I would like to express my remembrance of Buddy Montgomery to those who mourn with us here today on behalf of Mrs. Jackie Montgomery, her daughters Sayward and Shanna Montgomery, and Buddy’s grandchildren Grayson and Avery.
Buddy Montgomery was my father-in-law. I knew him for 16 years. In that time I learned a lot about him as a Father and as a man. I’d like to share some of those things with you.
The first thing you need to know about Buddy is that he really loved people. For as grumpy and cantankerous a person he could sometimes be, he had an innate ability to connect with others - both strangers and familiars alike. Buddy knew everyone in town and was always up for a conversation. He knew your Daddy or went to school with your brother, or maybe you or your child went to school with one of his daughters. But whoever you were, you were bound to be asked how you and your family were doing, and you were going to hear all about how Buddy’s family was doing.
Buddy loved this town. I spent many a day riding around with him aimlessly as we accomplished some errand or another, sometimes just to get out and drive. He loved driving. His knowledge of Covington was both passionate and encyclopedic. He could tell you the history of any building, lot, or public space in town and had a great story to prove it.
And the stories, by god the stories he would tell. Adventures filled with hulking myths of men with names like Duke, Bobby Rau, Carlos, and a cast of other wild characters. These tales were inspiring and sometimes flat out crazy. His stories of growing up with his Mom and Dad and June, Sissy, and Donald, were also personal favorites of mine in all their hilarious, glorious, tormenting detail. By the end of most of his yarns I was mildly shocked but also a little envious. In those stories Buddy was an adventurer, a brawler, a man’s man, and a great friend who paid little mind to the minor trivialities that consume most of us. He scrapped, he cut it up, he pushed the envelope, he held on by the skin of his teeth, he went big and he lived large.
The most important thing I can tell you about Buddy is that he loved his family. His two daughters were the light of his life. He could talk about them for days, weeks, months, years, and he did. His words about them were filled, always, with love, adoration, and enthusiasm. The protective barriers that he placed around Shanna almost scared me to death when she first introduced me to him. But then as he slowly accepted me and let me in, he started to put that protective barrier around me too. See, once you are in Buddy’s family you are always in Buddy’s family. He respected me, and was more supportive of me, than any other father I’ve ever known.
He also loved his Grandchildren so much. I’ll never forget his absolute astonishment and delight at every little thing that Grayson and Avery did, whether they were being precious or were carrying on and cutting up. I only wish he had been able to meet his Granddaughter who will be joining our family next month. I know it gave him much happiness to know that Shanna and I would be blessed, loved, and tormented by our own little girl.
And Mrs. Jackie, how he loved you. You were the greatest love and adventure of his life. You were his best friend and his constant companion until the end. There’s nothing in this world more precious than that kind of love and I know it was a blessing in his life to have yours. No one will ever be able to erase the special times you both shared. I know wherever Buddy is, and it is a good place, he is thinking only of you.
The final thing I will tell y’all about Buddy is that he was a fighter. Things were black and white to him. He either loved you or, well he’d tell you exactly where you could go. But Buddy didn’t just fight arbitrarily, he fought for big things. He fought for his own happiness and peace of mind, he fought for the survival of himself and for the survival of his family.
When the chips were against him after a catastrophic accident, he not only fought back to life, he also reeducated his body on how to do everything. He did this as much for himself as for his girls and for his wife.
When he was first diagnosed with cancer almost four years ago, we really didn’t know how much time Buddy had left in him, or what his quality of life might be like in that time. One Doctor told us he might never walk again after his first spinal surgery. But Buddy looked every surgery, radiation treatment, and medical procedure right in the eye and fought to continue his life, even as those treatments increasingly weakened him. He did this as much for himself as for his girls, his grandchildren and Mrs. Jackie. He worried about all of us so much. But now he doesn’t have to worry anymore.
And here’s what I finally want to leave you with today, the essential truth about Buddy Montgomery. Despite all the events and injuries that befell him, Buddy lived the fullest of lives. He loved and was loved in return. And in the end that's all that any of us can really ask.
So when you think of Buddy I want you to think of him laughing, think of him cutting up, think of him driving through the streets of Covington, think of him when he helped you that time, think of him living large, and think of him loving his family. That’s the way I will always remember him, because that’s the man that he really was.