Let me tell you about my Uncle Ben. If you think I am obsessed with the University of Alabama football team, you may understand why after this.
My Uncle Ben attended Alabama back in the 1940's. He was from a very poor family in South Alabama and never graduated high school. He quit in the 9th grade to enlist in the U.S. Navy.
When he got out, he met an Alabama recruiter who was so impressed with him, he helped him enroll in the University.
Never thinking he would get the chance to go to college, Uncle Ben took advantage of his opportunity. He made good grades, graduated from the business school and went on to have a very successful career at U.S. Steel.
He was a die hard Bama fan from the get go. Because of that, my father went there and met my mother there. I was born in the same hospital where the great Coach Paul Bear Bryant died in Tuscaloosa. (My dad claims I met the Bear when I was two and says he held me while I cried but my father is known to embellish his stories a little more each time he tells them.)
So when I was 18 I had no option (according to Uncle Ben) other than the University of Alabama.
A few years ago, I found out he gave millions of dollars to the University to sponsor a scholarship. I never knew he had that kind of money. He saved it so he could pay back the school that helped change his future.
After that, Uncle Ben was invited to sit in the President's box at homecoming games. He even sat with U.S. Senator Richard Shelby at one game.
This week is Homecoming at the University of Alabama and Uncle Ben will be there- in spirit. You see, he died Tueday. He was rushed to the hospital when he stopped breathing. The doctors were able to resuscitate him.
Uncle Ben told the nurses to get him well enough to see the Crimson Tide play one last time. Not going was not an option. He was four days short. Uncle Ben passed away in his sleep.
My Aunt Ruth made sure his service was not on Saturday. She said they had to change their wedding date because it fell on a Bama game day, so she knew he wouldn't want his funeral on Homecoming. He would want to make sure the Bama fans in his family could watch the game.
Besides, Uncle Ben will be at Bryant Denny Stadium Saturday. He will have the best seats in the house. Knowing him, he'll be sitting right next to his hero Coach Bear Bryant, enjoying an ice cold Budweiser.
Roll Tide, Uncle Ben, Roll Tide!