Monday started out like most Mondays for me. Crazy. I was over committed and was a bit frazzled by 10 AM. I had a closing in Central City, KY that was suppose to happen at 2 PM, and with a flurry of delays, a cell phone, and a prayer, Steve and I headed north on 65 to Kentucky. We do this from time to time since we still have friends there and we do business there as well. Anyway, we settle into the trip and I multi-task for the 2 hour drive as most people do when they have the luxury of a chauffeur that happens to be my real estate partner, and my husband. Riding with Steve will improve your prayer life, guaranteed!! I am the typical nervous nelly wife….constantly wondering how in the WORLD this man drove before he met me. I mean, I am serious?? Well on with my Monday. We arrive 15 minutes late, my normal “Kathy” schedule….we are ushered into the conference room to meet the closer. I glance at my phone. It is 2:30. I start reviewing documents. I am rattled. I think it’s because I am running late. I ask Steve to review the documents…saying that I have a headache. I hand them to him. Within a minute or two I start to feel the phone vibrate on the table. My ringer is turned off. It doesn’t stop. It was turned over and I couldn’t see who was texting, but the sudden “blow up” made me turn it over to check. Mommas panic, especially mommas that have faced “that call” before. As I turned it over I saw Crystal’s B.’s number. Crystal doesn’t call during work hours unless it’s important. In panic I hand the phone to Steve and ask him to answer. I can her hear crying on the other end….so I grab the phone. The voice says simply, “Norman’s gone.” I think I have misunderstood her. I say, “Gone?” as if to say….gone to Florida, or the store….or anywhere that is safe….the sobbing was uncontrollable and I knew that “gone” was not going to mean anything else. And in that moment, standing in a bank in Kentucky, staring at a teller waiting on an unnamed customer that I can still see in my mind’s eye, my friend Norman became perfect. The tears wouldn’t wait, the memories refused to wait their turn,those memories were destined to take precedence over a real estate transaction.
A thousand memories of days spent with my lanky, larger than life friend flooded over me. For if you were blessed enough to be Norman’s friend, you can bet your bottom dollar that you had made memories, lots of them. For he knew the importance of a Disney trip, a Diane Wilkinson song, a good meal, and a good story. He liked to laugh as much as he liked to cry. He knew that to be a friend was his calling here in this world, and he answered that call many years ago. Norman could teach many lessons, and my favorite was “No one wins if everyone doesn’t win!” He was the poster child for the term “team player”…….a rarity in this town. He truly loved “his” artists….but guess what? ALL of you that sang about Jesus were “his” artists. I think I am sounding a bit cheesy, but those who know me understand. This is simply the truth. Simply put: Norman was married to a song, a lyric, a melody, an idea that this music truly may change the direction of a young lady who had considered throwing in the towel on her life, or that dad that had humiliated himself and lost everything and his only friend was now shame, that’s the guy that Norman could envision hearing these great songs that he would listen to and promote to the world!!
Norman loved this music. If I ever met a person that loved the music more than I did, it was Norman Holland. We would chat about styles and preferences and ALWAYS agree that God was in the ballads that my kids had sung:) I know that I was a bit prejudiced concerning the kids, but so was Norman. Norman helped take a bunch of hillbilly kids from Kentucky and he helped hone them into the professionals that they ALL are today. His impact will be felt for generations to come!!! He loved this music that someone so strangely named Southern Gospel (that sounds regional to me) more than he loved mashed potatoes or oreo pie. And trust me, that is saying a lot. I took several trips with Norman the year I went through my divorce. WE would invite 6 or 7 friends, take off to Florida, always with a couple of my grandchildren in tow. We had the BEST time on those trips. We made larger than life memories!! Time passed, my heart healed, I met a man, and Norman became my biggest cheerleader when it came to “start over” for me. He knew I had been hurt enough, and he wanted to see me happy again. He was ok with loosing me from his harem………He had all his other girls. Crystal, Celeste, LuLu, Karen, Heather,Tana….and the list goes on, and I am making him sound like a “get around” man, and he would be laughing right now!!
If I had to describe Norman in one sentence it would be something like this: Norman Holland knew how to love.He loved God, oh how he loved God, and the word, and the old fashioned ideas, songs, and traditions of his childhood. He loved people. The pretty ones, the talented ones, the struggling ones, the not so talented ones, he just loved humanity. HE would find something nice to say, always!! Needless to say, because of this ability to always speak something positive, he should be our role model! For that was Jesus in him. His gift to us was that hug, a sincere question about you, he always wanted to know about “you” and your life. He rarely talked about himself. His gift was that hug, that conversation, and usually a nice meal that highlighted his love for fellowship. Norman loved a song and cake. In that order.
I have lost much. Norman filled a spot in my life that no one else can fill. There aren’t anymore Normans. I suppose the music will live on, and the events will happen, the records will be made, the songs will be written. But I am here to declare this to all of you. Everything that transpires in SG Music will have the handprint of Norman all over it. He is the reason many artists had success, he was the key man to put together so, so many special events. HE LOVED IT!! The music of Southern Gospel has been better because of his talent to make a business feel like a family.
We were his family. Period! We have lost a favorite son.
I will miss my Norman. I don’t know anyone on the planet that was as much fun to be with. He was the bomb! Our lives are truly changed forever. An era is over. I am sure there is a young competent person that will attempt to be the “Norman”of 2014. Well good luck with that. I suppose it’s possible, kind of like winning the power ball is possible. Sometimes God only made one. I suppose when he made Norman he threw away the mold. How many tall, lanky, men, with an Alabama drawl, a passion for God’s music, and the ability to make an amazing mac and cheese, do you know? Yep, they threw the mold away.
Last but not least. The kindness that he showed my family back in 2002 when we did our first Daywid recording was what I would draw from in later years when I needed a friend….a friend that would get mad at those that hurt me, cry with me, and eat ice cream with me at midnight!! Norman, I am a bit angry that you left me. We had Disney PLANS!!!
Norman you were an original, and there will never be another like you. I promise to always salute Mickey Mouse and linger just an extra minute in front of the castle, and whisper your name……….I also promise to sing “Sheltered In The Arms Of God” instead of a contemporary selection, as you would have wanted it!!
When I grow up, I want to be like Norman, for he was loved by many, and hated by none. It sound like he’s close enough to perfect for me.
Go rest high Norman!!! For your work on earth is done. You have taught us to love and encourage each other. You have done what no one else could have done. I love you Norman!!