Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Bud, the Man

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DSC_0247Today, I want to encourage you who are moms of young sons to do all you can to be sure your son has an older and godly gentleman in your congregation who is a suitable mentor; not just someone he knows who is this kind of example, but someone around whom he can spend many hours…someone who’s willing to love him and savor his childhood right along with you.

That man, for our young son was Bud Richardson. My children were both born while we were living in Pulaski, Tennessee. We took Bud and his precious wife, Lucille, for granted. At the time, we just had no clue how very important they were going to be in our lives. The first Sunday that Glenn preached at the East Hill church, Bud and Lucy asked us to go to Davy Crockett Park to have lunch with them. We did not even have faces to put with the names when they made the call to invite us. Little did we know, as we rode in the back of their station wagon that day, that the influence they would have over our children, yet unborn, would be profound and reach even into eternity.

Bud, (Sim H.) Richardson was tall and sleek bald. He was distinguished and kind. He was a Funk’s G corn seed salesman and he must have been an exceptionally good one. He married Lucy a little late in life. (They were both in their thirties.) He provided for her every financial and emotional need. Lucy led him to the Lord and, when she did, he began to lead others.

Bud and Lucille were at the hospital on the dates of both of our children’s births. They were there for every birthday party and every major life event. They were there…truly there…for our children.

Bud’s voice was strong and deep, but he spoke words of encouragement and kindness to Caleb. He was a great money manager, but he was never less than extremely generous (even a bit of a spoiler) to Caleb and Hannah. He was prompt and business-like, but never less than patient with children who were learning to say memory verses or tie shoes. He was protective of his good name, but was proud to share the name, when Caleb and Hannah imagined they honored him by announcing to us all that their new puppy’s name was “Bud”. (We had to start referring to “Bud, the man” and “Bud, the dog” when they were both around at the same time.) He was impeccably dressed, yet perfectly willing for babies to wallow in his lap and then fall asleep and drool on that perfectly pressed Hart, Schaffner and Marx. He shared lots of Happy Meals, WalMart toy aisle surprises and lunches at the Bluebird. But more importantly, he shared lots of conversations about doing the right thing, lots of Bible story times, and lots of encouragement after Caleb would lead a song or complete a Bible class assignment.

And about those Hart, Schaffner and Marx suits….It’s been eight years this very week, since we laid Bud’s body, in one of those wonderful suits, to rest beside Lucille’s body. Caleb, at the time a student at Freed Hardeman University, was asked to, and thought he could, lead the congregational singing at that funeral. He wanted to offer that tribute to Bud…and he did, but just barely. He kept singing even though his eyes swelled with tears and his voice began to tremble. It was a sweet relationship that Caleb knew he would sorely miss. It was just very hard for him to say farewell, even temporarily, to Bud. In fact, it was hard for all of us.

But about those Hart Schaffner and Marx suits…Bud had a closet full of them. See, he traveled to Nashville every month to visit his heart surgeon. About once or twice a year on those trips, Bud would go to Levy’s and buy a new suit and maybe a new suit for Lucille, too. Then they would send them to Bud’s tailor and he would make them fit…perfectly. The tailor marked the date on the inside of Bud’s pants pocket–the date of delivery and the date of pick-up. Sometimes they would sew a special embroidered label in the coat. It would say something like “Custom Tailored for Sim H. Richardson”. Bud stuffed tissue paper in the sleeves of those suits and over the hangers to keep them from wrinkling and getting hanger marks. He kept them in clear plastic suit bags. He kept starched white handkerchiefs in their pockets and many of them had beautiful silk scarves tucked in the breast pockets.

Bud and Lucy had no children, so we were among those who helped to distribute the possessions when Bud left us. As you can imagine, it was a hectic time of trying to help get their house of many years ready for their executor to place it on the market. We brought home many items that were sentimental to us: the recipe box that Glenn had made for Lucy, the one that had all of those wonderful handwritten recipes of Lucy’s; scores of sweet photographs of our kids with Bud and Lucille; a wonderful cherry bedroom suite that Bud and ‘Cil wanted Hannah to have; Funks G hats and awards of service–just many memory handles to treasure for years to come.

And there were the suits. In all of the overwhelming business of moving furniture and dishes and sundries, the suits were packaged in large black trash bags (probably by me), still on their hangers and in their plastics, and they were hung on a large rack that spans one of our basement walls–a place where we often hang out-of season clothing or gifts awaiting the holiday season. They were placed there and, by the busyness of life, they were pushed from both our view and any recollection that they were even there.

Until last Wednesday. Seeing that big wall of clothing as I was putting away Christmas decorations in the basement, I asked Caleb if he would “please go downstairs and look at that entire wall of clothing and make sure there’s nothing there that you want to keep.” In a cleaning-out mood, I was planning to bag up all of the clothing and make a donation.

Well, to make a long story short, this morning my son preached a wonderful gospel sermon in one of Bud’s beautiful suits. He will, Lord willing, wear almost every one of them. The grey stripe, the brown stripe, the black pin-stripe, the grey-with-a touch of maroon, the charcoal, the chocolate, the camel-hair sports coat and the khakis–they all fit Caleb; not just kind of, but tailor-made perfectly fit. They all still had the tissue stuffing. They had the starched hankies. They were not trendy, but classic suits and, best of all, Caleb said they “smell like Bud and ‘Cil’s house”. I tried to think about the texts of the lesson today as he was preaching and, mostly, I did. But I could not help thinking, even if just momentarily, how very proud Bud would be if he could know that Caleb was preaching the gospel in that wonderful brown pinstriped suit!

Caleb will finish his doctorate work this semester. He is hoping and praying now for God to show him a venue in which he can use this to the best advantage in the Kingdom. He wants to defend the Biblical account of origins, and the authenticity of the Scriptures, themselves. He wants to preach the gospel. He will leave the church with which he has been working part-time in Columbia, South Carolina and begin a new work somewhere for His glory.

Those suits are just like new. They’re good for many more gospel sermons. Caleb is determined to keep them cleaned, pressed and ready in those clear bags. I know, though, that they will not last forever. But, for now, they are powerful reminders of some values that WILL endure forever and of the man who did much to put them in a little boy’s heart. I hope your little boy has such a man. The Hart, Schaffner and Marx name is not so important. But the heart-shaping man in your child’s life will be of greater value than you can imagine.

You can listen to Caleb’s sermon here.

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