“What time is it in Texas?” and Other Words of Wisdom from a Great Man

The last post made here at this little blog was on December 5. It was the usual snarky snark, a quick cherry bomb lob about politics. Little did I know that almost four hours later, my father would be gone.

I’ve written this post at least a dozen times in my head the last week or so. If it rambles a bit, indulge me. There’s never enough to be said.

December started out as usual: the monumental lists of things to do/buy/wrap/bake/decorate/sing/eat/wear and the usual moaning of not enough time/money/elbow grease/cleaning supplies to get it all done.

All that came to a screeching halt that afternoon when my sister-in-law called. My dad had a heart attack at home and was being transported to the hospital. In just a few hours, despite the heroic efforts of the ER staff, he was gone.

The next weeks were a blur.

After the funeral, Christmas quietly came and went. Many say the first holiday is the hardest, and boy, this one was tough. The rawness of the empty chair at every gathering weighed bittersweet as we shared our favorite memories.

Over those days, many talked of Dad’s propensity for telling jokes. Not dirty or off-color stuff, just corny. He’d rework them to try to snag you again and again. One lady told of how he’d ask her almost every week at church, “What time is it in Texas?” She’d said she didn’t know and he’d always answer “10 to 9,” forever remembering the Bulldogs victory over Texas in the ’84 Cotton Bowl.

Image 1 In the mid-1950’s, a handsome young man finished his service in the USAF and returned home to Jonesboro. His parents had moved to Jonesboro from Grant Park. He was the youngest of twelve children. His older brothers served in WWII in Europe and the Pacific. One sister was a WAVE. The highlight of family reunions in the years to come was listening to the brothers share their war stories. And golf stories, lots of golf stories, but more about that later. He worked in communications and was stationed around the US, including Ft. Hood in Waco, TX. When it was time to re-up, his CO wanted to send him to flight school, but Daddy said, “No thanks, I’m done.”

Scan 80Not long after returning home, he met the whirlwind girl that would become his wife and my mother. They were married in August in the un-air-conditioned Methodist church in Jonesboro. Evidently it was the social event of the little town’s sweltering summer. The wedding pictures were lovely. Everyone glistened with happiness. Four years later I came along and after another four years, little brother (known around here as “Obi”) arrived. He was a quiet man. He parented by example more than words. He could be firm (in later years we called it stubborn). I thought he was the meanest man in the world when he wouldn’t take me to see The Beatles when they visited Atlanta in 1965. Never mind that I was only 7. Only when I became a parent myself did I understand that he was protecting me from being trampled by the riot of screaming teenage girls that descended on Atlanta that weekend.

As we grew up, he came to all our ball games, concerts and golf tournaments. He especially liked attending UGA games while me and little brother attended the university. There were bumps in the road, of course, anytime you raise rambunctious teenagers there are bumps, but he handled them more calmly than most.Scan 64 He even welcomed an impromptu rolling Redcoat Band party that descended on their little house, playing the perfect host to a hoard of rambunctious twenty-something’s.

As me and my brother met and married our spouses, we saw another side of Daddy. After a breaking-in period, he welcomed them to his family as his own son and daughter. As Father of the Bride and my brother’s Best Man, he outshone us both. Put a tuxedo on that man, and he looked like a movie star.

Scan 21Then the grandkids came along. He beamed with pride. He had a special way of making each feel special and loved. At the funeral, when my boy WeeHighlander TurnedCollegeFratBoy spoke, he started with, “I was the favorite grandchild.” Then Obi’s Eldest, RockStarInTraining, stood up and said, “No, I was the favorite.” Then Obi’s LeastUn, PrincessSoccerStar, piped up and said the same. Then my eldest, GradSchoolHornGirl, standing at the lectern for support of her brother, just shook her head with that look that said SHE was the favorite. Just like with us, he attended as many of their birthday parties, ballgames, concerts, tournaments as he could. He’d sit quietly in the midst of the bedlam and would tell corny jokes to whomever he could reel in.

Image 6He was the World’s Greatest Braves Fan; watching or listening to every game, every season, win or lose. Outside of Georgia, most of America doesn’t know about the long-running love-hate relationship with the Braves and their fans. But he was pulling for them, even when they were in the bottom of their division. And they were there alot, after the glory days of the early to mid-1990’s.

