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.
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
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.
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!