Opinion

September 4, 2013

Mark Millican: Our loss, but heaven’s certain gain

“His mere presence seems to have conferred a blessing on everyone who met him.” — Alan Moorehead, describing David Livingstone in “The White Nile”

    

The late Charlie Waters told me once when he left Ellijay to be shipped off to World War II he knew it would be the last time he’d see his father alive.

And he was right.

As an Army intelligence specialist, Charlie was involved in the planning of D-Day from the eastern shores of England. Before that he’d been stationed in Ireland for awhile before staging began for the June 6, 1944, monumental invasion that initiated taking Europe back from the Nazis.

In the days before computers, Charlie said tactics and strategy were organized on clipboards, which hung on walls on nails and had their outline stenciled on the wall. The same number was on the back of the clipboard and inside the stencil on the wall. When an alarm horn sounded warning of a possible German air strike, the men grabbed the clipboards, ran to underground bunkers, and when the all-clear was given they placed the clipboards back in their places and carried on.

If you knew Charlie Waters and how much he loved to tell stories — especially funny ones — you can imagine what a hoot it was hearing him mimic the “Limeys” in England and Ireland. Some of those local stories he told over and over again, but you never stopped him by saying you’d already heard it. You just listened and laughed again because he enjoyed telling it so much and you didn’t mind either.

But Charlie was very serious about another matter — he was sold out on telling other people what a friend Jesus could be. He often carried senior veterans all the way over to Augusta — without charging them anything for gas — so they could see the doctors at the veterans hospital there. If you put credence in Christian theology, you might wonder how many of those men are in heaven today because Charlie took the time to patiently witness to them.

I can say without reservation, because I have seen him in action, thousands of people are in heaven today because of the generous, caring and loving spirit of Charlie Waters.

We were at the county jail ministering once on Veterans Day and I told the men about Charlie’s military service. Also, that since he and Catherine had no natural children of their own they considered the men and women at the jail their sons and daughters. After all, this dear couple bought every inmate a box of chocolate-covered cherries at Christmastime, even getting the diabetic-friendly confections for some. On that Veterans Day, almost every man in both large cellblocks came up and hugged Charlie in a memorable, tearful moment.

He was a great friend and mentor. On Saturday mornings before our prayer group met at 7, I showed up around 6:30 to chat with Charlie as he got the coffee going at the Bobcat Den. But one Saturday morning many years ago I felt lower than a snake in a wagon rut and dreaded facing him.

But I knew I had to.

The only two people I had told I was headed toward a divorce, even after much counseling, were my mother and father. Charlie would be the next. He must’ve sensed my uneasiness as tears began to well up in my eyes. I’ve had a few successes in life but a lot of failures, and as a relatively young believer this was not a part of the plan.

The only thing I knew for sure was he wouldn’t condemn me — he didn’t have that bone in his body. But I knew I had to look him in the eye, and when I finally stammered it out I hung my head. When I finally looked up, Charlie had tears rolling down his cheeks. He walked over and hugged me. I knew it was going to be all right.

His favorite hymn was “Sweet Hour of Prayer”:

“Till from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height, I view my home and take my flight;

“This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise, to seize the everlasting prize;

“And shout while passing through the air, Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer.”

I can only imagine the shouting last week when Charlie saw his mother again — and his father.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • "We’ve had a great ride"

    For 60 years, the Green Spot has been a part of Dalton. It survived long after most other locally owned grocery stores in the area had folded to competition from big chain grocery stores and to big box super stores.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charles Oliver: Traveler from a district in Columbia?

    Jim Gray was traveling out of Orlando International Airport when a Transportation Security Administration officer tried to stop him from boarding his plane.

    July 29, 2014

  • Letter: Children are not the enemy

    We recently read somewhere that our country is at war, not with another nation but with one another.

    July 29, 2014

  • Ensuring the joy of reading

    They’re little, they’re libraries, and best of all, they’re free.

    July 28, 2014

  • Move carefully, but soon

    No one intended for it to happen. No one had any bad motives.
    But during a period of 40 years or more, quite a few people didn’t do enough planning, didn’t have enough foresight to see what all of the development in Dalton would do.

    July 27, 2014

  • Local school systems must bear costs of federal immigration failure

    No word. No warning. Little help.
    That’s what Dalton Public Schools officials received from the federal government when it dropped 30 Central American students into local classrooms last school year.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sacrifices worth honoring

    Members of the Dalton City Council were recently approached by representatives of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with a request to declare Dalton a Purple Heart City. Council members indicated they will approve the request.

    July 24, 2014

  • We must do better

    The numbers tell a sad tale.
    Registered voters: 36,843.
    Cards cast: 5,307.
    That means the turnout for Tuesday’s runoffs in Whitfield County was a measly 14.4 percent, according to unofficial results from the Whitfield County elections office.

    July 23, 2014

  • Letter: Control immigration

    Thousands are starting to pour into our country, and things are getting personal. Why would we end up the bad guys if we turn away children who aren’t ours? How does it make us better people to let one man steal from our children and stand by and do nothing?

    July 23, 2014

  • Helping with Book Blast betters the community

    The school test results are in, and students in Whitfield and Murray counties mostly improved from a year ago, mirroring or exceeding average scores of their peers.

    July 23, 2014