In a few days, we will mark a sad anniversary, not only for our family but for our community as well. I was walking out of The Daily Sun office on Thursday, June 14th last year when I got the stunning news from my husband. “There is no easy way to tell you honey. Dad is gone,” said David. It was a gut punch. I had hugged my father-in-law goodbye just days earlier and had celebrated his birthday and an early Father’s Day.
I have to take a deep breath when speaking about my Pops, Lloyd Huffman. I’ve described him often as mentor, friend and another father figure in my life.
We all have some good times to remember. He was thrilled last year to be able to attend the Airsho. He normally had to miss it due to graduation duties as President of the Navarro College Board. David and I met up with Lloyd to shoot video and check things out. The “boys” love planes. Initially Lloyd and I were supposed to go up in one of the World War II planes but we had some scheduling issues and couldn’t make it. “Next year,” I said. Lloyd agreed. It hurts to think of those words. There was no way to know that that would never be.
We stayed a good bit at the Air Sho, looking at the old planes, me shooting still photos and Lloyd shooting video. At lunchtime, we got Lloyd’s favorite: corndogs. He would get the biggest grin on his face over things like that. Father and son sat side by side eating their lunch. They were so much alike and so different. It used to irk David for me to joke about him being “junior.” It can be tough to feel like you have very large shoes to fill and at the same time be your own man. But there they were, sitting and talking. I meandered a distance and then started shooting. Those were the last photos I took of him.
We stayed for a bit longer as Lloyd was so enthusiastic about his new camera. He was thinking about all of the things he could do with it. That is what inspired me. He always found something to be excited about. At age 72, he had quite a list of accomplishments, yet he never stopped learning. He never ceased doing things. I normally wouldn’t call him on a weekend, I would simply drive around the radar, The Palace, The College or HuffCom and bingo, there he was.
He was not just my husband’s father. He was my friend. We worked on several community projects. He would usually shoot the video and I would do the interviews. He would pick the music and I would pick the sound bites. He loved thinking about how to assemble all of it and would pour over the fine details. I was the quick editor. Lay down the music, lay down the other audio, cover with video. It was almost our comedy routine to bicker over a video project. He thought more like a movie director and I like a news producer. We both enjoyed it and I think we both had something to learn from one another. Though we kind of saw things differently sometimes we really saw things the same. If you ever have a chance, go see one of my favorite projects. It is the video introduction to the arrowhead collection at the Pearce Museum. It was a LONG day of shooting in the heat. It was muggy and horse flies were everywhere. The Native American man who appears in the video, had a hard time saying his lines and we painstakingly did take after take. As we all loaded up to go, we stopped close to the edge of the property. I was taking crew shots as the sun went down. I took photos of everyone involved….Dr. Stringer, Lloyd, David and a handful of others. The orange hue of the sky was reflected in everyone’s face. I recall thinking about how that magnificent sunset would be so beautiful to end our piece with. However, I didn’t want to keep the crew any longer as it had been a long and very hot day so I didn’t mention it. But the Native American man had been standing there, in shadow against the bursting, hot, glowing sun, so big in the sky. In that moment, Lloyd saw the same thing. He said, let’s get this before we lose the light. He pulled out all of the equipment and started shooting again. The Native American man walked off into the sunset. It was paired with this hauntingly beautiful flute music. Every time I pass the museum, I am a bit sad but also joyful that we shared this project. Lloyd did such beautiful work. It was all because of his love of community and love of preserving history. So many times, I have wanted to pick up the phone to ask a question or talk about a project idea only to realize my friend is no longer here. I don’t have many regrets in life but I do wish we could have taken that airplane ride.
Corsicana lost a lot with Lloyd’s passing. But we all gained something from knowing him.
On those days of perfect sunsets, I see that warm smile that he always shared with people. And with that, his image fades like the glowing sun fading into night.
Oh how I miss my friend.