Larry Burton (Panama City, Fl.) If you've started reading this article it's because you are a sports fan. So was Charles Law.
He loved his Alabama Crimson Tide and knew that most of people attending his funeral were the darn fans of cross state rival Auburn. Boy, did he have a memorable goodbye.
His obituary in the newspaper was mundande enough. Here is the beginning of it: "CHARLES MICHAEL LAW 1949-2010 Funeral services for Mr. Charles Michael Law, 60, of Montgomery, will be held Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 1 PM at Fredericks Funeral Home Chapel with Reverend Hank Demous officiating. Burial will follow in Auburn Memorial Park. Visitation for Mr. Law will be held at 12 Noon on Saturday, January 30, 2010 at Fredericks Funeral Home, one hour prior to the service. Mr. Law was born on July 1, 1949 in St. Louis, Missouri to the late Charles and Mary Law and passed away on January 27, 2010 in Montgomery, Alabama."
But even in death, Charles had to have the last word and poke the Auburn fans one last time. Even though he was laid to rest at a place with the name of his rival school in it, there will be no doubt that this was an Alabama fan laid to rest here.
Below is an account of one of the few Alabama fans who attended his funeral.
Many of you may have known Charles Law as he was a fine attorney here in Montgomery who had a solid criminal law practice for some 30 years. Charles died last week at the age of sixty.
He was such a nice guy, always pleasant to speak to, he will be greatly missed. I have known Charles since childhood as we grew up in the same neighborhood.
Over the years our profession would cross paths as we would refer clients to one another on occasion. Yet all this time, apparently what I did not know (and how this is possible is beyond me) was that Charles was a HUGE Crimson Tide fan!
What follows is my account of his funeral service this past Saturday which my 15 year old son and I attended in Opelika, Alabama-*Auburn that is*.
We arrived at the funeral home about thirty minutes before the service to pay our respects to Charles's family and especially to his wife Pat.
Although I never got very close to the casket, I could see from a distance that it was open and it appeared that his body was casually attired. My eyes however were drawn to what looked like a well worn crimson tide ball cap perched on the top of the pillow facing out toward the room where his head rested.
I had never seen something like that before but thought to myself, a tide fan for sure, that's nice.
We soon made our way into the chapel and took a seat in the next to the last pew as there was a large gathering of friends and family. The service began with a typical message from the minister who shared some of Pat and Charles's favorite Bible verses. From then on the story of this tide fan began to unfold.
Over the next half hour those in attendance were told by various speakers of the numerous occasions over the years when Charles was heavily out numbered by his friends and, I presume his wife's family, who were *all devout* Auburn fans. It seems that Charles was always in the minority with this group, but nevertheless, he remained an undaunted Alabama fan.
One such story was that of an annual horse shoe tournament held during a men's camping weekend where Charles was the only Tide fan and the rest were in great number, big burley lumber jack types in orange and blue.
Charles was always very competitive and tenacious. Although he apparently had little experience at horse shoes, he won that tournament as the story was told, not for him, but" to show those Aubs that the Tide was the winner"!
Another "Aub" speaker closed his talk by announcing that he had two last things to say for Charles. The first was a long, stuttering, downright painful "ro...ro...rol...roll...roll...Roll Tide! The congregation, which again was undoubtedly 99% Auburn people broke up in laughter.
The speaker then looked toward the casket and stated how much he loved Charles, and that it was so ironic that he was taking yet another national championship with him to Heaven! Groans erupted from those in attendance.
Soon the funeral director came to the front and motioned everyone to stand so that the casket could be wheeled out of the chapel. As the pall bearers began to walk along beside it down the center aisle it happened. Suddenly the strains of "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" began to blast through the sound system."Hey Auburn, we just beat the hell out of you"! I can only say that I was stunned.
My son and I looked at each other with a grin that just could not be suppressed. It was unbelievable! No sooner did that song conclude then did the Alabama fight song blare out! This was a recessional like none other I had ever witnessed. The Aubs were all stuck in their pews as the family had not exited just yet and I could see them twisting and turning.
Just when I thought it was over, as the fight song had ended with a resounding 'ROLL TIDE!"........suddenly from the speaker system you heard the shouting play back of the last 50 seconds of the 1986 Ironbowl! "Shula's back to pass, he has a man at the 30, time is running out, Van Tiffin is on for the field goal to give Alabama a shot at the win", the snap, the kick, its in the air, its GOOD, ITS GOOD, ITS GOOD, ALABAMA WINS, ALABAMA WINS!!!
I was just stunned-stunned. Of course, being the tide fan I am I gave a great fist pump in the air and exalted "Roll Tide"! The Aubs were in total shock. All my son and I could do then was to make a quick exit for the door and I must confess, we were just hysterical by the time we got in the car.
I could not drive for several minutes. This was by far the most unusual funeral service I have ever attended. I can only assume that Charles was giving it back to the Aubs, even in death. Indeed, a diehard Alabama fan!
There are some things in life that touch the soul of one's being. In the south, one of the those things is college football. For Charles Law it was Alabama football. What a man. What a fan.
God rest his soul. Now he has the best seat in the house. (end of friend's account)
Charles Law just made my list of people I want to meet when I get to Heaven. I want him to know his farewell made a lot of Alabama, and even Auburn fans smile on that sad day.
He'd be somebody I'd like to watch a good old Alabama game with some Saturday. I'm sure by then, he'll know the best place to watch it from.