Living in Nashville, Indiana, has tremendous benefits, many of which, however, are also its drawbacks.
I can’t recall the last time I went to the grocery store and didn’t see someone I knew (store employees notwithstanding). And it is impossible to walk down the sidewalk without repeatedly lifting an arm to wave at a familiar passing motorists or pedestrian.
Because of this camaraderie, citizens here both celebrate each others’ victories and mourn their losses.
Today we mourn.
Gregg Watson wanted to do something for the kids around here — something to get them off the street and into a clean, caring, Christian environment. So he acquired the property that once housed a car dealership and built a miniature golf course. He lined the walls inside the former showroom with video games and placed pool tables throughout, then named his new business The Victory Family Fun Center.
The location was ideal — just blocks from schools and near a part of town used as a hangout by several of the community’s youth most in need of such an opportunity. Instantly, the Family Fun Center was a hit and it has survived for nearly six years.
Unfortunately, Gregg Watson didn’t. The man who loved kids and loved giving them pieces — chunks — of his life in order to improve their own, became the victim of perhaps the most bizarre accident I’ve ever known of.
On Tuesday evening this week, Gregg was helping coach a youth basketball practice at Van Buren Elementary School. At one point, he was running down the court backward, in front of and coaching a player running forward. Gregg tripped, fell back, struck his head on the hard gymnasium floor and fractured his skull, causing irreversable damage to his brain stem.
We heard the ambulance get dispatched on the police scanner that night. The dispatcher told EMS that bystanders were performing rescue breathing to assist the victim’s labored respirations. Later that night, Linda said, “You realize, don’t you, that whoever that was, we probably know them?” It wasn’t until the next afternoon, however, that I learned it was Gregg.
I was shocked, to say the least. He was one of those people you saw around town three or four times a week, always greeting each other by name. Occasionally, the meeting would result in a short conversation, but most of the time he was in a hurry deliver lunch to someone in town. Regardless, he always brought a smile to your face with his highly contagious energy and enthusiasm.
This afternoon, countless notes of support were taped to the front doors of the Fun Center and displays of flowers lay scattered on the walk before them. Tonight, several candles stood lit in a tribute to Gregg and what he meant to our community.
I hope people who pass by the display will have reason to look inside their own hearts and realize the light that Gregg ignited in everyone he touched. And may we always be aware of how fragile our own lives are and how quickly our loved ones might be taken away from us — or us from them — and live accordingly.
Godspeed, Gregg. Godspeed.