Memorial website in the memory of your loved one

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Gregory Crawford Tyler who was born in Macon, Georgia on July 08, 1959 and passed away in Sasebo, Japan, from heart complications on April 30, 2006 at the age of 46. He is survived by his wife, Shirley Tyler, son, James E. Tyler, II, sister, Cydney Tyler of Atlanta and half-sister, Karen Thames.   He is buried in Macon Memorial Park with his mother and dad.

Greg worked for Stars and Stripes, an overseas Department of Defense newspaper keeping the overseas military community updated on the news, for approximately 7 years.  He started his career with The Georgetown Times as a reporter then within a couple of years worked his way up to City Editor with the Florence Morning News.  He proceeded to continue his career as a City Editor with the Aiken Standard then as a Content Editor with the Augusta Chronicle prior to working for Stars and Stripes and moving to Japan.  He desired to go back to his first love of being a journalist when he was offered his job with Stars and Stripes.  He was Bureau Chief for the Sasebo Navy Base and Iwakuni Marine Base and, on ocassion, was deployed to various places overseas.  He loved being able to see other parts of the world and experience the different cultures.  Greg was a poet, photographer, writer, enjoyed creating websites, wonderful husband and father.  Greg was an Adult Sunday School Teacher and involved with the Base Chapel, also supportive of his wife who was music director. He loved people and always looked beyond their faults to see their true talents and worked to encourage them in their ability to improve on their talents.  He inspired his wife, Shirley, to become a professional photographer and videographer.  He loved his Savior Jesus Christ and loved following in His footsteps.  Wherever he lived, he contributed as much as he could to the community.  Greg loved his wife and son so much.  About 2 hours before he died, he said he heard music and talked to his dad who had died at the age of 42 with his wife watching on.   He and the music teacher of the DODDS school collaborated with lyrics he wrote and she wrote the music for a most beautiful song called "Birds."  It was sung at his memorial service in Sasebo.  Afterwards, when condolances were being made to the family, a beautiful black and white swallow flew in and flew around the ceiling perching every now and then.  He will be missed.  We will remember him forever.
Tributes and Condolences
So Very Sorry for Your Loss   / Melissa Eiler (Visitor~Daughter of Irwin & Renee Eiler )
You Are Truly Missed   / Phil Eakins
As I drove past the "Stars & Stripes" office the other day, I shot a quick glance at the building's entrance and remarked to my wife that I still expect to see Greg standing outside taking a quick break from his newswriting du...  Continue >>
I love you Uncle Greg.   / Kelly Workman (niece)
Uncle Greg,
When I found out about you having left us I was shocked. I felt really sad and also felt that it wasn't fair. I've always liked you so much. I hate that we didn't get to see each other often, but I sure did enjoy it when we did get ...  Continue >>
Thank you!   / Mable Burks (friend)
Thank you, Greg, for the joy and wonder that  you brought to our lives. Thank you for the wealth and new knowledge. Having lost you is more bearable knowing that we received so much when you were with us.
It's A Sad Day   / David Allen (Friend, co-editor )
Greg was a friend, fellow poet and the webmaestro of my e-zine www.eatwritecafe.com.  When he died, this is the message I sent to my colleagues at Stars and Stripes:It's a sad day.I don't know how many of you ever got to know Greg, but he was a ...  Continue >>
Angel Unaware  / Daniel Spencer (Brother in Christ )    Read >>
A LETTER OF MEMORY  / Jerry And Rose Havens (Friends)    Read >>
Testimony / Ferna Williams (friend)    Read >>
Greg, where to begin...  / Shannon Johnson (Friend)    Read >>
Greg, a man of integrity...a rare breed  / Patricia Etheridge (Sister-in-law)    Read >>
How special our relationship  / Karen Tyler- Thames (sister)    Read >>
Remembering the poetry man ...  / Sharen Shaw Johnson (Friend and co-worker )    Read >>
My Brother  / Cydney Tyler (sister)    Read >>
Condolences / Stewart Upton (friend & co-worker )    Read >>
Greg Tyler  / Sasebo Medical Staff (Assisted with CPR )    Read >>
More tributes and condolences...
Click here to pay tribute or offer your condolences
His legacy
Memories from friends and co-workers  
Hi Shirley,
We loved Greg a lot and will miss him a lot. Please let us know what we can
do for you.
Love,
Julie, Rick and Rachel


-----Original Message-----
From: Panasiewicz, John
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 12:51 PM
To: PS&S All; CS&S All; ES&S All
Cc: 'Chernitzer, Richard S JOC (C7F N0122)'
Subject: Memories of Greg...

