Friday, February 23, 2007

Responses to yesterday's post were all positive and I thank you all. One of my readers said he did a search on my blog of the word father, then daddy, then dad, and came to the conclusion that I was, indeed, "a daddy's girl." He really didn't have to go to all that trouble to learn that. Anybody who knows me could have told him that. Another reader reminded me of all the English teachers who have come from Plantersville, three in my family alone. Maybe it was in the water, he said, himself an English professor.

Other memories were stirred, especially those of my father's spells of melancholia, as he called them. He would ruminate for hours, sometimes days, on all the tragedies he'd witnessed and experienced in his lifetime. Today he would be diagnosed with depression, and would probably be taking Zoloft like me. Like a broken record, he would go over and over these events:

As a 10 year old boy in New Orleans, he saw his 12 year old brother Paul run over and killed on Christmas Day while they were out playing in the street with their new skates. (That had to be traumatic.) When he was 16, his older sister Mildred drowned while trying to rescue her husband who also drowned. His mother became so despondent that she had to be hospitalized. When he was 22, his parents divorced after his father absconded with a younger woman. When he was 32 and a student at SW Seminary in Fort Worth, his first wife Amy, also a seminary student majoring in music, died of pneumonia. As an Army chaplain, he was part of a Medic unit that attended the wounded and dying from the battlefield. He was bothered as much by the Dear John letters received by some of the soldiers as by the amputated limbs that gave their sweethearts cold feet. It was his shoulder they had literally cried on.

So he seemed to have to cope with more than his share of suffering and death. Walking away from a job where he was constantly frustrated by tightfisted, mean-spirited old deacons was probably one of the best things he ever did for his spiritual and mental health. He freed himself to help them because he wanted to and not because he was getting paid to, as some liked to remind him. Keeping busy until strokes disabled him was his way of not giving in to the negative forces always trying to pull him down. He was in a lot of pain, as evidenced by all the prescription drugs he took, but he was determined, as John Wesley said, to

"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can."

This quote was clipped and taped to the inside cover of a mileage record book he kept, and when I found it, I immediately added it to the notebook of quotes that I keep. There is no doubt in my mind that he was welcomed home by our Heavenly Father with, "Well done, good and faithful servant..."

1 comment:

C J Garrett said...

from Skip...I must tell you how much I enjoyed your history of Uncle Si. I have always had a difficult time telling friends how I would prefer to spend my weekends while at Ole Miss in Plantersville, Mississippi, with my uncle in a Baptist parsonage rather than chasing around the bars in Memphis. It was not out of any religious duty, but it was about the man and the setting. You certainly did him justice in remembering him.