So let's back up for a moment. I remember an incident in the winter of 1962, I believe, so I would have been 11, where I decided I was too old to hug my Daddy anymore. So I started shaking hands with him instead of hugging him.
Once you start something like that, it's hard to stop it. The longer you go, the harder it becomes.
So back to the 1970s. Joanna and I married at University Baptist Church in Shawnee, across the street from the campus where we had met, dated, and gotten to know each other, in September 1976. Daddy performed the ceremony. Jerry Barnes, University's pastor at that time, who was the second greatest influence - behind only Daddy - in helping me find my way back to Christ, also stood on the chancel and read scripture during the wedding.
Almost 14 years after that 1962 incident, I was still in my no-hugging-Daddy phase. One of our wedding photos shows Daddy and me, before the wedding, shaking hands as if he's giving me some last-minute advice. Shaking hands. That's what we did.
Somewhere in the next year or two, I remember telling Joanna that it saddened me that Daddy and I didn't hug - but that we had shaken hands for so long, it was an almost impossible bridge to cross. She encouraged me, of course, to give it a try. But it still took awhile. It was somewhere along those late 1970s, as I recall, that I finally gave Daddy a hug. That's not an easy thing for men - at least in those days. I don't even recall his reaction at the time; I just know that eventually it became easier, and it meant a lot to be able to hug my Daddy. I have a feeling he felt the same.
It was also around that time, as Joanna and I settled into married life, hundreds of miles from my parents, that I began developing a greater appreciation for Daddy and wanting to cultivate a deeper relationship with him. So, over the next 30 years or so until he died, whenever we would be visiting them or they would be visiting us, I made it a point - at least once during the visit - to start a conversation with Daddy over some issue of theology, ethics, or even politics. We had great conversations, loved to hash these things out with each other. I learned so much from him. I'm not so great on the details - don't really recall a lot of detailed conversations, or the issues, etc, that we discussed - but I know that I learned a lot from him, and our relationship grew deeper through those conversations. They were usually late at night when we'd be watching TV together.
I do remember one question I asked him one time, however. I remember when I was growing up in Kansas City, that the Kansas City Baptist Association had an African-American minister on its staff, Charles Briscoe, who was the liaison between the KCBA and the National Baptist Convention. The Briscoes were guests for dinner in our home at least a couple of times that I remember. Growing up, I was always taught by my parents that racial prejudice was wrong, that segregation was wrong, and so forth.
During one of those many late-night discussions in the '70s, '80,s, & '90s, I asked Daddy, "Growing up in Texas when you did, being around the attitudes that were prevalent in those days, how did you come to the racial attitudes that you have?" His answer was very simple and to the point: "T. B. Maston!" I have a feeling there are a lot of Dr. Maston's students who would give the same answer to that question.
We never get too old, I guess, to be embarrassed by our parents. In 1981, Mountain Bell's Accounting Department promoted me to management as supervisor of the billing adjustments unit. The next time Mother and Daddy visited us in Denver, of course Daddy had to follow me to work, go in with me, and take pictures of me at my desk - as my ten employees looked on, amused I'm sure.
In 1987, Joanna's Mobil Oil office in downtown Denver was transferred to Dallas. At the same time, Mountain Bell - downsizing following its 1984 divestiture from AT&T - offered what was called the "Baby Boomer Buyout," in which they offered incentives (including a full year's salary) for managers about my age with about my experience to leave the payroll by April 1. Great timing! So that summer we picked up and moved - with Alison, 5-1/2, and Travis, 1-1/2 - to Plano, a suburb north of Dallas.
As much as we loved Denver and hated to leave it (30 years later, I'm still a Broncos fan), the Dallas area had one huge advantage - it had major league baseball! (The Colorado Rockies were not born for another 6 years.) So I soon became a Texas Rangers fan and began indoctrinating Travis in love of the National Pastime. Now we were in Texas, and Mother and Daddy were only 3-1/2 hours away, in Austin. So we inaugurated something we called "the night of the three Jasons."
Daddy was Atwood Jason Jones, Jr. So I was the third generation of Jones boys to have the middle name Jason. When Travis was born, we made him the fourth generation, giving him the middle name Jason in honor of his granddaddy.
