Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mr. David

Yesterday morning, I attended the funeral of David Wooten, a good friend of my family whom I've known all of my life. He fought a laborious and lengthy battle with cancer, and while death may have won the battle on this side of eternity, Mr. David is the final victor in the war. I know Mr. David would have been very honored by the kind words spoken about him at his funeral. Instead of belaboring the stories and memories which others have of him, I'll share with you several memories I have of Mr. David.

My fondest memories of Mr. David undoubtedly involve our church camping trips. Two or three times a year throughout my childhood, my church would have a weekend camping trip somewhere around the state. As Activities Director for the church, Mr. David had the responsibility of planning each trip, everything from location to meals. My father acquired the responsibility of helping Mr. David each trip, specifically by using his truck for transportation. Each and every trip, I can remember the expectation and excitement I felt about getting out of school in the middle of the day to go on one of Mr. David's camping trips. My dad would come pick up Jonathan and me, and we'd swing by the house to pick up our supplies before heading a couple of minutes down the road to Mr. David's house. Here are a couple of specific memories:

Mr. David was a talented magician. Some folks say this magic I speak of is nothing more than the talent of being a "master packer," but I'm convinced that Mr. David's ability to use every inch of space, sometimes even defying gravity, couldn't be anything other than hocus pocus. After pulling up at Mr. David's house, I'd hop out of the truck only to see what seemed to be acres of camping supplies and equipment in his driveway and garage. Tents and tarps and canopies and tools and pots and pans and stoves and duffel bags. Acres of equipment and supplies that had to go with us! But every time, Mr. David gracefully packed these infinite bundles of equipment and cumbersome stacks of supplies into the compressed bed of a Ford pick up truck.

Every camping trip testified to Mr. David's meticulous attention to detail. Planning meals for large crowds of people certainly seems overwhelming to someone like me who can barely get motivated to prepare food for himself, but I never worried about eating when I knew Mr. David was cooking. The man could cook! Mr. David was not exactly a "lean cuisine" type of cook. In fact, Saturday breakfast on a camping trip consisted of my favorite recipe of Mr. David's: the "one pound of butter to one pound of grits" entree. Seriously, if you went to dip out a large helping of grits on your plate, there was a good chance you might pull out a stick of butter! But again, he was a meticulous planner. We never never ran out of food nor did we bring any excess home.

There was always one event during a camping trip that tended to scare me. Even though I wasn't ultimately responsible for it, helping put up Mr. David's tent was always a daunting task. If I remember correctly, his tent was about 1,500 square feet and had approximately 850 poles to assemble. It seemed that way anyway. I'm still dumbfounded that he put that tent together without a single set of directions. Here's another thing: after a hard day of preparation and work, Mr. David always had a restful night of sleep. Nobody else at the camp site did, but he sure did. Mr. David was a world champion snorer. We slept in some scary and secluded places sometimes, but I never feared for my safety. Mr. David's snoring easily scared off any creature with malcontent.

Mr. David was not an easily excitable guy, but I can recollect one memory of him getting agitated. One camping trip, we spent some time chopping fire wood when we first arrived. A campground manager soon showed up and confronted us about our great sin i.e. chopping firewood while camping at a state campground. You see, the campground manager was particularly worried about the byproduct of our activity - wood chips. That's right. The campground manager was concerned about having to clean up wood chips at a camp site, and Mr. David didn't take real kindly to being told he couldn't chop wood. But we did have our revenge. A couple of the kids (I'm pretty sure I headed it up) decided to put out our campfire on Saturday morning with pine straw. Why pine straw instead of water? Well, burning pine straw produces a thick white smoke, and we took great care to fan the smoke to the camp manager's nearby trailer...definitely smoked the guy out. It was awesome! Mr. David definitely didn't call us off on that one.

Mr. David had a wry, straight forward sense of humor. To this day, I still remember this rather random story about him. Before we left town for a camping trip one Friday afternoon, we stopped by a convenience store to pick up some snacks. By the way, let me give you a brief summary of our traveling arrangements: two adults and four kids in the front cab of a truck. I'm getting claustrophobic just thinking about it. Anyway, I noticed Mr. David coming out of the convenience store with a bottle of coke and bag of chips I didn't recognize. Some type of spicy and cheesy chips. So I asked Mr. David what they were, and after giving me the answer, he said, "yep...guaranteed to make you poot." I still smile when I think about it!

For Christians, funerals aren't for the deceased but for the friends and family left behind. Mr. David no longer has a sin-scarred body, but a healthy and supernatural body. Thanks, Mr. David, for your servant's heart. Now every day for Mr. David is truly just another exciting day.

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