Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tom Zachry: the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away

A friend of some years ago, Tom Zachry, has died in a boating accident. His bass boat capsized after hitting a stump. Possibly b/c his companion - Gerald Mack - was 75ish years old and was clinging to a boat in cold water: the 65ish year old Tom decided to swim for shore and get help. Tom was a good swimmer. He made it within 200 feet of shore, but the water was cold, and there was wind, and whitecaps, and Tom went down. Gerald Mack was rescued approximately 4 hours later.

Tom was recently elected as a Tarrant County Judge:
At an election forum five days before the primary, Zachry spoke more about his family and his religious faith than his judicial qualifications, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon said Tuesday.

He said he was a bit surprised when Zachry told members of the Arlington Republican Women's Club that he wasn't going to speak about "why he'd make a wonderful judge."

Instead, Shannon said, Zachry told the audience that despite the loss of his daughter 10 years ago, he was happy with his life, his 46-marriage to his college sweetheart and his relationship with Christ.

"He said he'd be fine whether he won or lost," Shannon said. "That was really uplifting to me."

Zachry's upbeat attitude touched people at his church, where he was involved in Bible study and other ministries, his pastor said.

"He was a man who cared about people and tried to encourage them in their spiritual lives," Horton said. "He was encouraging to me, personally."

Don't let me leave you with the impression that Tom Zachry was a saint. He was, when I knew him: a wonderful mess. A successful mess. He could tell a funny story as well as anyone I've known, and he had a bunch of funny stories about various catastrophes he had encountered. He was a good athlete. But the two things about Tom Zachry, the two key things:

First, he had a tremendous lust for life. Tom squeezed the orange dry. I'm pretty sure I just messed up a famous metaphor, but you get the idea. Tom Zachry left nothing undone. He did it.

Second, Tom had true loving empathy for other people. It was tough guy love. You kinda had to look for it, but once you saw it, it was forevermore completely obvious to you. This was the true secret of why people loved Tom Zachry.

Here's a photo of me, aged 18, in front left; Cousin Frank sitting front right, and Tom standing behind us - likely in between swapping stories with Frank. Tom and Frank are the best two storytellers I've ever known.

In times of loss, I'm often heartened by thoughts of new babies born, of the cycle of life. And so, I was heartened, yesterday, to learn Webutante has a brand new granddaughter. Perfect: the Lord taketh away, and the Lord giveth. She promises photos in future, at her blog.


Webutante said...

So sorry to hear of your friends and fellow raconteur's(sp?) death from know passages like that really bring up joy and sadness for me...even in the birthing of precious babies.

Eliza May was born within 24 hours of my mother's (a Copeland) birthday on March 25. The day of Eliza's birth I was ecstatic beyond words....then I woke up the next morning missing my mother and father so much that I cried almost all day....But by nightfall it totally passed. It was totally unexpected, the range of emotions that came over me.

I promise to post some pics as soon as I get up to NYC next weekend, God willing.

gcotharn said...

Thank you. Sweet story about your reaction and your love for your parents. It's funny how we complete all the grieving we are able to complete, complete all the grieving we can see to complete, and then an innocuous occurance far in future will trigger more grieving. Alice Bachini said: "Grieving is a normal part of life, all round the year."

Eliza May! Beautiful name.

Webutante said...

What a lovely way of putting it, Greg....I agree. Sometimes I grieve for joy too. And sometimes I don't even know what I'm grieving for. But it always precedes the sun coming out again usually sooner rather than later.