My uncle, Charles Hix, passed away this past weekend.

He was husband to my aunt, Mildred McCall. They met at Tennessee Tech (known as TPI back then). It seems as if they were married forever.

Charles Hix was a prince of a man. If I chose one word to describe him, it would be steady.

For many years, he raised Shorthorn cattle at Sewanee Valley Farm in Cowan. One year when I was a boy, I visited him and his family at the Tennessee State Fair cattle show. They were staying in a small camper on the fairgrounds.

I was pleased to join them for breakfast. As we gathered around the table, he pulled out his Bible and read. Then, he blessed the food and his family. Those moments made a lasting impression. I left that day thinking, “If a man reads his Bible and prays at a cattle show, he must do it at home.”

I’m not big on sending Christmas cards, but more than 20 years ago, I started sending Thanksgiving cards. A Christmas card can easily be lost among many others, but a Thanksgiving card doesn’t have much competition. Uncle Charles and aunt Mildred were always on my list.

His wife of 60 years passed on 10 years ago. I know the last decade was lonely for him. But every Christmas since her death, I have received a Christmas card from him with a simple message ... “Love, Charles.” Some things are never to be forgotten.

I grew up attending a little country church. If you had such a privilege, you know the old songs of the church were sung over and over, and over again. When I say, “over and over,” I mean that sometimes the Sunday School song leader would lead a song, and the church song leader, arriving late, would lead the same song.

By the time I reached my young adult years, I had grown somewhat tired of all those songs — knew them all by heart. Little did I realize they were all being stored away, and one day, they would re-visit me like old friends. Songs like “Love Lifted Me,” “Standing on the Promises,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace,” “Victory in Jesus,” “Farther Along,” “I Love to Tell the Story,” “In the Sweet By and By,” “When We All Get to Heaven,” “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” “What a Lovely Name” ... the list seems inexhaustible. And that brings to mind another song, “Count Your Blessings.” And I often count those songs as one of mine.

At that little country church, we had a time called intermission between Sunday School and preaching. Intermission was a big deal. It was time for the men folks to catch up on the latest news and, of course, for the smokers to smoke.

One man of whom I was especially fond smoked “roll-your-own” cigarettes. It is a fascinating thing to a small boy to watch a man “roll” a cigarette. A roll-your-own is tapered on both ends. And when a smoker lays one end on his lower lip, it sticks there. And as he talks, it won’t fall off. The other end just jumps up and down. That whole scene is etched in my memory.

I remember a pair of brown seersucker pants my father wore in the summertime. One Sunday during intermission, as I stood close to him, I decided to hook my arm around his knee. Then, I began to weave in and out between his legs. I could not have been older than 3 or 4 years old.

As I continued my antics, I noticed the men standing around were grinning as they watched. One of them was my father. I looked up suddenly to see a face I was not expecting. I had the wrong seersucker pants by the leg.

I let go of him quicker than you could say Jack Robinson. Of course, hearty laughter followed. I can still see that man’s face as it towered above me.

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.

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