Goodbye to a Great Man

It never failed.

If I had missed church the previous week, I knew that during greeting time he would sneak up on me. Between handshakes and hugs, he would just suddenly appear. Some might say it was his height that made it easier for him to slip between folks, but I think it was just his sneaky nature. 

"Hello, I'm Bill Self. Nice to meet you."

It was his way of saying, "Where were you? You were missed."

At work, he often did the same thing. I would look up and he would just be there, in the doorway, with that precocious smirk on his face. Sometimes he would get a cup of coffee. Sometimes he would rant at some thing or another that had gotten under his skin. But more often than thought, he came, in his own words, "Just to harass you."

If you needed him, he was there without question or complaint. Whether it was a trip to the airport or a malfunctioning electrical outlet, Bill Self was your man. He was as solid as granite and as sure as the sun. 

I remember one evening as we chatted in his backyard, getting a tour of the new chicken coup he had built, I spotted a skunk moseying around the side of his garage. Without saying a word, he stealthily slipped into the house and returned with a shotgun. I won't lie. When he lifted that gun to his shoulder, there was a bit of Elmer Fudd in him. Needless to say, the skunk didn't bother Bill Self after that.

He was a man who didn't accept BS and didn't serve it. You got the truth whether you wanted it or not, and you were always better for it. He had a heart that melted like a Hershey's Kiss when he spoke of his beloved grandchildren, and he had a love for his wife that inspired every married couple who knew him. They both looked at each other with stars in their eyes. 

He told me more times than I could count that Bev was the best thing that ever happened to him, and he didn't know how she put up with him. But the truth was that 'putting up' with Bill was a privilege of the highest honor. 

He was, perhaps, the best thing that ever happened to us all.