Columnist: The good tiger, the good gamecock and the good bulldog

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

“Good” is one of the first words we learn in childhood. Most of us realized quickly that when we behaved badly we would be punished.

All of us, as adults, have done bad things and just like a child, we learn life becomes more troublesome when we don’t strive to be good. Some of us take longer to digest that tidbit of knowledge.

There are many good folks I have had the privilege to know and I am sure you have as well. Every now and then, however, someone will cross your path in life and they raise the bar on the “goodness meter.”

Most of them have similar qualities. The more you get to know them, they inspire and humble you with the quiet goodness that engulfs them.

The other night I was watching the college football playoffs. And, for some reason as I watched Clemson, I thought about the Good Tiger.

He was in a treatment center at that moment in another state fighting illness. He will make it. Tigers are fierce. He graduated from Clemson many years ago and I knew him long before that.

As I look back on his life, his impact on others and just how many friends he has, I am in awe. To have the gift of being a close friend of his is something I have valued for as long as I can remember.

He was always there for me when I needed him. It never mattered how far the distance in our lives was but, to him, friendship is never far. The truth of the tiger is that I know he would be there for anyone that needed him.

His life has not been without sadness and loss, but his courage, his sense of humor, his quiet goodness in the face of any challenge is beyond words I can write.

Not that he would ever ask, but hundreds are praying for a speedy, complete recovery. Personally, I think that God might just have helped Clemson be No. 1 right now to bring joy to the heart of His good tiger.

She is a South Carolina Gamecock. I met her 10 years ago when I moved right next door. We are as different as the sun and the moon, but on this earth we are like sisters. I talk all the time, and she listens patiently. She never judges, never condemns, and never burdens anyone with her problems. She never complains and the word “selfish” is not in her vocabulary.

She quietly goes through life giving to others, doing for others, and loving God. She sincerely has the “Bless Your Heart” attitude in a good way because she means it. Her nature is the same all the time. She has a patience and understanding that I can only aspire to have. Like the tiger, she has countless friends.

He is a Bulldog. Born and raised in South Georgia and bleeds red and black. I only knew him well during the middle of our lives and for that I am grateful.

We crossed paths because of work. We met on a side road of life where we both were during difficult times. I sometimes think God made me turn down that road, because I learned a lot through him.

He is known as a “successful man.” I never knew how much he owned or had, but for some reason I knew that didn’t matter much to him. He loved the simple things in life — a cold beer, a ride on a horse, a field of green or a sea of fish. He was a man’s man, but with a heart that would give you his last dime.

His love of his children gave him all of his smiles and his tears, which there in lay his success or failure. He was tough like Uga, but within him was the heart of a gentle man.

All three of these treasures understand that life must not change who you are. They will leave this earth and be known not for what they did here, but who they are and what they gave.

They never boast, hate fame and walk quietly among us lifting us all up to a better place. They are respected.

Now in their 60s, I believe that these three are the exact same person as the day they left high school to attend Clemson, South Carolina and Georgia. They bring honor to their alma maters with the lives they have led.

Being good and doing good things is a little different than goodness from within. It is rare and special. We should look for it in the leaders we elect, in the friends we select, and teach it to the children we raise.

Once you have crossed paths with the likes of the tiger, the gamecock, or the bulldog the footprints they leave is forever and honored. You know, without a doubt, that God put them there to help you walk down life’s road learning the true meaning of “good.”

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.