One year ago, Thursday (October 3rd, 2018), a man who was close to everyone’s hearts at North Caddo High and all across the state of Louisiana, died in a terrible car wreck.
That man was my uncle Lester Mason or, as everyone at North Caddo called him, “Coach Mason.” To many, he was a loving, kind-hearted, and funny coach who always brightened everyone’s day. He was that to me, but more than that, he was family who always made sure I was okay, no matter what.
On that day, one year ago, I was in my 5th hour class (Algebra I) when suddenly, I heard over the intercom, “I need Rafe Mason to check out.” I was totally confused by this. I gathered my things and left the room.
I felt uneasy, like something was off. As I stepped out, I saw my grandmother and my cousin. My cousin had broken down into tears, and I ran to comfort her. I asked my grandmother what happened. She said, “Something happened to your Uncle Les. He’s in the hospital.” I was scared at that point, but I calmly walked to the truck and rode home with them. My cousin was dropped off with my other grandparents who are my uncle’s parents.
When we got home, I used my cell phone to text my mom and ask if everything was okay. As I awaited her response, I overheard my grandfather speaking into his phone, “We don’t know the details, but Les died.”
I turned off my phone, and yelled, “What?!”
Grandfather immediately said, “I’ll call you back.”
My grandmother’s arms were immediately around me as if to keep me from doing anything rash. “Mawmaw, You better let go of me, or I will not be responsible for my actions.” I repeated this twice while she repeatedly said, “Calm down. Calm down. It’s okay.”
Then out of nowhere, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Son of a b*tch!!!” and threw my phone down as hard as I could, cracking the flooring beneath the rug. My grandparents immediately latched onto me tight, trying to calm me down. I dropped to the floor and sat there bawling my eyes out. I remember yelling the entire time, “I just saw him this morning! I just saw him this morning!” Again and again.
When I calmed down enough, I sternly said, “Take me to the hospital, now!”
My grandparents did.
At the hospital, in the back where the ER is, I saw most of my family plus Mrs. Cherry, the North Caddo High principal, and a few others. My mom ran up, hugged me, and sobbed loudly while I cried, as well.
I looked up at Mrs. Cherry. I had never seen her like this in my entire life. It really hurt to see her like that.
The next day at the morning assembly, I hugged Principal Cherry tightly while she cried. It was a rough few days, but we managed to get through it.
Coach Les Mason will always be remembered as a coach, a father figure, an uncle, and a friend. We even had his old football number (Lineman #14) retired. He was the only man at North Caddo High School to ever be given the title, “Mr. North Caddo.”
From the Author: This is a significant part of history in Louisiana because my uncle was widely known throughout the state, the town of Vivian, and North Caddo. He was given a title, and was even given the privilege of having his old football number taken off the football team.