The Coach plays his final round here on earth
He’d get mad if this was sad, so it won’t be. I hope you’ll be smiling when you finish reading this.
In fact, I’ll bet Tommy Addison hasn’t stopped smiling since he took his last, labored breath on Nov. 27 and then took his first, full breath looking at the face of his saviour.
I’ve known Tommy since he graduated from PC in 1977. I had dealings with him when he co-owned Home Petroleum with his brother-in-law Ned Handback and then more often when he moved over to PC as head golf coach.
I remember a particular phone call from him after his team had done something he thought should have been noted in the local newspaper.
After I answered with my usual sweet hello, he lit into me. “What the hell does my team have to do to get something in your paper.” I stammered and stuttered through a short explanation of limited time and people. He didn’t want to hear my excuses.
“Democrats!” he exclaimed before gently hanging up the phone.
To say that Tommy Addison and I didn’t see politics eye-to-eye is like saying the Grand Canyon is a cute little hole. But we got past that minor difference.
I loved him and I know he loved me. We ended many conversations with an “I love you.”
When he went to Durham in October to get ready for a lung transplant at the Duke University Medical Center, he sent me an email telling me what all he had to do to get ready for the transplant and then what he’d have to do afterwards before coming back home to Clinton.
He said he and Kay would be up there probably 10 months.
“Thank goodness for Obamacare, right?” I said. No response.
Tommy was a driving force (with others) behind an active FCA adult huddle in Laurens County that raised a lot of money every year to bring the message of Christ to students in our schools and colleges.
Clinton High School Head Football Coach Andrew Webb said Tommy let him know constantly that he was praying for the players and coaches. “It was almost weekly that I received a message from him,” Webb told me.
He was so concerned about our high school and middle school kids. He worried about those who didn’t hear the gospel at home or attend a church. “We are their church,” he would say over and over.
As this year’s huddle group got cranked up to start another school year (the huddle meets every other month for dinner and a speaker), he sent out a mass email. I didn’t get one, but my friend The Great American asked me if I was going to the meeting.
I sent Tommy an email: “Have I been ex-communicated from FCA? Please let me come back. I promise I’ll be good.”
That night, I got a phone call at home. My First Wife answered, listened a minute and then handle me the phone with a shrug.
When he said, “Hey, buddy,” I knew who it was. (It was always either buddy or partner.) Then all I heard was laughter. For five minutes. Then he started coughing and I got worried. You don’t want a guy with breathing problems not be able to catch his breath.
“Tommy,” I said. “Calm down. Relax.” We talked for a few minutes. It was the last time we would speak. We did exchange a few emails before he left for Durham.
He was excited about the possibility of a transplant. “I’m so thankful for this opportunity,” he said in October. He was worried about FCA while he was gone.
I told him not to worry about FCA but to worry about himself. “God’s got this,” I said.
God’s plan was not Tommy’s and Kay’s plan. God’s plan was not Turner’s and Thomas’ plan. Or Lincoln’s plan. But God’s plan is a perfect plan. And God’s plan is for my buddy to breath without struggling and to smile. From now on. Forever.
(Larry Franklin is publisher of The Chronicle. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at MyClintonNews.com.)