Though Mother and Daddy had left Kansas City in 1974 to return "home" to Texas, Daddy had remained a Kansas City Royals fan, through and through. So after Joanna, the kids, and I moved to Plano, I began inviting Daddy up every year whenever the Rangers played the Royals; "the three Jasons" would go to see the Rangers and Royals play. It became a great tradition that lasted about 5 years, until Mother's health started going downhill in the fall of 1992, and they stopped traveling for the remaining years of her life.
My parents' devotion to each other was something to behold, and that devotion was never more evident than when Mother's health was declining. In late August 1992, Daddy went to California to spend a year teaching Christian ethics as an adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. I drove Daddy out there (he was just a few days short of 79, after all), then flew home. Mother was to fly out to join him a few weeks later. However, a bursitis attack prevented her from making the trip. Daddy would be coming home for Thanksgiving, and they would then fly back to California together. However, just before Thanksgiving, as Mother was recovering from her bursitis, she suffered a minor stroke. Daddy finished out the semester but asked to be relieved of his responsibility at Golden Gate for the spring so that he could be home with Mother.
A bacterial infection just before Christmas 1993 left Mother bedridden for the remaining 3+ years of her life. Daddy would not hear of letting Mother go to a facility of any kind; he knew that nobody could give her the loving, devoted care that he could. And he was right.
For the remainder of her life, he took care of her. Patsy and I arranged for one of us to be there at least every other weekend - and, eventually, every weekend. Our families sacrificed, lovingly encouraging us to go to give Mother and Daddy the encouragement they needed, and to give Daddy some help, some relief, make it possible for him to go to church Sunday morning, etc.
Both Patsy and I found this time to be very special, as we spent time with Mother and Daddy that we probably wouldn't have had otherwise. And I know it meant an awful lot to Mother and Daddy for us to do that. But it wasn't a hard decision for Patsy and me - our parents had given so very much to us, there was no way that we could ever repay them; just as they had given to us simply because they loved us so much, so, too, did we want to give to them simply because we loved them so much.
During those 3 years, I sometimes took my camcorder to Austin with me. Daddy and I would occasionally sit down in the living room with the camcorder running, and I interviewed him about family events and stories, his career, their marriage, etc. I have about 10 hours on video of these interviews with Daddy. Priceless!
As I said earlier, after Mother passed away, Daddy never got over it. They had loved each other so much, that he couldn't conceive of life without her. So he kept her pictures around him and talked about his memories of her - all good, of course. And we listened gladly, because we knew that talking about his beloved Vivian made him feel good - he was sad, but remembering her brought happy thoughts.
There are plenty of other memories, I'm sure, but these have been a few of the highlights. Though I miss them terribly, remembering Mother and Daddy brings me happy thoughts.
There was never any "put-on," as we used to say, about either Mother and Daddy. They were authentic, honest, faithful, loving, generous. Their faith in Christ was authentic and informed, and they passed that on to Patsy and me - and to others too many to count - through the way they lived, the way they loved, the way they treated people. We saw Jesus in them.
In September 1969, I entered Oklahoma Baptist University. Mother and Daddy drove me to Shawnee, helped me register, and moved me into Brotherhood Dorm. Then they said goodbye and left. It wasn't 10 minutes before Daddy was back in my room, telling me he had forgotten to leave me some spending money. I later learned that this was just an excuse - he just had to see me one more time, was already beginning to worry about me and miss me. (More tears!)
In November 1970, I lost my faith. I had professed Christ publicly at First Baptist Church, Richardson, Texas, in April 1961 and been baptized. In my teenage years at Bethany Baptist in KC, MO, my world had revolved around Youth Choir and the youth group there. I had even become somewhat of a leader, at one point being elected Youth Pastor during our annual Youth Week.
Somewhere around the age of 15 or 16, I became convicted that God was calling me to the music ministry; I went to OBU mainly because of the influence of our music minister - and my dear friend - Joe Dell Rust, who had graduated from OBU, which had a Fine Arts College, led by Dean Warren M. Angell, with a reputation to match or exceed that of at least any Baptist school. I entered OBU on a Church Music degree program.
