The phone rang……I picked up the phone when saw the name on the caller ID…I knew it was the call I had been expecting for days ….the voice on the other end of the line said, “Hobbs has died.” I felt both sadness and relief, in mid May Hobbs had been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas…he never left the hospital…much of that time he was not conscious.
Into the phone I heard myself say “I didn’t know him long enough…” I got to know Hobbs through his neighbor and best friend Gordon Cotton…and the hymn singings and dinners on the grounds they held down at Campbell’s Swamp, at Jordon’s Chapel .
Hobbs was a rare man…His pastor referred to Hobbs as a renaissance man….Hobbs was a man of many talents he was an artist, a sculptor, a builder, jewelry maker, a cook, a gardener…God gifted the hands of Hobbs Freeman…Hobbs’s hands could create what ever his mind could imagine…..
But, the quality Hobbs possessed that I admired most was he never tried to be anybody but Hobbs Freeman…he was the same everyday…he didn’t change according to who he was with… he treated all people the same….everybody was important to Hobbs….If you stop to think about it that is a very rare quality indeed.
Hobbs was buried at Campbell’s swamp…we arrived a head of the processional. When we step out of the car an uncommonly large butterfly came down and buzzed past our ears. I wondered a loud if that butterfly could have been Hobbs…I know there are folks who think that is not possible even sac religious …but I am of the mind that God is almighty and would have no trouble what so ever letting Hobbs spirit go into butterfly, so he could sit on the limb of a blooming hydrangea and see his friends on earth one last time..
The setting down there is like out of a movie…at the edge of the woods sits Jordon’s chapel, a cemetery to the side and a bit behind it, flowers in bloom all around and the scent of gardenias in the air. his burial was so appropriate, so simple. His casket was handmade by a friend out of an old walnut tree that had fallen on the property.
In the cemetery, there were six stones marking the graves of fallen confederate soldiers and a hand dug grave awaiting Hobbs. The hearse pulled up, the pall bears carried the walnut box up the hill and placed it beside the opening in the ground…The preacher said a few words…Then the pall bears and young men call out from the gathered mourners to lend a hand…began to slowly lower Hobbs body in to the ground.
Accompanied by the sounds of nature a young lady sang, while we in turns, beginning with the pall bears, took shovels of dirt and began to cover the box in the ground holding to body of Hobbs Freeman.
We walked away clapping hands……