We first met when I was dating a friend of his. I was young and blind and infatuated. What I didn't know was that the person I thought I was dating wasn't the "real" guy. It was an image he'd adopted. The truth was dark and ugly.
Dean was a gentleman to the core of his being, and he couldn't stand by and watch. He tried to protect me and help me to see truth, and, in the process, we became friends. For a while, we were even more. He was a total romantic and held me to a pedestal that was far too high up for me.
In the end, the romance fizzled, but the friendship remained.
We both married and had careers. His wife was the soulmate he'd long to find. Dean was a writer and a teacher. He taught inner city kids and loved them well. He also loved Alabama football and Coach Bear Bryant, politics, and a good story well-told.
He was the first writer I ever knew. He wrote with an intense passion that drew his readers into his stories in a way I'd never experienced before. I still have every story he wrote for me. Every poem. Every sketch. I didn't save them because of a lost love for which I pined, but because they were powerful and well-written.
I wanted to write like Dean wrote.
He seemed like an average guy, until he put pen to paper. Then, he held power in his hand and wielded it like a sword. Somewhere along the way, I tried my hand at writing, too. Dean encouraged me and celebrated my meager attempts. He was too much of a gentleman to do anything else.
When I started my blog, he was one of the first to become a fan. He read my blogs every day. He often commented, encouraged, celebrated because that's the kind of friend he was.
Dean was my first guest blogger in December 2013. His story about Christmas lights is still being read today. My introduction to his story said, "He is that most mysterious of souls, for he is a writer who writers from his heart." I remember writing those words and hoping that, one day, people would say that about me.
His wife died a while back and it was the hardest thing Dean ever survived. She was his soulmate and the love of his life. After she died, he had one medical problem after another. He retired this past May because of his health, but hoped to do some adjunct teaching soon.
Two weeks before I left the country, Dean emailed me about some articles he was writing. He had several opportunities that could have propelled his writing to a national platform, where I'd always thought it should be.
He wrote his heart, as always, and the words were so beautiful that I'm sharing them with you today.
"I know who my Rock and Foundation is, and I have many blessings during these oft-troubling times: I woke up today and feeling well; I have a roof over my head, food in the pantry and freezer, and a vehicle in good shape. I also know God has new purposes for me in this transitory period."
Dean rediscovered his faith a number of years ago, and it changed his life, his purpose, and his direction. Like everything he did, his faith was deep and personal and powerful.
He lived several hours away. We hadn't spent time together in person in many years, but I looked forward to shared stories and shared writing when I got home. Dean always encouraged me to be more, to write better, dig deeper, because that's how he wrote.
On October 23, I awakened to a message that broke my heart.
"Wanted to make sure you knew about Dean Lamb. He was found dead in his apartment this afternoon."
We were friends for thirty-seven years and few losses have struck deeper. He believed in me in a way no one else ever has. My life is poorer for the loss.
Dean lived well and loved well. He invested his life in the inner-city kids he taught. When his health deteriorated, his finances did, too, and he struggled financially toward the end.
He didn't have family, but he did have friends who loved him. One of his friends has set up a GoFundMe account to help with the expenses of burial. The goal is $1,000 but that's not enough to pay for cremation (which he'd wanted so that his ashes could be mingled with those of his wife) or for a memorial service.
If you'd like to help with a donation of a few dollars, we, the ones who loved this sweet man, would appreciate your support. Here's the link: GoFundMe: Dean Lamb.
Whatever's raised over the cost of burial will be used to establish a scholarship fund in his name. I can't think of anything that would please him more.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 nasb
In case you missed the most recent post, here's the link: How Much Is Enough?
If you feel led to partner with this ministry, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841
You can also mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.