The Man in the Hat
scroll down for “Sermon in the Hayfield”
He was sitting in the ER at Rapides General.
I passed him before I noticed his hat.
He was a rough-looking man.
The kind of man I might cross a dark street to avoid.
The type of man I’d want on my side in a fight.
It was the hat that gave me pause.
He looked slightly older than me.
A Viet vet for sure.
There was no way I was passing him without a word.
As I approached, he looked directly into my eyes.
“Sir, there’s no way I’m going to pass you in that hat
without saying ‘thank you.’”
His face softened as he extended his hand.
His grip was just as strong as I expected.
I hope mine was too. “Sir, I really mean it. I appreciate what you did for our country.”
His eyes misted over. “Thank you. I appreciate you remembering.”
The grip relaxed but the direct stare remained.
I turned and left, giving one last nod.
The respectful kind of nod Southern men give each other.
A direct stare.
A strong grip.
A respectful nod.
Lord, don’t let me walk by any vet without stopping to say thank you.
In spite of whatever may be wrong with America, we’re still the land of the free.
Thanks to guys like the man in the hat.
The Sermon in the Hayfield (Revisited)
It’s only and fitting that Mrs. Kat King died on her wedding anniversary. She and her husband, Ed, were always connected.
It was always Kat and Ed.
Ed and Kat.
They were one of my favorite Dry Creek couples. Ed and Kat King served as role models for generations of Beauregard Parish folks.
Mrs. King was buried today in Dry Creek. Sadly, I didn’t make it home in time to tell her goodbye.
This story, from my first book, Stories from the Creekbank, is a testimony to how they influenced my life. This story’s focus is on Ed King but it’s just as much a reflection on his life partner, Kat King.
The Sermon in the Hayfield
Love is patient and kind. . . I Corinthians 13:4
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been around Ed King. He has always been, and still is, one of my favorite people.
As a boy in Dry Creek Church I loved to hear Ed King lead the singing. His kind nature and mellow voice were always a delight to my ears and heart. In addition to leading the singing, Ed King was a well-respected deacon. We always respectfully addressed him as “Brother Ed.”
Ed King and his wife Kat operated a dairy north of Dry Creek. They were no strangers to hard work.
Mrs. King, whom Bro. Ed affectionately called “Kitten” was Dry Creek’s postmaster. They were, and still are, a couple who always showed love to others.
The compelling trait I noticed as boy about Ed King was his kind and gentle nature.
When you looked at him, you always could tell how hard he had worked. When you shook his hand, it was the strong and firm handshake of a man who had labored hard. His hands were leather tough and gnarled. But when a person first met Mr. King, they did not notice the hands, but the kindness that showed in his eyes.
Probably the most important thing Ed King ever did for me was a sermon he once preached to me . . .
As a teenager, the Kings would hire me to help haul hay. Mrs. King would drive their old green Dodge truck as we loaded the square bales on the bed and trailer. I recall on hot sunny day how the old baler kept breaking down time after time.
Each time, Ed King would methodically repair the baler. Never did he seem bent out of shape or complain. As he worked, he carried on a normal conversation with me. As he repaired a belt or pulley, he’d tell some interesting story about one of the milk cows, or what “Kitten” was cooking for supper, or ask how school was going for me.
All this time he seemed unaffected by the continued mechanical malfunctions. On the fifth baler breakdown, I expected a temper tantrum or fit, but Ed King went right on as if this latest setback was nothing to get excited about.
We finally finished the job just before and dark and just after the seventh breakdown. I would have gladly helped haul that baler to Three Bridges and dumped it in.
However, as we loaded the last bales high up in the barn, Ed King merrily worked on.
Later as I thought about it, I realized that Ed King had taught me a very important lesson that day. It’s one that I’m still attempting to learn. He “preached a sermon” in the hayfield that day. Through his actions and attitude he showed me how to handle disappointment and obstacles.
Now I’m as unmechanical as they come- all thumbs. But when the crescent wrench slips and I knock the bark off my knuckles, I hesitate before I fling the wrench toward the vicinity of the woods. In my mind I recall the example I saw that day in the hayfield.
And when I face an uphill climb in life, I remember that patience and perseverance are two positive traits that go hand in hand.
And I recall the day I saw those traits on display when Ed King preached his sermon in the hayfield.
12/15/12 Postscript: Early this past week, a reunion took place. Mrs. Kat King, because of her faith in Jesus, walked whole into Heaven. No more dementia, no nursing home, no more aches and illness.
I’d like to been a bug on the wall (Wait, are there bugs in Heaven?) when she saw Jesus, and then saw her husband Ed.
He know longer limped or had the illnesses that took his life. No longer were they separated.
Ed and Kat King.
Kat and Ed King.
Always together in my mind.
Always together for all time.
Mrs. Kat’s obituary http://labbymemorial.com/fh/print.cfm?type=obituary&o_id=1871551&fh_id=10166
Mrs. Kat King was a beautiful woman on both the outside and inside.