Greg was an avid sports fan as well. I was a part of a couple of Fantasy
Leagues with him and one thing to point out is that there was not the usual
"trash talk" among those involved in the leagues. There was plenty of well
wishing for Greg in particular one year since it was at the time of a
previous health scare with his heart. Greg was filled with sincerity and
good will.

John

-----Original Message-----
From: Shourds, Julie
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 8:35 AM
To: Allen, David; Little, Vince; PS&S All; CS&S All; ES&S All
Cc: Chernitzer, Richard S JOC (C7F N0122)
Subject: RE: bad news

All,
My husband Rick, one of our former reporters and now currently with
COMSEVENTHFLT, wanted me to pass this along to you about Greg.
Julie

Julie:
Please pass onto everyone this message from me:

Greg and I were riding in a bhat bus through Pattaya Beach, Thailand, at
1 a.m. during Cobra Gold 2002 while out doing a "nightlife" piece for the
paper. We joked about moving down there and opening a resturant we'd call
"Popz and Flopz." He would be "Popz" (for obvious reasons).
I can't remember why we chose "Flopz" for me, but I'm sure it was his idea.

The point is Greg was not only a top-notch reporter with a keen eye and
sharp wit, but he was also a wonderful human being. I remember the last
time I saw Greg; we (USS Blue Ridge/COMSEVENTHFLT) had just pulled into
Sasebo this past January and he was on the pier to welcome the ship. I took
him around (doing the media escort thing), and all the while we chatted
about our families, how life was going for each of us, and how the Navy in
Sasebo had changed so much in the past year. Just your normal pass-the-time
conversation, typical of Greg, but he was always able to give you something
to think about.

I enjoyed working with him on both sides of the journalistic fence. I will
miss him dearly.

Rick


-----Original Message-----
From: Allen, David
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 4:04 PM
To: Little, Vince; PS&S All; CS&S All; ES&S All
Subject: RE: bad news

It's a sad day.

I don't know how many of you ever got to know Greg, but he was a great guy
and a good friend. We shared a love of reporting and poetry and he was the
webmaster of our poetry magazine, www.eatwritecafe.com. He loved doing that
so much he started his own online magazine not so long ago, The Quill and
the Cross -- http://www.quill-n-cross.com. Although we did not share the
same religious beliefs, we had an incredible ongoing discussion about the
meaning of life -- and death -- and what happens next. He was a spiritual
being, as you can tell from his website, so I am sure he's at peace wherever
he is.

His wife, Shirley, shared this with me just a short while ago:

"Greg just died this morning. The community has really rallied behind us
and we will miss him so much. I was with him until the very end and, even
though it was so difficult to say goodbye, he said he was hearing music and
I know he's with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Here's to Greg : -30-



david

-----Original Message-----
From: Little, Vince
To: PS&S All; CS&S All; ES&S All
Sent: 4/30/06 2:03 PM
Subject: bad news

All,

I received a phone call today from John Panasiewicz, Pacific Stripes general
manager, saying that reporter Greg Tyler passed away Sunday at about 8:30
a.m.

As many of you were aware, Greg suffered a massive heart attack this past
Thursday. He was being treated at a Japanese hospital in Sasebo.
After surgery for an arterial blockage was deemed too risky, doctors
tried medications. He apparently took a turn for the worse Saturday.

John spoke to the Sasebo chaplain, who has been in constant contact with
Greg's family and provided support throughout this difficult time. His wife,
Shirley, has relatives arriving next week on a trip that had been previously
planned.

A memorial service is tentatively planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Sasebo Naval
Base.

