff! The gratitude that I will always find in my soul for this man, is immeasurable, and maybe unfathomable to some.
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.......