It is a tragic commentary on the times in which we live, that senseless violence has become so endemic that we read the daily newspaper accounts or see the TV reports and just shake our heads. What has this world come to, we wonder?
But it’s always someone else it happens to, some other family whose husband or wife or son or daughter is the victim, some other grieving parents, children, grandchildren, friends, whose lives are shattered by crime.
And then one day it isn’t someone else.
Tuesday afternoon, April 18, William Flowers was alone in his store here at Clarksdale, in the process of closing a bit early so he could visit his father in the hospital, and someone came in, shot him in the back of the head, robbed the place, and left him lying where he fell.
He was discovered later by a customer and was airlifted to the trauma center at Memphis, but the injury was too severe and he died the following afternoon. He was only 36.
And so, this fine young man became, in one horrible instant, one more crime statistic (and the second shooting death that day in our small town). Just another news story.
Except to those of us who knew him and loved him.
A son of the Delta, William had the outdoors/sportsman’s way of life in his genes. He loved hunting and fishing and the camaraderie they entailed, and every season — deer, turkey, quail, whatever — he welcomed with great enthusiasm.
He was one of those rare people who could do anything. Build a deck onto the house? No sweat. Or build a house from scratch, for that matter, which he basically did after he married and became a father. Plumbing, painting, wiring? Well, yeah, what’s the big deal?
Funny, energetic, outgoing, he was always doing things, enjoying the company of others, whether in the woods, in a boat, or just sitting around and talking. He was everyone’s buddy, the guy who could be relied on if you needed him.
And in an ultimate act of lending a helping hand, when he died his heart, liver, and other organs were donated to others so they would have a chance to continue to live — to have a future that had cruelly been denied him.
William came into our lives when he married our daughter. He was the father of our first darling granddaughter, Presley, who is now facing life without her dear daddy. How does one explain to a nine-year-old the evil that, in an instant, snatched her father from her forever?
Even though he and our daughter later parted, everyone still considered him part of the family and loved him. He later remarried and he and his wife, Amy, only days before had celebrated their first anniversary. When his father retired, William took over his shop, selling the guns and sportsman’s gear that he’d been around since boyhood.
Things were going well, he was happy, enjoying life. And with the speed of a bullet, it all was dashed. Another crime statistic, another story in the news.
Only this time it wasn’t “someone else”…
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