Regards,
Vince


Vince Little
Pacific Stars and Stripes
Yokota Air Base, Japan
DSN 225-9233
Cell: 090-3529-3506
littlev@pstripes.osd.mil
www.stripes.com
Scholarship in Greg's Name  

Ensen Adam Cole, USNavy set up a scholarship in Greg's name that is now benefiting seniors in High School in Sasebo, Japan.

Thank you so much Adam for what you've done to keep Greg alive in our hearts!

2 years...we still miss you so much, Greg  

April 30, 2008...you've been in Heaven for 2 years...we miss you so much still. When you asked me if it was okay to go and I realized you wanted to go to Heaven that you were ready, as hard as it was for me to say it was okay, I still said it and know that you're so happy now. That your happiness now can't even be described in words. I think about you every day. When I see a bird fly in front of my car or a dragonfly buzzes around me when I'm upset I really believe you're sending these little creatures my way to say "it's allright...just let it go." James and I still love you so much and know that as short as this life is we'll be seeing you in Heaven when God says it's time for us to take leave to Heaven to join you. I know too that you'll be right there to take us on a tour. We love you.

"Greg Tyler, Like a Second Dad" By Katie Kremer  
When your father is in the US Navy, you start to get used to life without a dad. When he was underway, it was as if he lived in a different part of the country and only came to visit every couple months. Because of this, when I was in Japan, I used other men to replace my dad. One in particular was very special to me. His name was Greg Tyler, and he was one of the best men I have ever met.
After only living in Japan for a couple weeks, my dad went underway, and stayed underway for almost 8 months. In that time I started going to the Protestant Church on base. Since I am into music, my first reaction was to join the choir. They had enough singers, so I resorted to playing my flute with the piano playing lady. Her name was Shirley. She was a tall, kind hearted woman. She ended up giving me rides home after practice because I had no way of getting there myself. While we rode in the car, she would divulge stories about her adventures. She would always talk about how her, Greg and their son James would do all this exciting stuff. I never really knew who Greg and James were. I saw them at church, but I don’t really like talking to people, so I kept to myself.
One Sunday though, I was having a real bad day. One thing you must know about me is that I get into moods and sometimes I can fall into really depressed moods. This morning one of those moods was upon me, and I was almost in tears all morning. That day, I “met” Greg. I was sitting alone in a pew begging God to make me happy, and he came and sat down beside me, and was just with me. It had been a couple months since I saw my dad, and to have a man that close to me kind of scared me. I looked at him, and his eyes just told me that he cared. I told him I was not having a good day, and he gave me a big hug. I must point out; he was quite a large guy, so this was literally a big hug. After that day, every time I saw him, I would give him a gigantic hug.
When school started back up, and I was in my sophomore year, I started doing journalism. Now, Greg was the head writer for Stars and Stripes in our area, so it was only natural that I ask him for advice and help. He read my articles I wrote and would critique them. He set the fire in my heart for journalism. I would rummage through the paper everyday looking for his name in the byline. He was my idol when it came to writing. He pushed me to be better and to improve in all I did. It wasn’t only writing that he inspired me in. Whenever I sang or played in church, he would make a point to come up to me and tell me I did a fabulous job, even if I didn’t. He made me feel good about myself always.
After about a month into my 10th grade year, I switched churches. The church I was previously going to was a half hour away, and I only went for the people, but I started getting burned out, so I moved to the church that was just down the street from me. I saw Greg less and less, but when I did see him, I always continued our tradition of a hug.
The last time I can remember hugging him was after this symphony concert. My choir teacher was a viola player in the Sasebo Symphony, and after the concert we all met up, Shirley, Greg, and I. That was the last hug that I gave my second father. I ran up to him and hugged him like always. He told me how he missed my hugs every week, and that I should try to visit him sometime after school someday. I had planned on it, but never seemed to find the time.
The last ever time I saw him alive is one of the worst regret of my life. What was going on was we had a dress rehearsal for a choir concert. I was on my lunch break and I ran over to the chapel to talk to my minister real quick. I was having a few problems and I knew she would listen. I was late back to practice, and so she was going to walk me back so she could explain to the teacher. On the way back we were still talking, and I saw Greg outside his building. I waved at him, but I didn’t run up and hug him like normal. He had this kind of disappointed look on his face, but I was so concerned with my own problems to really much care. I just kept on my way, went back to choir and that was that.
Now skip ahead about a month and a half. I was in Okinawa with a few people from choir. We were on a choir trip, but it was only for like the best singers. You had to audition and sing all this difficult music. There was about five of us. After the concert, my choir teacher walks up to me with tears in her eyes and tells me that Greg has had a heart attack, but he is still alive. I almost burst out crying right then and there. I’ve never dealt with death before, and I had no clue what to say or do. I just prayed for him and hoped he would get better.
That was a Saturday. On Sunday morning I walk into church and see my choir teacher playing the piano mournfully. I was so afraid to ask what was wrong. That is when she told me he had died that morning. What was I supposed to do? I never thought he would die. I never dealt with this before. I didn’t know how to act or even speak at that time. I just put my hands in my head a cried. All the makeup ran down my face and I just sat and cried for an hour straight. Then the church service started and I cried straight thought that too.
His memorial service was the hardest though. I had to sing this trio with these two other girls, and I was so afraid I was going to just burst out crying. I didn’t though. I got through the song and then sat down. Next his wife played this slide show of pictures Greg took. Right at the end there was a clip of Greg reading this poem he wrote. It was him. He was alive for a second. His voice resonated around the church while everyone mourned his lose. Even people who didn’t know him cried and cried. The people who did know him though knew what a kind man had died. He had helped so many people like he had helped me.
I still miss him and think about him almost everyday. I know he is watching me. Even now, after it’s been almost five months since he died, I cry as I write this. He really changed my life, and I never got to tell him. I didn’t hug him the last time I saw him, and it is a regret that I hold so close to my heart.


