Eulogy for Pappy9
Good afternoon, my name is Harold Louis Coleman III. I am named after my Dad and after my Granddad, Pappy. Growing up, either by listening to Pappy’s stories or just watching him, I learned a lot. He taught me several things that I would like to share with you.
First, anytime I got ready to go somewhere, whether with high school friends, off to LSU or to start a new baseball season, he would always tell me to remember my last name. The name Coleman meant a lot to Pappy. It meant respect. The name, to him, gave a lot of respect, and at the same time he felt it deserved a lot of respect. The Colemans fought in wars. The Colemans grew up during the depression. And as Pappy always taught us, the Coleman name meant we were going to work hard for everything we had. Nothing was going to be given to us.
When Pappy was a boy, if the family wanted anything, even such a thing as honey, they couldn't just go to the store and buy it. They had to raid a bee hive in order to get some. So, one day, Pappy and his brother Herman found a bee hive and told their dad about it. Because the Coleman name meant they had to earn the things they wanted, their dad told them to go get the honey out. After smoking out the bees and filling up the buckets with the honey, the boys realized the load was going to be too much for them to carry all the way home. So they ate a whole bucket of honey! When they arrived home, their dad asked where the other bucket of honey was. They told him that they had eaten the other bucket of honey, because they didn't want to waste it. Needless to say, their dad wasn't happy with them and tore them up. To this day, Pappy couldn't stand the taste of honey.
The name Coleman, to both Gammy and Pappy, meant family reunions. They loved family reunions. I can remember as a kid going to see Gammy's side of the family at Lake Tiak-O’Khata and Pappy's side in Shuqualak. Pappy used to joke all the time that it didn't matter if it were deer season or not, those outlaws in the Coleman family would have us some fresh deer meat for the reunions.
Another thing Pappy would tell me is to always remember where you came from. Pappy loved to talk about east Mississippi. He was passionate about where he grew up. He could tell you where every fence was and where every ditch ran to. It seemed like every ditch or creek we came across somehow fed into the Mississippi River.
So when I think about where I'm from and relate it to Pappy, several things come to mind. I think about hunting quail with him. If anyone ever wanted to put Pappy in his element, then drop him off in a cow or sheep pasture or put him in some tall grass looking for a covey of quail. He loved to hunt! When I think of Pappy and home, I think of 4-H. I think of being drug around the arena with my arm around the sheep’s neck and him yelling, "You ain't gonna win this thing if you don't hold on!"
I think of us riding horses to check cows and stopping for lunch under a shade tree and finding a stump or log to sit on. We always ate Vienna sausages and crackers. He loved those darn things. One day, some cows had gotten out over on the county line near Schlater. Pappy and I mounted the horses and went looking for the cows. The horse I was on, Fox, was really old. About halfway across the field she sank down into the mud. After getting bucked off and all muddy, and after finally getting Fox out of the mud, we found the cows and went home to Gammy. She asked why I was so muddy and what took us so long. Pappy tried to downplay the situation, but, nonetheless, Gammy wasn’t happy. I thought that was going to be Pappy's last day here on earth!
Another time, Pappy and I were on the farm. He was working, and I was watching, and as we were heading home I fell asleep on the passenger seat. For some reason he was in a hurry to get home, and as he whipped into the driveway, the passenger door opened, and I went flying out onto the gravel. My mom swore up and down that I needed to be all stitched up, but because of the way Pappy grew up, he told me to just rub some dirt on it.
I think of Pappy sitting at the dining room table eating cornbread and buttermilk. He would always try to get us to taste it, but we always refused. And as long as I can remember, anytime we had desert, we would ask him if he wanted the banana pudding, pecan pie or caramel cake, and he always responded with, "I'll take a little bit of everything." I think that's where I get my eating habits.
When I think of home and of Pappy and relate it to my baseball career, I think of him as a boy in the backyard. He said they would always throw at a "tater" sack for their strike zone. So, he always told me to throw at the "tater" sack when I was trying to throw strikes. Whether I'm in Fenway or Yankee Stadium or in LA, I always think of Pappy, because when I get to throwing a lot of balls, I know Pappy is at home telling me to throw at the "tater" sack.
Another thing I learned from Pappy after watching him over the years is that if you ever have anything to say, then you should raise your hand and be recognized. Sometimes he would be holding that crooked finger up in the air for 5-10 minutes before anyone gave him the floor. But, once he got to talking, we always knew that we should pay attention. The last time I remember him slowly raising that crooked finger he told the story of how he met Gammy. It was only one of the few times I got to hear it, so it was very special to me.
Speaking of Gammy, he loved his "Miz Daisy.” I can remember as a kid being over at their house, and we would be in the front of the house with Gammy making banana pudding and Pappy would be in the back. Instead of Gammy walking to the back, she always yelled, "Haaarroooooold!" And, in that low, raspy voice we would always hear Pappy in the back say, "Yes, Miz Daisy?"
Last, but definitely not least, Pappy taught us to love Jesus. He taught us that He was the number one reason for living. If we ever were to ask Pappy how he was doing, he would always respond with, "Better than I deserve.” With the help of Gammy, they instilled the love for Jesus in their children, their grandchildren and in their great-grandchildren. Later in life, Pappy made sure to let everyone know that he loved Jesus and that Jesus loved them.
If you've ever been out to their house in Schlater, just as you pull off the highway, there is a rusty old sign. Well before it was rusty and old, it was a bright white sign. One summer, my sister Lauren and I were given the task of getting wire brushes and scrubbing that sign so it could be repainted. We then coated it several times in white paint. He didn't allow us kids to do the lettering because he probably didn't think we could spell. On the sign read a slogan that Pappy had come up with. And I'll leave you with that, “Smile, you're in God's country. God's grace is free. Don't gamble with your soul.”