Most of us have just finished celebrating the 4th of July, and time with family and friends. Since the holiday fell in the middle of the week, many could not travel for there was only one day of the holiday, unless personal time off was included. Given the schedule, neither of our daughters and their families could be with us at the beach. So, Mike and I took our elder statesman Uncle Barry with us to the beach for the week. We had a wonderful time. We never take our time with Uncle Barry for granted, for at his soon to be 88 years of age, we know he will not live forever. But then again, given his energy and zest for life, he might! We can all learn a lesson from Uncle Barry about how to appreciate every day, take nothing for granted, and be grateful for whatever is given to you.
On our way from the beach back to Raleigh on Sunday, Mike and I went to a memorial service for a friend from Southport. Mitch Hall, who worked at our golf course for seventeen years, died on July 1 at the young age of 77. His celebration service was held on Sunday, July 8th at the Oak Island United Methodist Church. And a celebration service it was! There was beach music played throughout, and it was a fitting tribute to the man who loved beach music. The scriptures that were read were more traditional and also very appropriate. Mitch’s son, Gavin Hall, gave a moving tribute to his dad, mentioning how he loved his life at the beach, his years working at the golf course, and his beloved wife, Jean. Mitch and Jean were a true couple, and although they did not have enough years together, the years they shared were precious to both of them.
At the service, I was struck by the people in attendance. Mitch worked with the last three of our golf course managers, and two of them were present; the other passed away several years ago. There were other golf course staff there as well. There were also many Oak Island and Southport residents, many of whom are regulars at our golf course bar and grill, and some who are more infrequent guests, but still a part of our golf course and area family. While Mitch had not been at the golf course for several years, the locals remembered how important he and Jean were to us and came out in his honor. There were people present who waited to attend the service before leaving to travel elsewhere, and some who came from elsewhere to attend the service. There were also some who I thought would have been there but who weren’t; I assume they had reasons that precluded them from being present.
As we sat in Mitch’s service, I felt the message of the song, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.” I looked around and felt the spirit of the faithful Oak Island family, people who took their time to come and be with Jean and Mitch’s family and say a respectful goodbye. I felt gratitude for those who still know how important it is to show respect when one who has been a part of their larger circle passes, and who changed their schedule to be there. Although Mike and I are part-time residents of the area, I was proud to be a part of this community at this time.
Mitch was a veteran, so it is fitting that his celebration of life occurred during our Independence holiday. God bless America, and God bless Mitch Hall.