It was New Year’s Day . . . January 1, 2018, to be exact . . . and we were hard at work in Savannah. Death had been exceptionally busy over the previous 24 to 48 hours and as a result, three families were scheduled to come in for their arrangement conferences. That meant several of us were missing the sleeping-in and/or bingeing-on-football part of the day, instead spending that time meeting with families, processing information, and answering the phones that never seemed to quit ringing.
The office was officially closed (after all, it was a holiday . . .) so the office door was officially locked, but since we can’t really hold families hostage until they’re done, the double front doors were open . . . meaning anyone wanting to reach the office could, with a little effort, find a way in . . . meaning those of us in the office were periodically turning around to see if the person entering from the foyer was an employee or a random stranger. There was precious little time for taking a break and even less time for eating, not that any of us had thought about food in the midst of the chaos.
It was one of those door-opening moments that changed the entire course of the day, because the person smiling at us from the other side of our counter was Billy Allegood, bearer of McDonald’s pies and spreader of good will. He would come by every few days with a sack (or two) filled with freshly baked pies and basically force us to take some. Ok. Force is probably too strong a term. Maybe gently and persistently encourage us. But on that busy New Year’s holiday, he only had to offer once, and the gratitude that spread across the building made the rest of the day so much easier to handle.
Billy has visited us and numerous others in our town more times than I’m sure any of us can count. He always came bearing pies and he always told us he loved us and appreciated us and wished God’s blessings upon us before he left. But over the last few years his health, both mental and physical, had obviously been declining, and over the last few months he hadn’t been by, leaving us wondering and worried . . . until Monday morning when the call came telling us he would be coming to our building one final time.
We all know he’s where he’s wanted to be for years. His wife whom he cared for with such love and devotion was waiting for him. And his days of dealing with a body that was failing him and a mind he could no longer completely trust are over. What remains is his legacy of kindness and generosity, of love and faith that speaks volumes about the man he was. And for those of us he left behind, the world grew just a bit dimmer with his passing.
About the author: Lisa Shackelford Thomas is a fourth generation member of a family that’s been in funeral service since 1926. She has been employed at Shackelford Funeral Directors in Savannah, Tennessee for over 40 years and currently serves as the manager there. Any opinions expressed here are hers and hers alone, and may or may not reflect the opinions of other Shackelford family members or staff.