Alone Among the Living
Alone among the Living recalls the two most trying years of Richard Hoard's long struggle to come to terms with his father's murder. Writing candidly and movingly of that dark period, Hoard tells how he self-destructively acted out his grief, how despair nearly overwhelmed him, and how his spirit finally began to heal.
Floyd "Fuzzy" Hoard, the author's father, was the prosecutor in rural Jackson County in the North Georgia hills. A classic small-town hero, he was a courageous public servant, a respected community leader, and a former professional athlete. Floyd Hoard was killed in his own driveway on August 7, 1967, by a car bomb planted by members of a local bootlegging ring. His son, fourteen-year-old "Dickey" Hoard, was the third person to arrive at the scene off the explosion. Knowing in his heart that his father was already dead, Dickey nonetheless tried to resuscitate him. Eventually, five men were convicted of taking part in the murder. Details of the bombing, subsequent investigation, and nationally covered trial are woven into Hoard's memoir, which presents a previously untold perspective on an incident still remembered by many Georgians.
Floyd Hoard was the central figure in Dickey's life, though the son sometimes felt the father's disapproval. As Dickey's anguish over his dead father grew, so did his regret over their differences, which centered on Dickey's seeming lack of direction and commitment. He became desperate for a way to somehow demonstrate a seriousness about life to the man, for a way to secure his "blessing." Dickey's solution was to immerse himself in sports - a pursuit in which his father excelled, but about which he was ambivalent. High school, an insecure, emotional time in any adolescent's life, became intolerable under such self-imposed pressures. Unable to articulate his pain to what he viewed as an indifferent world, Dickey alternately withdrew and then openly rebelled, especially at home. Looking back, Hoard recalls how, with no sense of purpose, he drifted from crisis to crisis - contemplating suicide, attempting to run away from home, bickering with his family, and alienating all but his most steadfast friends.
Unwillingly at first, Dickey was drawn back to church, which he rarely attended after his father's death. Almost two years after his father's murder, he had a spiritual awakening and found the strength to accept the loss and make peace with himself. Gritty in its details, and never didactic, Alone among the Living is a heartfelt story of an adolescent's immersion in grief, and of his survival through grace.
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