But my "faith" was built on a house of cards; I had never really understood the nature of faith. To me it was more the acceptance of a set of facts; yes, there was personal commitment involved, too, but the question of faith vs. facts was my problem. On that day in my sophomore year at OBU, when a professor's statement caused me to realize that I couldn't prove any of the stuff I believed, the house of cards collapsed, and I walked out of that class no longer believing in God, much less Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
I had friends at OBU, preacher's kids like me, who went through a similar crisis; when they shared their newfound struggle, their fathers argued with them and yelled at them.
When I told my dad what had happened (and it took a year or so before I got up the courage to tell my parents), he told me he understood; he shared that he had gone through something similar when he was young, and that he understood that this was something I would need to work out on my own, but that he would be there whenever I needed, to talk with, to respond to any questions I might have.
I don't recall any specific discussions with him beyond that, but I do know that I consider Daddy the greatest influence in helping me find my way back to Christ.
Of course, having lost my faith, I had to get out of the Church Music program, so I switched to a Music Education degree. No, I really didn't want to teach all that much, but I didn't have any passion, any great love, outside of music. So I completed the Music Education degree and was then pretty lost, still struggling and searching for truth on which to stake my life, and also struggling to figure out what to do with my life.
One thing I tried was Law School; I scored in the 96th percentile of the Law School Admission Test and was admitted to the University of Oklahoma Law School, which I entered in August 1975. I spent three semesters there before withdrawing after recognizing that I simply wasn't cut out to be a lawyer.
It was during my time in Law School, however, that Daddy and other members of his Home Mission Board Interfaith Witness Department came to speak to the Baptist Student Union at OU. I went to hear them - the only times I ever darkened the doors of the BSU at OU. One evening before one of the sessions, Daddy and I went to dinner together, and I shared with him that, after over 5 years of searching and struggling, I found myself able to once again accept that the Bible is true, that God is real, and that Jesus is God's son. Well, at least I was able to accept it intellectually, although a real faith commitment, a real personal commitment of love and trust would take longer. But now I understood what faith was about. I was trying to build my house on a foundation of faith this time, not a house of cards.
I would never have gotten to that point without the patience and understanding that Daddy showed me from the beginning.
Daddy was often away from our church on Sunday, "supplying" in another pulpit. I occasionally went with him, especially when I was very young and we were in Dallas. My cousin, Devin Dodson, also went with us sometimes. Devin loved hearing Daddy preach. We usually sat on the front pew. My only specific memory of one of Daddy's sermons is one he preached on Jesus' teaching that He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep, and the sheep know His voice and follow Him.
I also often went with Daddy when he spoke to church groups about witnessing to their Jewish friends. Much of this involved educating Baptists on the Jewish people, their faith and culture, and knocking down any stereotypes about them. I guess I was a weird kid, but I loved going with Daddy when he did this and listening to him speak. Sometimes, if he was using slides to illustrate his presentation, I would work the slide projector for him.
Daddy once gave me a project to catalogue his books. There were, of course, no word processors back in that day, no electronic databases, etc. I used the Remington typewriter - which he gave me, by the way, at my request, several years before he died - that was on his desk in his study. I typed the information - title, author, copyright date, publisher, etc. - on index cards. Then I placed a little piece of paper sticking out at the top of the book, to indicate that the book had been catalogued.
That experience came in handy 15 or 20 years later, when my own library grew into the several hundreds (over 1,000 today) and required cataloguing. (Of course, today, that catalogue resides in an Excel file.)
One special memory of my growing-up years that I must insert here - whenever it wasn't a school night, such as summer, etc., I stayed up and watched Johnny Carson's Tonight Show with Daddy. I would usually be sitting on the couch or in a chair, but Daddy's favorite place to watch Johnny was the living room floor, where he usually drifted off to sleep about halfway through. I can't begin to count the number of times Johnny went off at midnight, and I got up & walked over, jostled Daddy, and said, "Daddy, Johnny's over. Time to go to bed." Little things like that are special memories.
Just a week after we moved from Dallas to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1962, Daddy took me to my first major league baseball game, the Kansas City A's hosting the New York Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, et al., with Whitey Ford on the mound that day. That was the day I fell in love with baseball, its personalities, its ever-growing statistics, and especially its history. Growing up in KC, I spent many days and/or nights with Daddy at old Kansas City Municipal Stadium (which was, sadly, demolished following the 1972 season). We loved talking sports - especially the A's and their opponents, and the Chiefs, who came to KC in 1963.
