Dedicated to a family’s collection of memories which become their square in a patchwork quilt of the life of their daddy, their papa, their brother, friend or husband, an heirloom to wrap themselves up in and glance at their square of remembrance, to warm their heart on those cold winter days when they just miss him so terribly.
So I begin.
It is written in Jeremiah 1:6 NIV
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
Before you were ever born, I set you apart….
It is also written in Psalm 139:15-16 NIV
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
None of us is here by accident.
Every one of us is part of God’s plan.
He knew us in the beginning and wrote about us in His book before we were every born.
God thought about you.
He planned for you.
He had a purpose for you in mind.
God also had a purpose and a plan for our beloved Buzzy.
With pen in his hand, God has been writing and lining the shelfs of heaven’s private library with our stories.
Today, we are going to pull from our Father’s finest collection, a personal favorite of His titled
“The Life of Gilbert Walker Jr.”
On January 11, 1950, Gilbert and Mary Alice Wiles Walker gave birth to a beautiful boy and named him Gilbert Love, a junior to his father.
This child of bright promise, whose name and meaning revealed what would be truth about their son during the 73 years he’d live.
A Cherokee Indian whose ancestors could be traced through the trails of the Appalachian Mountains, yet born and raised in Paris, TN his entire life, Gilbert would share the love of his parents with two older sisters, Evelyn Smith and Dorothy (Larry) Connell.
Through the years after realizing both Gilbert Sr. and Jr. would answer to the hollers from the cook in the kitchen, Gilbert Jr’s mother solved this confusion by nicknaming her son Buzzy after the Buzzy Bee toys he loved to play with, dressed in his homemade cowboy clothes as boys do on the floor.
Gilbert’s nickname followed him all the days of his life. I have to imagine this mother smiled and continued to see her adult child still playing with Buzzy Bee toys every time his nickname was called. Children have a way of never growing up in their mother’s eyes.
Earlier in his working life, Buzzy earned a living employed at the local sawmill and raising tobacco. He even wore the badge of a police officer as did his father for a brief few years together.
An older Buzzy drove big rigs and also fixed them as a mechanic for Denton Trucking, usually working 2 or 3 jobs to support his family.
Buzzy’s passion included riding motorcycles, his endless projects in his woodworking shed, playing guitar for his daughter Charity while she sang for the church, spending quality time with his loved ones and best buddies, Frank Beecham and Wesley Hill.
But his proudest achievements came from those who called him daddy or called him papa…
Buzzy’s daughter and two sons are…
Charity (Jayson) Pierce, Timothy James (Dana Rae) Walker and David Timothy Walker.
His five grandchildren are Walker, Olivia, Keith, Courtney and Katie.
Buzzy’s legacy continues in those great-grandchildren of his named Presley, Brent, Rylee, and Alayna.
All who held and pulled on their daddy or papa’s heart strings with a smile and a kiss.
On March 22, 2013, a secret was kept from us Northerners when Buzzy and our sweet niece Amy Lynn decided to get married, or hitched as they say in the south.
As a wedding event decorator and had I known in advance, a large package would have been sent overnight to Amy’s front door containing all the trimmings for such an event called, Wedding in a Box.
Oh, there’d be a wedding dress full of lace, centerpieces, and linens, reservations to a fine hotel for dinner and compliments for the night at their honeymoon suite. I’d locate a few volunteers to throw rice on the newly married couple. I’d even pack a few doves if I thought they’d survive.
But Amy knew all of this about me and kept her nuptials a secret. A box like this would have quickly been returned to sender. As Amy and Buzzy were boots and cowboy hats kind of people, mere simple folk whose greatest joy was only to become Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Walker Jr., to live happily ever and they did, who exchanged their wedding vows before a judge at the local courthouse, wearing uniforms they had on that day from work.
The story of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Walker Jr. became a ten-chapter book as man and wife, a chapter for every year they lived, loved and laughed together; with a few pages stained from their tears.
She was his sweetheart; he was her babe.
They colored each other’s black and white world into a dream come true; adding their son David, the abundant joy between them.
