On Eagle's Wings

On Eagle's Wings
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Monday Memories - My Dad

Here I am again with my memories and joining up with Retired not Tired to go back to the past and bring up some of those precious times and share them here.

This time, I am writing of my Dad, Conley Sheridan. He was a quiet, shy and reserved person, more outgoing when we were young, but as time went on, I think his loss of hearing, along with the weariness of labor and worry caused him to isolate himself even more than just being a reserved person. Although he always welcomed the times folks came to visit, sometimes when there were lots of people around, he would withdraw to himself.

He was born in 1924 to Sheridan and Gertrude McCoy in a two room cabin in the very small community of Wesley. Conditions in the Northwest hills of Arkansas were very poor with no running water or indoor plumbing. His Dad was a sharecropper and carpenter. Daddy had five siblings, one of whom died from cholera as a child and my Dad himself survived typhoid fever when he was eight years old. He walked to a country school each day that school was in session, carrying his lunch in a lard pail with biscuits and maybe some bacon left over from breakfast. I know they ate a lot of squirrel and rabbit, along with poke salad and collard greens.

Dad fell in love with my Mom after he returned from WWII serving in the Philippines and asked her to marry him. He said if her answer was no, he was going back to the Army. Well, I'm glad she said yes! (I'm not sure when she said yes whether she understood what a difficult road lay ahead, but they were a happy pair.)

This pic was taken on an Army base

Probably showing off for girlfriends

Daddy with his horses on the farm in Arkansas.

They made the decision to move away from farming in Arkansas to Tulsa where he was employed for about 40 years with a steel corporation that made oil derricks. I have no idea what put it in his mind  to go to work there and what made him stick it out through thick and thin, but I'm thinking he saw it as the way out for a man who didn't have an education past the eighth grade and life in Tulsa promised an easier way of life and education opportunity for his wife and children. I am very thankful he made that decision because as kids, our life was good.

He was proud of his work and providing for his family. I can only remember him missing a few days ever from work over the years due to illness. Sickness or fatigue never stood in his way of taking care of his family. One winter his car was frozen up, but that didn't keep him home (and this was just before he retired). He just put on his warmest clothes and walked the five miles to work in deep snow. I learned by example of both my parents the meaning of a good work ethic.

I can see from old photos and I remember well as a child his smiling and laughter, but as I grew up, our relationship became a little more standoffish. Don't get me wrong, I loved my Dad and knew he loved us. He was a dedicated and faithful husband, son and father who had very strong feelings for his family. He loved, but it was sometimes difficult for him to communicate his love.

We looked forward to him coming home each day. It was like a little celebration of sorts. Mom getting dinner ready and herself all prettied up for him and us kids as well. We met him at the door to tell him all about the day's events and, if we had been downtown or maybe walked to the local five and dime, we had some little item to show him which Mama had purchased for us. Pay days were always fun because it usually meant we would either have 5 for a dollar hamburgers from the Lot-a-Burger, or be preparing for a trip to Arkansas to visit the relatives.

Sometimes Daddy would load us up in the car and not say where we were going. It was thrilling to us knowing our destination could have been to get ice cream, or to the local amusement park or perhaps to visit their best friends who had two daughters for us to play with. Other times we would go to a lake or river to wade and play in the water since none of us knew how to swim!

I remember his dedication to help me with my homework when I struggled with math problems. I remember him actually writing my homework for me when my fingers were hurting from biting my nails down to the quick. He helped coach my softball team. He helped me as I learned to ride a bike and I remember the day I told him I was ready for training wheels to come off. Mom took a pic of me on my bike wearing one of his hats.

He and I had the mumps at the same time. I remember seeing him in his overalls and carrying his black lunchbox as he left for work early mornings. Early morning was a comforting time as I could hear him and my Mom talking together while she made his breakfast. I remember seeing him cry the night my brother was born, the weight on his shoulders bearing the responsibility of his family and having just been laid off from work.  I remember him walking the floor in the middle of the night holding my baby brother who had whooping cough and trying to comfort him. (Our house was too small for anybody to sleep through his crying.)

My Daddy was the authority figure in our home for sure and we had great respect for him. We could get away with a little whining with Mama (never ever any kind of back talk with either parent), but definitely no whining with my Dad. His word was final. There were some occasions where his heart would be tender to us and he would back down, but usually a consequence followed an infraction.

When I was eleven years old, my parents were so proud to build a new home, something they had worked hard for over the years.