In memory of Greg Tyler 

(Go to “Audio/Video” to see Katie singing during the memorial service, as well as a song she wrote "I Love You.")
Greg Tyler, the most genuine, caring and giving person I've ever known.  


Greg Tyler left a great legacy for his son and many others who want to hear his poetry or read his works.  He had such a big heart.  

One day when he worked at the Florence Morning News as a City Editor, he came home and told me that he overheard one of the reporters say she was going to be evicted if she didn't get her rent paid the next day.  She was having many struggles and it seemed that nothing was going her way that month.  He watched her as she drove her car to lunch and when she returned, got to her desk, he went to the parking lot and dropped an envelope containing enough cash in it to take care of her rent for that month through the small opening of her car window. 

Before his heart attack, the Base Chaplain had given him responsibility for a month while he was out of town to take care of things at the Chapel.  Greg lined up the speakers and coordinated with me, his wife and music director, the music for each service.  Everything went so beautifully and he decided he felt God wanted him to minister eventually.  The day of his heart attack, he was having lunch in the Harbor View Club with a good friend, Dan Spencer, excitedly telling him that he'd just signed up for a Theological Seminary to get a degree.  Then just after he said that, he said he felt strange and began to shake.  He then fell over and Dan yelled "911."  Half of the medical clinic staff was in there having lunch when it happened and responded immediately.  

Long story short, they brought him back and God allowed us to have 4 wonderful yet sad days with Greg.  We told him goodbye on Saturday, April 29th.  He communicated to us as best he could because of the garb in his mouth.  He and I looked at each other and with tears streaming, we told each other we loved each other over and over and over.  I just couldn't say it enough.  James told him some marvelous things and he told James to grow up to be a successful and great man and to take care of mom.  Greg died too young because he had so much more to offer this world but God decided to take him on to Heaven.  The day of Greg's death was sad yet so amazing.  He said he heard music.  When I asked him what it sounded like he said he didn't know, thus the verse "no eye has seen and no ear has heard what God has in store for those who love Him."  

