Today, my heart smiles in the remembrance of an old friend. Heaven has gained a new saint today and I rejoice in the memory of his life and the legacy that he left behind. Anon Dixon Day, or as we all knew him – Dick, left the world behind last night in pursuit of “the Happy Hunting Grounds” as his family remembers him saying time and time again.
It has been almost a decade since I have seen my friend. I will always remember him as one who loved me, even in my darkest days, without precept or hesitation. He celebrated my uniqueness as a youth, even nicknaming me “Seattle.” He claimed I had been born in the wrong city, because I would “fit right in in Seattle.”
Dick was a youth leader in my hometown Southern Baptist Church, but upon first glance, you would never guess it. His head was shaven clean (except for the occasional duck-tail he maintained in the back) and he consistently maintained a full white goatee. He didn’t wear suits; He wore overalls whether he was speaking in church on Sunday morning or playing at the local tavern for tips on Saturday night.
Dick Day was a one-man travelin’ band.
Dick was an amazing musician. The piano, the guitar, a washboard, spoons… you name it, he could play it. He sang songs about real life and the love of Jesus. Dick could spend the weekend playing the blues at the local brew and music festival, then on Sunday morning, wash off the bar stench and show up at church in his oversized Bronco carrying his tattered Bible.
Dick Day was plain and simple.
Once upon a time, Dick took me and a crew of my misfit friends out into the woods on a hiking trip. He was determined to teach us about survival in the woods. He taught us how to purify water, which plants were edible and which ones would kill us, and how to judge time according to the sun. At the end, he gave a short Bible study and we closed with prayer before hiking off the mountain.
He was far from what would you would expect of a Sunday School teacher. He taught about the real world and shared his hard life story with the delicate ears of teenagers without shame or embarrassment. He and his wife never put on a “show” for anyone. They just loved us. Plain and Simple.
Dick Day loved Jesus.
I heard a rumor once that Dick was unsure about the entirety of the Bible. I believe his statement went something like, “I stick to the words written in red. All the other stuff, I’m just not sure about.” Well, I can empathize with that. A lot of that “other stuff” I don’t really understand either. Dick was honest about who he was and what he believed. I always respected him for that. Dick genuinely loved Jesus and loved people. He loved ALL people. He loved me, even when I was unloveable.
I’m going to miss you, Dick. I’m sure you’re stomping your heels and playing the mouth-trumpet for the Father right now. You’re home, but I’m certain you’re still playin’ the blues. Until I see you again someday, go rest high and enjoy those happy hunting grounds.