Date nights always included the three of them, dining at their favorite Pattie’s 1880 Settlement restaurant, a magical evening known for its decorations during the Christmas season, a tradition for the Walker family who enjoyed the holiday lights throughout the month of December.
The Walker scrapbooks at Christmas documents Amy Lynn trimming and decorating the tree, leaving the star for Buzzy and David, as well as setting up the Polar Express and village as father and son.
Each year during the holiday season, the Walkers would take the day to find a new and unique ornament for the tree, closing out another chapter in their book.
As extended families often do when gathering together during the holidays, they rummage through their grandmothers’ drawers and pull out those old family photo albums and reminisce the night away.
Seated around the dinner table and laughter captured from every family member in their seat, one would speculate if that famous story revolving around a cow named Ol Jersey, a rodeo with Ol Jersey and a cowboy shirt Buzzy’s mother made him that went missing for thirty years was resurrected, adding a few details in the telling.
The evening gets quiet for a moment to relive that black and white photo of Buzzy and his sisters Evelyn and Dorothy all grown up, making those intentional Monday night telephone calls to each other, bridging the miles between themselves over coffee and conversation.
With Buzzy being the baby, one would speculate which sister was boss over the other two. As a sister among five sisters myself, there’s always a ringleader in the bunch.
I sure would have loved to join the party line back in those days and eavesdrop their Monday nights together over the telephone. It is in our intentions of showing up where memories never fade through the years.
A handful of moments frozen in time were found of Buzzy and his son Timmy seen at the races, those proud father and son moments entering the derby cars they created together in the woodshed Buzzy was known for.
Timmy was photographed behind the wheel with Buzzy as part of the pit crew between heats. Those were the days between father and son.
Found between the old pages of the family albums, were not pictures but words from Buzzy’s daughter Charity, who shared her father’s middle name Love albeit a different version of the word, making Charity the fourth generation to sign a portion of her name as did her father, her grandfather Gilbert Sr., and as her great-grandfather Eunice Love Walker did.
Here is Charity in her own words…
When I was asked to write down my favorite story and memory about Daddy, I thought no problem. That will be easy, but it turned out to be anything but.
I have a lifetime of incredibly touching, loving and the most hilarious stories involving Daddy.
To pick just one has been impossible. However, that is the point after all. He lived a life that left so many memories behind that can’t be numbered or valued one over the other because there are so many and, so precious.
The memories we leave behind are the only legacy that really matters after we’re gone and Daddy’s life left a truly amazing legacy in the hearts of everyone who knew him.
Thank you Daddy for all the precious memories you have given me and everyone who knew you.
I love you Daddy.
Then there was Buzzy and his youngest son David, two peas in a pod with a son walking behind in his father’s shadow, following in those famous footsteps he one day longed to fill.
Back in the woodshed were those teachable moments being passed from a father to his son, a woodshed appearing to be in total chaos, a disaster Amy Lynn chides who attempted to organize but was sent back to organize the kitchen cupboards instead.
A woodshed where I feared for David’s ten fingers staying attached to his hands, yet a woodshed where the love of a father and son was baked into the walls from the laughter of these two, the teaching, and time spent together that David and his father will hold onto when he’s missing his daddy so terribly.
This woodshed was also a place of generosity where gifts from their labors were presented to their family up North; a biscuit cutter, a bowl, and a rolling pin from their kitchen to mine, and Christmas ornaments for the others to name a few.
A memory I’ll treasure a lifetime was a gift Buzzy made for my husband and I celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary, with two wedding rings encircling and intertwined around a cross on a stand, and beautifully carved above, Two Become One.
As lovely as this gift was to us, the signature of the craftsman scribbled underneath the stand was priceless, Gilbert Walker, 2019.
Buzzy isn’t signing his name anymore, and I’ll never forget the love from his hands presented to us in person only four years ago.
Memories we pull from our grandmother’s drawer from up North are all the visits Amy, Buzzy and David sacrificed to see us.
They truly demonstrated keeping the family-ties knotted tight, by showing up and making the eight-hour journey for all our gatherings, albeit joyful or sad.
I do have to admit, they do things differently in Tennessee though.
