Reflection A Texas Tune for a Kentucky Boy
A Texas Tune
The Birth of a Texas Boy
My older brother's re-birth as a Texas Boy occurred at the age of 23. When I tell the story I usually spice things up by mentioning that Dave chased a girl down to Texas. And if you know my big brother you would know that he would not have gone chasing just any ole gal. Up here in the beautiful State of Kentucky, is the only place we Hudsons ever called home. "The Bluegrass State" of horse farms, tobacco, straight bourbon whiskey and Wildcat basketball! When you ask someone in Kentucky "Where are you from?" you are typically expecting them to respond with the name of one of the other 120 counties that patchwork the Kentucky frontier. Here we sit just south of the Ohio River, just east of the Mississippi River, just west of the Appalachian Mountains, and on the rocky top of Tennessee. True home-grown Kentucky folks may shuffle from county to county, but seldom do we make the jump from state to state, and if we do... we usually come back real quick like.
The couple years prior to my brother's move to Texas the three of us Hudson brothers met up for a time in college just as young people from other counties and states migrate to city centers to attend universities. My twin brother and I were only two years behind David in school, and upon our graduation Dave had the bright idea that we should gather a group of guys to rent an apartment. A group of five guys in a three bedroom town house is a good way to save money; Hudsons are thrifty that way, saving money where we can. We lived together in a town house with two other friends from Anderson County. The five of us guys that I refer to as "The Sugarcreek Boys" lived on Sugarcreek Road, just off the beaten path of Tates Creek Road; Tates Creek being one of the spokes that runs through the City of Lexington.
Learning to navigate a new city is a lot like learning to explore the possibilities of what you wish to do with your life. Most students may have a major or degree selected they plan to work toward, but the deeper they delve into their college texts the more they become aware that they truly are undecided. "Undecided" was the actual major with which Dave had started college with and had I known myself better, that would have been the non-major I selected as well. It is true that a lot of young people do not know what they want to do with their lives and my brother would agree that there should be no pressure to declare such a thing. Learning your way around a new city or a new period of life is not a very straightforward thing... and it is only through experience that we become comfortable with foreign surroundings.
Looking at a map of Lexington the image of a bicycle wheel becomes apparent. The spokes of the wheel are the avenues of antiquity most of which existed at the conception of the city. Then there is New Circle Road, a more modern addition that encompasses the city with a circular route providing access to each of the spokes. When you first move to Lexington the pathways between each spoke are unclear, you can however always lean on New Circle Road... it may take you miles off the most efficient course, but it will eventually get you to where you need to go! The year before living on Sugarcreek my twin and I made a weekend trip to visit Dave at Kirwan Tower (the dormitory where Dave had lived during his first years of college). There is nothing quite like ordering-in pizza and soda-pop, and sleeping on the hard dorm floor. That night I remember a witty banter going back and forth between Dave's roommate and himself. Jeremiah had been folding and ironing laundry for his girlfriend at the time and Dave took a jab at him, saying that his girlfriend had him "whipped". He proceeded to kid Jeremiah about him being the woman in the relationship and finished by telling him that he could start on his (Dave's) laundry when he had finished. Perhaps it was the fact that two younger males were looking on, but this initiated a friendly roast that worked back and forth ending with Jeremiah's comment that New Circle Road was Dave's "crutch". To this day the comment still breaks me into a laugh! There is something about insulting a man's sense of direction that will cut him to his very core... I do not remember specific statements made after that but I do remember the gloves had come off!! The two roommates argued as well as we brothers ever had. Still, no punches were thrown only jabs at one another's adolescent pride.
Now, a few things you must understand about David is that he has always been a very hard worker, and a bright student, but when it came to the close relationships in his life he preferred to be served rather than to serve. You would not catch David doing your laundry or cooking your food... he was the one requesting favors. I am not sure exactly when we began to refer to David as "Dave" but "Dave was Dave"; there were not many surprises. Funny thing was people often found themselves wanting to earn Dave's approval and would accommodate him in various ways in order to acquire it. You don't go butting heads with Dave Hudson and walk away without being a bit disoriented. If you did not wish to serve the purpose which Dave had in mind, he found a way to convince, coax, or barter until he got exactly what he wanted. It was a mystery to me growing up (as his younger brother) how David somehow achieved this without creating a single enemy.
