Before I left Brice’s home on my last visit, a young man knocked on the door. He and Brice went through the how-is-so-and-so conversation, indicating they had a long history. The young man wanted to borrow a tractor. It hadn’t been run in awhile, and the tag wasn’t up-to-date, but Brice didn’t think twice. His response was, “I’m not using it, you take it.”
At Brice’s memorial service a month later, one of his neighbors confirmed that this was Brice’s mindset. Not a random act of generosity. Martha has lived in Brackett Town for twenty five years. One day she came home from work and found that one of the kids had failed to report a running commode. They were out of well water. Her husband was a long haul trucker, and she didn’t know how to fix the pump. She called Brice who came over with some parts and worked all day. She never forgot his kindness. When she asked him how much she owed him, he said “Nothing. If you can’t be a neighbor, what can you do?”
Pastor Stephen Painter of Macedonia Baptist Church did not have to do research to declare that Brice was the epitome of the scripture he read, 1 John 3:17. He had witnessed it. In many trips to the Brackett Town farm, the pastor had seen what I had. Unhurried hospitality, old fashioned front porch socializing and problem solving. Brice loved to talk to visitors.
The pastor told about the recent time Brice called him to alert the community somebody was in trouble. Electricity had gone out the night before, and a fire was the only way to get somebody’s house heated. But they had no wood. Brice went outside in the bitter cold. Even though he had trouble “catching his wind”, he helped cut and deliver that wood.
Pastor Stephen said that somebody asked Brice why he kept cutting wood for others. “I’m gonna give till I can’t give no more.” On another day Brice told the Baptist preacher, “If a man doesn’t have time for the Lord, he needs to cut out the time that’s interfering.’ Brice is now experiencing Eternal Grace. He will be sorely missed.” The pastor went on to say whenever Brice was called upon to help, he would drop what he was doing and come. He helped others bring in hay, clean out ditches, whatever needed to be done. He said he didn’t have an enemy in the world.
Brother Larry shared his thoughts with the congregation. “He was just like my Dad. If there was a need, call on Brice. He was in charge. When Brice decided he was in love, he told me to get in the car. He didn’t say where we were going, but he was in uniform.” He was in charge. “I was wearing old blue jeans with a hole in the knee. We went by and picked up Iva who was all dressed up. And we got to town, went in a building and got married. I was the best man. But Brice had to report back to the service that night. So he turned over his car and his wife to me.”
Miz Nor of Brackett Town Road made sure her sons and daughters were raised in church. The pastor said Brice was certain where he was headed, but he didn’t want to leave Iva by herself.
At the memorial service, Larry directed his last comment to Brice’s wife, “Iva, you don’t have anything to worry about. As long as there is a Sprouse around, we’ll take care of you.”
The service closed with the preacher’s assurance, “When we get to heaven, we’ll see Brice and he’ll say, ‘I’ve been waiting on you’.”
My final comment: And the circle of a caring community continues in Brackett Town.