Hearts cheered after nine hard days

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, May 25, 2022

By Ricky Swindle

Muffler Shop Musings

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Our little bunch has endured a very emotional and trying nine days. 

Our family consists of what has been known for decades as Hubert and Annie’s boys, that would be Mike and me along with our families now.

One hour after my wife and I left Oxford Hospital on the night of Friday, May 13, visiting with Mike, Sissy and their family, Mike called me at 8:55 p.m. with tears in his voice telling me “Rick, she’s gone.” 

So, back to the medical center we went to be with Mike and his kids.

Sissy gave it all she had, but the cancer, once detected, was a very aggressive type and it took over her little body so quickly it never allowed her a fighting chance. 

Within the month of her diagnosis, her race was run but The Lord did allow her time to make her plans.

She wrote her will to Mike as to her wishes of her little treasures she wanted for each of her kids to have. She planned her funeral down to the most minute detail in order to save Mike and her children the worry.

Throughout the weekend the Up North family made their way South and per Sissy’s wishes her service was performed at 11 a.m. on Monday the 16th because in her words, “Folks shouldn’t be tied up all day waiting on a funeral”.

In the midst of all the cancer, doctors and hospitals was a wedding for their daughter Amber that had been meticulously planned for the past year by Sissy, and paid for in full by Mike as he gasped at every cost. He’s just being an old working man daddy not understanding that these fancy things require sacks full of hundred dollar bills.

But in Sissy’s notes she left for her family, she made it very clear that May 21 is Amber’s day, and no matter where she was –  hospital or elsewhere – that day would go on. She stressed that she wanted no tears or sadness for her on Amber’s special day.

Then on Wednesday, May18, we received the shocking news that our lifelong friend Ronnie Weaver had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. The news of his passing just left us completely stunned. We have always been so close all our lives with the Weaver family.

Ronnie’s service was Friday and Mike and I went to the visitation. Ronnie’s brother Chad Weaver hugged Mike and said “Lord Mike, how in the world did you walk in here?” 

Mike replied, “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t come to say goodbye to my friend.”

That’s a testament to the character of Mike Swindle. Still suffering from the loss of his wife but being man enough to stand in the same spot four days later to support his friends he loves so dearly in their time of need is priceless. He’s my brother and I’ve always had the pleasure of knowing he is a heck-of-a-man.

So, Saturday we all show up at The Mill at Plein Air in Taylor to put on this big shindig of a wedding. An absolutely beautiful venue no doubt, but I have to agree with Mike, I can’t see all that money either. But, Sissy wanted it for Amber and Ol’ Mike just toed the mark and walked the line for them.

It was a beautiful wedding and I was asked to be their minister as I had previously ministered her brother Payton’s wedding a few years ago. 

I’m not a preacher by any accounts but I do have a ministers license and it is an honor for me to have had the opportunity to perform the services of my nephew and niece who I love so much. I will always appreciate the fact that they chose their Uncle Ricky to help seal their deal.

The reception was high spirited and fun and I told Mike that although his bank account had been seriously bled, Sissy had marvelously planned a wonderful event. I could see her touch on every aspect of of it.

Now, my three oldest GrandHeathens we’re enjoying themselves but looking at the clock anticipating Jameson Rodgers’ homecoming Saturday night at the annual Batesville Springfest.

I had arranged the two gals to be able to do the meet and greet but with the weather altering the starting time of the event along with the wedding it was not in the cards for them to have the opportunity. They were happy to just attend the show. I figure Jameson’s Mamaw, Miz Katherine Brower will get those gals a chance to meet him at some point down the road.

Johnny Pace and Wendy Snyder were keeping eyes on them for me until I arrived at around 7:30 to help introduce Jameson to the stage.

Jameson, being the same as he was a dozen years ago came out of the Partnership office smiling and shaking hands, then approached me at the foot of the stage, extended his hand to me and offered his condolences to Mike and his family for Sissy. 

Jamo is still one of us and those big stage lights have not altered his raising not one bit. I told him I was proud of him for his hard work and reaching his goals.

He put on a dandy of a show with me and Steve McGregory commenting on the sidelines of how well he has learned to be such a great show man on stage.

And then, there it was. 90 seconds left in his final song and gunshots ring out to the south. Thousands of terrified folks were screaming and running north and all that I could think about was my GrandHeathens were somewhere in that crowd, and I ran straight into the leaving crowd not knowing where the shooter was but frantically searching for my kids.

Finally stopping and using my cell phone I find out my son-in-laws were there and had my babies with them. Whew ! I had to reach down and retrieve my heart from my boot.

Our great trained Sheriff’s Department and Police Department were all over that scene in seconds. First responders were appearing everywhere taking care of the injured and in a matter of minutes the out of town perpetrators were apprehended and it was over. 

A big thank you goes out to all of our LEO’s and first responders for their highly trained quick reaction to end that situation so swiftly.

The question will most likely be “How do we prepare to keep this from happening again?”

Well, I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know we’ve got to keep having our Springfest. We cannot go around trying to live our lives scared. The old saying “You only live once” is untrue. The fact is you only die once but you live everyday.

I say we have Jameson back again for a re-do next year. By this time next year he’ll probably have a number one hit song written about Saturday night at The Fest.

Take care of yourself folks. The past nine days are behind us now. I’m going to look forward to and thank The Lord for the next nine.