Arriving at our doorstop many times unannounced or at least a surprise to some of us, wearing cowboy boots and a hat with jeans and a buckled belt to match their southern drawl, sometimes took our Northern breath away with us in flips and a pair of shorts, causing us to wonder if their arrival was a throwback from the old TV show Bonanza, minus the horse.
I often wondered what the minimum age of first-time drivers is in Tennessee. David is seen behind the wheel on social media and appearing to be flirting with someone in the other seat not shown. I asked Amy Lynn if David is driving now; she doesn’t answer, just laughs.
David’s uncle Michael tried to take the wheel when I picked him and Amy Lynn up for a camping trip decades ago along with their four other cousins up North, all under the age of twelve. What was I thinking? For five straight days my nephew, who hadn’t even shaved yet, would laugh and beg to drive. Trying not to crack a smile during these hilarious moments with four determined hands on the wheel, this aunt had to tell him to stand down a few times.
It was always a hoot celebrating with the Walkers, and I’m so glad Buzzy never denied or said “no” to Amy and David in their traveling the miles up North.
It was only three months ago that we here up North saw Buzzy for the very last time.
The sacrifice for a man visibly sick yet determined to once again make the journey up North with his family and honor an uncle who passed away did not go unnoticed.
His final year didn’t go unnoticed either.
For Buzzy’s birthday earlier in the year 2023, the Walkers shared a hearty laugh as a family.
With Buzzy lamenting his age through the years and claiming he was old, to which Amy and David always replied, “Nah, you aren’t old.”
A topic that led them to search Google, wondering at what age is one considered old? Google replied to the answer as 73.
So, for Buzzy’s 73rd birthday this year, printed on his birthday cake was the saying,
“Google says you are old.”
They laughed for days.
Their last vacation together as a family was centered and celebrated around Buzzy’s Indian heritage, traveling the history of his life thru those trails of the Appalachian Mountains.
During Buzzy’s final year, he and his son Timmy were working on their last derby car together as father and son, with Buzzy longing to share this moment watching him race one final time from the pit crew, but never got the chance as this father’s heath held him back.
Buzzy honored his wedding vows in sickness and in health to the very end, by making and bringing Amy’s lunch to her every day at work.
On October 11, 2023, Amy would hold her husband’s hand as she did many times throughout the ten years of their marriage.
That same evening Amy would lean over and kiss her Buzzy goodnight as she did every night always knowing she’d wake up the following morning beside him.
But that evening on October 11, 2023, Amy and their son David left Gilbert Love Walker Jr., aka daddy, papa, brother, husband and friend, the man who held all their memories in his hand behind at TriStar Skyline Hospital in Nashville, TN, pulling into the driveway of their home that first night on E L Walker Rd without him.
Unable to sleep with such heaviness of heart, Amy Lynn covered up under the blanket of loneliness onto the couch, while David fell into the comforting arms of his father’s chair.
I can’t imagine their first morning realizing the things Buzzy used to do didn’t get done on October 12th, one day after their unimaginable good-by on October 11.
Did Buzzy make the coffee? Did he make the bed? We know he made the lunches. We know he made their day special.
How quiet the world of the Gilbert Walker’s family has become without him.
But then the questions start coming.
Why God Why?
We each drink from the cup of unanswered questions, and long for clarity and comfort from God to quench our thirst.
Nancy Lee DeMoss Wolgemuth writes from her book titled Heaven Rules…
God is sovereign over the events and happenings and the details in our individual lives. It’s true even when the script turns out far different than what we would have written if the pen had been in our hands.
The answers to our whys might not be revealed until we meet our Lord face to face.
All God asks of us is…
To have peace…
To take heart…
To find rest in Who He Is…
The One who overcame the world.
The one who has been writing our story from beginning to end, from the introduction to the very last page.
The family begins arriving at Ridgeway Funeral Home to celebrate the life of Gilbert Walker Jr.
One can’t help but notice all those honoring Buzzy in their wearing red, his favorite color. With Buzzy’s middle name being LOVE, I look out among the crowd today and have the sense of Valentine’s Day in our midst.
It’s almost as if the connection of these two were a Valentine message from Buzzy to us.