Three minutes later Greg turned his head a little and smiled and said "hi Dad."  His dad had been dead since Greg was 9.  When I called Greg's sister to let her know that Greg had left us she told me she had had a dream a couple of days before except the dream seemed real.  She said her dad was beckoning to take her with him, or so she thought.  She could feel a tug and pull and didn't know what was going on.  I believe she dreamed this at the time Greg  was given CPR and shocked and came back.  She saw their dad as a young and handsome man, just like a portrait she has of him.  She talked about this during the Macon memorial service and showed this portrait.  I had struggled with what to talk about and finally thought that morning to talk about Greg's last day on earth.  It's amazing, all of this, because of the fact that I had so much doubt the day before Greg died that there was even an afterlife.   I couldn't bear to see Greg's life end with him suffering so much.   I prayed and prayed for God to take Greg peacefully but to give me confirmation and to give James and me peace about Greg's birth into Heaven.  I had even had some doubt about the afterlife and was thinking that these stories about loved ones passing and seeing angels, etc., was bogus.  Then it happened and I was honored to be in the presence of angels as they took Greg out of his damaged and tired body took him to Heaven.  I literally felt Greg's presence in the room as he left us.  The doctors and nurses had worked on him for at least 15 minutes to try to bring him back and while they worked and worked, taking turns to do CPR, I felt Greg lingering above us.  Knowing Greg, he would've wanted to know that I knew he was there.  I told the Chaplain and a good friend with me, that he was there and I pointed upwards.  From my heart I said "I love you so much."  Then, I felt him leave the room.  It seemed after he left us that so many neat things happened giving confirmation after confirmation that he is safe and sound.  

These Greg moments are:  
1.  The day he died, a strange wind blew and blew around our house, seemingly only our house.  It seemed as though it was his spirit.  
2. That evening James and I sat on a swing I own and James showed me 2 trees side by side that were shaped like bears.  I've photographed these trees and it's under the photo section of this site.  
3. At 5 a.m. I woke up wide awake stressing about and going over the "what if's."  Then out of nowhere, it seemed a presence just covered me all over and I could feel it going through me too.  It felt like Greg's presence and I believe it was him.  From my heart I asked "should I let it go?"  The reply and feeling I got right back was "let it go." 
4.  After the memorial service that about 300 people attended at Sasebo, Japan, which was awesome, people were giving condolences and a beautiful black and white bird flew in.  To this day no one knows how it got in.  It flew back and forth, would perch and it seemed it was looking right at me.  I believe Greg asked God to send that bird as another sign.   The song "Birds" by Greg and DeEtte Hassen was sung at that memorial service by the high school choir of about 35 teenagers... so we were all amazed and blown away with this beautiful bird.  Another "Greg moment."

Whenever you see a photo on this site and it's named "Greg Moment" you'll know it's another confirmation.

Greg's eyes were smiling, his mouth even seemed to be smiling a little when he died. 
The Chaplain picked up James to bring him back to see his dad for the last time.  James walked in and in shock his mouth and eyes popped open.  He'd been telling his dad that he would pull through this because he was tough but God had other plans.  James stood by Greg's side and holding his hand said "Dad you died on a beautiful day and in a beautiful country."  What a blessing! God has allowed us to have such peace about Greg's passing into eternity.  I only pray my birth into Heaven will go as well and I'll be able to see him come to take me home when it's my time.   

Greg, if only all of us could see life as you did.  You were genuine and loved and forgave people, even when they wronged you.  You overlooked faults of others, wanted so bad to see people love one another and be forgiving.  Even though your mother aspired to a standard of living that was somewhat highclass, you kept things simple, even down to the suspenders you wore every day.  You never liked to see anyone putting on airs, you would avoid conflict as much as possible, especially with your jobs.  You'd allow others to treat you badly on the job just to keep peace in the camp. You never said anything unless it was directed from your heart.  You loved me to the core, and our son, James.  When you were in the hospital, you kept your eyes on me the entire time whenever you were awake. One hour before you left me, you actually told the angels to ask me if it was okay for you to leave just after you said in an urgent tone of voice "I have to go."  I cried sad yet happy tears as I said "yes, honey, it's okay."

I know you're with God and you're dancing in the streets of Heaven, the gold paved streets.  You had only said a few weeks prior that you couldn't wait to see your God and that you felt like the prodigal son coming back home.  Well, dear, God's prepared the fatted calf.  He's run to meet and greet you and you were born into Heaven on April 30, 2006.  I'm so grateful for that and knowing that, we'll have peace until that day that we're called home.  I'm looking forward to spending eternity with you in our mansion that God prepared for us.  I will always love you.


