The day Benny Campbell saved my life was the same day that Benny Campbell hand-delivered flowers to my house. It was sometime near Christmas last year, and I had run home from work for a quick lunch. About the time I plunked a spoonful of dill pickle relish into my egg salad, I heard a knock at the door. As I walked through the dining room, I could see what appeared to be the fronds of some gorgeous holiday floral arrangement and…oh, my God…the face of Benny Campbell through the diamond shaped window of the door (I’m certain that there was someone else with him on the porch, but the radiance of Benny Campbell’s visage totally eclipsed this other person).
My breath caught in my throat as my legs almost failed me from the sheer excitement of being the recipient of one of Benny Campbell’s legendary floral arrangements. I forced my feet to keep moving, and as I did so, I carefully chose words of gracious thanks that I would speak to him…”Why, Mr. Campbell, you do such fine arrangin!’ I’ve been admiring your floral design skills since I moved back to Gadsden five years ago and saw your commercial for Attalla Florist…hands of a master, indeed!”
But when I opened the door, the handsome and talented Benny Campbell asked, “Is Ms. Mildred or Ms. Brannon home?” Again, my breath caught in my throat as my legs almost failed me from my hopes and dreams of EVER receiving some gorgeous holiday floral arrangement, or any arrangement for that matter, created AND hand-delivered by BENNY CAMPBELL were dashed upon the narrow oak planks of the living room floor. I pulled myself up as tall as I could, smiled like the beauty pageant contestant I never was, and never will be, and said, “Oh, no! Ms. Mildred sold the house to me a year ago when she moved in with her daughter over on Turrentine! I’m so sorry about that! But I have their address in my Daytimer! Let me get that for you!” And I turned away before Benny Campbell could see the tears in my eyes.
When I returned, with address in hand and smile back on my face, Benny Campbell said (and I wish that I had this on tape, because I would probably play it every morning as my devotional), “I’ve always thought this house was cute and had lots of potential. I REALLY like what you’ve done with it.”
Now, I don’t know if Benny Campbell was just being nice to me because he has the impeccable manners of a true Southern man, or that he was aware that I was about to have to be put on 24-hour suicide watch because of the unfortunate near-delivery of two of his floral arrangements that were not mine, but when he said those two sentences to me, he saved my life.
To read more about Benny Campbell (and you should), read this Gadsden Times article from October 2012: