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Wake to Remember

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Pokin’ Fun by Doc Blakely

Randy Thompson and I
are members of an extended
family. His family and mine
were joined together because
his daughter, Annie, and my
son, Mike, married. I think
that made us Fathers-in-law
twice removed and remotely
irrelevant but hey, we took
what we could get and enjoyed
the ride.
Randy had this premonition
that he would not live
past 65 so he decided to go
for the gusto. Yes, he lived
dangerously and became an
Aggie. He was an officer in
the Corps, carried a saber
and swash buckled his way
through A&M. He tried to
develop that stern military
look but never quite made it.
The sly smile gave him away.
He learned to play guitar, supported
a family of 4 with various
corporate jobs and one
day went into a music store in
Fredericksburg, Texas to buy
a capo for his guitar, about
a $10 item for the deluxe
model, and, on a whim also
bought the store. He was a
fixture in downtown Fredericksburg
and knew every
musician for miles around. He
started a weekly jam session
at the store and stayed open
late so musicians could come
and try out their songs on the
passersby who dropped in.
He used to say, with that sly
smile, that he made a killing
in sales, “mostly guitar picks.”
He also owned a Dulcimer
factory. I can just hear him
saying something like, “Some
of the most famous Dulcimer
players in the world will beat
a path to my door…to buy
Dulcimer hammers, I’m stepping
up from picks.
And do you know how
many strings there are
on those things? Think
of the sales!”
So it was with shock and
dismay that we learned that
Randy had passed away suddenly
of a heart attack. The
Thompson family honored
him in the way that he would
have wanted, a memorial
service filled with music and
laughter followed by a wake
I’ll never forget. The music
prior to the service was
heavier on the Faded Love
and Maiden’s Prayer side
than Old Rugged Cross but
Bob Wills surely was leading
the Angel’s choir. People were
everywhere, even the choir
seats. His wife, Susie, kids,
and grandkids took turns
honoring him with touching
stories sent upward on
laughter silvered wings. The
congregation sent his soul
aloft with a rousing “I’ll Fly
Away.”
That night there was a
wake at a local hall complete
with bar b q, covered dish
delights, and a German Biergarten.
So many musicians
showed up to donate their
talents to the celebration
of life that a stage manager
limited each one to two songs
each. Little kids danced in
circles on the floor, there was
great joy in remembrance of
the man who had touched so
many with his love of music
and people. The two hour
wake stretched into three
and the last two tunes happened
spontaneously…Will
the Circle be Unbroken and
Amazing Grace. An old saying
came to mind while we
played and sang: “Musicians
never retire, they just one
day run out of music.” That
was Randy. He was 65. www.
docblakely.com
Humorist Doc Blakely is
a professional speaker/writer/
musician/rancher from
Wharton, Texas. He has been
Pokin’ Fun at himself and life
for 40 years.

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