On Father's Day 1963, Mother and I visited Daddy at Fort Leavenworth, where he was doing his annual two weeks of active duty in the Army Reserves. He was serving as the chaplain in the disciplinary barracks there. We went to the PX (Post Exchange) to buy Daddy a Father's Day gift, and bought him a transistor radio; unknown to me, he and Mother had worked it out where Mother & I would buy him a transistor radio, and they would buy me one. Matching GE transistor radios, except his cover case was black, and mine was cream-colored. I still have mine today. One of my favorite gifts of all time! I can't begin to count the number of batteries I wore out by going to sleep with that radio under my pillow, as I listened to one of those late games on the West Coast.
When I discovered I could pull in the St. Louis Cardinals' games on that radio - and the Cardinals won 19 of 20 in late 1963 to almost (but not quite) overtake the Dodgers for the National League pennant - I became a Cardinals fan. Still an A's fan, but they were pitiful, so the Cards became my first loyalty.
In time, each of us had his favorite player. In June 1964, the Cardinals traded for a speedster named Lou Brock from the Cubs and turned him loose on the bases. Within a week, I picked him as my favorite player (today he's in the Hall of Fame). Just a few weeks later, the A's called up a shortstop from the minor leagues, named Dagoberto Campaneris, nicknamed "Campy." On my transistor radio, I listened to Campy hit a home run on the first pitch he was thrown in the major leagues and add a second one later in the game. But power wasn't Campy's forte; as with Lou, Campy's calling card was speed. It wasn't long before Campy was Daddy's favorite ballplayer.
So through the years, as our two favorite players annually led their respective leagues in stolen bases, Daddy and I would say things like "Did you see what 'my guy' did today?" or "How did 'your guy' do today?" It was a fun rivalry, comparing Lou and Campy. (Sorry, Daddy, my guy's in the Hall of Fame, yours isn't!)
For a few years in the mid-1960s, the Kansas City Baptist Association - where Daddy worked - had its offices in the Berkshire Towers, an old hotel that had been converted to space for offices and apartments. Several of the Kansas City A's lived there. One Saturday morning, after arriving home from an out-of-town commitment, Daddy went to the office to check his mail and took me with him. As we were getting out of the car, we saw Campy Campaneris drive into the parking lot. So Daddy and I went over as he was getting out of his car, and Daddy introduced me to Campy. We chit-chatted with him (Campy didn't know much English, so this was interesting), mainly about his having been out of the lineup the night before with a stomach problem. Anyway, pretty exciting to meet one of the A's in person, away from the field.
All of the Chinese students from Hong Kong and other points east were, of course, staying on campus during Spring Break, so I decided I would stay, too, to spend time with Joanna. Then came the break-up. So I got a flight home to Kansas City. Mother picked me up at the airport.
On the way home, Mother remarked that she was sorry that things didn't work out for Joanna and me. In my most smart-alecky tone, I replied, "Really? I figured you'd be happy, since Joanna isn't a Christian." My dear sweet Mother (and this always brings tears to my eyes) said, "Honey, I just want you to be happy." I don't think I've ever felt so small in my life. She had a grace and a love that I still can't comprehend, to which I can only wistfully aspire.
I should add that, when Mother and Daddy met Joanna the following year, they immediately fell in love with her. Mother wasn't just a wonderful mother; she was a doting and loving mother-in-law as well. It was the love my parents showed to her that was instrumental in Joanna's decision, a few years later, to give her life to Christ.
This morning, my sister Patsy texted me, "They were good parents, and they were well-suited for each other, weren't they?" Yes, 59 years of marriage, and Daddy always felt that was way too little. He never got over losing Mother, and they're together in eternity now, as we shall be with them one day.
One of my favorite possessions is a note Daddy wrote to me - on behalf of both of them - at Christmas 1960, when I was 9. When I opened the box that supposedly contained my Christmas present, all I found inside was a smaller box; and when I opened that one, I found another box, even smaller. I had to open several boxes until I finally found the present - my first wristwatch. Attached to it was a note, which I keep on my desk today, almost 60 years later: "Merry Christmas and lots of love. You had to remove several wrappings to get to this gift, but you see, life is like that. You often have to work long and hard to reach the best things in life. Your mother and daddy want you to keep on searching until you reach God's purpose for your life. You will find it in the center of God's will."(Uh-oh, more tears!)