So, we always said it would take a special girl to please Dave. A small number of suitors came and went... it usually only took Dave a couple dates to send the girls packing. He made no compromises, and he was not about to lower his standards. If you had asked me I would have said Dave was going to be a bachelor forever. My twin brother Brett was the first "Fallen Soldier". This is what we called our friends as they succumbed to the powers of the female race. Brett was engaged to be married the next summer, and his presence around the town house was fleeting at best. Dave was next; he fell fast, and he fell hard. I did not see Lori Loesch coming... she caught all of the Sugarcreek Boys off guard. The first I heard of Lori was when she did not yet have a name, she was referred to as "this girl" that Jason (a.k.a. Weez) and Dave had been introduced to at a friend's house. On the way home that night "this same girl" in a big green truck had pulled up next to Weez's Jeep and said "Nice Tires!". Weez's Jeep had been lifted-up and he had replaced the original wheels with tires about three feet in diameter. A female that could appreciate this type of thing, no-less from the driver's seat of a Dodge Ram truck, was truly a gem... in the eyes of the Sugarcreek Boys at least. Dave and Weez had wondered which of the two of them Lori might have been interested in. Dave was excited and further impressed when Lori had sent her phone number through the grapevine (via a mutual friend) with orders to give her a call. Dave was hook, line, and sinker when Lori suggested that they go see an area football game for their first date. That was the first time I had set eyes on Lori. A real Texas beauty, tall and blonde, with a smile that warmed our hearts.
We all learned more about Lori as the weeks went on. She had been accepted to UK on a gymnastics scholarship, and that was her main reason for coming to Kentucky. After only a couple months both Dave and Lori's spring graduations were fast approaching and we were all curious what would happen when Lori returned to Texas. Dave was a bit unsure about what he wanted to do following graduation, but he was certainly not unsure of how Lori would fit into his life. This was not just any girl! Dave recruited Weez and I for a summer trip to Texas; Dave had planned to visit Lori for one week that summer and then come home to tie up loose ends. Dave was moving to Texas, "after the first of the year" he had said. I will admit that a trip to Texas changes a man. I came home with a new pair of boots on my feet, a cowboy hat on my head, and a goatee on my face. Dave (sporting a goatee as well) had also been changed, but deep within. He now knew where he belonged. With Lori... in Texas. It was the tears in his eyes on the plane ride home that assured me that Dave could not go on living without Lori. I had only seen tears staining my brother's checks two other times that I could recollect.
My face was shaven within a week of our return from the summer trip. After three weeks Dave’s whiskers remained. He had packed up most of his belongings and abandoned the rest. When I said goodbye to my brother he was standing with only two bags in hand, ready for his trip to the south. My parents accompanied Dave to Louisville where he would catch a flight to Texas. Before heading to the airport Dave wanted to pay a visit to Ma and Pa Hudson, our grandparents, the meekest of folks you could ever meet. So it was that David's departure was blessed by all his family, and he was soon to be missed by all in Kentucky. A Texas boy was born.
A Texas Wedding
After the move I had fun telling the story of Dave's abrupt departure. "Do you miss him?" people would ask. "Nope." I would reply, explaining that it was hard to miss him when I knew how happy he was with Lori and that I could not help but be excited for them both. Lori had softened Dave's heart in some way. With Lori, Dave was willing to compromise. The first time I saw Dave serving Lori I knew I was watching Dave cater to his future wife. When you find a "good catch" you will all but fall out of the boat to make sure you keep it on the line. All Kentucky men love using that analogy, though it is not until later in life that we realize that we men are actually the ones on the line. When a beautiful woman sets a hook in the heart of a man there is no option of turning lose, and the line remains much too strong to be broken. The love of a man's true match is a love that cannot be severed.
After Dave moved I often thought of him down in Texas. I imagined him working on the land of Lori's parents; enough land to be considered a ranch, complete with plank fences just like we have in Kentucky, even a couple horses. Dave loved working the piece of property that I had visited only the summer before. The visit made it easier for me to picture him in his new element. The quality of Lori's family and memories of time spent with them always brings a feeling of peace to my soul. Lori's father fixed up an old blue pick-up truck for Dave, "Old Blue" they called it and images in my mind of my brother driving that truck around Texas erased the distance that separated us from him. As time passed the distance would open up a little, but Dave would always diminish the gap with his random phone calls.