Scan 60Dad was an avid golfer. He attended many Masters Tournaments and other PGA tournaments in the Atlanta area. When he was a member of East Lake Country Club, he won his flight in a member’s tournament. The prize was a shiny all leather golf bag. After a day of play, he’d bring home his scorecard and recount shot by shot how he beat and/or took his buddy’s quarters on each hole. He was especially proud of shooting a ‘2’ on a hole and he’d brag on those. His devotion to golf, and the gentlemanly behavior that the sport strives to instill in its students brings to mind the scripture Obi read at the funeral. In Galatians, Paul speaks of running the good race. For Dad, it was always shooting for par. Then Paul goes on,

Galations 5 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

That was Dad. Quiet, loving, sometimes stern and firm, kind, generous. He loved America and expressed his concern repeated about the path the nation was on. His patriotism lives on in his family.

ImageLast August, I took Mom & Dad out for their 59th Anniversary. We talked about the grandkids, neighbors, the Braves, doctor’s appointments, Hub’s new church, schedules, and I tried to convince them to travel to NY with us in the spring for GradSchoolHornGirl’s Master Recital and possibly attending her commencement as well. Everybody has hindsight, and with me, knowing this was the last meal where I’d have them all to myself, I wish we’d talked of less mundane things.

Thinking over the fall months the last few weeks, I believe he knew something was up and his time was growing short. He was tidying up his life, saying small goodbyes here and there. Things we didn’t catch in the daily hoopla, but looking back, we see them. Longer hugs, quiet I Love You’s, stories you’d never heard before, the way you’d catch him looking at you from across the room. Small, unexpected gifts.

The Friday night after his death, I woke up from a startling dream. Some people don’t put much stock in dreams, but it comforted me and to this day it is as vivid as it was that night. Uncle Henry and Uncle Marvin were walking down a gentle hill in some beautiful place, lush green, trees, blue sky, the sun behind their backs. There was a noise in the background. At first I thought it was birds, but after thinking about it a good bit, I think it was the crunch of cleats on a golf course cart path. My uncles were younger, like when I was a young girl. There is a spring, an urgency, to their step. As they walk closer, you see them talking. They say, “We’ve got to find Jerry, Carol is here.” That’s when I woke, sitting straight up in my bed. Daddy was OK.

Goodbye, my sweet Daddy. While I will miss you the rest of my days, I know that I’ll see you again. Thank you for your life, your example, your quiet witness and your love.

Scan 10

RIP Margaret Thatcher

thatcherFormer Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher died this morning, according to a statement by her children.

Ronnie is meeting her at the Pearly Gates, saying “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Stunning News: Andrew Breitbart Died Last Night

Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012

H/T Gateway Pundit.

From Big Hollywood:

With a terrible feeling of pain and loss we announce the passing of Andrew Breitbart.

Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles.

We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.

Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.

Andrew recently wrote a new conclusion to his book, Righteous Indignation:

I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.

Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.

Andrew is at rest, yet the happy warrior lives on, in each of us.

Jeff Emanuel at RedState:

Andrew was larger than life in many ways. A huge man with an even bigger personality (and a still bigger family), he was kind and generous to a fault, and had a level of dedication and tenacity that few of us will ever be able to understand.

Though he was viewed by many on the left as the reincarnation of the Prince of Darkness himself – a persona he worked very hard to maintain – Andrew was a kind man who cared as passionately about for his fellow man as he did for the conservative cause.

Indeed. I met him only once, at CPAC 2011. He was charming and just as attentive to me, in our few minutes chatting, as he was to the BigBlogGuys.

Words fail. Please pray for the Breitbart family.

UPDATE: Ed has video of Andrew waxing his usual eloquence on the Pigford fiasco, along with new information that Andrew collapsed while walking outside his home around midnight. EMT’s were unable to revive him. So, so sad.

Erick says “a supernova has gone dark.” (Cross-posted at PeachPundit) What a perfect description of Andrew.

What I admired most about Andrew was his willingness to be the lightening rod despite criticism from both the left and the right. He was the lightening rod and when lightening struck, Andrew used the brilliant flash of light to direct everyone’s attention to precisely what he wanted them to see. He was a master at it. The attention he garnered was never about getting attention for himself, but using the attention to tell the story and share the news he wanted told and shared.

Prayers for James Joyner and his family

I met James Joyner, editor of Outside the Beltway, at CPAC 2009. What a nice guy.

It was a great shock to learn that James’ wife, Kimberly, passed away in her sleep over the weekend. They were still practically newlyweds, having just celebrated their sixth anniversary. They have two daughters, Katie, almost 3 and Ellie, 5 months.

