I met him when I was 18 years old. My man-boys called him Poppy, and he went to his eternal Home two years ago. I especially think of him every 4th of July. Jerry Harris was a kind and loving man. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, it was full of wisdom and grace. He could make anyone feel good with a, "You got that right" or, "I guarantee". He led by example in the way that he served unselfishly, consistently, and compassionately.
Jerry was a Navy lieutenant and cherished his country. The 4th of July was his favorite holiday. He would host an all day shindig at the lake complete with ribs, coleslaw, baked beans, watermelon, and bread for sopping up his famous BBQ sauce. My man-boys loved this tradition!
In the beginning, it was at Lake Harding in Georgia, at the home where Jerry's parents lived the latter part of their lives. Later, it moved to Lake Martin in Alabama, where Jerry retired and lived out his. The lake was Poppy's happy place.
I have many fond memories of sitting on the dock at Lake Harding with Aunt Lynn watching Brenn and the boys splash around in the swimming hole. Benjy, Brent, Scott, and Kay would always cast a line from the other dock at some point to see if they could hook a big bass. Kay graciously gave Sea Doo rides to the little ones, and Poppy took us on Pontoon cruises at sunset.
Jerry could fill the air with an aroma from his grill that would make anyone's tummy grumble. We would gather, hold hands, bless the food, and dig in after he proclaimed, "Amen, let's eat!" After feasting, we would all sit down and tell stories. Uncle Brent's tales of growing up and driving Jerry crazy made us belly laugh to the point of shedding happy tears as we tried to catch our breath. Poppy had a large grin spread across his face as he shared time with his family.
Poppy was a simple man. He was a forester and lover of all things outdoors. He taught his boys to hunt responsibly and spent countless hours fishing with his daughter. He was a Georgia graduate and a passionate Bulldog and Braves fan. He was committed to his wife, children, grandchildren, church, country, and community; but mostly to his God. My man-boys will carry on his name. Their dad and I have raised them to carry on his character. If they personify his nature, we will have been successful.
Happy Fourth of July Poppy! Thank you for loving us. You are missed.