When I was a kid growing up, I lived with my grandparents...my mom's folks. Through the years, I grew extremely close to my grandfather. He became the most influential person in my life and I can honestly say that he was my best friend. We spent many a day and night hunting, fishing, or working in his shop. He taught me so much about life...not just about how to shoot a gun, or clean a fish, or drive a nail straight. He taught me sooo many little things that I'm only now, at 50+ years, learning to appreciate.
My career took me from home and in 1988 I landed in the town of Laurel. I met a wonderful young woman and within 2 years, I was married and starting a family. Sadly, my wedding was a major event for another reason. It was my granddad's last function on Earth. He suffered from serious health issues and coming to my wedding weakened him and 6 weeks after my wedding, he passed. He was my best friend for so long and I really was blessed that my wife (...a gift from GOD) was there to see me through it.
When I moved to Laurel, I also met another wonderful and influential man....one whom quickly became a great friend and I truly believe would have become my grandfather's friend if they had known each other. His name is Jimmy Bass. My first memory of Mr. Bass, the first week I lived in Laurel, he and another man visited me and invited me to church....now that's a special memory.
Like my granddad, Mr. Bass was a WWII vet and has worked tirelessly for the last 20+ years paying honor to those who have served this country in uniform. He was one of a group of Veterans who founded a museum in Laurel to honors those who have served. He still works there 1 day a week and NEVER misses a special event or ceremony at the museum. Oh yeah... he turned 90 years old this past Saturday!!! Yeah...90 YEARS YOUNG!!! I was so proud and honored when my wife and I were invited to attend his birthday party.
Just so you know, Mr. Bass is a bit of a celebrity in his own right...he is retired now, but for MANY years, he was a photographer in Laurel and the surrounding area. There are few people who live in the Laurel/Jones County area who haven't had their picture taken by him....including me. He was the photographer at my wedding and has taken ALL the portraits of my children when they were little. Oh YES...I forgot, he is also the grandfather of former N'Syn singer Lance Bass. He has a very close and special relationship with Lance, and it hasn't been lost on me that Jimmy and Lance remind me a lot of me and my granddad.
Ok, so I'm slow developing my story, but bear with me. Because Mr. Bass has been such a special friend and this is such a special event in his life, I felt like I needed to get him a special gift. What do you get for a man that's 90 YEARS OLD??? I was talking to my friend Peg and she said something about "...sharing memories". My wife suggested I do something with wood (since that IS my passion now-a-days). Sooooo...this is what I came up with. Mr. Bass was in the US Navy during WWII and so I created a plaque in honor of his time on the USS Harding.
This creation is also special because I was able to share a part of my granddad with Mr. Bass. The plaque base is one created by my granddad and me when I was 12 years old...almost 42 years ago. It just seemed right to share it since there are so many things that Mr. Bass and my granddad had in common.
Ask anyone and they will tell you that there are people that crossed their path in their lives that helped shape them into who they are. My granddad was, hands down, the most influential in my life, but Mr. Jimmy Bass has always been and still is a big part of me. The epitome of Christian gentleman, loyal friend, and untiring servant to his fellow man, there is only ONE Jimmy Bass!
If you ask me to define the term "real man"...Mr. Bass' picture appears in my mind!
And I'm proud to say that he is and always will be my friend!