This is the first time, since 1953, that I have not had a earthly father to wish Happy Father’s Day to. Pop moved to Heaven on March 16 of this year. It’s barely been 3 months since he left. When Mom died, it was hard and there was grieving, it took a while to realize she was really gone. Of course, she left suddenly and we had no time to prepare. I missed my Mom so much, but I didn’t feel alone…I still had my Pop. And, we continued all the traditions she had started. The whole family stayed close, and we included Pop in everything. We even held gatherings at his house so it would feel more comfortable for him.
Pop, even though he was 92, was still relatively healthy and as active as his daughters would allow him to be! (“No more driving, Pop!”…..”No sawing limbs out of the trees anymore, Pop!”) His illness was short lived, even though he had begun to slow down. He went into the hospital the first time in January. Back and forth, he was admitted 4 more times. Slowly declining, Joy and I, and her daughters, Tara and Lori were with him around the clock. He was on daily infusion treatments at home, on oxygen, and we had to continually regulate his meds according to heart and blood oxygen. What a blessing that 3 of us have medical training, and we were able to take care of all his treatments at home. He passed early in the morning with Joy and I on either side of him. There was no struggle, no pain…he just stopped breathing. We had prayed mightily that God would take him easily. And, He granted our request, for which we are eternally grateful.
The whole family gathered immediately…even our little boys. They watched as we went about the things that had to be done. We laid Pop back in his bed and all the grandchildren got to have some time with him before the funeral home arrived. The little boys got to see a family joined in love celebrating the life of their father. There were tears and there was sadness and there was happiness. We had the opportunity to teach the boys what death really means. Their daddy’s and mother’s spoke words of truth and wisdom to them. They explained the process and answered their questions. They explained that right that very minute their Papa Clyde was seeing Jesus! It was a beautiful time. Pop was ready to go home. He was tired and weak. He told us, “When God calls me, don’t make Him call me twice.” We knew his wishes, we knew how he felt and we honored that.
But, what I feel now is different from what I felt at Mom’s passing. I have no parents in this world anymore. I have a dear husband, who loves and cares for me. I have a sister who would be at my beck and call for anything, anytime. I have grown sons, who care for me. I have a dear d-i-l, who is more of a daughter to me. I have nieces and nephews who are very close to me. I have a grandson who loves me . I have friends that would come to me whenever I would call. But, I don’t have parents. I don’t have the folks who loved me first. I don’t have the ones who held me as a baby and raised me through the years. I don’t have the ones who instilled their values and morals and love into to me that made me the one I am today. I don’t have the ones I argued with because they wouldn’t let me grow up as fast as I wanted. I don’t have the ones who saw me make big mistakes and helped me deal with the consequences. I don’t have my Mama and my Pop.
This is not a bad or scary feeling, it is just different. And, a feeling so many of you know, too. It is really the first time I have felt ‘old’. My parents are gone…and now I am the eldest female in our family. I am so thankful that I know that I know that I know that my true home is in heaven. My parent’s true home, also. And, every member of my family. And, friends as close as family. This world is a place for us to serve God. It is a place for us to learn and grow. It is a place where God wanted us to be for a portion of our life. But, Praise God!, this is not our home. He has a place for me…with Him…and my Mom and my Pop, and all the loved ones who have already made the journey. We will be together again…for eternity. I bet my life on it.
My Pop was a man who loved to serve. He travelled extensively in South and Central America as a liaison to Southern Baptist missionaries and others. He built churches and radio stations. He gifted generators for light in dark places. Below with missionary Dick Greenwood.
He travelled the Amazon in a dugout canoe to get to villages deep in the jungles. He served as a handy man for the missionary’s wives…fixing stuck doors, replacing windows, building rabbit hutches, repairing washing machines…whatever they needed. He befriended the missionary kids and told them tales of great adventures. He served. And, his method of travel was a motorcycle…with a backpack, and a bedroll and a rain suit and a few changes of clothes.
