Friday, March 5, 2021

‘Pray for Oxford’ by Shane Brown


Oxford. Anchor, Pine Flat, Harmontown, Yocona, Pea Ridge, Pine Bluff, Potlocna, Abbeville, Taylor, Quail Creek, Paris, Lafayette Springs, Tula, Clear Creek, College Hill, Coontown, Union West, Old Union, Denmark, Splinter, Grinder Switch, Keel, Cornish, Burgess, Dogtown, Orwood, Old Dallas, Dutch Bend, Riverside, Fudgetown, Airport, DeLay, Kettle Bottom, Daniels Hill, Bay Springs, Philadelphia, Spingdale, Harrisonville, Graham Lake, Hurricane, Yellow Leaf, Shiloh, Punkin…

This is my community. This is our community…it’s the best thing I know.

I heard the word at my nephew’s birthday swimming party, on my birthday, that a plane had crashed on its way to Oxford. I didn’t know the names and I didn’t know why. I was busy talking to friends and watching our children splash and laugh and run and be happy. I never knew what the news would be. About the plane. About the people who I didn’t know from Oxford. About the loss. About this town. That I’m just 37. Damn.

I have left Oxford three times in my life. I went to be a student at Mississippi State, a “Cowboy” in Colorado, and I coached three years in south Mississippi. And, after each time I left, I came home to Oxford. It’s what I knew…

Mr. Faulkner mapped this place. My Daddy lived it, loved it, wrote it, and eventually died and now rests in it. John Grisham, Barry Hannah, and Willie Morris called it home. Those are some big names in one paragraph. Those are some big names in a town. Oxford lost some big names Sunday…

I’m sitting here in Tula tonight and it’s quiet. Except for the bugs and the frogs that’s always talking to me. I’ve had a lump in my throat since Sunday and I know why. I’m thinking of 11 kids that got orphaned and I shamelessly ask why when I shouldn’t. God knows I already do things I shouldn’t. But I do.

Why did those sweet little kids not get to tell their Mom or Dad good night, tonight? Why do they have to have to be raised by uncles and aunts and granddad and grandma that loves them? Why didn’t I hug my kids closer Sunday before I dropped them off with their Mom? Why is the sky blue when it could have been green?

There is never going back. Never ever going back. All you have on this earth is love. So, as a parent, I’m gonna hug my kids a little closer. And I’m gonna tell them that. Maybe slow down my time when I’m with them. I’m gonna keep being happy and pray for those families. I’m gonna be friendlier to people and kinder to the one that wasn’t. I’m gonna give my love for the Perry, Farese and Poole kids. I don’t know them but I know my Oxford. Oxford is gonna love them…

What blew my mind about this sudden tragic and loss to the community was more than the news and their saddened goodbyes: it was the letter from Sarah Perry. She is maybe 14 years old and she gave thanks to friends and family and teachers; to Oxford. She said she was tired and devastated, but she’d help with her little brother’s homework at night and she’d be Santa Claus for her baby sister. All she asked for was memories from her parent’s friends. I hope they give them to her and I know they will.

I know that little girl was raised right from some good parents. They are smiling and crying for her; so is Oxford. But, Sarah, go do what you said in that last sentence. Go be your best!

Pray for Oxford.

Shane Brown

Shane Brown is a contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at

Copyright Shane Brown, 2016.

Follow on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat @hottytoddynews. Like its Facebook page: If You Love Oxford and Ole Miss…