Charles “Red” Anderson was 67 when he died this week. Red was a man who embraced life with the gusto of a 10-year-old. His excitement was contagious.
In his element outdoors, Red was spiritually connected, in sync and in awe of nature. He loved fishing and gigging flounder at Cedar Bayou, his three sons, a well-prepared meal, telling or listening to a good story, camping, people, but most of all — his beloved wife, Johnnie.
Johnnie and Red grew up and went to school in Refugio. In her teens, Johnny married Red, her high school sweetheart. He joined the Army and they left for Germany. From day one, they were best friends.
When they came back home, Red worked briefly for Shell Oil Company. Facing a transfer out of Refugio, Red started looking for another job rather than leave the town he loved. Soon, he commenced his long 39-year career at the post office. Since he retired in 2006, it’s common to hear people say, “it’s not the same without Red.”
He was deep-rooted in the community, knew just about everybody and took an interest in their accomplishments, their sorrows and their hardships.
Red also had a mischievous streak.
He was a great friend to many people, including my parents, Kenneth and Penny Herring. Years ago, Dad ordered a new fishing rod from B.A.S.S. catalogue and was anxious for it to arrive.
Red searched his stash at home for the oldest, most beat-up fishing pole he owned. Straight faced, he handed it over to my Dad when he came to pick up his new rod. The prank is one of my family’s favorites.
After that, Dad, not to be outdone, would ask Red if he was finished with his B.A.S.S. magazine, hinting that Red took it home each month for the first read.
In past years, he was a regular at the Dairy Queen round table. Red’s stories still float around. He could hold his own, telling jokes or debating an issue.
He also loved to give gifts, the straight from the heart variety – a cutting from a plant, vegetables from his garden, a loaf of bread he made in his bread machine, a fish he had caught.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Happiness may not be the purpose of life, but undoubtedly, it is the reward.
Red accomplished Emerson’s goals and was a happy man. Forty-four years into the twilight of their marriage, his eyes still filled with love every time he looked at Johnnie.
He brought us smiles, laughter and joy.
Although he was in the grips of health problems he couldn’t shake, he died undiminished and unfatigued by life. We will miss him.