Just An Extraordinary Ordinary Man

April26/ 2011

I had no idea what Mac did for a living. I never knew what 95% of my friends’ dads did for a living. They were dads doing grown-up “business stuff”. Mac ran the FCX – Farmers Cooperative Exchange. “Men like Mac” were the backbone of America during the second half of the 20th century.

Men like Mac have been leaving us for the past 20 years or so. Mac left us several weeks ago. Mac was Ed’s dad.

Mac was born in 1918 in rural North Carolina; one of many siblings raised on a farm. Mac was in the demographic bulls-eye to go fight the Nazis in the early 40s. He served his country. He came home and married Ann. He took a job in the business he knew – farming. The FCX helps farmers farm. Mac must have enjoyed it or he could have gone to work at The Dupont Plant. Lots of dads did that in our town. The plant made polyester.

They had two children – Ed & Jean. Mac and Ann lived in our town for 65 years. They were members of The First Baptist Church and probably a few civic clubs, maybe a Rotarian or a Civitan. Doesn’t matter.

Mac and Ann instilled enough gumption in Ed and Jean to go forth and contribute to their respective communities.

Ed’s cousin “Straggler” offered Mac’s eulogy. He described the life of an extraordinary ordinary man. As a semi-pro eulogizer I know good eulogies when I hear’em. “Straggler said it was his first one. He has the gift. Just the right length with just the right amount of humor. He said “Uncle Mac cut a dashing figure in Bermuda shorts”. I’m stealing that line for my next eulogy.

In a parallel universe, “Straggler” is a high-falutin’ corporate exec. This day he was just Cousin “Straggler” The Eulogy Guy.

His remembrances of his Uncle Mac involved family gatherings and Uncle Mac’s cheerfulness. A solid man of Extraordinary Ordinariness. I use that term with the same reverence we now should give to “common sense”. Common sense is no longer “common”. Ordinary men are quite extraordinary.

The eulogy did not mention any major awards that Mac won. No running with the bulls at Pamploma. No swimming The Hellespont. Did Mac and Ann travel the world meeting the crowned heads of Europe? I doubt it but maybe.

A “bucket list” extraordinarily concise. Mac raised a fine family and made a positive contribution to his community. Mac liked people and people liked Mac.

Our town was extraordinarily ordinary too. I recall Ed’s mom and dad as being, well, Ed’s mom and dad. All my friends had moms and dads. If there was a step-mom or step-dad in our town, I didn’t know it.

Last month DH’s mom died. She along with Betty Lou’s mom and Barbara’s mom and Ed’s mom and a bunch of other moms were our grade-mothers. I’m sure the PC-village has outlawed grade-mothers now along with those holiday sugar cookies they home-baked and brought for class parties. All our grade-mothers looked like June Cleaver or Betty Anderson (Father Knows Best). Did they vacuum wearing high heels and pearls? I never saw them vacuum. I can’t say.

Ed played basketball so Mac was a basketball dad. Like all fan-dads, they were partisan. I’m sure Mac and the other Dads disagreed with a few refs’ calls. They never yelled obscenities or beat up a ref in the parking lot …. that I know of.

I was taken by the simple solidness of one man’s life. The large church sanctuary was about 2/3 full. The average age was “up there”. I suspect Mac and Ann had paid their respects to many friends in that very sanctuary. It was a perfect weather day. Regardless of the honoree, “nice weather” pumps up any funeral attendance.

Mac’s grandsons are in their late 20s. Mac instilled enough gumption in Ed that Ed transferred a bunch downline to Jeffrey and Philip. Both boys were honor graduates of UNC. Jeffrey went on to MIT. Philip was a UNC BB walk-on for Matt Doherty. Both young men are rising executives in high finance and “IT” in Boston and New York. That might not impress BOTRoger Perry, but I’m sure their Granddaddy was awfully proud of’em.

Ed and Carol Ann live in Charlotte. They move ordinarily among the crowned heads of Mecklenburg with the same ease that Mac moved around our town.

Mac’s wife of 65 years, Ann, will join her Mac pretty soon. Pass 90 and you’re playing with house money. Mac & Ann were/are Godly people.

Church funerals are revealing. You can always tell if the minister really knew the guest of honor or if he’s reading from crib notes. The minister’s words about Mac were genuine. He never looked at notes. That’s always a good sign.

We all have our own concept of Heaven. Does Heaven have an FCX store? If it does I bet the shelves are orderly and the books are neatly kept. Mac will soon know every customer’s first name. Does God let you wear Bermuda shorts? I hope so.

Does an ordinary man ….
leave footprints in the sands of time?
Yes, quite extraordinary footprints.

I just realized that I’m not real sure what Ed “does” either. It doesn’t matter any more than it did with Mac. Like Father Like Son …..


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