As I grew older, only a couple of times did we butt heads with each other. Once it was about my curfew with a young man he didn't know. He put his foot down with me, but had a change of heart later in the evening. His heart was soft underneath the sternness. I remember a time when I was looking forward to getting a special dress I had asked for at Christmas. The week before Christmas the youth at church were having a Christmas banquet. One of my friends (who thought she was playing a little trick on me) told me my mama had told hers that I wasn't getting the dress. I cried a lot of tears in my disappointment. When Mom and Dad found out why I was crying, they pulled that dress from its hiding place in the closet for me to unwrap and wear to the banquet that very night. Daddy went out and brought back for me a beautiful corsage to pin on my new dress.

For reasons I will not explain here, my Dad didn't attend church with us, but believe me there was never a time when any of us kids would have asked to stay home from church like Daddy. Sunday mornings for him was resting in his chair enjoying every gospel music show on TV as we scurried around getting ready for church. It was an unspoken rule that Mama and we kids would be in church every Sunday. But it was the prayer of Mama's heart that one day he would join us in worship. Two things about church he really enjoyed were gospel singing and to see one of his kids in a program. He would attend church on those occasions.

After my Mama passed away, my Dad was so lonely, it hurt. My sister brought her daughters often to visit with him. At the time Mama graduated to Heaven, my brother Phil and his family and I were living in Seattle where Phil was recovering from a bone marrow transplant. After her funeral, although Daddy had sworn never to get on a plane, his love for his son gave him courage to fly back with me to Seattle to see him.

Later, when my brother had returned home, a wonderful thing happened. My Dad began attending church with Phil and his family. The year before he died, he made a profession of faith and it was our privilege and joy to see him be baptized! That, my friends, was the answer to a prayer my Mom had never given up praying over the years. Never give up. Even if you don't see a prayer answered, that doesn't mean God's not listening. 

Here are my parents standing in front of their last earthly home. Very sad times for me as I would have to drive away saying good-bye as I headed back to my home in Texas. I will never forget the last time I saw Mama waving good-bye to me from the front porch in this picture. A couple of years later, Dad died suddenly, unexpectedly ... and alone inside this house.

One of my cousins has a country and western store in Arkansas. On the wall he has pictures of people he admired. The top left picture is of my Dad. He would have been so proud.

The melancholy feelings that memories can sometimes bring 

can never cause the love and goodness of their lives to fade in my heart.

Above is a link to a YouTube video of the Gaithers' Homecoming
with Just a Little Talk with Jesus.
I hope it works!

Don't isolate yourself from past hurts from others. Let them draw you to Jesus! He will hear the faintest cry.


retired not tired said...

Our Dads sure had a time of it with the depression and the war. They show us what grit and determination are all about.

Romi C said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and photos.

Terri D said...

Our dads were of that generation, with a strong work ethic. They did what they had to do, to provide for their families. I really enjoyed reading about your dad!! This is a great Meme!

Linda Kay said...

A lovely portrait of your dad. He was really quite a handsome fellow, so no wonder your mom said yes.

Susie said...

Nonnie, I feel your father was a special man. I had two daddies. My real father was rough. When you said you remembered your dad going off to work in his overalls and black lunch box...I could see my own father. When you said your father may have had a hard time showing love with hugs and kisses...well that would be my step father...I know he loved us and we sure loved him..but he could not say"i love you" But if we told him we love you daddy, he would say, 'Yeah un huh".LOL I am so enjoying your stories of your parents. Bless you, xoxo,Susie

Empty Nester said...

What a sweet, sweet tale of your dad. He sounds like a most wonderful person. He was quite a looker. :)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story about your father! I enjoyed reading it very much, especially the ending.

Rory Bore said...

A wonderful tribute!! Your dad sounds amazing.... and an incredible testimony that God's hand is always upon us: one day to draw us back to Him.

Say What? said...

What an absolutely beautiful story. It really touched me.

Wanda said...

Oh what a wonderful tribute to your dad, and so glad you will be reunited with him someday in heaven. I lost my Dad at 57. So young. I miss him too.

nancygrayce said...

Your dad sounds an awful lot like my dad. Life was hard then and with six of us kids, I'm sure money was tight but we never really thought we didn't have money. My daddy also died suddenly. Although it was a shock, looking back it was merciful. Love all those old pictures!!!

Karen said...

What precious memories and insights! Thank you for sharing this!