It is autumn. The leaves are changing colors. The football season is on a roll. And the Crimson Tide of Alabama are nine and zero—and ranked in the top five of the national polls.
As the car pulls up, I get out and pick up the mementos. It is windy as I make my way, slowly walking, following a crimson line on the pavement. I look up as a groundskeeper smiles and says good morning. I reply good morning back and continue my walk.
As I follow the crimson line, my mind wanders back in time. I can hear the Million Dollar Band striking up the fight song. I can smell the tailgate grills' BBQ. I hear the fans cheering and preparing for another day of football.
As I near the end of the Crimson Line, my eyes look up at the grassy hill. In front of me stands a small marker. Not a huge monument, just the small grey marker. No statues of him, no big fanfare of remembrance. Just the plain, simple grave marker for Coach Bryant—the way he would have wanted it.
As I stand there and pay my respects all these years later, I am still, silent, and in reflection. I leave the mementos, just a couple of remembrances: a pack of Golden Flake Potato Chips with a note that reads, "Thanks for the memories. We miss you Coach Bryant." Plus a bottle of Coke—the Real Thing, in a glass bottle.
I listen to the sounds of the wind, and I look at the grave marker, and I remember.
Few people who pass along this Earthly journey are remembered. Coach Bryant, still after all these years, is remembered because he was a winner. More importantly, though, he was a leader.
I close my eyes and remember the day that I got the call saying they'd taken Coach to the hospital, and it did not look good. Then the official announcement came from DCH that he had indeed passed from this realm of mortality.
Coach Bryant went home. He ran an exceptional race. He finished the course, and he did it his way and as a winner.
Thanks for the memories Coach.