My friend Castle Parker died Tuesday.
His death was not unexpected. When I visited Dr. Parker Sunday afternoon he was surrounded by family, at peace with himself and ready to go. A man of absolute Christian convictions, his faith in Christ never wavered. It was the last thing we spoke of Sunday – not in somber tones but lighthearted and with a laugh; happy and cheerful. I’m certain that Christ was the final thought in his mind Tuesday. He couldn’t wait to get to Heaven and I have no doubt that he arrived safely. His body may have failed him but Dr. Parker remained mentally sharp, his mind as bright and lively as ever. The Apostle Paul would have been hard pressed to have matched his wit, wisdom, faith, conviction and witness.
Dr. Parker was a dentist by profession but by the time I met him he had retired from dental work, partly due to a chronic back problem. But I suspect there were other reasons.
Intelligent and thoughtful, Dr. Parker was a man with a curious mind and wide, deep interests. He read. He and his wife traveled. He was a good listener. After his retirement from the dental chair he took up woodworking and enrolled in classes to learn to do the work properly. He was a man whose company you enjoyed; whose counsel you sought.
He was also a fly fisherman; his preferred tool, a bamboo rod. Trout were his preferred prey but Dr. Parker was no fishing snob. He relished bluegill with equal passion.
He once told me that he enjoyed reading my fishing stories; I was and remain humbled and could not imagine – then or now – receiving a higher compliment. I know that his praise was genuine; but not because the writings are spectacular – they are not – but because Dr. Parker seemed to me a man incapable of any falsehood.
By the time I got to know Dr. Parker his fly fishing days were behind him. To my everlasting regret we never fished together. But he loved the sport and spoke of it often. Loved being near the water. Loved wading a stream. Loved the power of the rod when the line loaded. Loved the strike. Loved the release. Loved the literature. Loved the stories. Loved it all.
Dr. Parker was part of a Sunday morning Bible study I attend; an eclectic group of professionals, educators, craftsmen, labors, students, retirees and at least one oddball (me), most of whom likely would have very little in common if not for the binding power of the Bible. E-mails among the group have been abuzz since Dr. Parker’s death with tributes and remembrance suggestions ranging from meat trays and flowers to library dedications.
All good ideas and all have my support. As for me, though, I think I’ll string up a wooden rod and go fishing.