What a great lesson to learn - it's taken years of experience for me to learn the truth and value of that lesson.
Robert Parham, founder and executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics, passed away Sunday, March 5, following a long illness. Robert was a Baptist prophet who leaves behind a body of work remarkable for its breadth, its depth, and its impact on not only Baptist life but the lives of the marginalized worldwide. It can truly be said of Robert Parham that he followed the Jesus model and "went about doing good." (Acts 10:38) I had the privilege of counting Robert as both a friend and colleague in Baptist work, and I'll miss him, as will countless others. Christian ethics has lost one of its most courageous, eloquent, tireless, and effective advocates and voices. The best tribute I can pay to Robert is to share with you a few of Robert's own words, as published on EthicsDaily.com over recent years, with links to the articles in which those words appeared. Quotes from 25 articles follow. May Robert Parham's legacy live on in the work, attitudes, and lives of those of us he touched.
Our mission is "challenging people of faith to advance the common good." We think the best way for us to do this is through resourcing and speaking to congregational leaders and congregations. - Remember what EthicsDaily.com's mission is, how we pursue it, 2/21/2017 We, the founders of the Baptist Center for Ethics (BCE), saw a door with the collapse of the moderate control of the Southern Baptist Convention and the radical right turn of its moral concerns agency. We went through the door without the faintest sense of what was on the other side. - Behold an open door to EthicsDaily.com readers, 11/22/2016 Wouldn't it be refreshing and rewarding to focus on collaboration for the common good? - Join in 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation in 2017, 11/4/2016 One would hope that the Pentagon video is wrong, that religious conflict will not be part of a "defining element in the social landscape." Christianity and other religions have an alternative narrative to conflict. It's advancing the common good through collaboration. - Security issues may increase on Church's agenda if Pentagon is right, 10/25/2016 We hope that our new documentary, "The Disturbances," will increase the awareness in churches about genocide and encourage churches to be 'watchmen on the gate.' - Preventing genocide will benefit from Christian, Jewish teamwork, 9/23/2016 Christians and Muslims have different sacred books, different religious holidays, different faith practices. But we do share in common the faith commandment to seek the welfare of others. We need not agree doctrinally to do the right thing. - As 9/11 nears, Christians can build bridges with Muslims, 9/2/2016 This is an incredible story about ruin and redemption, blood and boldness, denial and dedication, guilt and goodness. "The Disturbances" is both horrifying and inspiring. - Telling for the first time horrifying and inspiring stories of Christian engagement, 8/11/2016 At its best, protest is a form of moral critique. It has long been part of the American tradition, especially the Baptist heritage. Not all protests or protesters are righteous, however. - How the Church can speak up for the Thin Blue Line, 7/12/2016 The mother of the moderate movement is unmistakably Babs Baugh. She showed tenacity and courage. - Observations on CBF's 25th anniversary, 6/30/2016 We're going to have to break the chains of political ideology and loyalty, the prejudice of cultural heritage, the inherited list of church priorities. We're going to need to recover a much more robust commitment to the biblical message that teaches us that we - and those we dislike - are created in the image of God. - Mass shooting calls Christians to prioritize the fingerprints of God, 6/14/2016 She said they wanted me to heal them. Parham as faith healer! Now that made me uncomfortable. After all, I don't believe in faith healing. I felt ashamed later on. I should have had the faith to pray boldly for their healing, knowing that healing comes from the hand of God, not my words. Lord, forgive my ignorance and arrogance. - Fragments that have shaped my world view over 25 years, 4/26/2016 When we got back to the hotel, my daughter asked me: Why did that woman in the hat keep writing down everything you said? Yes, Dorothy Patterson was there, spec hunting, taking notes. Hoping I would say something that she and her SBC colleagues could use against me and the BWA. That experience is a lot more humorous today than then! - Recalling light-hearted moments over 25 years, 3/29/2016 Lebanon has an estimated 1.2 million Syrian refugees. The United States might permit 12,000 by the end of 2016. Big difference: 1.2 million vs. 12,000. - The tale of two Baptist responses on Syrian refugees, 12/1/2015 As a deepwater Baptist, I know no Baptist speaks for other Baptists. I certainly don't speak for the readers of EthicsDaily.com. I have