He would go for months at a time. And wherever he went, people were blessed. He and mother travelled to Africa several times…they flew there. As they got older, they would travel together to South America by plane. Oh, how they loved missions and several of the missionaries became dear friends to them. One couple, the McGriffs, even attended Pop’s funeral. Another Missionary and his son who were especially close to Pop felt led to come and see him. They visited with him the day before he died. I sat and listened as they told stories and adventures they had together. This was Archie Jones, Sr and Jr.
Archie Jr, made several motorcycle trips with Pop, also. Pop’s mind was clear, as they talked. He recalled the most minute of details. This was one of the things he had asked God to grant him. He never wanted to lose his memories. And, until the very end, he had every one. This is not to say he wasn’t confused some at the end, but the confusion stemmed from the illness and the medication. God was so gracious and merciful.
Pop loved his grandchildren and spent much time with them He took them fishing…taught them all to ride motorcycles…was there always for support and guidance.
He was loyal to his friends and still kept in touch with boyhood buddies. One of his friends spoke these words of him. “He was a man who had two callings in life for sure: 1. To serve God and live with high morals and enormous faith and 2. To live, ride breathe, and travel on a motorcycle and help young people understand the complexities of life…”
My Pop loved his church, and served it faithfully through the years. He was a deacon, Sunday School director, worked with youth, was treasurer, and just about every other job there was. Here, he was honored as Sr. Adult of the year.
Oh, his church was special to him. He was a inspiration to young people and he poured into their lives with truth and wisdom and friendship.
He had a strong work ethic. And, he was not afraid to learn something new. I learned early on that if he gave you a job to do, he expected it to be done to the best of your ability. No excuses. He expected Joy and I to do chores at home. We even went to work with him and cleaned his office. But, he set the bar high for everything we did. We learned right and wrong. We learned about helping and serving. We travelled. He taught me to love books. He showed me the whole new world that books held inside. Things to think about that you had never thought about. He attended lectures and talks with me from different authors who spoke at Samford University. But, we went to other talks that were not on the Baptist campus. And we read the books and listened to them speak. We discussed our feelings. He valued my thoughts. And, then we decided if it was ‘all wet’ (as he would say) or whether the point was valid. My opinion did not have to be the same as his. This has stayed with me. I love to get books and learn new things. Some ideas are taken and some are discarded, but I can find out for myself if it is valid or not. To me, that is a very important tool to have to live a well rounded life, taking others thoughts and actions into account, then deciding what is right for you.
Pop was a small man. 5’3″…115 pounds. But, it mattered not. He told us that anyone could do anything if they set their mind to it. The only limit was in your mind. He taught us to believe that…down in our souls. “Step out on faith. Be bold.” he would say. “Yes, you can.” “Follow your dreams…have adventures…don’t be afraid to try” he would say. “Put God first, always, He will guide you and open doors for you,” he said. Even when he was living on one meal a day, before he married, he tithed what he made. “You can never out give God,” was one of his favorite sayings.
All these things are seared into me and Joy, and the grandchildren. He lived what he talked. He poured into our children and they soaked it up. I hear them say things he said, I see them use some of his mannerisms, I see them following their dreams.
I could write and write and write about him. But I will save that for another day. I have trip logs and diaries to go through. Stories of his many trips around the world. I have stories of miracles that happened and close calls where only God could intervene. These I will share as I have time to organize . Below, these are his riding boots…they went on every trip he took out of the country. Photo by Adam Owens.
But for now, I will honor my Pop. He was a giving man. He was a strict man with his daughters. He loved my mother the way God intended. He honored her even after her death. He was a godly man. He was not always a patient man, but he tried. As you grow older, you begin to see your parents for who they really are. You see that they had faults, just as you do. But, there was never a time I doubted his love, or care or concern for me and our family.
I have often told my boys that despite the fact that they were not always happy with my decisions concerning them, or their Father’s …and despite the fact that they would have picked someone else to be their brother, at times…God in His wisdom put our family together. He is the one who thought we needed each other. I feel the same way about my original family. God put our family together. It grew and we have learned from each other. We miss our Patriarch, but he prepared us well to live without him. And, we will strive to honor him with our lives.
This was our last photo of the complete family…taken Christmas Day…2018.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop from your family!