Thank you to everyone who has come to pay their respects to MY Dad. Today, our family and friends gathered here mourn for OURselves….for OUR loss…. And NO one feels this any more than my beautiful mother…. The woman who gladly devoted 55 years of her life - loving and taking care of MY dad. My mother has lost the man she has unfailingly loved more than herself for most of her life.
That love was reciprocal… my Dad ADORED my mother… it all started at a Halloween party in the early 1960’s… I believe it was love at first sight - and if he could, Dad would tell you every detail of their love story… because he remembered EVERY detail… and he would gladly recite it to anyone who was interested in hearing about it… This was surprising because dad was actually pretty - “unromantic” according to typical “romance standards.” As a matter of fact, their honeymoon consisted of driving over to see the Grafton dam, and then they went to my Grandmother’s house to milk cows. End of honeymoon.
We might think it was the uniform – and travel opportunities… that attracted her. Dad spent 20 years in the US Army, and we lived (were stationed) in Louisiana, Germany, New Jersey, Maryland, and North Carolina. Those tours were interspersed with tours in Vietnam and Korea. My father was extremely proud of his military service and my mother (and I) were so proud to share it. It was during his tour in Aberdeen, MD that I met my future husband Philip Mercer, who I would end up marrying 34 years later. God certainly has a way of making long range plans, doesn’t he?
But, come to think of it, there wasn’t a lot of romantic glamour in those military years either… I can remember money was tight – and mom would open 3 cans of vegetables, and the three of us would share those 3 cans of whatever she opened…for 2 meals… but I never, EVER, remember being hungry. MY Dad always made sure food was on the table and mom would make sure it was cooked to perfection….
Somewhere between 1970 and 1972, Dad found a 55 acre farm here in Barbour County, – and invested in their (our) future. They made payments on the farm, and after Dad retired from the US ARMY, he embarked on a second career with the State of West Virginia. Dad joked and said when retired from the State – he was going to get a job with the County and retire from there too. He was a truck driver…for the WV Department of Highways Equipment Division. He loved it. Every week he would travel the beautiful WV hills, delivering equipment and fuel across the state. He could tell you how many bluebird houses were located along Route 50 between Bridgeport hill and the Ohio state line. You see, my dad LOVED animals… of every kind…
Cows, horses, deer, rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, dogs, cats…you name it – he loved it. My daughter and I laughed Monday night – over the fact that Dad bought two horses for his grandchildren to ride…and all the associated equipment such as saddles, blankets, bridles, bits, etc., then….he wouldn’t let them ride the horses because he was afraid the horses would step in a groundhog hole and hurt themselves (because you see - he got to the point he even protected all the groundhogs because they might have babies). Over the years he became so tenderhearted… that he just loved and appreciated nature’s creatures – he fed the deer instead of hunting them. He could barely bring himself to eat deer, or beef, and for some reason, there was just something wrong about every porkchop or chicken breast mom fixed him. It put mom in a difficult spot because he nixed a lot of vegetables too… claiming “the Army did him out” on this or that…especially green leafy vegetables liked spinach. Instead he maintained a treasure trove of candy that he raided throughout the day…and sometimes throughout the night. I think that’s what kept him so sweet.
I, on the other hand, could do no wrong in the culinary department, or any other department for that matter. Mom would make cookies….dad wouldn’t touch them. Mom would bring those same cookies to my house….and my dad would devour them like they were the greatest things since sliced bread. It was the same with fruit, or anything else. He had a way of making me feel so extra-special. Dad and I had special dates…every week. Since I work,… every Saturday morning – we had a coffee date. He’d let me sleep in, then about 10:00 he’d come strolling in to see “IF” I had any coffee made, which of course, I did. The past few years, he’d plop down in our recliner and I’d serve him coffee on a TV tray, along with a banana, or whatever I happened to have available. He’d always act like I just presented him with gold. Then he would doze off to sleep.
But let’s go back to the romantic department for a minute. Christmas shopping. Dad would tell me, we need to go shopping for your mother. I loved and cherished these trips. I wish my mom could have been on them to see how romantic he actually was. He would pick out an outfit and you could see him envisioning her wearing it….your mom would look sooooo pretty in this…. Or this color would look so pretty on your mom. This - from the man who didn’t notice when she got her hair cut…or permed, or what she was wearing when HE left the house….or at least didn’t let on that he noticed. But let HER leave for five minutes and he was lost.
I could talk and talk and talk…about my Dad. And what he meant to me…. The things I love about him…. One time…a long time ago…I tried singing a song to him….and I couldn’t get through it without crying…. Today, I’ll read a verse from the song..
I remember daddy's hands how they held my mama tight
And patted my back for something done right
There are things that I'd forgotten that I loved about the man
But I'll always remember the love in daddy's hands
Beyond a shadow of a doubt – my dad loved my mom – and each and every member of his entire family. He was so proud of each and every one of us…especially his great grandbabies.
I think THAT is what my mother fell in love with… and what has sustained our family…. My dad’s complete and total love for us, …his devotion to us… his allegiance to us and to those things greater than ourselves, like his country, like his Church, and like his Lord Savior Jesus Christ. I know God has embraced my father and welcomed him to Heaven Friday…
And I’ve heard my mom say repeatedly – Heaven got a good man, Heaven got a REAL GOOD man. We love you Daddy.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you on this very difficult day! Please know that we both are here to help with anything you need or just to listen over a cup of coffee.
The first time that we met Lynn & Wilma, I knew immediately just what a special and wonderful family Sarah has. Of course if you can't tell that by just meeting Sarah for the first time, there is something wrong!!! We felt as though we had known the whole family for years and years. And you just can't say enough good things about Karen and Phil. What a great honor it is to be friends with such an amazing and giving family.
If I alone, could take your pain and sorrow away for your loss, I would certainly do so. God Bless all of you and keep you safe.
Debbie and Dave