Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Catfish Dinner

Bert Collins was one of the hardest working men I have ever met. He was raised up a farmer in Calloway County, Kentucky. He was not a big man and he did not talk very much, but you could be assured that when he did talk he always meant what he said. He and his wife, Geneva were some of the most benevolent people their community has ever known. They gave to the Lord first, to others second, and whatever was left over they were satisfied with for themselves.

One Sunday Bert approached me and told me he wanted to take Amber and me out to eat catfish at Tri-City. He and Geneva also invited an older, single man from church who they felt needed encouragement. Tri-City was several miles west of Murray, a little stop on highway 94, hardly worth mentioning. But there was a country store that converted into a catfish restaurant in the evenings, or maybe it was just weekends. As you can imagine, they had good catfish - it is almost always these kind of places that do it the best.

So we rode over together to the country store. We talked about normal things, and honestly I do not remember one conversation in particular. But I think that is how it was supposed to be. We were part of a christian family, and sometimes all that means is just being together. I do remember what a good time we had, and that we laughed and learned about each other. And the distinct feeling that comes back to me about that moment is simply this - we felt loved.

Sometimes we forget that people need us and that we need people. I told J. Fred Johnston Sunday night that the little children that call him the "candy man" will never forget him. They all go to him after services for candy or chewing gum, and he always has some. I remember when I was a kid there was a man I went to after worship for the same reason. I also remember going to my next door neighbor's house and always knowing they would give me a treat from their cupboard. You never forget when people are a blessing. I am confident that I needed Bert and Geneva Collins in my life, and that they needed me, and that is the very reason why God brought us together.

Bert passed away this past Friday. He lived 85 good years on this earth. He was a Christian man. He was a faithful husband, father, and friend. He always gave you a kind "howdy doody" and a smile when he saw you, in a way that was uniquely his. I wonder if he knows how much of a difference he made in the lives of others...I wonder if he knows what a difference he made with just a catfish dinner...

"And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." ~ Matthew 22:39


  1. Great article about love for each other. I love you. BTW, we "rode" over the "road." :) -Ber

  2. Great words easily remembered. Thanks.