One Year Later - Soapbox Jr.
In some ways, it seems like just a few weeks ago, at least the memories of that week seem like they just happened, everything that has happened since feels like it’s been decades.
Either way, it doesn’t seem like dad “changed addresses” a year ago. The memories of that terrible day, the hospital, the procession to the funeral home which I had no business driving to. I wasn’t expecting the streets of Mt. Juliet lined with fans holding American flags and signs that said, “We Love You Charlie!” and while I was driving myself, I realized what a mistake that was as tears rolled down my face through a sea of hundreds of people.
It all still seems surreal.
Fourth of July 2020 was a great day. It was hot, we had hot dogs on the back porch, Dean, mom and dad’s bus driver joined us and we were socially distanced, just to be safe, because that’s what you did way back then. I swam laps, mom and dad watched me and I let them interrupt my laps frequently just to talk.
July 5th was similar, I swam and mom and dad stayed on the porch for a while and I stopped to talk to them from time to time. I can tell because it took me an extra 25 minutes longer than it should have, but I didn’t mind.
In some ways, those were the last two really REALLY good days I’ve had in a year. Yes, I know that every day is a good day because of the precious gift of God’s grace, but the hole that dad left is staggeringly enormous. Not just in our hearts, but in the hearts of his fans, and in as much as trying to carry on a business and his legacy.
July 6th, and the days that followed still seem surreal. The next day we were making arrangements, two days later was the visitation and Mt. Juliet memorial service, on mom’s birthday, no less with the funeral capping off the week on Friday.
As bad as all of that was, some good things came out of it.
World Outreach Church had been doing services exclusively outside, and the first indoor event since the pandemic began was dad’s funeral. Shortly thereafter, they started moving back inside, at least having that option for those who wanted to, even though the outdoor stage just went away a couple of weeks ago and all services are indoors, but the large screen is still outside for those who feel more comfortable.
I know WOC would have moved back indoors eventually, but it felt like the funeral was a bit of a trial run which proved they were ready to reopen.
The other was the people that have been drawn closer to the Lord through WOC and the live stream of dad’s funeral. A couple of months ago, I met a couple who drove down from New York to be baptized because they kept watching Pastor Allen’s messages on livestream after dad’s funeral.
I’m sure there are many more stories like that which show how God can take the worst events in our lives and use them to touch and bless the lives of others.
That gives me a bit of peace, as does knowing that dad is seeing glorious things we can’t even comprehend.
But if I had to sum up the last year in one word, it would be “challenging.”
There have been things that have seemingly attempted to diminish dad’s legacy, a lot of setbacks, conflict and mistakes on my part.
I’ve felt a bit lost for the first 8 months or so (feels like 8 years) since July 6, but I think I’m finally getting focused with some things that will properly keep dad’s legacy going, and will be a lot of fun for the fans. I’ve got some particulars to work out, but I think we’ll be able to make an announcement soon.
One of dad’s daily words of wisdom tweets from March of 2020 could not be more fitting for my life:
“It’s never too late and you’re never too old to learn and apply something new. Let’s all make the day count.”
Very often, you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to take that first step forward into a new chapter. It can be overwhelming doing things I have zero experience with, but I’ve had some really good friends who are knowledgeable and have helped me with this new endeavor.
Some final words of advice from someone nowhere near as wise as my father was, but hold onto the ones you love. Things can change dramatically in the blink of an eye.
I speak from experience.
Let’s all make the day count!
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, our police, our nation and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America!
— Charlie Daniels, Jr.
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