The Passing of Giants of the Human Spirit
July 21, 2017 by Herbert Daughtry
Eulogy for My Baby Brother, Jacob Samuel Daughtry (October 18, 1938-June 27, 2017), the Fifth Son of Bishop Alonzo Austin Daughtry and Emmie Cheatham Daughtry
-Jake with the Laughing Face
I remember Jake’s sense of humor. He was always laughing and trying to make others laugh. It’s a Daughtry trait. It runs in the family. The last time I visited my dad, he was on his dying bed with all of the family members gathered around him. He was still smiling, and trying to laugh. A few hours later, he made his transition. Jake, perhaps, more than the rest of us, carried this humor, laughter, or smiling to the extreme.
I have a photo of members of my family taken when my brother, Bob, died. Our mother; sister, Miriam; and, my oldest brother, Lonnie; and, I, literally, with our shoulders bent over from the heavy burden of grief, our faces were distorted with pain except for Jake. He had the broadest smile on his face. He couldn’t help himself. He always wanted to show a happy face.
In all of the ways we interacted and all of the events we shared, what comes to mind more often is his laughing face – the perpetual grin. Jake knew what Paul Scherrer discovered – “The only way in the world to multiply happiness is to divide it.”
Even when we inquired, “Hey Jake, how’s the family?”, invariably, he responded, “Everyone is fat and happy” or “They are as happy as bugs in the rugs.” That’s what he wanted to believe – that everybody around him was happy.
With the passing of the years, it seemed that his nose grew out of proportion to the rest of his body. He appeared to have the biggest and softest nose of any child. It became a point of humor that he accepted gladly. Pinocchio’s nose grew whenever he told a lie. Jake’s nose grew as it became the object of laughter. I am reminded of a quote. I don’t know who said it: “You grow up when you have the first real laugh at yourself.”
When he was a child, whenever he wanted to make people happy, he asked, “Do you want to touch my nose?” Again, he was always trying to do or say something to make people happy. Perhaps, it was this reason why he never told anyone how sick he was. It would make people sad, and he was about making people happy.
I think it is a mistake that people often make. They do not tell their loved ones how ill they are. Then, when they make their transition, the loved ones are left behind with guilt. They feel as if they could have done something, or they did something that contributed to the demise. Or, they are left wondering why they were not informed.
A word to all my audience: DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE, or without informing your loved ones of your condition. Your loved ones – even your friends (if they are truly your friends) – would want to know. To leave them out, perhaps, the most critical moment in your life, is to underestimate their love for you.
-Jake’s Caring Spirit
Our greetings were always as the following:
“How are you doing?” he’d ask.
“I’m okay,” we’d respond.
“If you were not doing okay, would you tell me?” he’d continue questioning.
It was his way of inquiring about our lives, and to let us know that he was there for us. He wanted to share whatever burden we were carrying.
Significantly, we should inform our loved ones about our illness. Jacob didn’t do what he asked others to do – “share your problems, sickness, or whatever troubles you have with me.”
This contradiction tells us that he, like the rest of us, is so human. All of us have these contradictions and inconsistencies – more or less. The truly happy person is one whose dynamics and complexities of his or her life are brought into harmony.
I was dumb and daring. Jake was cautious and caring. When I was about 10 or 11 years old (and Jake was two or three), I fell out of a tree in our backyard in Savannah, GA. More accurately, in my attempt to play Tarzan, swinging from limb to limb, the limb that I was holding onto broke, or the limb that I intended to swing to, I missed, and I fell to the ground. I don’t remember which, but I was knocked unconscious.
I was told that Jake was a one-man water line, traveling back and forth, fetching cups of water, and pouring it on my face until I regained consciousness. It’s a good thing I did. Jake would have probably drowned me.
This concern or caring for others followed him all the days of his life. He was always doing good deeds for others, or helping charitable organizations. It has been said, “The soul that perpetually flows with kindness will always be cheerful.”
Now, we know one of the secrets of his euphoric spirit. He cared! He was so compassionate. Because he was “other-directed,” or charity-driven, as always, God always stimulates the brain to release serotonin, which saturates the body, causing euphoria.
Now, we know how Jesus could say to His disciples, even when he knew death was near, surveying His life of rejection, disappointment, and sorrow, “My joy, I leave with you.”
We have looked at all the wrong places for happiness. “The happiest people,” said William James, the noted psychologist, “are the people who have found a cause to which they could give themselves which is bigger than and will outlive themselves.” Jake discovered this truth. Even in his sickness, he tried to make us happy.
… to be continued.