By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Early in the morning this past Tuesday, March 13, Paul Jean Foreman, the writer of this column said goodbye to this life, and slipped away into the next. He never had any doubt where he was going, or who was going to take him there, and while he fought harder to stay than just about anyone I have ever known, Heaven is now his new address. I have no doubt that now he has taken his first breath on the other side, he has no regrets.
I remember clearly the first time I met Paul. He and his wife Joann were promoting his book, Bloodstains In Paradise at Athens State University’s Center for Lifelong Learning. While the book dealt with crime and was based on things he experienced as a law enforcement officer with decades of experience under his belt, I remember when Paul told me with a grin that, “It won’t make your pastor go over in a dead faint.”
I immediately liked this guy, and I liked his “Ladybug.” I came to really like the way his Ladybug stood by her man, in all that he did, down to the end. At the time we met, I had two writers who were handling the personal security column of Athens Now, as that particular subject had become a topic of great importance to me, especially after my time in Iraq. Business had become too good for the current columnists, and they had to vacate their spot in order to manage the boom in their business.
It took no time to figure out who I wanted to fill the slot. The day Paul came down to the Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful office so I could take his head shot pic, he looked like a kid on Christmas morning, ready to tear into presents to see what was there. Turns out, the “presents” were all for us, and they came in the form of his articles. While Paul certainly had the creds, as far as being a NRA certified trainer, as well as someone with lots of time roaring in Florida as a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer), it was his faith and what his friend Tony Llewellen calls “plain-ol’-walkin’-around sense” that made him so endearing, and not just here in Athens.
It is the dream of every newspaper columnist to have someone “who is not from around here” follow and enjoy their column. I have a business associate and dear friend who hails from St. Louis, MO, and she and her husband, a retired Air Force intel officer are strong proponents of the 2nd Amendment. She so appreciated Paul’s measured wisdom and even approach to difficult topics, especially since they lived through the nightmare of the close-by meltdown of Ferguson a few years back. I’ll never forget one morning when she called me, having read the paper while having her morning tea, and her comment was, “I’m sitting here, drinking tea, and have read Athens Now from front to back. Bravo to you for your heart and to Paul Foreman for his common sense.”
As much as I appreciated that common sense, and the fact that he was so diligent when it came to crafting his columns, it was watching the warrior come out when he faced down the enemy we have come to call “the Big C,” better known as cancer. He would send out texts with prayer requests, or victory reports when the medical news was good, and he would always tag them with, “TO GOD BE THE GLORY!”
But what got me the most was when he sent out a text that said, “Sometimes I am awake in the night and can’t sleep. Anyone on your prayer list that I can add to mine when I pray in the night?” I gave him the name of a struggling family member, and just knowing Paul Jean was praying for others, especially when he was in the fight of his life, will always inspire me. One of the very last texts he sent me, which was on the 24th of February sums it up: “Hospice got me [SIC] Hospital bed, a walker chair, a potty chair. Life is great!” Indeed, life is, dear bro, and I am so glad that your pain is gone and Life for you is now AWESOME! Just so you know, I am keeping your texts for whatever may be ahead, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the years of the Forum that shall forever be Foreman’s.
By: Ali ElizabethTurner