Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nelson and Lela

"My parents were married for almost seventy years.  They lived through the depression, my Dad going to war, the birth of three children and countless times of not having enough money.  My father always kissed my mother hello and goodbye and held her hand when they rode in the car. They celebrated two anniversaries, November 15, the day they were married and March 9, the day they met.  Dad loved to tell the story of his first meeting with Mom.  His family was moving into the White Springs community and a low overhanging limb was blocking the truck.  His father sent him to the nearest house to borrow a saw.  The closest house happened to be my mother’s and she helped him find the tools to remove the limb.  They were 9 and 8 years old.  The date was March 9, 1924.
I asked my father what his secret was  for staying happily married for that long.  “Son,” he said.”Your mother and I had an agreement.  She was to handle all of the small decisions and I was to handle all the big decisions.  Luckily there hasn’t been a big decision yet.”
"Don’t marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can’t live without."
"Love is like penicillin shot.  It’s good for you, but you know it’s going to be a pain in the butt."
"No matter how many times you help bathe your mother or how many times you help feed her or help get her get dressed, it will always be at least one less time than she did those things for you."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nelson and the Flying Lesson

Dad and I were enjoying our usual Sunday morning drive.  I knew Dad missed attending church, but we both looked forward to our weekly adventures.  As we neared the river, Dad reached for his Coke and peanut butter crackers and said, “Tom, if I were going to ask you to learn to fly, would you take lessons from a bird or a mammal?”  My father is always asking quirky and thought provoking questions but this one seemed fairly straight forward.  “A bird,” I said confidently.  "Why would you do that?” he quizzed.  “Because a bird can fly,” I answered.  Dad paused, took a long drink from his Coke and said, “An ostrich is a bird and it can’t fly.  A bat is a mammal and it can.  It is not what someone is called that is important; it is what they can do.  Find out if someone can fly before you label them." How many people could teach us wonderful things if we took the time to find out if they “knew how to fly”?
"Don’t try to be famous, try to be unforgettable. People forget famous people. You can’t remember who won the Academy Award for best actress in 1963 but you remember your fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Cunningham."
"I don’t have enemies.  I just have friends I haven’t convinced yet."
"If someone offers you a gift, take it.  Do not deny them the joy of giving."
"You have to change in order to become better."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nelson and Working on Sunday

There are some ways I'm just like him
Some ways he was just like me
And sometimes when the mirror's dim
His face is clear to see
Tonight the winds of heaven
Blow the stars across the sky
I brought my father with me
I couldn't say goodbye

Michael Smith “I Brought My Father With Me”

Dad was never happy that my brother and I did not continue the family tradition of not working on Sunday.  When we were younger we were not even allowed to fish or swim on the “Lord’s Day”.  My parents took resting on the seventh day seriously and in the years after I left home, my not resting was cause for many interesting and ongoing discussions.  During one of these discussions, I decided to use the Bible to justify my cutting grass on Sunday.  “Dad, doesn’t the Bible say in Luke 14 that a person can get their ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath?”  “Yes, Son,” Dad responded. “The Bible does say you can get your ox out of the ditch on Sunday.  You just need to quit putting your ox in the ditch on Sunday.”

"It’s called work because it’s hard to do.  Even a mule backs up to do it."
"The road that brought you in here mad can take you out of here happy.  The direction you travel is up to you."
"Worry is like rocking in a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do but you don’t get anywhere by doing it."
"If you have a car, you will have car problems.  If you have an airplane, you will have airplane problems.  Problems are the cost of having things."
"Teachers, be nice to your A students, they will come back and teach. Be nice to your C students, they will be rich enough to build you a new school.  Be nice to all of your students, because some will be taking care of you in the nursing home.  Everyone you teach will eventually touch your life."
"Whose life will you change today?"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nelson and the Yellow Jackets

My younger brother Kenny went to see my parents a few years ago.  He had promised to help Dad do some projects around the house and this seemed like a good time of year to get them done.  My mother was working in the yard when he drove up.  “Where’s Dad?” he yelled as he was getting out of his truck.  “He was headed toward the barn about 15 minutes ago,” Mom responded. “I guess he’s working down there.”  Dad’s barn was built in the 1920’s and had seen its better days.  It was filled with a collection of “treasures” that Dad had accumulated over the years.  Approaching the barn, my brother could see Dad in the loft.  He was standing in the loft opening about 8 feet from the ground, holding a pitchfork and staring at the stacks of hay he was moving.  Suddenly he started swatting at his ears and immediately launched himself out of the loft.  He continued swatting and my brother says that he would swear Dad was trying to fly.  As he neared the ground, Dad tucked his legs, hit the ground with a thud, and came to rest at my brother’s feet.   “What’s wrong Dad?” my brother asked. “Don’t you know a 75 year old man shouldn’t be jumping out of the barn loft?  You could have killed yourself.”  Dad slowly got to his feet and brushed the grass from his pants.  “To tell you the truth Son, those yellow jackets never asked how old I was and they probably wouldn’t have cared if I’d told them.”
"You can’t cure stupid. You can hope they go into remission, but you can’t cure it."
"Some people are on a different level of smart."
"You won’t ever know if you built it too strong but you’ll know fairly quickly if you didn’t build it strong enough."

