(This piece is my Christmas Day column for The Galveston County Daily News and Texas Escapes Magazine.)
A Ghost of a Past Christmas
By Bill Cherry
The Christmas of 1980 was a hard one for my family.
On December 17, 1980 without any warning, my daddy passed away two months before his seventy-second birthday.
I couldn’t believe it. Everyone is supposed to recover from their first heart attack, I thought. How could this be?
While my daddy’s full name was William Wallace Cherry, he had signed his name as W.W. Cherry on thousands of documents. Probably only the IRS saw his name signed as William Wallace Cherry.
From Hopkinsville, Kentucky to Shreveport, Louisiana to Monroe, Louisiana and finally to life in Galveston from 1935 to December 17, 1980, Daddy was W.W. Cherry.
For the majority of his entire business career he proudly spent it leading the national sales team of American National Insurance Co.
The Great Depression’s lessons about what it’s like to be poor and to be at wit’s end as to how to solve it, made profound marks on Daddy and Mama. They generously supported their church, the poor and the otherwise less fortunate, and expected me to.
And I do.
Last year, on December 17th, a letter came to our Dallas home from the local Union Gospel Mission. It was addressed to W.W. Cherry and it was asking for a donation to buy Christmas dinners for the homeless.
That was the exact date marking the thirtieth anniversary of my daddy’s death, it was addressed to his preferred moniker, and to a home address in a city where he had never lived.
And the letter was appealing to his specific charitable passion.
To me it was a message from Daddy to me, asking that I step in and take care of his earthly business since he was no longer able to.
It was a nice Christmas present, hearing from him.
I quickly wrote out and sent a check to Union Gospel Mission and noted on the check that it was from their friend, W.W. Cherry.
Copyright 2011 – William S. Cherry