As often as I thought of Dave, I would never follow through by picking up the phone and dialing him. Dave was always the one that called. He was good that way, always bringing thought to action. The best way David had of making a person feel loved was in the gifts that he gave, gifts that he no doubt had put much thought into. Each trip he made back to Kentucky he would bear these gifts in hand, gifts that always touched the heart. All of us Hudsons love to be together as a family, and an occasion for togetherness approached as Brett and Cindy's wedding date neared. Sitting at a poker table at the Sugarcreek house, on the weekend prior Brett's wedding, we got a phone call from Dave. Apparently Lori had considered Dave a good catch as well, she had accepted his proposal of marriage. In the nightlights of downtown Houston, there beneath a wall of water, my brother offered a diamond to a rare Texas gem, and he rose from bended knee one of the richest men in the world.
Less than a year later, three of the Sugarcreek Boys stood as groomsman while the Texas Boy stood hand-in-hand with his Texas Gal beneath the black oak trees that intertwined over the plains of Sugarland Texas. Dave honored our father with the role of best man. There was a surreal feeling standing under the trees in late April as sunlight trickled through the leaves; it felt like God's blessing on two lives, all felt blessed to have been a part of that day! Most of the Kentucky folks arrived a few days prior to the wedding... the more days the better, soaking up as much of the Texas experience as we could, the daily landscape of things that Dave had come to love. An easy task when we arrived at the Loesch's ranch offering to help prepare for the wedding festivities.
Reinhardt, Lori's father, has about the most generous heart of anyone you will ever meet. He owns and operates his own business. He is the man that works from dawn till dusk and often "does without", without a long lunch break (sometimes eating standing up), without nightly entertainment, hitting the sack early so that he can beat even the earliest bird. Yes, from what I had observed from my few prior trips to Texas the man was the hardest of workers, making sacrifices to get things done. During our visits Reinhardt worked his weekdays away but would show up throughout the day to make sure that all of the guests were well taken care of. Not to mention footing the bill for every meal that we sat down to. He would even suggest ideas via the sweet Mama Loesch for daily and nightly entertainment, things that we may not have thought of. He reminded me a lot of Dave in that way; at each meeting you could tell that his thoughts had been with you as he had toiled. Lori's parents have a way of making friends feel like family.
As we all pitched in around the ranch to detail the place which would become the backdrop of Dave and Lori's wedding, Reinhardt spear-headed the effort, effectively ordering us this way and that; much work was done in very little time! Working the land that my brother had worked daily gave me yet even more insight, brushstrokes that would fill the frame of my imagination after I had returned to Kentucky and when my thoughts of longing turned to my brother. These memories proved to strengthen all of our hearts for our trip back home.
Not long after the wedding and then finishing school, Dave felt drawn to return to Kentucky. He and Lori wanted to try their hands at starting a chiropractic business in Wilmore. And while the business did well, it did not do well enough. It now seems to me that the Lord above had other plans about where in this world Dave and Lori belonged, and the purposes that they were both meant for. The events that unfolded following Dave and Lori's return back to Texas (about a year later) remind me that "[His] ways are higher than [our] ways..." (Isaiah 55:9)
A Texas Funeral and a Kentucky Burial
The last conversation I had with my big brother was on his 5th wedding anniversary the night before he passed. Another member of my family had called to remind me to give Dave a shout and tell him "Happy Anniversary". While I did not often call him, I did usually remember to call him on his birthday and anniversary. "Ole Bill, he never forgets anything," Dave had said after I let him off the line. Such a short conversation it was. I had caught him in the middle of dinner with his wife, oops! Dave picked up anyway. I congratulated them both, but immediately said I did not want to keep them and that I would talk to him later. How we all wish that we had spoken to him one more time or for just a few seconds longer. Dave laid down for an afternoon nap the following day and never woke up.
Amazing how God works, though. There were a string of events that would have appeared to be coincidences but which became quite non-coincidental when viewed in light of one another. These happenings which I will attempt to detail, pave a path of higher purpose, a purpose for which my pen cannot fully account.
We were all so grateful for Dave and Lori's year in Wilmore Kentucky. It seems that God had split the time that Dave and Lori had spent together between Kentucky and Texas, between the Hudsons and the Loeschs. We were all equally blessed to enjoy the time we had with Dave Hudson. When Dave and Lori had packed the contents of their Wilmore chiropractic office into that moving truck and again left for Texas, we had expected not to see Dave and Lori until the following Christmas. The Lord again had other plans when in late December my parent's car hit a sheet of black ice, rolled over, and came to rest on the opposite side of the Bluegrass Parkway. My mother was air-lifted to UK Medical Center. She had a head injury but was still with us. Our family pulled together, closer even than we had always been. My younger sister, Sarah, having just graduated nursing school, became essential to taking care of our mother, and Sarah's boyfriend (soon-to-be fiance) Dan became intertwined in the fabric of the Hudson family almost overnight. Dave and Lori dropped everything and came to Kentucky for a week to watch over my mother as she continued her recovery. She was scared but the same Mama Hudson that we all loved. As it would turn out, that was the last trip David would make to Kentucky.