Greg's Last Personal Story, written Easter 2006:



Defense Wins

 

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.  

                                                                                                                        -- James 4:14

 

By Gregory C. Tyler

 

            The Peach Bowl in Atlanta, one of college football’s mainstay bowl games, was first played in Atlanta at Georgia Tech’s Grant Field on Dec. 30, 1968. In that game, Louisiana State University beat Florida State by a score of 31 to 27. Nowadays, the Peach Bowl is called the Chick-fil-A Bowl. I liked Peach Bowl better.

My father loved football. He was the 6-foot, 2-inch, 240-pound, hardnosed oldest of three brothers growing up in gritty, roughneck east Macon, Ga., in the late 1930s and 1940s. As a teenager, he cracked helmets and popped leather on the football gridiron for Lanier High School, always one of the best teams in the state, and also excelled in baseball.

He bought tickets for the inaugural Peach Bowl. I was nine years old, his only son, and I was excited as I can ever remember at the prospect of going to my first football game in a huge college stadium.

However, it never happened. I mean, the Peach Bowl happened, as I mentioned, with LSU beating FSU, but we didn’t go to the game.

Two days earlier, Dec. 28, 1968, while at my grandmother’s home in Macon, Daddy was sitting in a wing-backed chair after breakfast. He was browsing The Macon Telegraph and News, probably the Sports Section, when suddenly the open newspaper began crumbling to his lap and he slid from the chair to the floor.

My mother desperately tried to revive him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. My grandmother’s husband Ernie tried his best to help my mother with CPR. Nana, my grandmother, called an ambulance and morphed into a state of total panic.

I watched all this with a toothbrush in my mouth from about 6 feet away. My little six-year-old sister, who my father had named "Tootsie," also watched. Our beloved dog, Duke, watched.

The ambulance took Daddy away. He was dead at 42 years old, killed by a blood clot that had decided upon a high-speed, unscheduled journey from his left thigh through his abdomen, finally ripping through his heart muscle.

A day or two later, news of his death was published The Macon Telegraph and News and, as a suddenly disillusioned nine-year-old boy might, I thought that was really nice of them seeing how the last thing on his mind had been their newspaper, probably the Sports Section.

 

****

           

Despite being born with asthma, James Edward Tyler had always pushed me to participate in sports. I played youth football the fall before the inaugural Peach Bowl and my Daddy’s final curtain call.

We were the Cowboys, eight-and-nine-year-old boys in Calhoun, Ga. We were a pretty fair team, as I recall, winning a game or two more than we lost.

Our coach had to endure my constant pleading to play middle linebacker because my father’s favorite players were middle linebackers, especially Tommy Nobis of the Atlanta Falcons.

I wanted Daddy to see me play middle linebacker, like Tommy Nobis.

Nobis was one of the best middle linebackers to play the professional game; however, he spent his entire career playing for one of the worst National Football Teams in the era. When fans and peers said he was one of greatest ever, despite having played for teams the Falcons rolled out season after dreary season, it spoke to how great he really was. He was unbreakable, not large for a middle linebacker and tough as wrought iron.

Nobis wasn’t what you’d call handsome either. Red-haired, freckled with multiple crooks in his oft broken nose, he looked like a man who’d just as soon break your knees as shake your hand, a lot like men who grew up in east Macon. I think that’s what Daddy liked most about Nobis.

 

****

 

During one of our Cowboy youth league games in the fall of 1968, I had been assigned to play fullback. Playing fullback for the Cowboys meant I would block, or otherwise get in the way of the opposing defense, while our star quarterback that I can only remember as “K.D.,” ran the football all over the field.

Daddy and Mother were at this particularly close game we were losing, watching from up high in bleachers, their legs warmed by togetherness and an old Duke University Blue Devils blanket. Once in a while, I’d glance into the bleachers to see them and the small white clouds of breath emerging from their encouraging smiles.

Coach put me in at middle linebacker during that game. He never had before, but he did that day. Perhaps he was just tired of my insistence.

