The southern humorist Lewis Grizzard was a talented sportswriter and columnist for The Atlanta Journal. He became a best-selling author, recognized for his “poking fun” at the South, though his writing made clear his love for the Georgia Bulldogs, small towns, and the southern life-style.
Twenty-three years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Grizzard; I had known one of his best friends, Warren Newman, who died tragically in an automobile accident, and I was interested to meet him and hear about his friendship with Warren. I found Grizzard to be smug and indifferent, and I remember thinking that he certainly wasn’t the “good ole boy” that he made himself out to be in his books and columns.
Twelve years later Grizzard himself died at the young age of forty-seven due to complications associated with a congenital heart defect. As he neared the end of his life, Grizzard must have softened; his calloused wit seems to have been lost to a higher voice, one that was even sensitive. Listen to these words from a column written not long before his death:
“My mother’s words were so simple. Be sweet. But we aren’t sweet. We don’t honor sweet. We don’t even like sweet. Sweet is weak. Respect me or I’ll shoot you. Sweet is weak. No. No. Be sweet. Be kind and gentle. Be tolerant. Be forgiving and slow to anger. Be tender and able to cry. Be kind to old people and dogs. Be loving. Share. Don’t pout. Don’t be so loud. Hold a puppy. Kiss a hand. Put your arms around a frightened child. Make an outstanding play and then don’t do the King Tut Butt Strut to point to the inadequacies of the vanquished. Be sweet. The wonders that might do. The wonders that just might do. I can still hear you, Mama.”
Day 4 Guide
We don’t have much time on this earth, do we? Open yourself up and speak of the things you hold dear and most important. Insolence blinds the passages of Joyous Gard. Be accessible, talk to people, be kind.
© 2005, Levi Hill