Keep James and his girls in your utmost prayers. He will need constant support not only now, but in the years to come.

Last WWI Veteran Dies

Via WSBRadio:

Frank Buckles, who lied about his age to get into uniform during World War I and lived to be the last surviving U.S. veteran of that war, has died. He was 110.

Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died peacefully of natural causes early Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said in a statement. Buckles turned 110 on Feb. 1 …

Frank Buckles was an advocate for establishing a national memorial to WWI veterans. Sadly the current monument has fallen into disrepair. The National Parks Service has dedicated over $7 million to restore the monument and surrounding grounds to its rightful place of honor in time for the WWI centennial in 2014.

Pershing’s Last Patriot is a movie made of Frank’s extraordinary life that will be released in 2011.

Oh, the history he witnessed. Now he’s gone on to his rest and reward.

Farewell, Snaggletoothie

The blogosphere mourns the loss of snaggletoothie. Chris Monson passed away Friday, after complications following a seizure.

He called his blog “The Blog of NO”. The motto was:

Because someone must stand between civilization and chaos and say, “No more today, thanks.”

Indeed so. He will be missed.

Oh the Sadness – Royal Marshall is Gone

Royal Marshall, one of the producers of the Neal Boortz radio show, passed away unexpectedly Saturday. Royal was one of those lucky folks, on the list of “friends I’d not met yet.” But after of years of listening to him, on his own show, and as Neal’s sidekick and sometimes the voice of reason, he was always a part of my day. His wit just sparkled though the speakers.

“He had an easy way with people and was very comfortable with the mic,” said Jamie Bendall, who owns The Punchline comedy club. “I thought he was a natural.”

Mr. Boortz and Ms. [Belinda] Skelton were still emotional, finding it hard to speak of their friend even hours after his death.

“My heart is just completely broken,” Mr. Boortz, weeping, said when he called in to speak on a special radio show Saturday afternoon to memorialize Mr. Marshall.

Mr. Boortz said he told his wife, ‘Darn it, I loved him like a brother.’”

She replied, “ ‘You loved him like a son. He was like a son to you that you never had.’”

I can only feel a deep sadness for the loss. He leaves behind a wife and two very young daughters.

Neal will speak at the funeral.

Boo got shot is classic Royal. More comments/memories at PeachPundit.

Oh, What Could Have Been

Paul Westerdawg has a nice tribute to the late John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach and almost Bulldawg.

Angels Say The Darnedest Things

Art Linkletter died yesterday at the ripe age of 97.

What a life. A poor orphan, he became one of America’s most beloved personalities. He was married to his wife, Lois, for 75 years. He is survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. A daughter and two sons preceded him in death.

He believed humor was best when unscripted.

His greatest legacy was the concept of allowing children to provide the spontaneous humor for a show, instead of professional entertainers with memorized lines.

On his daytime TV variety program “House Party,” which aired from 1952 to 1970, Mr. Linkletter asked children simple questions. He asked one boy: “What do your parents do for fun?”

“I don’t know,” the boy replied. “They always lock the door.”

In all, Mr. Linkletter interviewed more than 27,000 children, and the segment was later reprised in 1998 as a full-length show on CBS hosted by Bill Cosby called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Looking back, Mr. Linkletter said he wanted kids to just be kids but in doing so unintentionally “invented reality TV.”

We had a copy of his book, Kids Say The Darnedest Things, in my childhood home. I’d practice my reading with him. And laugh.

A classic:

He asked one girl: “What do you think would make a perfect husband, Karen?”

“A man that provides a lot of money, loves horses, and will let you have 22 kids and doesn’t put up a fight,” Karen said.

“And what do you think you’ll be when you grow up?”

“A nun.”

After a long, full life, he went to this reward.

Linkletter died at his home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, said his son-in-law, Art Hershey, the husband of Sharon Linkletter.

“He lived a long, full, pure life, and the Lord had need for him,” Hershey said.

Indeed. There is a special place in heaven for those who love the laughter of children. Rest well, old friend.

UPDATE: A sweet tribute from Deacon Greg (h/t The Anchoress).

UPDATE II: Linked by The Anchoress!

Fred Mills, RIP

Very, very sad news – Fred Mills, outstanding trumpeter passed away yesterday in a car accident.

He joined the UGA music faculty in 1996 after a stellar 24 year career with the Canadian Brass.

The last time I heard him perform, it was with the Bulldog Brass Quintet. He made the trumpet sound like a delicate, fluttering butterfly. He will be missed.

