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Friday, May 6, 2016

Good memories

Sunday, August 29, 2010

(Photo)
Much has been said about Wally Lage since his death last week. Those who knew him understand the generous and kind accolades that have been fittingly heaped on him. For those who didn't know Wally, it would be difficult to explain all the reasons he was such a special person.

One of Wally's daughters, Jenny, eloquently paid tribute to her father earlier this week on this page in a special way that only a member of the family possibly could. Gary Rust, chairman of Rust Communications, wrote of Wally as a friend and colleague.

To those of us who worked with him for so many years, Wally was a private person. He was just about the most accessible boss anyone could ever have hoped for. But he never was one to chitchat about his personal life. Even when asked, he was a man of few words.

At the same time, Wally never seemed to keep things bottled up. Most of us fester with some sort of rage or another. Not Wally. He never seemed to have a bad day, even at those times when he was certainly entitled to one.

Anyone who knew Wally could write this column and fill it with uplifting words of praise. Some of them would be funny. And when you dip into your own memories of Wally, do it with a smile. Wally wasn't big on frowning.

*

I have reached that age when wakes and visitations and funerals and burials are as much a part of my life as trips to the grocery store or haircuts.

A while back I wrote about the husband of one of my cousins who was diagnosed with lung cancer. He chose not to endure the rounds of chemo and radiation. As I told you then, Jerry was ready -- I mean really ready -- to meet his Maker.

Jerry spent the remaining few months of his life making arrangements for the day when he wouldn't be here to look after his family. He did things with friends that he enjoyed the most -- including, according to one e-mail update from cousin Pat, trips to White Castle.

Devout Christians, Jerry and Pat developed what they called a tract ministry. Wherever they went, they handed out small pamphlets with messages of salvation and appropriate Bible verses. At Jerry's visitation, cousin Pat stood, in her stocking feet, beside the casket and asked some mourners, "Are you ready?"

It's a question that can only be answered by you and God. You'd be surprised how many people at Jerry's visitation said they weren't sure. "Take this," cousin Pat would say, handing out another pamphlet. "Call me if you want."

*

I've been walking a couple of miles every day. When I started, I walked in the afternoon, but the heat became unbearable. Now I get up in the dark. I don't care how grown-up you are, there's something spooky about the dark.

Tuesday morning I went my regular route and made it to the stretch that is amply illuminated by street lights. I was chugging along at a good clip when I sensed someone -- or something -- was watching me. The hairs on my arms were standing straight out.

And then I saw it. A cat was lying -- no, lounging -- in the street, keeping an eye on this crazy human who could have stayed in bed another hour. The cat's eyes followed me down the sidewalk. When I stopped to say hello, it stood up, stretched, yawned and strolled off to the other side of the street.

That was my monster du jour. I'll take it.

R. Joe Sullivan is editorial page editor for the Southeast Missourian. You can contact him at

jsullivan@semissourian.com.

R. Joe Sullivan
R. Joe Sullivan