Thursday, December 29, 2016

Honoring a Gator . . .

I'm a graduate of FSU, so if anyone were to ask me to wear orange and blue in honor of a graduate of the University of Florida, I would have one of two reactions:  either laugh, because that request was obviously a joke, or give them a puzzled/bemused look and then ask, why in the world would you want me to do that?

Except today.

Today, I was asked to wear orange and blue in honor of a Gator, and I would have gladly done so . . . except that I had nothing orange in my wardrobe that was suitable to wear to a funeral.

Last Friday morning, two days before Christmas, radio listeners and/or TV watchers in the metro Atlanta area probably heard reports of gridlock on north I-75 in Cobb County due to a fatal traffic accident.  Gridlock is normal in the Atlanta area, and sadly, "fatal wreck" is all too common.  I heard that traffic report, but I'm afraid I paid more attention to the "gridlock" part than to the "fatality" part.
The next day, I found out that the fatality was a member of our church, Maurio Andrews, 32, father of two young children, Ava and Ian; and wife to Ashley.

I'm embarrassed to say that when I saw a mention of Maurio on someone's Facebook page, I had to ask who it was and if they knew him.  That's when I learned that he was a member of North Atlanta.

This isn't the first time that our congregation has been rocked by the results of a traffic accident.  In 2009, we lost two members, Matthew and Jeannette Prather, when their van's tire blew, causing the van to flip over.  (Ironically, this accident also happened on northbound I-75 in middle Georgia.) Counting Matthew, Jeannette, and now Maurio, we've lost five members of our congregation to traffic accidents since 2009.

Today we held Maurio's funeral.  Because Maurio was a graduate of the University of Florida, the family asked that the people who came wear orange and blue in honor of him.  It was the first time that I would have almost moved heaven and earth to find something orange that I could wear.  I have nothing orange in my wardrobe except for an orange sweatshirt and several orange T-shirts, and none of those would be appropriate for a funeral.

So I ended up wearing a blue plaid dress over a blue shirt.

Today, a sea of orange-and-blue clad mourners said good-bye to a man who was known for his intelligence, his big smile, his love for his God and his family, and his passion for the University of Florida Gators.  They said good-bye to someone who was lost too soon, whom tragedy stole from us in a cruel act of fate just two days before Christmas.  They remembered someone who served, someone who gave, and someone who left behind a legacy of love and passion.

For that reason, I would gladly wear orange and blue to honor a Gator.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

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