My friend, Fred West, organized the best Mardi Gras parade I have ever been to. There was a marching band, brightly colored floats, a Mardi Gras King and Queen, balloons and beads, lots of multi-colored beads.
It was a marvelous affair! Everyone was smiling and happy, and laughter and music filled the air.
The best thing about this parade was that it took place in a nursing home in Midtown Memphis.
The floats were wheelchairs with patients riding in them. The wheelchairs were decorated with flowers and streamers and balloons.
The King and Queen were residents of the nursing home, and they wore their crowns proudly as their wheelchairs led the parade of patients through the halls of that establishment.
Fred directed that grand event, leading the way with his trumpet, decked out in his Mardi Gras costume.
Other volunteers, interspersed throughout the line of floats, played their drums and percussion instruments as a part of the band.
Fred was playing a joyful rendition of that old song, "When the Saints Go Marching In," as the parade wound its way up and down the halls of that nursing home.
That center for the aged and the frail, normally a quiet and somber place, was filled with laughter and music that day. People were smiling and laughing, probably for the first time in months.
The staff members were jubilant, right along with their patients. And the Mardi Gras King and Queen were delighted. I know they really felt like a king and a queen that day.
Thinking about that parade makes me smile still today. I can hear that song Fred was blowing on his trumpet.
"Oh, when the saints go marching in, Oh, when the saints go marching in, Oh Lord, I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in."
My friend, Fred, joined the saints in heaven the other day. He lost his battle with cancer and sickness, and the Lord ushered him into Heaven.
I have a lot of fond memories of my friend. He was a man who loved to laugh and to make others laugh along with him.
As I stood by his bedside in his hospital room the last week of his life, with what little breath he could muster, Fred joked and made us smile.
I would have loved to have heard him play that trumpet one last time. Watched his cheeks puff out as he blew through that bright brass horn.
If there is a band in heaven, I know Fred will find his way to the brass section, and make himself at home right alongside the other horn players.
Maybe there will be parades there too, and floats and music, lots of music.
The folks that rode in those wheelchairs will be dancing on uncrippled limbs; everyone praising the Lord and rejoicing around the throne of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in!
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at email@example.com.