Damn good Dawg.

Trying to Conjure Up Some Sympathy for Ted Kennedy. Trying Hard. Nah. Not Gonna Happen.

Today I splurged a bit on a pedicure. It has been months since I felt I could indulge, considering the economy, the belt-tightening and all. Sadly, my experience was tainted by the prominent TV splashed with Brian Williams blathering on and on and on and on about the legacy of Ted Kennedy. The boat anchored in the harbor. The quiet family compound. The pictures. The wives. The pundits. The neighbors. On and on and on and ON.

Mary-Jo-Kopechne-Pic-Tombstone-560
(picture via Bob Belvedere)

The only mention I heard of Mary Jo Kopechne in my brief time at the nail salon was as background to grainy black and white film of Ted and wife Joan attending her funeral. You know, the funeral HE caused.

Bob also said (Kennedy was always his senator),

I fully expect the Left to exploit his death in their endeavours to socialize health care. They have no shame, as they have well shown [if there was any doubt] these past few months, and will use any means necessary, including the death of their beloved standard bearer, to effect the passage of this monstrous plan. They have no honor.

Stacy notes the liberal spin even upon death.

The media will forgive liberals anything. Just look at the passive-voice construct in his obit: “an accident that left a young woman dead.”

Forgiven by the media, liberals are shameless about such things. And so, in subsequent years, Americans were often subjected to the shameful spectacle of Ted Kennedy, the Chappaquiddick swim champ, lecturing us in moralistic tones about this, that and the other.

Whenever Kennedy would inflict his pompous self-righteous liberal moralizing on us, I’d always hear Ann Coulter’s immortal words: “Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.”

Michelle Malkin urges conservatives to be respectful of the dead. That’s a fine and noble idea, and I urge the same as well, but the liberals will even then find a way to mock us because we’re trying to be the grown-up in the room by respecting one of theirs. They certainly would NOT return the courtesy.

The Anchoress, thoughtful as always, has a wonderful round-up of all sorts of thoughts regarding Ted. The Lord is indeed merciful. Examining his life, like the rest of us, will

…expose deep flaws and surprising episodes of generosity.

Jimmie notes that Ted pursued the finest of health care for himself (all the while he was trying to relegate the rest of the nation to a rationed plan) and urges us to follow his example.

Ace remembers that Kennedy actually blocked health care reform in the 1970’s because of partisan politics.

Lance says that Dems are jumping on the bandwagon to name the health care boondoggle after him. (You just have to go there to read the rest but put your drink down first.)

Wow, Democrats must really have hated Sen. Kennedy, wanting to chain his name to a bill that’s going to fail so spectacularly.

Gateway Pundit: Chris Matthews says Barack is now the LAST Kennedy brother. Really. And that conservatives are insane and want to… maim, murder, kill, not tax the donuts… who knows what now. Matthews just makes it up as he goes. What a fruitcake.

UPDATE: Sigh. They are so predictable. Plus Obama can never turn down a chance to mug for the cameras. (h/t Gateway Pundit)

Cross-posted at Atlanta Politics Online.

UPDATE II: Gerard is on the same wavelength.

Goodbye, Robert Novak

Stacy has a great round-up of the accolades pouring in for Robert Novak. He passed away today after a long battle with brain cancer. Donald does the dirty work with a round-up of the seething hate from the left – they are so pathetic, they can’t even respect the dead.

One of the reasons I always liked to listen to Novak was he was always so quick on his feet, especially with an adversary. Sadly, his kind is a dying breed. My prayers are with the Novak family today and in the days to come.

robert novak

Passings

Two icons of the 70’s passed away today:

Michael Jackson at age 50 from cardiac arrest- remember the adorable boy with the powerful voice, not the strange being he became.

Farrah Fawcett at age 62 from cancer – every girl wanted to be her.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Staff Sgt. John Beales comes home (h/t Jason Pye – the video will not embed here. Must be more WordPress happiness. Go watch it there and have the kleenex ready). Jason had posted the procession route earlier – according to a commenter there were thousands lining the Georgia roads to salute this brave soldier on his final journey.

This is the America Obama wants to destroy.

Debutaunt’s Final Words

Debbie Greer-Costello, the blogger Debutaunt, passed away on May 18, 2009 after a long and courageous battle against leukemia. I never met her personally, but felt like a long-lost friend, laughing with her, crying with her, as I followed her journey.

This is her final post; created by her sister. She was big on giving out assignments and she leaves us a list of things to do. Do them for her.

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