William Mack Breazeale, of Lenoir City, passed away Monday, June 15, 2015, on his 88th birthday. Born in Lenoir City and a graduate of Lenoir City High School, Mack was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in World War II. He worked for many years for Tennessee Carolina Transportation Co., and retired to cattle farming. He was a member of First Baptist Church and the Tennessee Farm Bureau.
After listing his beloved parents and brother (those family members who had preceded him in death), the next paragraph was given to a delineation of the devoted family he left behind, including his faithful and loving wife of 68 years, his four adult children and their spouses, his seven grandchildren, and his ten great grandchildren, as well as his brothers, sisters, and in-laws.
Lastly, times and places for the receiving of friends, the funeral, and the interment service were enumerated.
The service, as might be expected, paid appropriate homage to his faith, his love for his family, and his service to his Lord, his country, and his fellow man. Fittingly, Mr. Breazeale was laid to rest the following morning at his family’s private cemetery on the farm where he resided.
The graveside service included full military honors conferred by the Loudon County Veterans Honor Guard, complete with a twenty-one gun salute, the playing of TAPS, and the presentation of a folded United States flag to his precious wife by his grandson Jason, who currently serves as a Captain in the United States Air force.
All of this was very moving, as one might expect. There was hardly a dry eye in the crowd, even among the men. And yet, as touching as these scenes were, that which impressed me the most was the homage penned by his grandson Jeff and read by his granddaughter Amy. With their permission, I am posting it here today.
When you grow up as a grandchild of Mack Breazeale, a.k.a. Papaw, there are certain things you inevitably will experience when you visit your grandparents on the farm.
You will marvel at how big Papaw is. 5 foot 17 inches, as he likes to say. You wonder if you'll ever be that tall. And you know right away that Papaw has a great sense of humor.
You will get to ride the lawnmower and perhaps even help steer it. You'll think you're driving, even though Papaw is in complete control.
You will get to sit inside tractors and big-rig trucks, which Papaw can drive. For a kid growing up, life doesn't get much cooler than seeing a full-size bed in the back of the truck cab.
You will sit on the back porch, eating watermelon or home-made ice cream with the family. You'll catch fireflies in the early evening. You'll jump (or fall) off the porch and skin your knee. Papaw will be there, taking it all in and enjoying the moment.
A loud crack of thunder will bring you to tears because the noise scares you. But that thunder pales in comparison to when Papaw raises his voice. Fortunately, he doesn't do it often. He rarely has to because when you get into mischief, he only has to tell you once to knock it off. Message received.
You will sit at the dinner table and drink out of a small glass. You will look at Papaw's glass, which is bigger than any glass you've ever seen, and wonder what it will be like one day to be bigger and drink out of a glass that size.
You will get overconfident and go to the refrigerator to pour yourself a glass of milk. Everything will go according to plan until you taste it and realize something has gone horribly wrong. You just poured yourself some buttermilk and didn't pay attention to the labels on the jugs, and now you have this full glass and don't know what to do with it. Papaw might be the only person anywhere who drinks buttermilk. He'll take care of your oversight.
You might get a nickname. Like Whistle Britches. Depends on what you do when Papaw is around.
You'll sit in an oversize recliner, watching University of Tennessee sports. If they win, you and Papaw will enjoy the game. If they lose, you and Papaw will opine about how long the coach will last. Or you might fall asleep in the recliner. The sleep will be peaceful, satisfying. You are in a sanctuary at the Breazeale farm.
As you get older, Papaw will start telling you stories about your parents before you existed. You'll appreciate the insight and be reminded that your parents were once your age, too. He'll tell you stories from his days driving trucks around the country and from when he was in the Army. He's still trying to figure out which "friends and neighbors" chose him to serve.
The years will roll on, and you'll recognize Papaw as a man who is deeply devoted to his wife, Virginia, a.k.a. Grandmama. It is their love, kindled nearly 70 years ago, that has brought to life their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Those three generations now number 32 individuals (and counting). Every single one of them is kind-hearted, loving, generous. That all comes from the example Grandmama and Papaw have lived.
Big Papaw loves his family. He recalls conversations he has had with people who ask if he ever wishes he had more money. His response is that he gets to watch his grandchildren grow up and that fact alone makes him richer than any man who has walked this earth. You realize Papaw has things figured out. You realize Papaw knows what's important in life. Papaw is content. Papaw is free. Papaw is at peace.
When your visit to the farm is over, and it is time to return home, Grandmama and Papaw will walk out to the car with you. You will hug them and say your farewells. Papaw will tell you to hurry back. "You know where to find us," he'll say. You'll get in your car and look out the back window and wave. They will wave back. And in your mind, that's where Papaw will always be: standing at his door, waving, eager to welcome you home again.
Well said, Jeff. Though I was not part of his earthly family, I was honored to have known this man that you and your family all properly hold in such high esteem. And I like to think that when I arrive in Heaven one day, like you and the rest of his wonderful family, one of the things I can look forward to is seeing my brother in Christ, Mack Breazeale, standing there welcoming me home.
Mr. Breazeale’s official Obituary is posted at: http://www.news-herald.net/obituaries/william-mack-breazeale/article_2112866e-1464-11e5-91dd-9fd0ff8b7ef8.html.