Legacy Blog #5 Patricia Ann Davis

My Beloved Daughter,

Your Grandma Pat was an incredibly special person.  Rarely ever did she speak badly about anybody.  I only recall her ever arguing with your Grandpa Chuck one time (over your Uncle Kenny, I think).  While Grandpa wasn’t particularly affectionate, she had more than enough for both of them.  And she was always able to draw affection from him.

Patricia Ann Davis was born on February 1, 1946.  It may have been February 2.  You see, she was never issued a birth certificate as a child, so the first was the accepted assumption.  In fact, she didn’t get her birth certificate until after GG died.

My mother was an adorable, affectionate child.  Raised with her siblings in near poverty, she and her siblings gained a closeness that I rarely see in other families.  Her imagination soared through her childhood and she loved to sing and perform for her family.  When she was a child, GG and Grandpa Winfred were approached by a talent scout to take Grandma Pat to Hollywood.  Despite the fact that it would potentially allow the family so much of what they needed, Grandpa wouldn’t allow his baby girl to be used in such a way and see her childhood destroyed.  Perhaps he realized that it could have changed her into something else.  She might not have grown to be the loving, free-hearted woman who we knew.  And none of us would be here.

At fifteen years of age, she married Bobby Davis.  The man was no relation to you or me but was the father of your Uncle Kenny and Uncle Greg.  She dropped out of high school in the ninth grade to marry him.  I think the marriage lasted less than three years.  He was unfaithful to her, although she held him no ill-will in later years.  After that, she was married two more times—to Tink and Jim—before finally meeting your Grandpa Chuck.  I already discussed how they met in my last entry.  I will add that the friend who introduced them actually tried to break them up.  “I didn’t expect you to marry him!” the woman had told her.

Grandpa wanted to move in with your Grandma in 1970.  Despite her three divorces, she had enough of an old-fashioned attitude to tell him that she wouldn’t do so unless he put a ring on her finger.  So, on July 17, 1970, they went to the home of a Baptist preacher in Kennett, MO, and got married.

I was born five years later.  She worked as a nurse’s aide up until I was born (and a little after), before quitting to be a stay-at-home mother and homemaker.  As your Grandpa worked on the river for the majority of my childhood, I was with Grandma Pat all the time and, quite honestly, became quite a momma’s boy.  Before we moved to Campbell, I didn’t really have any friends outside of school, so it was mostly Grandma Pat and me.

Over the years, every friend that I had grew to envy me for my mother.  The woman had more love than any one person knew what to do with.  My friends always got hugs and kisses when they visited.  Your cousin, Trina, wanted to move in with us.  Her mother wouldn’t let her but she spent weeks at a time with us in the summer.  So did your cousin, Dan.

After your Grandpa Chuck got sick and wasn’t able to work anymore, Grandma Pat started working at an onion ring factory in Piedmont, MO.  She worked there until she wasn’t able to work anymore.  After Grandpa Chuck died, she and GG moved in with your Uncle Greg and me in Springfield.  Then, she and I got the apartment in Nixa.  Finally, we ended back up in St. Charles.

After Vickie and I got married, she moved into that mobile home with Aunt Ruth, then another apartment with your Uncle Kenny.  The landlord there didn’t like Kenny, so the two of them ended up down in Puxico.  Finally, Uncle Greg moved them to Poplar Bluff.

She came up to stay with us any time you had a break from school.  She adored you so much.  The last time that we saw her, you recorded that video of her dancing.  You had no way of knowing the treasure that this video would turn out to be.

As of this writing, tomorrow will be the year anniversary of her stroke.  On August 19, 2016, I ignored a call from your Uncle Kenny because I was too tired to answer it.  Half an hour later, he called me on her phone, knowing that I never ignored her calls.  He was a blubbering mess and I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  Uncle Greg, also upset, finally got on the phone and told me that they had found her, vomiting in the floor.  As she was able to give the paramedics her age, we thought it was a minor stroke.  Vickie and I drove down and she was talking to us.  The last words that I heard from her were that she loved me.

Sometime during that night, she stopped communicating.  Another test showed that the left side of her brain was dead and the right side was dying.  Greg and I tearfully signed the non-resuscitation order.  Your mother, pregnant with your baby brother, drove you down to the Bluff to say goodbye.  Then, on August 22, 2016, she left this world with one final breath that she took with a loud gasp as she sat up in the bed.

I pictured her giving Jesus more affection at that Pearly Gate than He had probably gotten from any other member of the Elect since His Resurrection.   Then, she found your Grandpa Chuck, GG, and Grandpa Winfred and showered them with affection.  And she’ll be waiting with arms open when we get there, too.

Brother Phil Tanner, the pastor who led your Grandpa Chuck and me to Jesus, preached her funeral, reminding us that we haven’t lost her.  We know exactly where she is.

