If you’ve been here for awhile, you know that Sarah and I have been friends since 1st grade. Another long-time friend I’ve not mentioned before is MaryLinda. MaryLinda, Kim, and Stephanie began attending O.C.S. in 7th grade–our first year of Jr. High. I was not the most popular girl on campus–far from it–but for some reason, those three girls showed up and liked me. Kim left some time after our 8th or 9th grade year, but Mary Linda and Stephanie stayed–I have the photos and the bridesmaid’s dresses as documentation of our years together and the friendship that still exists. I truly cannot count the number of Friday nights spent at MaryLinda’s house.
I got an e-mail from MaryLinda earlier this week. Her dad, Mr. McCann, had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 88. Some quick math will tell you that Mr. McCann was 50 when MaryLinda was born. This isn’t so highly unusual today, but in 1969 it was. Just a few days after his diagnosis, he passed away. It was very fast–but that was the way he wanted to go. It would be remarkable to some–but not to those who knew him–that by the time his cancer was diagnosed, it had spread throughout his entire body. The man was still riding his bike 20+ miles per week this summer. He was made of stout stuff. MaryLinda, however, does a better job of explaining it all than I can. Here is an e-mail tribute she sent on Friday.
I was–am–so proud of my daddy. He was of the Greatest Generation, which made him somewhat different than most of my friends’ fathers. He was a WWII veteran, made it across the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, among other campaigns. He volunteered for more organizations than we seem to be able to count. He was a fixture at ULM athletic events for over two decades beyond the 30 or so years he taught there. He traveled the world. He walked and rode his bicycle several miles daily, as well as maintained his yard, up until a couple of weeks ago. I’ve just learned he had a picture of his granddog on his dresser 😉
We had no idea when we took him to the hospital this past Sunday that the mystery illness that was bringing him down was actually cancer, nor that it would take him from us so fast. But that’s the way he wanted to go–quickly. He told us that. Spoke his mind, he did. There has never been another like him and there never will be. Tom McCann was a trooper–for 88 years–beginning to end.
My memories of Mr. McCann include–but are not limited to:
*his front yard being a field–I mean a FIELD of daffodils each spring.
*him chasing the O.C.S. pep bus down 165 because MaryLinda and I had missed it.
*being greeted at the door by him saying, “Well, if it isn’t the bull for our china shop.”
*he and Mrs. McCann attending my wedding. This wouldn’t be so uncommon, but they were at a family reunion in Georgia and got up at 4:00 a.m. to drive back to Louisiana for the event. It was a surprise to me AND to MaryLinda.
*HOURS of him putting up with two (or more) giggling high-school girls in his home.
MaryLinda’s arrival in the home of Tom and Rita McCann was a surprise after all of their years of no children. With it she eventually brought me. The first time I was in their home, I broke something. I can’t remember what, but that’s where the “bull in the china shop” reputation started. In all of the time I spent there, Mr. and Mrs. McCann were there too–doing what they did–and putting up with us. They never said it in so many words, but they loved me. They HAD to to put up with all of the noise I brought. I was always welcomed by them. It was an honor to know and be regarded as a friend by Tom McCann.