always spoken to Baptists and our readers. I have always clarified and emphasized when speaking to the press this treasured tradition among goodwill Baptists. - 4 reasons to support Iran nuclear agreement, 8/28/2015 Trump's statements are unkind, untruthful and unbiblical. Trump's immigration plan is also unworkable. . . . We don't need political fantasy, political rhetoric. We need workable solutions. We need bipartisan collaboration to reform American immigration policy. - Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric runs counter to biblical witness, 8/19/2015 While Baptists claim to be people of the book, we have glossed over the book's message about the environment. Yes, even moderate Baptists, my own village, skirt the issue. - Praise be for Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, 6/10/2015 Anti-religious cartoons and spiteful bus ads may legally qualify as expressions of free speech. That doesn't mean they qualify as morally responsible speech. Morally responsible speech is truthful, civil, respectful. - Let's not confuse freedom of speech with moral rightness, 5/11/2015 Advancing equal pay for women, paying a living wage and sharing the tax burden are morally reasonable commitments, worthy of church advocacy. - Economic inequality is pressing challenge for the Church, 2/3/2015 Ending modern slavery is an issue around which many rank-and-file churches could collaborate. Given the ideological polarization within many U.S. churches, finding common ground issues is critical, especially where tangible common good can be achieved. - Global religious leaders pledge to eradicate modern slavery, 12/9/2014 Let's reclaim our heritage as human rights advocates. Let's help congregants know that history by observing Human Rights Day in December and know how human rights is Jesus' agenda. - Observe Human Rights Day in December; "It is our baby", 11/18/2014 Focus on how Robertson uses the Bible. Clearly, he cherry-picks selected passages. He ignores the Sermon on the Mount with no citation of Jesus' teachings related to making peace. - "Duck Dynasty" patriarch's Phil Robertson plan for ISIS sounds like holy war, 9/9/2014 It was a gift some years ago from the staff. They titled it "Robertisms (Or: How to Speak BCE)."
Example One: "If the horse is dead, dismount."
Example Two: "That dog don't hunt."
Example Three: "What's the next wrinkle?"
Example Four: "Let's apply some stress to the situation."
Example Five: "We need to leaven that lump."
. . . They certainly highlight my own redundancy, shorthand, wacky framing when it comes to organizational planning and strategizing about social change. - Learn to speak BCE, 8/8/2014 With so many pressing issues--the Middle East, Ukraine, the flood of undocumented children into the U.S.--American Christians might be tempted to turn away from Africa. Let's hope, instead, we find a way to cross the road to help our neighbors in urgent need. - Prayer, action needed in response to Ebola virus outbreak, 7/31/2014 When I started out, the challenge was how to get more churches engaged in social change through Christian citizenship—political engagement. Now the challenge is how to keep politics from invading and crippling congregations. - Keeping secular politics out of the sanctuary, 6/19/2014 McGee and Stassen spent years toiling in the Southern Baptist vineyard when fundamentalists were breathing fire and brimstone about liberalism in seminaries and universities. Fundamentalists falsely accused them of not believing the Bible, a nasty canard given the fact that both men were so thoroughly Christ-centered in their moral agenda, unlike the fundamentalists who favored Leviticus over the Sermon on the Mount. - A tribute to two ethics professors: Hearing vanished voices, thinking about tomorrow, 4/30/2014
Twenty years ago this afternoon, around 1:30, Daddy called and
said simply,"Bill, she's
My dear mother had passed away. We had been expecting it for a
long time, but you're never ready for the finality of it all.
Vivian Louise Otting Jones was born on March 16, 1906, in Miami
Indian Territory, a year before it became part of the new state of Oklahoma.
She was just two days short of her 45th birthday when I was born, and just 12
days short of her 91st birthday when she went home to be with her Lord.
In a sense, it seems hard to believe it's been 20 years. Yet in
another sense, it seems forever (and for her, of course, it's been an eternity
Mother was the second oldest of 12 children – eight girls and four
boys. Each of the four oldest daughters was assigned one of the younger girls and
given the responsibility to watch over her. Mother's 'child' was her sister Betsy,
and they remained exceptionally close until Mother's death. In fact, in the
last weeks of Mother's life, as she shut down . . . quit eating . . . . quit
responding, obviously just waiting for God to call her home, Aunt Betsy came
and stayed, helping Daddy to take care of her; she was there with them when
Mother took her last breath.
