… God gave us memories … so we might have roses in December …

J. M. Barrie

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Any today without yesterday is a flat note, never as sweet as a poignant chord artistically struck and sent directly to the heart for safekeeping forever.

In any today we can be, in habit, consigned to the noise and nonsense of calamities that the world produces.  Consigned but for memories, thoughts of yesterdays and those we met who refused consignment.  Those unbound by the outrage and destruction.

Yes, memories are December’s roses – forever in full bloom, in colors that do not fade, leaves unblemished, shining still, glistening now as then.

I think of two men – both now deceased.  Two friends.  Mentors.  Teachers. Humble, confident guides.  Gentle men of substance and interior strength.  Men to whom life’s challenges rooted not damage but wisdom, understanding and compassion.

Barefoot Sanders was a Texan of Indian heritage.  He had the face of an Old Sod Irishman. Open, accessible, bright with sparkling eyes and a hint of Tom Sawyer freckles, a stock of hair that fell as it wished, a warm smile and matching disposition.

He was a political guy, attached to the Kennedy administration.  A lawyer by trade, of keen mind and insight.  Held a sincere and earnest desire to see that government and law served all, advanced community and sought what was just.

I knew him as my law professor at Southern Methodist in Dallas, Texas.  It was during the Vietnam war – a time of daily troubles and deaths, deep divisions, hard questions and grave doubts.

We engaged immediately.  He sensed my concern for the questions of the day. Texan meets young Boston Lad who shared his quest for the good, the just, for law done wisely so to heal and protect, and for government properly used to safeguard freedom and advance community, and our care for others and for this Dear Country we were blessed to share.

His sincerity and welcoming struck me most.  So too, his love of this nation, its people and it future.  He modeled integrity, humility, courage.  I knew joy with his selection to the Federal Bench for it said “we are in good hands, now.”

Then there is Brooks Hays.  Lawyer.  From Arkansas.  Spent one term in the Congress from Little Rock. A Democrat.  He supported President Eisenhower’s desegregation of Little Rock Central High School and earned death treats for his trouble.

One term and out.  Never bitter.  Like Barefoot, he did what was right, what served others – those things greater than self.

I met Brooks Hays in Amherst, Massachusetts, when I was a college student.  He was a courtly gentleman, inviting, welcoming – wise and humble.  He stood on faith, and the lessons in life that confirmed and strengthen his faith.  A Baptist. Head of the Southern Baptist Convention.

I doubt there was a person who actually knew him that didn’t like him; nor one who knowing Barefoot didn’t like him.

These were leaders. Men who loved others and country and lived the virtues, good servants each.  These men inspired and their lives and actions taught others how to seek what is good regardless of the troubles at hand.

God sends us these men and memories – these roses for all the Decembers we pass.

Memory is a scared gift of others who have shown us what is right and good.  These special others are our cherished treasure.  Roses in December.