Truthfully, I had little idea how to play the position of middle linebacker. Still, I wanted to try because Daddy was there and then there was the whole Tommy Nobis wannabe business. So off I trotted, to the same spot on the defensive side of the football where Tommy Nobis played.

 On my first play ever as a feared and fearless middle linebacker, I backpedaled after the snap about 10 yards and noticed the opposing quarterback had done the same. When I saw the spiraling football he’d hurled toward someone who must have been behind me, I still didn’t consciously know what to do.

Nevertheless, I lifted both arms as high as I could and jumped. At first, I saw one of the brightly burning field lights shining like a star between my hands and, suddenly, the ball replaced the light and I gripped it tight.

“And we have an interception by Fowler! Cowboys’ Fowler has the ball!” boomed the intercom announcer.

After making the catch, I was confused but remembered I should run somewhere. So I turned, ran as fast as I could for about 10 yards when a small fellow we called “Lightnin’” because of his quickness, our defensive safety, bolted straight into my face, jumping up and down, waving his arms, and screamed, “You done run da wrong way, Tylah! You done run da wrong way!”

 

****

 

“The Cowboys’ Fowler intercepted, but folks, it seems he’s running in the wrong direction!” the announcer yelled, reporting the obvious with great excitement. “Fowler’s going the wrong way!”

An odd thing happened just then as the opposing team, all little kids just like K.D., Lightnin’ and me, started blocking my team’s defensive players, seemingly unaware the pass had been intercepted by a Cowboy named Fowler who was running in the wrong direction.

I quickly turned, thanks to Lightnin,’ and ran the right way, a long way, mainly because the momentum of the opposing team had shifted during my initial run in the wrong direction. I headed toward the left sideline and stayed just inbounds. I ran 10, 20, 30 yards and along the way I heard the intercom announcer belt, “Fowler’s still got the ball. Look at Fowler go!”

I looked to my right and up toward the bleachers. I saw Daddy, red-faced, on his feet, the old Duke University Blue Devils blanket at his ankles. He was pointing straight at the announcer in the small booth a few rows higher.

I heard my Daddy, in a much louder voice than the announcer’s amplified shouts. I heard him angrily warn, “That’s Tyler, damn you! Get it right. Tyler! That’s Tyler with ball. Look at Tyler go! Ya got that straight, mistah?”

“Pardon me folks, that the Cowboys’ Tyler on that fine interception. Look at him go. It’s the Cowboys’ Tyler,” the announcer said.

When I looked back to the field, I saw a player from the opposing team closing in on me from the right. I tried to run faster, but I had reached top speed. In just the right instant, seemingly from nowhere, our quarterback K.D., who also played cornerback on defense, angled quickly toward the tackler, slicing him aside. It was a perfect block.

I ran another 10 or 15 yards and, with the touchdown in sight, someone caught my ankle from behind and I hit the ground, rolling out of bounds.

Lightnin,’ K.D., and the other Cowboys, their names faded ghostlike memories, surrounded me and slapped me on the back, cheering me on.

I think he knew better, but with great excitement, Lightnin' said, “Tylah, Tylah I thought you done run da wrong way. But naw, you was jus’ foolin’ ‘em. Way ta go Tylah!”

“The Cowboys’ Tyler is down at the 18 yard line folks! Tyler on that interception carried the ball 60 yards to the 18!” the announcer said. “Looks like the Cowboys middle linebacker Tyler gives them another scoring opportunity!”

As I trotted off the field to our sideline, I looked up at the bleachers once more. Daddy and Mother were snuggled together again under the old Duke University Blue Devils blanket.

In the bleachers, parents of other players on the Cowboys team patted my parents on the back.

Small white breath clouds emerged from Daddy’s grin, one that could not have been wider.

As a boy of nine years old, I was excited as I can ever remember about the inaugural Peach Bowl. And it was because my Daddy wanted to go; he wanted to go with me.

 

Gregory C. Tyler is a 46-year-old career journalist, poet and short story writer. He resides with his wife and son in southern Japan, where they have lived while he worked as a foreign news correspondent and photographer since 1999. Tyler is a native of Macon, Ga.

 

“30”

 

 
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