Dad has been gone now for quite a long time. He and mother both died during the same summer, just two months apart and both died with strokes. Dad died at the age of 74 and that seems quite young now even though it seemed old at the time. Dad was a preacher and a farmer. He did several other things along the way to try to support a large family with eight children. There is a side of me that remembers him most as the preacher. He loved the Lord deeply and tried hard to study and learn the will of God and follow it. I can easily see him in the windows of my mind as he stood tall and straight and poured out his heart to try to lead someone to Christ. Through my own years of preaching I’ve held numerous funerals, but never like Dad did. It was amazing how often he was called to help in some way with a funeral. Often he preached the funeral service. Just as often he was ask to sing for a funeral. It never seemed to matter what religious persuasion a person was, the family would call Dad and I never knew him to turn down anyone when they asked him to come. Seldom was it the case that people paid him for such efforts. He was their friend and he went to their side. I suspect that one of the reasons he was called so often was his attentiveness to people when they were sick or hurting. He would have had a hard time with the modern rules most hospitals follow. If someone had said to him that he was only supposed to visit those who were of his faith he would have been deeply upset. He went from room to room and most often knew the person when he went in. If he didn’t know them before he would quickly get to know them and if they weren’t right with the Lord he would try to lead them to Him while visiting.
I suppose it was still as the preacher that I remember the times I would walk into the house to find Daddy sitting with his Bible reading, studying and often wrestling with the text to see what it meant for the people he would try to reach for God. He lived before the modern speech translations began to spread among people. He read from the King James Bible because it was all he knew. I think he would have gladly reached out for one of the newer translations that make it easier to read and understand. Another thing closely tied to the peaching life was Dad as a man of prayer. When it was leading a public prayer at church or him praying out in the woods somewhere where he thought he was all alone with God, he went to knees. I would often walk upon him somewhere in the woods and see him on his knees pouring out his heart to God. In this same connection you couldn’t know dad without knowing he loved to sing and was good at it. He taught singing schools all over the area. Many times in the summer he would have all day singing schools for young people who were having a break from school. Often there would be 50 to 100 kids there for the singing school and he was the only adult in the place. I never remember there being any kind of discipline problem. I can’t ever remember seeing him get on to anyone. But they came, they sang and they learned more about music and song leading. He loved leading singing and he dearly loved singing in a quartet. By brother-in-law,Ed was usually part of the group and they went all over singing praise to God.
I was the youngest of the eight children. Dad was in his early forties when I was born. I’ve often wondered if things were different for those who were the older children. Most of them say that he was harder to please in his younger days and more of a disciplinarian. I’m not so sure. He was never one you crossed if you were one of his children. He meant to teach us the right way and to make certain we walked in that way. I think he did get more mellow as he got older. I’ll never forget the first time I heard him tell me he loved me. I had already moved to Arkansas and was preaching for the Levy congregation in North Little Rock. I was probably about thirty years old at the time. Dad had been with some other people to some kind of convention and they stopped in Little Rock to spend the night. He came to our house to spend the night with us. Our children were quite small at the time and Linda was involved in trying to get them to bed. It was just me and him in the living room. As he talked he said, “Son, if I was too hard on you growing up, I’m sorry.” I said something to the effect that I didn’t think he had been, that I got away with enough things that were wrong that didn’t get punishment to even out any times I may have gotten more than was called for at the time. He became emotional and said, “Son, I want you to know I love you and I’m proud of you.” It was extremely uncomfortable at the time since we hadn’t had many such conversations.
Dad was a strong man with a strong will. What he believed he believed deeply. When he stood for anything, no one was in doubt where he stood. He had a strong temper and when things went wrong it was hard for him to control it, yet I never remember anything wrong coming out of his mouth even in such times. Over all he seemed to see the good in just about every person he ever knew. I can easily remember different people starting to tell Dad some bit of gossip they had heard and before they could get the story out he would either get away from them or respond with something good that he remembered about the same person. It seems odd to me to think of Dad as a hard person with anyone. He did stand strong for anything he believed, but he was as tender as a shepherd could be in trying to help anyone who didn’t understand what he believed the Bible taught.
Dad wouldn’t have fit in very well with the modern dad. He never pushed any of us to be involved with sports. It was what we wanted. His plea was that if we were going out for a sport we should give it our best and try hard to learn better than now. I often go to the ball park to see some of the grandsons play ball. I never remember seeing dad at a ball game that I was playing. I only remember one time of him going to a football game in which my brother Roy was playing. I don’t remember ever thinking that he should have been there. Truthfully I thought those boys who always had their dad there to yell for them when the did any thing right were sissies. Why do you need your dad there to root for you?
I don’t remember dad and mother being very affectionate toward each other in front of us anyway. But the thought never entered my mind that Dad didn’t love mom with all his heart or that she didn’t love him with all of hers. After he died it didn’t seem that Mom had a will to go on without him. I’ve wondered if she didn’t will her self to die to go on to be with him. Many things about Dad that were good, required some years and rearing of my own children to appreciate. He was a good, godly man who was truly a servant to the Lord and to people. He left us a tremendous example to follow. He also demonstrated a tender heart. I wish I had the opportunity to visit with him again and talk about some of those things in life that we never really talked about when he was here.
Dad, thank you for being the man you were and for the good you accomplished in life.