"Can’t never could do anything."
"If lifting weights is good for you, why are they called dumbbells?"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nelson's Bible (Conclusion)

“About a year ago I was in the auditorium at church and your dad was sitting in his usual seat.  I walked down the aisle and spoke to him.  ‘How are you doing Brother Nelson?’  I asked.  ‘Are you ready for a great morning service?’  ‘You know I am son.  Sit down. It’s a while until the service starts. That’s a nice Bible you have there.  Isn’t that the one your mother gave you when you and Tom were about 13?’  ‘Yes sir it is.’ I replied. ‘I have had this Bible my entire life,’  ‘It must be a good one’, he said. “Mine’s falling apart.’  “I looked at the worn, frayed book in his hands.  The cover was battered from being held by those calloused hands, the edges of the pages were torn from his fingers searching for just the right words.  There were stains on the pages, stains that could have been sweat from reading the Word after a hard day’s work or tears from comforting someone in need.  As my eyes moved to my Bible sitting on the pew, I thought about why our Bibles were different.  Your father taught me a great lesson that day.  In his own way he showed me that some people read the Bible and some people just carry it on Sundays.”  “Tom, Brother Nelson would be proud of me.  I am well on my way to wearing out my first Bible.”
"I say grace before every meal.  But most of the time only God and I know it."
"Belief is thinking that a chair will hold you up.  Faith is sitting in the chair."
"There is no right way to do the wrong thing."
"Live your life as if it is the only Bible someone will ever read."
"Don’t worry about what other people do.  It’s their little red wagon and they are going to have to pull it."
Tomorrow:Nelson and the yellow jackets

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nelson's Bible (Part 1)

The morning Dad passed away was a whirl of activity.  People were coming in and out the house and, being good Southern neighbors, everyone was bringing food.  I was numb and slowly beginning to get into survival mode.  I looked around the den and my eyes fell upon Dad’s Bible lying on the kitchen table.  It was battered and worn with many of the pages falling out.  You could tell it was well read and well loved.  I went across the room and picked it up.  This piece of my father’s life was the sum of everything that he lived for.  As I held it in my hand, I thought of all of the comfort that this book had given my family.  One of my lifelong friends had just arrived. “Isn’t that your father’s Bible?” he asked as he sat down at the table.  “I would recognize it anywhere.” “Yes it is,” I replied, pouring myself a cup of coffee.” “Well, actually it is his latest Bible.  There are three more worn out ones in his bedroom.” He laughed and reached for the Bible.  “Let me tell you a story about Brother Nelson,” he said as he gently picked up Dad's Bible.

"Churches should be hospitals for sinners, not museums for saints."

"Churches have stained glass windows so they don’t have to see what’s going on outside.
"If you have to tell people you are a Christian, then maybe you are trying to convince yourself.  If you really are, you shouldn’t have to tell them.  They should already know, because they have seen the way you live your life."
"The Lord provides for the sparrow, but he doesn’t drop the worm in his nest.  We all have to do in order to get."
"If someone tells me that they are going to pray for me, I let them.  I know I need the prayers and they may need to practice."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nelson and Shania

Dad and I were on our way to my brother’s farm.  Nothing special was on tap, Dad just needed to get out the house for a while.  I was deep in thought and he was staring out of the window of the truck.  When a new song came on the radio, Dad perked up.  “Isn’t that the one I like to watch sing?” he asked. My father was always interested in music but this comment surprised me. “Yes Dad. That’s Shania Twain.  I didn’t know you were into country music,” I said. “How do you know who sings that song?”  “I watch her on TV sometimes.  She’s real easy to look at.  You know God is good to all of us, but He was especially good to that young lady.”  “Yes He was, Dad.” I replied smiling.” Yes He was.”  After all, I am my father’s son.
"Your Uncle Cecil always said 'You can’t make men too rich, women too pretty, or coffee too strong'.”
"I like pretty women and I don’t like coffee. But both sure smell good."
"She’s not big, she’s just overfed."

"I wouldn’t take a million dollars for him and I wouldn’t give you a nickel for another one just like him."
"Good days or bad days depend on which side of the grass you are looking at.  If you are looking the top, it is a good day."
"'When saying something that is not flattering about someone, always end with 'Bless their heart'”.