To honor such a connection, I’m enclosing a small excerpt from a Valentine blog I wrote years ago that I believe might convey Buzzy’s heart.
LIFE IS SWEET, LIFE IS SHORT
By Lori A Alicea
I sure do love the smell of roses.
Bending over a bouquet of flowers like my sweet granddaughter who also enjoys the simple pleasure of drinking in its fragrance is too beautiful for words, I’m convinced roses came to us as heaven’s perfume.
Placed in a vase of water with a small kiss from the afternoon sun,
Roses wake in a gentle yawn and slowly stretch as a newborn baby, revealing a hidden loveliness for our eyes to see.
As beautiful as a bouquet of roses are,
The lifespan of cut flowers taken from the vine is measured in breaths.
To frame and capture a vase of loveliness where every bloom retains its perfect softness, vibrant color and perfumed fragrance as a lifetime keepsake is a wonderful sentiment, but the passing of a few sunrises will reveal a roses destiny.
As beautiful as these roses were when they left their garden home,
A few days away from the vine that sustained its life, finds these blooms weeping slightly over, letting go and saying that first good-by to leaves that once provided it shade.
Such is the life we live.
Born into a mother’s arms perfect in every way, soft whose petals of life haven’t opened yet, until morning after morning a mother’s kiss stirs a yawn and a child’s stretch, opening and revealing a hidden destiny before our eyes.
Just as the lifespan of cut flowers taken from the vine is measured in breaths,
So are the days accounted to us; a mere breath.
Life is short.
14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:14 (NIV)
Life is sweet.
In life we’re given a “heart box of chocolates” filled with family to enjoy.
God, our Valentine says “I love you” with those special someone’s given as our Valentine gift, a present of your favorites to satisfy the longings of our heart.
Life is sweet, but the thought remains that life is short,
Both measured in breaths.
May everyday find us bending over like that small child captured by the lure of a flower’s smell; drinking in the moment of every moment she’s blessed with.
Life is too sweet not to smell the roses.
Life is too short to be taking anything for granted.
Because the lifespan of cut flowers taken from the vine is measured in breaths.
To my beloved niece Amy Lynn, I have a personal word of encouragement for her.
Only being 43 years of age, you are a very young woman to shoulder such a loss. At times like these a daughter more than anything else needs her mother.
While I wish I had a private telephone line to heaven so you could find some comfort in hearing her voice.
I do have a portion of the only page in her book that she began to write, and I believe its encouragement was written all those years ago for her daughter today.
Here is that word of encouragement from your mother…
…When certain life’s tragedies come to us, sometimes it’s out of our control. But what we can change is how we respond to it. You can be bitter or angry or turn your thinking around to the point where you can help other people with what happened to you. It gives them hope and it also gives to them an expectation of seeds of faith that you have left them.
It’s so important that you choose to live.
“Long life will I satisfy Him.”
“I shall live and not die.”
Your trials may be a physical situation or a mental situation. But whatever the case, choose to live and not die from it. Fight the good fight of faith.
“I have set before you life and death.
Therefore, choose life that thy seed may live”
In your mother’s own words she couldn’t say it enough:
Continue to Hope.
Continue to Believe.
Continue to be encouraged.
Continue to remember that no matter what,
You’ll always have God.
One final square sewn to the family quilt, one remaining sentiment from son David to his father, written in his own words…
You are supposed to be able to sum up one’s life in a few simple words, but this man you just can’t because the words to fill that box have not been invented.
If I had to say, there would be the four things he was…
A hard worker,
A loving husband for my mom,
And a loving father for my brother, sister and I.
He always said he would work to the end, and he did. The very weekend before his passing he was with his two sons doing what he did best, working on trucks.
He fought until the very end.
He did not stop while he was in the hospital.
He did not give up on his family.
Finally, he was the best father or husband one could ask for because he had the biggest heart, willing to do anything for anyone, especially his family.
He always kept his promises, except his final one of seeing me graduate from school.
We loved you Pop through the good, the bad and the ugly.
We will always and will always love you Pop.
I love you Pop.
It’s never good-bye, never good-bye.
It’s see you later Papa.