Dr. Major’s death a reminder life circles back around, for good

Published 4:28 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Word often travels quickly the 800-mile journey from our LaGrange hometown to this adopted Texas home. Sometimes the news will be good, at others sad, as was the case with the recent news that Dr. Paul Major had ended his journey here.
I did not know the young doctor, but we have been privileged in our years to have been influenced positively by several in his family. As a young man trying to find his way in high school in the early 70s, we were glad to be able to get to know Grant – Dr. Grant Major – pretty well before our abrupt exodus to Texas in late 1973. Particularly we shared the same basketball court a time or two, and – as we know – the court is one of the best places to make lasting memories. I am sure one day we’ll retell one of my favorite stories from the Y that included Grant and another well-known LaGrange native son. Tommy Mike.
We had another very pleasant and blessed encounter with Glenda Major, longtime wife and companion of one of LaGrange’s great men of yesterday, Dr. Cecil Major. When I heard the news of the death of their son Paul, I immediately remembered – with a smile – the letter Ms. Glenda wrote me back in 2006. Occasionally one of you will open up your world to us a bit and write something that makes a lasting impression on us. So it was with that letter of September 2016.
When Glenda wrote, Dr. Major had only been gone about three years. The good doctor died of the same disease – Alzheimer’s –  that took my grandfather Preacher Miller 15 years earlier. I had asked – and this is a “running” request, by the way – for you good readers to send us any inspirational stories you could for us to share here in this column. Glenda responded with a story about her husband that served us so well, although she didn’t think her story was exactly inspirational. It, in fact, was one of the most inspirational stories I’ve heard. Along with her letter, she sent me a booklet she had written detailing the struggle of a strong and brilliant man succumbing to a cruel disease. I still have the little booklet in my study.
I found Ms. Glenda’s story to be powerfully inspirational and compelling. It was a story that tells of “triumph of character” and of “love over decay and loss.” Fittingly, those were the concluding words of her book.
The inspiration in her story began at the start. In the opening, she tells of meeting a dedicated Black nurse in the hallway at the Hospice Center in the West Georgia Medical Center. The nurse stopped Mrs. Major in the hallway with a gentle smile, to tell her an unforgettable story.
Some years before, the nurse said, she had wanted to go to nursing school, but she didn’t have the money to pay for the physical examination report that had to accompany her application. Someone encouraged her to go see Dr. Major, knowing that he would let her pay the fee when she could. Dr. Major gave her the physical but would not accept any payment.
“Young lady,” the doctor said, “I want you to study hard and become the best nurse around. Who knows, you may be taking care of me someday!”
I will say right here that we need not be surprised when we top the next hill – thinking we have left most of life far back in the shadows – only to see life circling around to meet us! So it is with our very special nurse’s story. With her nursing school and training many years in the rearview mirror, she was blessed at that time to be one of the nurses who tended to Dr. Major in his latter days. I couldn’t help but think that the nurse’s hands that tended to him in his final week of life were the most tender of hands. A most grateful, blessed heart guides gentle hands.
Dr. Major had done an amazing amount of good in his time. I went to see him myself when I was young, as we took our share of visits to the Clark-Holder Clinic. Mama and Preacher Miller and Grandma and Uncle Alton and Aunt Florence all were at times in his care, as were most of my cousins and church friends at the church of Christ at Fourth and Murphy.
So, I guess it’s fitting that we circle around ourselves and repay his family just a little for the good he did for our own.
It has been a decade now since we sat and read Ms. Glenda’s story of the final chapter of her husband’s life. In the end, of course, she had to let go of the strong hand of her 51-year companion, and friends and family gathered at the church of Christ on Broad Street to pay tribute to a good man.
Many of the same friends and family gathered this past week to pay tribute once again to one Mrs. Major’s loved ones, and we know much of the city of LaGrange mourns with her and for her, as well as for all of the family.
Ms. Glenda, we do not know the state of your own health, but we want you to know that you are in our prayers. We will thank the good Lord again tonight and in the days ahead for your good life, and we will pray the Lord hides you beneath the shadow of His wings during another difficult hour.
We will thank you again, Christian sister, for that special reminder that life does come back around to meet us, and in the most positive of ways. The great apostle says it best: “God is not mocked. What a man sows, that shall he also reap. … He that sows to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8).
You’ve sown well, and we pray many blessings will come back around to greet you today, and tomorrow, and over as many distant hills the Lord, in His grace, allows you to travel.