When I first met him, it was early morning. He picked me up in his old truck, and we zipped off to Brewton, Alabama. The truck smelled like the backside of a filthy goat.
He botched my name. He called me either Shane, Sheen, or Seen. The Irish spelling didn't register in his brain. He finally settled on calling me, Jeezus, because of my beard.
I called him Brother Jim.
His religion was food. He believed in slaving at the stove, and he wouldn't fix his own plate until everyone had too much on theirs.
"You're looking puny," he'd say. "Getcha some more."
And then I'd go back for seconds,
thirds, and dessert.
He fried his catfish whole, smother-fried his dove, and whatever he did with squirrel was heaven on a fork. He barbecued like a fool, made his burgers too thick, and his creamed corn gave my life purpose.
He took me fishing, I caught several bream. He'd squeeze their bladders, making them squirt urine on my face.
He told jokes, long ones. He full-mooned me whenever he saw me riding up the driveway.
If you knew him, you'd know he had his share of problems. He made mistakes.…