How grateful we were for that week... in spite of the reason for their visit. The morning before Dave and Lori flew back to Texas most of the Hudson family had gathered for breakfast at my parent's home in Lawrenceburg. There in the front bedroom we all gathered around the bed. Propped up in bed was my mother with a bandage around her forehead. My wife Mel and I thought we would have some news that would put my mother in good spirits and we announced the new addition we would be expecting in August. My father's eyes lit up with joy as he broke the secret news that Dave and Lori had entrusted to him just hours before. As it turned out Dave and Lori were expecting an addition to their family as well! It seems August was going to be quite a month!! In the front room of our childhood home, with hands held, my father prayed for the blessings that God had given to the Hudson family and for the protection God had provided over himself and my mother. God had smiled on our family.
When Dave and Lori had moved back to Texas from Wilmore a few months earlier, they had no place to hang their hats. They had sold off their Pasadena town home once they arrived in Wilmore. So, Mama and Daddy Loesch had taken them in upon their return. It was good that their daughter was so close to them; she would need that closeness, all too soon and all too suddenly. Mama Hudson just happened to be en route to Texas when she got a phone call from Lori detailing how Dave's breath had given out. It was good that Mom would be there to embrace her daughter and that the two of them would have each other to lean on. In my mind the Lord had set many intricate details into place, gracious provisions for us that would fit into his higher plan, from the extra time that we got to spend with Dave in Kentucky to the immediate web of support that God had woven into place for Lori in Texas. My father had made the comment that even the photographs of David which we held as precious before were pure gold now, but how much more valuable would be the gift of that little baby. What great plans the Lord would have in store for Lori and that little babe... the Lord above only knows.
The Hudsons arrived in Texas in a steady wave, all planning to be there to console Lori. What we had not anticipated was that Lori would actually become our refuge. Mom arrived only minutes after Dave's passing, my father was accompanied on a flight by my sister the next day, and Brett and I hopped on an early flight the following morning. As each of us arrived I am sure we all had the same question in mind. "What can I say to her to help make this alright?" As it turned out words were not needed, as we entered the room she was able to offer a smile to each of us. A smile and an embrace from Lori is all we needed to feel better ourselves, a bit of warmth from the person who had grown closer to my brother than anyone. She had become the extra support that we were not aware that we needed. Having the whole family there in the Loesch's home together created the presence of "Dave".
Lori was strong through this difficult time. So many decisions to make, she stood firm through each of them. We were all there to offer our input, but all the final decisions rested with her. Perhaps the most heavily weighted question was, "Where should Dave be laid to rest?" Deep down the Hudsons may have believed that David's body belonged in Kentucky, but I found myself telling Lori that ultimately the decision was hers and that Dave loved Texas in his heart... that he belonged here with her. The pain of losing him being so fresh, I thought it did not really matter to me. I broke into tears when she decided that he would be buried in Kentucky -beneath the ground of his youth. Looking over photos of our growing up years the happy memories were too many to count. I began to shed happy tears, tears that I did not know I possessed.
A funeral in Texas was followed by a funeral and burial in Kentucky. It was at the funeral in Texas when most of us saw Dave, Dave's body, for the first time since his death. While the funeral home did a wonderful job creating a likeness of Dave, that is all that was there -a likeness. I remember the moment of fright and panic as I looked at the body lying in front of me. I was terrified as I tried to construct the memory of Dave's spirit. Staring down at his empty shell, I feared that I was already beginning to forget him, and a panic began to creep over me. It was only by turning my eyes towards the ceiling and trusting in the fibers of my own being that this memory became known to me.
Dave and Lori's belief holds that the Father and Son exist within one another and that the same Holy Spirit that exists within the Father and Son also binds us together in faith. It was this Spirit that allowed me to feel and to know that my brother was alive in Christ. The body that can be seen is only temporary, but the unseen Spirit is eternal. It is this eternal Spirit that allowed my family to endure this sudden loss.
