Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 22, 2002


Retirement gives you time to visit old friends and sit by a fire


            Retirement is not so bad after all. Last week my wife and I spent two nights in a very nice hunting lodge over in west Alabama. We were guests of our longtime friend, Roy Jordan, and his wife Becky.

            The Landrum Creek Lodge is out a ways from Linden. You have to get lost to find it, but we found it even after dark by following Roy’s careful instructions.

            We slept in a bed Roy made himself, using logs that had been hewn by his grandfather. Not bad, I thought, for a chemical engineer.

            Some land owners grow cows. Roy grows trees. He took us for a ride through more than a thousand acres, proudly showing us many trees, young and old.

            Roy is proudest of his walnut trees. It takes a lot of faith to plant walnut trees. Roy is my age and he knows his walnut trees will be harvested by his children, and perhaps even his grandchildren.

            We sat in the great room of the lodge, chatting and renewing our friendship before a large, stone fireplace. There was no fire of course. But I imagined one, and hopefully we can go back in February and enjoy the fire I wished for in September.

            February is as early as we can go back. Some serious deer hunters will take over the lodge soon, and they’ll be drawing a bead on those bucks until the end of January.

            Roy has worked hard to upgrade the deer population on his place. Deer are plentiful, but it takes careful planning to raise deer that can produce those prize racks that hunters want to bring home.

            Handsome bucks are being used these days to breed deer in the same way that prize bulls are used to breed better quality cattle. Roy showed us an example of how the antlers of one buck had improved greatly over a three year period.

            Roy and I became friends at Auburn University more than 50 years ago. He recently retired after a long career as a chemist with Gulf States Paper Company.

            We talked at the lodge about many things, about life, and family, and how we finally learned to treasure friends more than things. We talked about the debt we owe to our parents, and to many others who have influenced us along the journey.

            Roy’s mom, Janie, is 87 now, recently confined to a nursing home, and struggling to regain her strength.  But her mind is still good. She was quite alert, warm and friendly when I visited her in the hospital not long ago.

            Janie learned to paint well in her later years. We admired many of her lovely paintings during a brief visit in her home nearby the lodge.

            Over the years I have known a number of solid Christians, the kind we call “the salt of the earth.” Janie has been one, and her godly influence in Roy’s life is easy to see.

            Before we came home Roy took us over to Ezell’s Fish Camp. Those folks have been cooking good catfish at that rustic place on the Tombigbee River since 1937. For supper down by the riverside you simply can’t beat fried catfish.

            Roy is busy during the week with his timber, ponds, deer, turkey, and land development. He is a good steward of the land. But the land and the trees and the lodge do not own him. He owns them.

            Every night he finds his way to the nursing home to feed his mother. He remembers that when he could not care for himself, his mother tended to his needs. Now he does not neglect her.

            You never have to wonder where Roy is on Sundays. He is always in church, teaching his adult Sunday School class, and encouraging his friends to walk the walk and talk the talk.

            Roy wants to make a difference. He has, in my life. He has been more than a friend; he has been an encourager. He has been in my balcony as long as I can remember.

            I plan to tell Roy what I have written here – when we sit and talk and enjoy that fire in February.