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Something to Cry About
By Guest Columnist Toby Nix

I shushed Phov right after I told her. I wanted to tell them all at the same time, her and the kids.

She had just pulled in with the groceries and was ready to start unloading. I told her to come in real quick, which made her ask what was wrong. She knew something was wrong.

I went ahead and told her as we walked to the house.

“Pop died this morning.”

She let out a loud “What?” at the exact moment our son was opening the door to come help with the groceries.

So I shushed her. In hindsight, not my proudest moment. I just wanted the kids to be sitting down when they heard.

It was completely unexpected news. Hearing it was bad. Having to say it was worse.

I’ve done death notifications at work. They’re one of the worst parts of the job. As hard as it is there, it’s harder when it’s your own blood.

After I told them, my wife came to hug me. I kind of pushed her off on our daughter, who was crying pretty bad.

I’m hindsight, my wife probably needed a hug more than she needed to give a hug. Pop – my father – has been her father-in-law since the mid-90s. Her own father died many years ago, and the “in-law” part dropped off long ago. He was a father to her too.

And I just wasn’t thinking.

You can do it every day at work and never be prepared when it’s you and yours.

I know for certain I made him proud twice. The first time I was dressed as a woman. I competed in the “Dragging for Dollars” charity for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

The second time I was dressed as a deputy. He rode down to Columbus to watch our class graduate.

From then on, anytime he introduced me, it went from being “This is my son Toby” to “This is my son Toby. He’s a Coweta County deputy.”

He was proud of that. He bought a gray Law Enforcement shirt and wore it often – even after I told him he probably shouldn’t. Not everyone likes the law, and I didn’t want him to ever be a target.

On Sunday night, Pop went to sleep and he just didn’t wake up. He didn’t suffer. That’s about all I can say about that.

I can only ever remember seeing him cry once. It was when he got the phone call that his older brother had passed away. He walked out on his front porch, looked up and cried. Then he walked back inside and went on about just being sad.

I remember looking at him through the window. I had heard him say “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” more times than I could count, and here he was, out there crying.

He never did make good on his threat to give me something to cry about until today. He gave me something to cry about today.

I’ll probably write about my father a lot as I enter this year of firsts. First birthday without him. First Easter, first Christmas.

I guess I’ll get it started with the first column of mine he’ll never read.

Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and investigator for the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. He is the author of two books, “Columns I Wrote” and the newly released “A Book I Wrote.” He can be reached at tobynix@yahoo.com.

Submitted 1.30.20