The impact of lives touched by David Hudson were widespread. Both funerals in Texas and in Kentucky were packed houses. It was amazing to me the number of people David had influenced in the short time he lived in Texas. The turnout of the people from Kentucky that arrived in Texas, and the Texas folks that made the journey back up to Kentucky spoke volumes of the man that David Hudson had become. I found it a strange irony that the one hundred year old Edgar McKenny happened to be in Texas visiting his son and attended the funeral of my thirty year old brother. This gentleman gave David his first job cutting his grass over on Park Lane in Lawrenceburg. Ed must have seen many funerals in his years, but I could sense that he had a solemn empathy for what he knew our world had lost. Yet as a brother in Christ, Mr. McKenny had a glint of hope in his eyes, wondering I am sure, when at last he and Dave would be reunited. This is something that all of us Hudsons await... when our family chain will reform again, link-by-link, as we each join Dave in the next realm of being.
Lori asked my brother Brett to speak at both funerals. Brett has such a bold personality and such a charismatic quality about him; his words gave comfort to many in Texas and in Kentucky. Brett started his talk in Texas by taking off his suit jacket, then ripping off his tie and unbuttoning the first few buttons of his shirt... stating that Dave would not have had it any other way. Brett wanted to speak plainly to the crowd about "What Dave would have wanted to tell them". Dave was a simple guy, everything he did was done in an efficient manner in order to create more time to enjoy the things he loved. God. Family. Friends. Sports. Food. Games. Fun.
One of the few verses Dave underlined in his Bible is also one of the most well-known passages. And while it takes only a few seconds to read, you can spend a lifetime trying to understand it. This one verse holds in itself the greatest story ever told. "For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
A series of questions will arise as each individual piece of this verse is considered. Why did God love this world so? Why am I worth such a sacrifice as this? What does it mean to believe in Jesus? How should a person awarded a gift of eternal life be altered in response? Seeking the answers to each question and how that answer relates to your own person is the key to becoming one in spirit with the One that created you.
My mother has a beautiful idea. "Children are not unlike flowers. Each of us are created with the essence of who we are already existing deep within us". She says, "All that each of us needs is to be showered with love and grace and we will grow and bloom into the people that God intends for us to become". I will go as far as to say that under the right conditions we can become full grown in a relatively short period of time. With a supportive family providing us a firm place to plant our roots, with the shower of blessings that are rained down upon us from a glorious heavenly Father, and by turning our faces towards the radiant love of Jesus Christ our Savior... David Joseph Hudson was a flower in full bloom. Perhaps Dave had become all that God had intended him to be. If we can each learn to listen to the voice within us, we will succeed in becoming what we already are -the beautiful creations of a loving God!
Here is a picture that has sat upon a shelf in my Grandparents home for many years. A picture of David as a child dressed up for Halloween. Note the sparkle in his eye!
Twenty-some years later upon the announcement of his engagement with that same sparkle in his eyes... Dave was well on his way to becoming all that God had meant for him to become.
Here is the headstone that Lori and my father collaborated to design. A beautiful yet modest monument commemorating the amazing life of David Joseph Hudson.
A Texas Family
This Christmas season as I consider what words and images to leave you with, I can only say that I am blessed to have been a part of the family that God has built around me. Under the same mighty hand, God the Father has established a new family. Just two years after my brother passed the Lord has brought a new companion to Lori, a man of God that will guide Lori and Little David Jr. along the paths of life. The Hudsons give thanks to the Lord above for Chad Westen Bertrand. We look forward to the beacon of light that his family will become. There is strength in the Bertrand family as Chad and his father are both pastors, and I have no doubt that the true love of God is being revealed as part of our Lord's higher plan. Here is the Christmas card my parents sent this year, a framed photograph of a new and growing family. A family that I pray will continue to be showered by the provisions of a loving God.
A Warm Texas Wind
How true are the song lyrics "New life makes losing life easier to understand". (Jack Johnson)
An acquaintance to the Hudson family, and a beloved member of the Loesch family (Jeremy Rodriguez) had this to say: "It is possible to have met someone only once and be affected by their absence. Some people's light shines too bright to ignore the fact that it is no longer there." Dave's light has indeed vanished from the face of this earth, but a new light has been lit... and how bright will that light grow to be?
It is my personal belief that there is a "Divine Spark" within each of us. The divine signature of a divine Creator who has designed each of us to play a specific role in the revealing of His sublime goodness. At the moment that we open our souls to the Will of God (our Author and Creator) that spark is fanned into flame. The story of such a life becomes a guiding light, a beacon of hope, and a warm rushing wind of spirit that will kindle the spark within another. I hope the story of David Hudson becomes the warm rushing wind of spirit that reaches you.
- Bill Hudson 12/27/2012
Bill Hudson # April 24, 2013