Aunt Betsy passed away last fall; it was an honor to be at her
memorial service and share with her children and grandchildren in celebrating the life of someone who had meant so much to our family, especially to Mother.
Mother and Daddy were married for over 59 years; yet Daddy, who
lived for another 10 years after her passing, always said that those 59 years
just weren't enough. Theirs was a special marriage, and Patsy and I were
blessed to be part of such a loving home.
Mother was a strong woman. In an age when women typically were
known as "housewives" or "homemakers," Mother worked
full-time well into her 60s. In 1943, she found herself left at home to take
care of their 1-1/2-year-old daughter as Daddy served over 2 years as an Army
chaplain in the European Theatre under General Patton's command.
When Daddy returned home after the war ended, he pastored small
churches while attending Southwestern Seminary, majoring in Christian Ethics
under T. B. Maston; although Mother worked full-time, and Daddy sometimes worked
part-time jobs that supplemented his pastor's salary, there was not exactly a
surplus of food in the pantry.
Patsy recalls how Mother"always
supported Daddy in his ministry - all those every-Sunday lunches that she
hosted for his preacher boys when we lived in Montague"(where Daddy pastored First Baptist
worked full-time, of course, took care of us children, sewed many of my
clothes, did more than her share of church work, and must have longed for a
weekend where she could let down some. We had so little money, but she could
feed those hungry guys (and a couple of wives) without too much expense by
cooking a small roast and, then, adding lots of mayonnaise, boiled eggs, and
pickle relish to make roast salad. And it was delicious to boot!!! She was a
great cook. She told wonderful family stories and was so much fun! Stephanie
always said that Mother was her party Grandma because she loved to plan tea
parties and wienie roasts for us."
I remember when I called Mother and Daddy, my senior year at OBU in the spring of 1973, to tell them I
was dating a Chinese girl from Hong Kong. But I need to back up a little; when we moved to
Kansas City, MO, in 1962, Mother took a job at Bethany Baptist Church. She was church clerk and also was secretary to our music minister, Richard Lin, who was on a
leave of absence from OBU while studying for his doctorate at the conservatory
at University of Missouri-Kansas City. During the next year, until the Lins
returned to Oklahoma, our families became close friends; their three sons and I would trade off almost every Sunday, with me spending the afternoon at their house or them at mine. Where did I learn to love Chinese cooking? At Julia Lin's dining table on Sunday afternoons. Their little daughter, Anita, was still little, several years younger than her brothers. With Richard Lin
leading the music and Julia singing in the choir, Mother volunteered
to sit with Anita in the Sunday morning service every
week. It had been a long time since Mother had a little daughter, as Patsy was
already out of college and married by this time. So Mother simply doted on
little Anita and really loved the time she got to spend with her.
So back to my story. I called Mother and Daddy to tell them about
this girl, Joanna Wong, I was dating at OBU. Mother was on the bedroom phone,
and Daddy on the kitchen phone, or vice-versa. As they told me the story in
later years, as soon as they hung up the phone, they ran to meet each other in
the hallway, and Mother blurted out,"We're
going to have Chinese grandbabies!"
Well, they were putting the cart a little ahead of the horse, but they turned
out to be right. Joanna and I celebrated 40 years of marriage this past
September, and those "Chinese grandbabies" are now 35 and 31!
Mother & Daddy with their 'Chinese grandbabies,' Alison & Travis (1991)
Most of all, I remember a gentle, loving Mother who was always
ready to sacrifice for her family. She wanted nothing more than for her family
to be happy. She was a committed Christian, always serving in the church,
teaching Sunday School, GAs, YWAs, and so forth. I remember when I was maybe 9
or 10, asking her why we were Baptist. Mother had grown up in a Presbyterian
home but had eventually become a Baptist after meeting and marrying Daddy.
Anyway, when I asked her why we were Baptist, she had a very
simple, yet profound, answer:"Because
Baptists believe the Bible."And
Mother believed the Bible, and she was a devoted follower of Jesus.
Twenty years today! In June, it will be 10 years since Daddy passed
away. Patsy and I, and our families, have been blessed. They made a loving home
for all of us, and their influence, their legacy, lives on, and will for generations