Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mr. Vernon

Sometimes a client becomes a friend.  In the Elder Law Clinic at Faulkner University Jones School of Law, John Craft and I had a client who taught us about living fully. 

This winter, my friend, Mr. Vernon, passed away. He was in his mid-90s and died in obscurity, yet he was a remarkable person who lived with abundance and never stopped reading, asking questions, wondering and seeking. He was a cab driver for 35 years in D.C. after his family moved from Alabama during the Great Migration. He married a white woman when it was illegal in the South. He did some time. He traveled the world. He saw Jackie Robinson steal home. He read voraciously and collected several thousand jazz and classical albums, and his tiny apartment looked like a library. He gave John and me self-bound copies of his favorite sayings and proverbs. He was writing his memoirs on a typewriter and gave me photocopies of poems he wanted me to read. I am looking across my office at the books he gave me, including one on Switzerland’s successful neutrality in World War II which fascinated him.

Since 2007 he told me he was ready to die and felt it coming. He was an oldest brother who outlived all his siblings. Standing outside in the sun one day years ago, he told me his bags were packed but the train was late.

On January 8, 2014, he caught his train.  His lawyers were his last best friends, and these lawyers will never forget a most extraordinary client.

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