Saturday March 7, 3020. Elaine called me. “Clay didn’t wake up this morning.”
The first words that came out of my mouth were, “I can’t think of anyone more ready.”
There is a question that I wanted to ask you.
Of course, my mind spent the next several days remembering things about our childhood; spending the night at your grandmother’s house in Garland, recording stuff on a tape recorder, watching Johnny Carson, Joey Bishop (remember when Regis Philbin walked off the show?), and “One Million Years, B.C.” (Raquel Welch), walking to the train station in Highland Park, croquet, 42….
The last time I remember seeing you before “the change” was probably 1970 or ‘71.
I and a couple of my friends ran into you and some of your band members (I remember Iggy Cantu) somewhere after dark. We both had pretty long hair, and I don’t remember much except you mentioned the band name was “The Feat of Clay.”
Jeff White told me last Saturday that that was only a thought you or your dad had, not a reality.
We kind of lost contact . I was going to school in Houston, then got married to Wendy, and we lived in Houston for a while( though, you probably came to the wedding. It’s all a little foggy.).
I learned at the celebration we had for your life that my brother, Jeff had a meeting with the Creator in ‘72, told you about it in ‘72 and or ‘73, you had a meeting with the Creator, and then cousin Glen wanted what he saw that you had, and he became a believer as well.
I didn’t join “this family” until 1978, and, looking back, I was totally unaware of this spiritual side of life going on with you three.
But, after the light switched on in Wendy’s and my lives, I remember you and Sally and your kids coming to our house in Garland on a Friday night for dinner, us talking about the glories of this new life, and in a few minutes, ya’ll were leaving to go home as the sun came up.
From that time, every time we got together we had that invisible connection, that shared joy.
I was able to see you a couple of times in your last year down here. You had been through quite a lot of difficult times, physically and emotionally.
Yet, you always carried this joy, this vibrancy of life, and I always walked away with a sense that the spirit of the Lord was in this place.
I have seen the refining fire of the silversmith working in your life for years.
Your life was an example for all your friends, family, and some that you probably never realized were watching.
Jeff, Kelly, and Nathan led the worship as we celebrated the life that Jesus lived through you.
They played Keaggy’s “What a Day, That Will Be” and we all thought, “That’s right!”
The music inside you carried through to your sons.
What a day!
But, the question….
You were named Alfred Clayton Armstrong III.
We always called you Clay.
Did you never lead worship and sing the hymn, “Have Thine Own Way Lord”?
I can see you singing
Have thine own way Lord,
Have thine own way.
Thou art the potter
(Then looking at the congregation, with a smile)
I am Clay.
You turned into a beautiful vessel of Life.
I’ll see you on the other side, cousin/brother.