Published 1:00 pm Saturday, August 19, 2023
I had just moved my small family to New Orleans to start school at the Baptist seminary there. Classes had not begun yet, but we were trying to settle in to life on campus.
My parents were alumni of William Carey College (now university) in Hattiesburg. Dad called me one day and asked if I had met Dr. Don Stewart, a seminary professor and former instructor at Carey. I had not yet, so Dad asked me to say hello to him when I did.
“I’m sure he won’t remember me,” my dad said. But my dad remembered him, and thought a lot of him as a teacher.
My two young boys were enrolled at the school’s daycare, on the opposite end of the campus from where we lived in a 16-by-30-foot apartment. Walking them to school took us directly past Dr. Stewart’s home.
One of those first mornings, we were walking by and Dr. Stewart was about to get into his car. He greeted us with a friendly word and wave, and introduced himself.
“Hi, Dr. Stewart, my name is Brett Campbell,” I began.
“Are you Wayne Campbell’s son?” he asked.
“Um … yes, sir,” I answered, surprised that he immediately thought of my dad, especially since my father and I don’t look alike.
He smiled and shook my hand, and asked how he and my mother, Sarah, were doing, calling her by name as well.
I told him my dad had been certain Dr. Stewart wouldn’t remember him, but wanted to express what an impact the professor had on him about 30 years previously.
“Oh, I remember him,” Stewart said, and said he thought of my dad as a good student he was glad to have had in class.
When I told me dad later about the exchange, he was more surprised than I had been.
“Well, I was not a very good student academically in his class,” Dad said, “but I’m glad he remembers me as such.”
Have you ever thought about how you are remembered by people you used to know? Or how you’ll be remembered after you’re gone?
What will people say about me? What do they say about me now? Can I do something to change that if it’s not positive? As much as possible. The rest is not up to me, but up to them.
If I were to write my own epitaph, I don’t know what I’d say. But the words of “Requiem for the Living,” written by Bob Carlisle and Randy Thomas, have always spoken deeply to me.
“Don’t weep for me when I am gone. Those who knew me know full well that in love and in laughter I lived as a prince. And in my heart of hearts I served my calling. Waiting for this time to come, when I would see my King.”
News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.