WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Remembering a friend

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

I hate these columns, but I feel compelled to write them.

When it comes down to it, relationships are what Life is all about. One’s relationship with self, friends, relatives, acquaintances and strangers among all the other stuff in life’s journey is paramount. Sure, love is in there, too. But basically, it all boils down to relationships — it’s what is important in this life.

I have had the sheer greatness to have met and known the best humanity has to offer. My parents rank right up there as the best ever. I have known people who gave their lives for their country; and ones who have taken their own lives and everyone in between. They all deserve our feelings; our thoughts and our solemn honor.

I get to see people struggle through life, but who remain optimistic. I see those who give up, who succumb to the darker side of life. As I have been told numerous times, “Life is Tough; you don’t need a cheerleader, you need help!” I get to see the successes. And sometimes, even celebrate with those people. It is so great to see people happy about the trajectory of their lives; and to know that they had a hand in making it so.

In late summer, I got the sudden and horrible news that an acquaintance of mine, Cody Links, had died. He was the ‘C’ in “C & J’s Family Dining” on Texoma Parkway; originally “Pop’s Place.” Cody was loud and brash; catty and witty; basically, my kind of guy. I don’t know if he was with Pop from the beginning, but as I frequented the establishment in the years before Pop’s death, Cody would invariably be my waiter. We quickly gained a rapport that involved insults and insinuations of our questionable character.

And I love it!

I actually hated to be at Pop’s Place without him in the room. I tend to think that I wasn’t the only one. Cody was beloved by so many of the customers that I know they are feeling my pain now as well. I can’t count the times that I witnessed him interacting with table after table of people who ended up smiling and laughing all through their meals. Cody was just that kind of guy. He made Pop’s Place a place to be.

When Pop died, his widow tried to make a go of it for awhile, but had to make a decision.  Cody and another employee (who I did not know personally) brought a proposal to the owner. They would buy the Texoma Parkway location from her; and she could concentrate on the other location in Southmayd. She accepted and ‘C & L’s Family Dining’ was born.

Cody helped keep the "homey-ness’" of Pop’s Place in C &L’s with his continued wit and manner in the dining room. I still loved to go there just to see him; just to insult him or at least laugh with him. It made for a great experience. I did learn he had some health issues over the months and took a leave of absence, but came back strong earlier this year. He was back to form from the first time I saw him again.

I didn’t know he had recent surgery, but there were complications. Cody didn’t make it out of the hospital to once again walk the floor of the restaurant; getting to hold court with the people who knew and loved him like their own. He truly made that place like ‘home’ and the people there a ‘family.’

I don’t know Cody’s history or his story; like I said, he was an acquaintance. I didn’t have his phone number or ever went to his house. He was simply one of those special people that helps make Life worth living. I genuinely became happier in anticipation of seeing him when I went to Pop’s or C&L’s. I would smile to myself wondering who would get the best of the other this time; and all the while knowing that it didn’t matter because we both knew it was part of the dance we did.

In life, there aren’t a lot of things that make you pay attention, but for me, Cody Links was one of them.

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.