It is with great sadness that I convey the news that our beloved Father went to be with Jesus, yesterday, Friday, July 14, 2017.
Daddy had just turned 93 years old on June 29.
After an extended illness, Daddy passed on, very peacefully, at 11:30 yesterday.
Shortly after 3:30, yesterday, I held the pen as God gave me the words to “Daddy’s Gone.”
Today, I write to all of our friends, everywhere, who have experienced this same grief and sorrow … I can, now, truthfully say, I know exactly the pain and anguish you are going through. As I read the words from the first sentence, above … it begins to “hit me.”
I have written much, and often, about our beloved Mother, who passed away on Valentine’s Day, in 2013. Like so many of you, “writing” about Mama is easy … Writing about Daddy … well … it just isn’t. I think of all the songs about “Mama,” and the few songs written about “Daddy.”
I went to the pages of “Modern Day Psalms,” remembering that I had written about Daddy in those pages. First, I remembered something I wrote about Mama, and I can now say the exact same thing about Daddy:
“Please allow me to comfort and encourage you with these words:
As a parent, when it comes to your children, there are three things you most worry about when they are away from the house, gone with friends, etc. These would be:
1. Where they are.
2. Who they are with.
3. When will you see them again?
Now, as a loving son … when Daddy left us … so much of the pain and agony was taken away, because:
1. I knew where he was.
2. I knew who he was with.
3. I knew that I would see him again.”
I found the introduction to “The Bottomless Sea,” a poem I wrote from the passenger side of my father’s truck, during a trip from Georgia to Arkansas.
Please allow me to share this, from the Introduction:
“As he drove, 45 miles an hour the whole way, we hardly talked. Daddy didn’t talk much as a rule, so I just concentrated on the scenery, the continual stream of cars passing us, all the while hoping he would pick up enough speed to change into fourth gear. I remember thinking that at least we wouldn’t have to slow down if we had to take an exit off of the interstate.
It had been years since I had spent this much time with Daddy, and I will always remember this time of being together. Of thinking what a wonderful man he was, and among many other qualities, he was the most honest man I have ever known. He is the only person I have ever seen who, when finding money (that wasn’t his) in the change slot of a vending machine, puts the money back into the machine. Because of the way Daddy was, when I read the story of how Abraham Lincoln walked several miles to return a borrowed book, I never doubted the story.
How often we forget how blessed we are, just to have parents like I’ve had. To be raised in church, to have had a Godly upbringing, and then when I went off into deep water, God rescuing me, bringing me up out of the bottomless sea.
There is one thing, also, I’d like to mention about my father. It was advice he gave me, during the darkest point in my life. Daddy wasn’t the type of father that you could just “talk to” about problems. Frankly, I was afraid to talk to him for most of my pre-adult life. However, as I look back, at the time I needed it most, he gave me a sentence … one sentence of advice and wisdom … wisdom that I have shared often, in the pages of this volume.
Without going into too much detail, it was a Sunday, immediately after suffering the “Betrayal” of which such works as “It Took a Judas” was based upon.
Here’s what I wrote:
“I drove the 100 miles or so to my Mom and Dad’s house. There was never a time in my life when I needed to see my parents more.
I explained to my Mom … and then … the hard part. The hardest part, ever, was explaining anything to Daddy. I don’t mean that as negative as it may seem. It was just so hard to talk to Daddy, especially when it was an emotionally-charged issue. I knew I had to tell him, somehow. He left the house to go out back to take care of the animals. I joined him, and as we walked across the yard, I feebly attempted to explain to Daddy what was going on …
He looked at me, and then, stopped. It seemed the world stopped, as well. The look he gave me was one I’ll never forget. It was a look of understanding and compassion. From Daddy! A man of so few words, he then spoke the words that will echo across the generations:
“Well, these things have a way of working out for the better.”
When I was at the very bottom, both my father and Jesus were there for me.”
God gave me the words to “Don’t Weep for Me” on the day my Father-in-Law (the “Vincent” in R.V.R.) was called Home. Now, just hours after Daddy (the “Richard” in R.V.R.) was taken to be with Jesus, I hold the pen as these words, and my tears, flow onto the pages:
He was the most honest man I ever knew
If you’d known him, you’d thought that, too
He’s always say, “I don’t know”
But you knew that he did
He was Charles Atlas, Jack Lalanne, and Superman
To a whole houseful of kids
Six kids he raised
With the sweat from his brow
You should see how those kids turned out
And where they are now
He didn’t say much, that’s for sure
But, the words he spoke, they will endure
He lived a long life, you see
You’ll never know what his life meant to me
He didn’t talk much
Especially to me
But, when he did
I carry that, as a special memory
The world he left; he didn’t mind
Life’s pain and suffering, he left behind
He’s now with Mama, and dear Sister Sue
And now, he’s waiting, to talk with you
He was rugged, and tough,
And he knew what it meant
When you said, “Life is rough”
He had a soft, tender side
Which only my sisters saw
My wife, Carol, saw that same side
He reminded her of her Grampa
No greater man there ever was
I wish I had told him … just because
Just because … we all need to hear
We all need to hear
That someone … somewhere …
Holds us dear
I was afraid of him
I really was
Like standing next to greatness
I really was
Now, he’s gone
And, now, I see
How great he really was
How great he was, to me
My eyes shed a tear
Because greatness stood so near
I wish that I had known him more
I wish that I had written this before
But, not for long
I’ll see him yet again
Finally, he’s alive and well
He now has crossed that Golden Veil
We’ll talk and talk, and talk some more
As we stroll, with Mama, and Susan, on Heaven’s Golden Shore
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Written the afternoon of July 14, 2017