Archive for the Friends Category

My Eulogy to James Haynes

Posted in Friends on August 22, 2009 by mccoolio


A friend of mine, James Haynes, passed this week.

His death was sudden. He was at work one day and died in his sleep that night. Not much warning at all, besides the fact that he had remarked that his shoulder had been hurting for awhile and he’s been feeling pretty tired for awhile.

James was very popular, not just with other black guys or just among his Tooling fellow workers. The morning the rumors were flying around about his possible passing, everybody; black, white, blue collar, white collar, male and female were calling, emailing, wanting to find out about James.

James was 57, black, just an ordinary guy. I don’t think he was overly educated, he definitely wasn’t a big-shot, didn’t drive a fancy car, wasn’t that good-looking. He worked in Tooling at Vought, here where I work. Tooling can be a pretty dirty, unglamorous job and James didn’t seem to mind doing it. Matter of fact, he seemed really content.

I believe James’ mother lived with him. He was taking care of her. She was the one that found him, where he had passed away in his sleep. That’s pretty sad. A mother should never have to see her child die. I was also told that James was divorced and had maybe several children. I was told he was just about to finish paying child support as the last child was turning 18. After that he was going to retire. I thought that was pretty cool, that he was making sure he fulfilled his support to his ex-wife and his children, even to the point of postponing retirement.

I got to thinking, what was it about James that was so attractive? As said above, it wasn’t position, looks,  power, or wealth. The way he took care of his mother and his kids says about all I needed to know about him. He wasn’t a leader type. He definitely wouldn’t stand out at first glance. No, I think it was  James’ internal qualities that made him the man he was, it was the way he treated people, his outlook on life that made news of his death so troubling.

He always greeted me with ” Hey big man”. He was so humble. I think that was probably his greatest quality. You would probably think that because he was all the things above and also not all the above, that humility would come naturally to him, but I know that’s not necessarily true in life. Humble circumstances does by no means create humility in a person. There’s plenty of people to prove that false. James had a healthy opinion of himself, plenty of self respect, and plenty of healthy pride, but he didn’t think too much of himself. I believe his humility came from his mindset, a choice.

James had one of the goofiest laughs I’ve ever heard. When he got really cranked up, he sounded like a cross between a laughing hyena and one of those laughing mules in the cartoons. heehneehawhneehwaheehngn

James was never moody. When I said “hey James”, I always got the same thing: “hey big man”, accompanied by some kind of smile, either a big goofy grin if he was feeling real chipper, or at the least a warm smile of greeting. He always seemed to know something that kept that smile at the ready.

James was an avid newspaper reader. For years, he always had a daily Tennessean and  USA Today. Often, at the end of the day, I would make it a point to go by the table where he left his newspapers and grab his leftover USA Today. I don’t know for sure, but I believe  a lot of times he left it for me instead of taking it home, even though he had not had time to read it. Occasionally,  he would even bring it over and give it to me because other people were grabbing it up and not bringing it back.

James, I really enjoyed knowing you and working with you. Thank you so much for being so kind to me and sharing your USA Todays with me all those years. You didn’t have to and most people wouldn’t even think to do it. It wasn’t that big of a deal but maybe that makes it a big deal, huh? But most of all, thanks for your humility, and your friendship. You will be missed.