Part 4: Chapter 22
Bill has many precious memories of both his parents. His Dad was his role model as well as his fishing and hunting buddy. He taught all three of his sons not to be afraid of hard work and to be creative in finding solutions to their problems. He knew how to have a little fun while he worked.
Bill and I were married in 1961. I learned to love his parents dearly and I have many precious memories of them as well.
One of the first stories I remember them telling was that Dad got to the church late the day of his wedding. Since his first marriage had not turned out so well, he felt he needed to give this marriage a lot of thought. He sat on a stool at the drugstore contemplating the question of matrimony until he was almost too late for the ceremony. As it turned out, he made the right choice. They had a good life together, full of good times and laughter as well as trials and hardships.
I was visiting with my mother-in-law, whom I always called Mom, one day a year or so after Dad had died. As she lay on the couch she kept looking at a picture of the two of them which had been taken a few years before. She said, "I wish I didn't feel the way I do. I just can't help it. I miss Daddy so much. It seems like I miss him more now than ever. I can lay here and look at his picture and remember everything that was said the day it was taken. He was sitting behind me and the photographer said to him, ‘Can you move a little closer?’ Dad said, ‘Yes sir, I can move a whole lot closer if she’ll let me.’"
He loved to joke and had a unique way of saying things. He seemed to have a humorous saying for everything. One of our favorites was "I see said the blind man to his deaf and dumb daughter, who stuck her wooden leg out the window to see if it was raining."
Our all time favorite was: "Saw sah cros ky, saw my leg off and call me shorty." It became a family byword. We taught each one of our grandchildren to say that phrase when they learned to talk. It sounded so cute coming out of their little mouths. Tyler was the exception. When he was about three he would only say, "Saw so cros ky, call me shorty." "No," I would say. "It’s saw my leg off and call me shorty." Tyler’s wise reply was, "Why Grandma Joan, that would hurt me!" I never could get him to say it.
Dad had a special deep bellied laugh he liked to belt out when he was acting silly. Our five year old granddaughter, Joanna, laughs like this when she is being silly. It must be hereditary since she never met her great grandpa.
You couldn’t be around him too long before you began seeing humor in things the same as he did. I remember working at his grocery store in Del City one day and getting a lesson in his humor. My folks didn’t tease quite like he did and I had to learn his ways.
A customer came into the store looking for shortcake and it was all gone. Dad turned to me and said, "What, it’s all gone. Why you know I was saving it for -----." He said it with a twinkle in his eyes but I didn't catch it just then. I thought he was scolding me for selling the last package of shortcake. I soon learned to join in the fun and tease him right back.
Having grown up on the farm, Dad never got over his love of seeing things grow. He was proud of his vegetable garden and loved to take people on a tour to see how well things were growing. Mom cooked and canned everything he grew. I think his favorite birthday gift from us was a pickup load of gypsum for his garden.
Bill still talks about the two acres of okra Dad planted one year. It did REAL good, much to the grief of the fair-skinned, fourteen-year-old, redhead who had the privilege of helping to keep it picked. He itched all summer.
Dad was an expert Domino player. He loved to play his hand and everyone else’s. After the first round of a game he usually knew just about what the other players were holding. His last few years he delighted in keeping dominoes going at Bill's car lot every day.
Dad knew he was seriously ill before the rest of us did. When we told him Anita and JoEl were expecting their first child he was so pleased, but he said, "I wish I could be here to see it." I said, "Why Dad, you will be." "Honey, I don’t think so," he said, sadly. This was before he ever went to the doctor. Sure enough, he was diagnosed with cancer and did not live to see any of our grandchildren.
Dad had a strong faith in God and his redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. So did Mom. This was reflected in his last days in the hospital. There were times when the pain medicine didn't help. During those times we would read the Bible to him. "Just read anywhere," he would say. "It’s all good." Many times we would sing hymns to him. "Victory In Jesus" was his favorite. (It was his theme song, and it was sung at his funeral.) The scripture and the songs would soothe him when the medicine did not. In the hospital room, he would look off into space and say, "See that choir up there? They’ve got a seat reserved for me."
Bill loved to hear his Dad sing while they worked. One of the songs he liked to sing was ... "Everything Is Beautiful In Its Own Way..."
Dad was a beautiful man inside and out. We love him, we love his memory, and we are sure he is singing in that heavenly choir right now, and so is Mom.
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