Letter to the Editor: Remembering Cleddis Haught
By Tommy Haught, Jr.
As many of you probably know, long-time Goreville resident, Cleddis Haught, died on Christmas morning.
I should probably say that we should not be sad. We should not be sad because my grandfather lived a long life. That he did everything on his own terms and with good humor. That, until the very end, he enjoyed good health and that he is now back with his wife, my grandmother, Kay.
But despite all of this, despite the fact that this last weekend my entire family, as well as many of you, gathered in Goreville to celebrate his life, I am still sad. I am sad because Cleddis was an extraordinary person.
I remember spending a summer in Goreville when I was in junior high school. I was probably 11 or 12 years old. First things were first, Cleddis took me for a proper haircut, which means he had all my hair buzzed off. But I remember over those weeks, Cleddis and Kay took me swimming, go-carting, miniature golfing, the type of things that I am certain they had absolutely no interest in doing, but they wanted to make sure I had a good summer.
After Kay passed, I would come to Goreville every November, and my grandfather would open his home to me, and he would open his home to my friends. The point of these November trips was supposed to be deer hunting. But after a few years, when people would ask, I’d just tell them the truth, the trip was so that I could visit my grandfather.
I could tell story after story about the fun we would have on these trips. Going to the riverboat to gamble, making the winner buy breakfast when we were done. Cleddis would insist that his pancakes be cooked well done, or he wouldn’t eat them.
Many years ago, on one of these hunting trips, my friend’s wife sent us down with homemade spaghetti sauce, complete with sausage and meatballs. It turned out, however, that the sauce was a little too tangy for Cleddis. So much so that he thought his indigestion was a heart attack. We took him to the hospital, and when he found out it was only indigestion, he celebrated the way only Cleddis would, he ate pizza with jalapeño peppers.
I can remember another time, when my grandfather was a young man, only in his mid 80’s. I brought my kids to the spillway. My daughter and I started hiking up the rocks and my grandfather was behind us. After a few minutes, I stopped to look back to see how far the old man was behind us. When I did, he almost bumped into me because he was right there with us. He could keep up with any of his grandkids. Truth is, he could keep up with any of his great-grandkids. Whether it was just down to his pond to fish, or up a rock face at Ferne Clyffe, it didn’t matter.
The one thing Cleddis was, everyone will agree, was busy. Always something to fix, somewhere to be, someone to see. And even though I could tell a hundred more stories, you could simply pull any longtime Goreville resident off the street and likely they could tell you a good story or two about my grandfather. That’s how he was. That’s who he was.
I don’t think there is a person reading this that would not be happy to live more than ninety years, with the health, stamina and vigor that my grandfather had. And despite the sadness, we should celebrate a life lived on one’s own terms.
Finally, I wanted to give special thanks and acknowledgment to my aunt Paula and my uncle Joe. Although Cleddis enjoyed good health for almost his entire life, he did not enjoy good health at the very end, and Paula and Joe took very good care of him when he really needed it. I want them to know that has not gone unnoticed by the rest of our family.
Cleddis is now officially laid to rest, next to Kay, and just a few hundred yards from his home. I was there, just a couple of days ago, and it’s a beautiful view and a place where I know he has found peace.