Friday, August 16, 2013

A Requiem for Atticus

Only you and I can help the sun to rise each coming morning.  If we don't it may drench itself out in sorrow ~ Camus
What did he mean by this?  He was a complex man, was Albert Camus.  But - oh - what a self-absorbed statement was that?  Rest assured, the sun will surely rise and surely set without our assistance and life will proceed on its own path and at its own pace.  Life and time move forward with or without us.  It will press on without my Atticus, although those of us who knew and loved him will wonder why the world has not stopped to take notice at this passing of quiet greatness.

My Atticus was an attorney named Talbird Reeve Sams.  He embodied all the noble qualities that Harper Lee infused in Atticus Finch - my favorite character in all literature. He was tall, and slender, and he spoke the truth with a soft yet deep honeyed Southern accent.  He was a man who could be trusted with his word, with a handshake.  He could be trusted to be on the right side of every moral argument.  Steadfast and unshaken as he followed his conscience.  Simply put, he was a gentleman...a gentle man. Reeve loved the law; he loved practicing the law.  He was better than good at it; he excelled.

We were friends for over 40 years.  This year brought the end of another very long-term friendship over a misunderstanding.  But Reeve never misunderstood anything; he never judged.  He saw me for the person I was (am) and loved me nevertheless.

I am sad; I am happy; I am fortunate; I am unfortunate.  The privilege of not only knowing him, but of being his friend, is tempered by the knowledge that I now know the difference between a world in which he lived and breathed and one without him in it.  It is much less painful to never have loved - to which I say run toward the pain and embrace it and hold tight to it and thank Heaven for it whenever you can.

Goodbye my friend.  Godspeed.


  1. I'm sorry for your loss, Grad. Your Atticus sounds like a wonderful man. And this is wonderful tribute to him.

  2. A lovely essay, Grad. The ONLY good thing about having wonderful people die is that it gives us a chance to think back on their lives and their influence on us. You did him proud. Thinking of you....

  3. So sorry Grad. He sounds like a wonderful man. *hugs*

  4. A wonderful tribute to your own 'Atticus'. There's a special feature in the DVD of To Kill A Mockingbird in which Gregory Peck was honored for his role. In the Q & A session, a person in the audience stood up and said that he had modeled after Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch throughout his career as a lawyer. He even named his son Atticus. Yes Grad, for me too, Atticus is the most admirable of all fictional characters. And you're most fortunate to have known one in real life.

    1. And I've sent your post to my son, who's in his last year of law school.

  5. I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like an amazing guy.

  6. Atticus Finch was a great literary character. How wonderful to find someone who had those qualities in life.