It has been over a year now that my wife’s cousin Tyrone passed away. I cannot believe how quickly this last year has gone by already and how many things have changed in such a short period of time. I wrote the below paragraph last July shortly after we attended his funeral. Looking back now over a year later it seems like a good idea to share with you on this blog.
Her cousin Tyrone was only 48 years old when he passed away. Needless to say that is much to young. Tyrone was diagnosed with cancer and despite receiving treatments it kept coming back. Eventually there was just nothing more the doctors could do. I know everyone (including my wife and I) were hoping for a miraculous healing. Unfortunately, despite a ton of prayers, that never transpired.
To say I didn’t know Tyrone well is to say I didn’t know him at all. The first and only time I met him was about four weeks before he passed away. He was in good spirits and it was clear even from the short time we were there how much he loved his cousin Sharlay. It was truly an honor to meet Tyrone in-spite of the circumstances and it is a day I will never forget.
At the time of his passing, Tyrone was a minister in training at Friendship Baptist Church in Liberty, NY (the same church my wife and I got engaged at) under the mentoring of Pastor Harry Brown, Jr. From all accounts Tyrone loved serving God and was passionate about seeing the lost come back to Christ.
This had not always been the case and from what Sharlay and the family have shared, Tyrone made a lot of poor decisions when he was younger. The details of those decisions I am not privy to nor are they important. We all make mistakes, many of those we end up regretting and some have significant consequences to us and to others. It is how we learn and grow from them that define us.
Tyrone did not let his past decisions determine his future. Tyrone eventually found his way back to God and turned away from the things he had engaged in as a young man. Regardless of how you might feel about God, Jesus or Christianity, there is no doubt that God touched Tyrone’s life in a very meaningful way. Tyrone became resolute to leave a positive legacy for his many children (and especially his sons) and the rest of his family and friends. He had an unwavering commitment to bring the Gospel to the same men he used to run with. He was determined to turn young men, who were following the same path he followed, away from that lifestyle. He purposed in his life to live for the God he served and to let everyone around him know the power of God and His ability to change any life from bad to good. He didn’t hide from his past but rather used it to his advantage to reach men who might normally be out of reach.
His funeral was truly a celebration of his life and all the positive things he accomplished. Everyone loved Tyrone. My wife claimed it was the most fun she ever had at a funeral. It was hard to argue the point. As hard as Tyrone might have lived as a young man, he loved his family, friends and God even harder. That was something that was clearly evident at his funeral. People spoke about how he had personally changed their lives for the better. Whether it was helping them find a job, get into school or simply encouraging them through difficult times, Tyrone was a powerfully positive force in people’s lives. What an amazing legacy to leave behind. His legacy is a shining city on a hill and a torch to light the way for future generations of his family.
Tyrone left an enduring legacy. His life is a testimony to the power of God and the ability of anyone to turn their life around. It will be important that his family carries on his legacy so that Tyrone’s efforts are not in vain.
We can never be certain how long we have on this earth to impart such a legacy. Tyrone only had 48 years. Thankfully he turned his life around before he ran out of time. The resonating effects of that decision were powerfully clear at his funeral.
I can only hope that when I die I have left a legacy that will be celebrated like Tyrone’s was. It certainly gave me pause to reflect on my own life and the legacy I have created in my 37 years on this earth. I hope that this blog might also make you stop and consider your own.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of, Gary Tyrone Fields (B. June 1965 D. June 2013) a man after God’s own heart.