No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." That is a verse from the Bible; I John 4:12.
Thursday night at Rockdale Medical Center, I saw love, and, therefore, have come as close to seeing God as I ever will, until He and I have that long appointed face to face meeting, that is.
I don't mean that I felt love or experienced love -- I saw it, over and over and over -- for four hours, in as concrete a form as one could ever imagine.
My brother-in-law, Eddie Potts, suffered a massive heart attack Thursday evening around 6:20. He was getting up hay in the Bermuda grass field on the Potts family farm. I married into that institution 30 years ago. Eddie had been doing it all his life. One moment Eddie was walking along, doing something he loved to do, something that was in his blood. In the blink of an eye his knees had buckled and he was flat on his back in the hay field, surrounded by men that he loved, and men who loved him.
CPR was administered immediately and he was transported by ambulance to Rockdale Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
I wasn't a part of the hay gathering party on this particular afternoon. I was otherwise engaged in Olde Town Conyers. When my lovely wife, Lisa, summoned me to the hospital I expected the worst. We experienced the worst, as we of Lisa's family lost a son, brother, father, uncle and friend.
But we also experienced the best -- we experienced the love of God in visible form as we were reminded, over and over again, of the lives Eddie Potts has touched over the years. He touched these lives not by being boisterous or drawing attention to himself in any way. He earned the affection of so many people in this community by living a humble Christ-centered life, by having a servant's heart and, most of all, just by being himself, Eddie Potts.
Eddie and I were about as different as two people could be. We have been family for three decades, and next door neighbors for about as long. I have long admired his ability to work with hands -- something that I have never been able to do -- and his humble straight-forward demeanor. What you saw was what you got with George Edward Potts. There was never an ounce of pretentiousness in his demeanor.
He was an outdoorsman. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and NASCAR; I think of my brother-in-law every time I hear Hank Williams Jr. sing "A Country Boy Can Survive" on the radio.
"I live back in the woods, you see, a woman and the kids, and the dogs and me. I got a shotgun, rifle and a 4-wheel drive and a country boy can survive. And we can skin a buck; we can run a trotline, and a country boy can survive."
Those lyrics always put me to mind of Eddie, and I was so proud to claim him as my brother. Like most folks who live in close proximity for three decades, Eddie and I had our ups and downs, but there were way more ups than downs. We have split wood together and hauled hay together and lived under the same roof at times. We have rejoiced and grieved and raised our families side by side, and when the chips were down he was always there for me -- and for hundreds of other people.
I realized that as I walked out of the hospital to catch my breath right after he had been pronounced dead. There was a small crowd of people gathering outside the waiting room door. Friends of the family, people from church, fellow band boosters. The crowd would not stay small for long. As I looked across the parking lot people kept walking up in twos and threes, and then fives and tens.
Well over a hundred folks gathered outside the hospital -- well over a hundred people -- from so very many walks of life. They were there to pray. They were there to offer support. They were there to do anything they could possibly do to make the tragic situation better for Eddies' wife, Terry Lynn, his son, Tyler and his parents, Benny and Bitzi Potts.
They were there for the entire family. They were there because this humble man had touched their hearts and lives in a special way. They were there because they loved Eddie and the entire Potts family. They were there to try and return a small token of the love that Eddie had shown them during the 54 years God blessed us with Eddie's presence on this earth.
That love was -- and is -- as real as the bricks and mortar with which Rockdale Medical Center -- the place where George Edward Potts entered this world on Jan. 4, 1958, and the place he died on Sept. 27, 2012 -- was built. Everyone in that crowd will testify that they are merely expressing the love of Almighty God, in their own way.
This community will miss Eddie Potts. This community is and will be a better place because he passed our way.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.