The Passing of Giants of the Human Spirit
July 14, 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
I remember when they brought him home from the hospital – a tiny creature. I was so happy. I didn’t mind at all that I was dethroned as “Baby King.” It is said that there’s a special privilege or honor being the firstborn or the lastborn. As the firstborn, it’s all new. Being the lastborn, it’s all old, and the makers vow it will be the last, although that seldom happens, as in my case. I reigned for almost eight years. I remember five events from our earliest years, which I believe, along with others who say the first five years indicate which way the tree will be bent.
-A Bottomless Stomach
I remember Jacob (aka Jake) had a bottomless stomach as a baby. No matter how much milk or cereal he was given, he would always want more. When he couldn’t talk, all he would utter was “Bubing-bubing-bubing.” I believe it was not only the pleasure that food gave him, but also the curiosity or fascination with food. Sometimes, he would look long at the white milk and cereal in the bowl.
Many years later, my brother, Bob, and Francis were married. At the reception, Jake, who was about eight at the time, was fascinated with Ritz crackers. He had grown to love them. That evening, he stood at the table. His face radiated with excitement as the Ritz crackers were being placed on the table. When he couldn’t contain himself any longer, he cried out, “Boy, oh boy! Look at the crackers! There must be millions of them!”
Ordinarily, a child that age would say, “That’s a lot of cookies,” but Jake was calculating the number of crackers. Early on, he was showing us that there was something special about his mind, and the way he viewed things. He was always curious, interested, and full of excitement. We saw these traits throughout his life.
-Scrutinizing and Chasing Cockroaches
When he managed to crawl around the house, Jake became fascinated with roaches – those big, black roaches that some people call “water bugs.” While other people tried to catch and kill them, Jake cornered the roaches, and then studied them.
As the years progressed, it caused some difficulty. He was smarter and quicker to solve problems than other kids his age, even those who were older. While other children and adults had begun to nibble at problems, Jake would have already solved them in his mind. He would just stare as though he was thinking about something else. He was too sensitive to let you know that he already knew the answer.
This brilliance created problems in school. Oftentimes, as the teachers were doing their work, Jake seemingly, inattentive, would gaze out of the window, or focus on something else. My mother became deeply worried. She decided to take him to a psychologist. When Jake was given various tests, the psychologist said to my mother, “There’s nothing wrong with him. His intelligence is near genius. The teachers are not challenging him. His mind quickly grasps what the teacher is offering, and then, his mind wanders elsewhere in search of more interesting and challenging subjects.”
This highly technological age was made for him. His mind was a perfect fit. He talked about the world being run by computers and robots long before they came on the scene. He discussed plastic money (credit cards) replacing paper money years before most of us knew what he was talking about. He was so smart – so far ahead of his time. It must have been rather frustrating for him living with and being around us, who were in a “horse and buggy” mindset while his mind was in an “airplane” world.
When he was discharged from the Army after a 20-year career, he moved his family to Atlanta, GA. He worked for the City of Atlanta as a Systems Analyst from 1976 until 1990. He decided to become a Community Coordinator with the Atlanta Project through the Carter Center for Social Justice. In 1993, he resumed his career as a Systems Analyst with the Transportation Service in Columbus, GA.
-Tough and Courageous
Another thing I remember is how tough Jake was, it seemed, even from the crib. I couldn’t wait until he could walk so that I would have a serious football playing partner. I didn’t have to play by myself anymore – although my imagination was extraordinary, and I could conceive many games to play. My brother, Bob, was four years older than me. When I was ten, he was 14; and, he had other things on his mind. He was not always happy playing with me – his little brother.
When Jake had reached two or three years, he was ready for some football. It didn’t matter to me that he could barely walk. To me, he was a moving object – fast enough to get knocked down. Again, and again, I would tackle him. Day after day, and he would come back for more. Yes, he would cry for awhile, but he would return, and down he would go. Of course, a three-year-old is no match for a ten-year-old.
Bob tried to intervene. He pleaded Jake’s case. He tried to persuade me to cease. He said that I was being cruel. He would shame me into stopping, but Jake would return, and with tears, he would mumble, “I want to play some more.”
When I became an adult, I learned a little psychology. I began to wonder if, indeed, I harbored hostility towards Jake for removing me from my Baby Throne. My cruelty in playing football was a way to express my unconscious anger and/or misplaced aggression at my parents for bringing him into the world.
Whatever the reason, it toughened him to face the challenges of life. Is it any wonder, when he joined the Armed Forces, he didn’t join the Navy and fight on the sea, or the Army and only fight on the land, but he joined the Paratroopers? He had to jump out of planes and do battle.
… to be continued.