Monday, January 8, 2007

Carry Two Sheets Of Plywood

Just got back from burying a brother-in-law. Well, I didn't actually bury him. But I helped carry his casket.

Benny was a great guy. He was married to my younger sister (The Mean One). I knew him back when she was dating his cousin. But that's another story. Today, I want to share with you just a few thoughts of Benny.

He was one of the first house-husbands I knew. After he and my sister married, they lived the life of a young newlywed couple. They didn't have much, but cherished what they had. After three years, my oldest nephew was born. Benny stayed home with the baby while my sister worked and went to school.

You'd always see Andy's head first, about chest high, as the baby was always stretching out, looking where he and his daddy were going. The door would open, Andy's head would appear, followed by Benny, carrying his son.

Benny worked at the warehouse of one of the furniture stores in my home town. He had a good crew there. He thought the world of them, and they of him. He enjoyed his work. Well, most of the time. Like anything, like any job, he'd get frustrated from time to time. But at the end of the day, he spoke highly of the folks he worked with and where he worked.

They thought lots of him too. When the funeral procession went by the warehouse Monday afternoon, some were at work. But they were lined up outside the door, watching.

Benny worked until his illness prevented him from being able to drive and do the strenuous work involved at the warehouse. It was a debilitating disease, similar to Parkinson's or ALS. But it wasn't either of those.

Still, after he couldn't drive, he'd walk. And he'd do volunteer work at the hospital. He was always trying to do something for other folks.

In fact, in the foyer of the big Baptist church in my home town, is a picture -- several actually -- that are part of a certificate of appreciate that was sent to the church following a mission trip.

One of the pictures ... reproduced in poor quality here ... shows Benny carrying, not one, but two, sheets of plywood as part of the work being done.

And that's Benny. The mission trip was in 1996, but he had already begun suffering from the disease that eventually claimed his life. But he had traveled hundreds of miles to help do work for someone else. And he's giving it his all.

Benny's life was a lesson for us all.

Don't let circumstances prevent you from doing anything you want to do.

Always do your best.

If you can't help yourself, help others.

And don't just carry one one sheet of plywood, when you can carry two.


  1. What a great tribute to your brother-in-law. Sounds like a wonderful man. Will keep your sister and your family in our prayers.

  2. What a bittersweet eulogy. Thank you for sharing... Prayers for you and your family at his passing.

  3. That was a lovely tribute; you made Benny sound like someone we'd all love to know...

    My deepest condolences on your family's loss.

  4. That was nice, Basil.

    Benny will be hangin' out in that big furniture store in the sky, waitin' for his bro-in law to thank him for such a nice tribute.

  5. Well said. Sounds like Benny is one who'll hear "Well done" from the One whose words matter most.

  6. A lovely tribute. My condolences to your family for their loss.

  7. A fitting tribute and good words to live by. Thanks, Basil and prayers to the family.

  8. I'm sitting here so weepy I can barely type, but I just had to let you know how touching and thoughtful this was.
    You know, I can't help but think that God has put Benny to work making sure folks are getting everything they need in Heaven. I'll bet he's escorting them around, and he's toting and fetching as folks have need, just like he did here on earth. And best of all, I'll bet he gets to kick back at the end of a successful day and watch Andy playing soccer.
    Thanks again...

  9. That was sweet, Basil. Bennie sounds like a good person to know/be related to, and will be missed. Deepest sympathy to your sister.

  10. What a beautiful tribute to Benny! My deepest sympathy to your family.

  11. Oh, basil. (Lump in throat.)
    Thank you for sharing Benny with us. That really is inspirational on a personal level for me. I will remember to "carry two," and do it because he did.
    I'm so sorry the world has lost such a man, but more sorry for how y'all will miss him. I don't guess anyone needs to tell y'all "he's in a better place now," because that's obvious. I guess God has a new mission for him now.

  12. The Mean Sister (who is 5'6")January 10, 2007 at 6:08 PM

    Hey basil,

    Thanks for the loving tribute to Benny. Your post is very touching and shares just who Benny was. He enjoyed the opportunities God gave him and did not let circumstances stop him from doing what he could. Even in the nursing home, he did what he could to minister to the residents. They even held a going home service that was standing room only Thursday night.
    I really appreciate your coming home to be a pallbearer. Benny is now in heaven with Andy...that is why John sang "In the Garden" at the funeral. You know the chorus, "Andy walks with me; Andy talks with me; Andy tells me I am His own." Benny and Andy are walking, talking, and enjoying each other again.


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