I see so much of her in you.  Your imagination, love of singing and dancing and affection are all results of her influence.  You uploaded that video of Grandma Pat to your YouTube channel.  Millions of users are there, so she got her opportunity to be a star.  That was the greatest gift you could have given her.

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Legacy Blog #4 George Charles Davis

My Beloved Daughter,

You probably don’t remember him.  But your Grandpa Chuck adored you.

George Charles Davis was born on March 6, 1942, in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  His state of birth was a part of how we described him.  Your Grandma Pat, a Southern woman, through and through, always referred to him as her “Yankee husband.”  The funny thing is that I didn’t know what city he was born in until we were preparing for his funeral.

Your grandpa was married, before he met your grandma, to a woman named Lawanda.  Actually, I’m not sure how to spell her name.  What I remember most was that she was a red-headed woman who was quite pretty.  My paternal grandmother still had Grandpa’s first wedding picture when I was a teenager.  Grandpa once discussed his reason for divorcing her.  He was convinced that she’d had an affair.  I don’t really know.  I do know that they never had children.

Grandma Pat was introduced to Grandpa Chuck by a mutual friend in the late 1960s.  He took her out for a soda and asked her out on a real date that evening.  She told him that she already had a date with a relatively well-known local singer named Terry Ray Bradley.  So Grandpa kissed her.  Grandma said it was the most amazing kiss that she’d ever received and she told him that she would go out with the first man to show up.  Grandpa Chuck was there, bright and early.  Terry stood her up.

Go figure.

Cousin Christie says that all of my older cousins, who were already born when he came into the picture, adored Grandpa Chuck.  He had a way of making the kids all feel safe.  He also had a way of encouraging hard work in those who knew him.

When he married Grandma Pat on July 17, 1970, he didn’t adopt your Uncle Greg and Uncle Kenny.  After all, their dad (and her first husband) had the same last name.  They were no relation.  But your grandpa raised them as his own.  And they loved him.

Five years later (March 2, 1975), I came along.  My birthday’s four days before his and he had jokingly told your grandma that maybe I’d wait to be born on his birthday.  The way she told him that she was in labor was simply, “Well, hon, he ain’t gonna wait for your birthday.”  He wanted to get her right to the hospital that morning, but she knew that they wouldn’t let her smoke, so she waited until late that evening.  I was born after 10 PM.  Grandpa Chuck looked through the window at me in the room where they kept the newborns and I, apparently, started crying.  “Son,” he said, “Daddy didn’t mean to make you cry.”

Over the years, Grandpa spent most of his time working.  He was an interesting mixture of his parents.  He was playful, like Grandpa Wes.  He was not so affectionate, like Grandma Pauline.  It absolutely vexed him that your Grandma and I weren’t ticklish.  His replacement was playful pinching.  He’d pull Grandma Pat’s big toe and I’d hear her playfully yell, “Jeffrey, your dad’s hurting me!”  I knew he wouldn’t really do anything to hurt her, though.  He adored her.

He would be gone on the boat for thirty days at a time, working on ammonia barges.  He was supposed to be moved off of them after five years and into a different position.  But he was so good at his job, they drug their feet in moving him until he had contracted emphysema working in the fumes.  After the owner of the company that he worked for retired, the owner’s son took over.  He and your Grandpa Chuck didn’t like each other and they trumped up an excuse to fire him after so many years of service.

Over the years, your Grandpa was in and out of the hospital for various reasons.  The nurses at the ER in the hospital in Poplar Bluff had our address memorized.  He had specific nurses who always welcomed him by name.

Through it all, as much as he loved your cousins, Jaimilee, Kody and Sarah, he wanted a direct descendant.  He adored your mother and, since we got married on March 4, considered her his birthday present that year.  After the wedding, any time that we would drive to Van Buren to visit my parents, he would ask your mom if she was pregnant.  When she would say no, he would motion to my old bedroom and say, “Get back there and get busy.”

By the time you were born, his health was so bad that he had a hospital bed in the trailer where he lived with your Grandma Pat.  His lungs had gotten so bad that he couldn’t walk three feet without resting.  But he held out until he had seen you and, hopefully, left some memory of himself with you.

On a Wednesday afternoon in late September of 2006, you and I were watching a cartoon and you randomly looked at me and said, “Grandpa’s going home.”  Later that evening, your mother, you and I went to Taco Bell for dinner.  We came home to find out that he had passed away in the hospital that day.  You, not quite three years of age, hugged me as I wept and told me, “It’s going to be okay, daddy.”  I remember crying myself to sleep in the dining room floor that night.

As your Grandpa had always told us that he wanted to be buried with Grandma Pat, he was cremated . . . but not until after the funeral.  In the casket, your country boy grandpa lay in his bib overalls.  He wouldn’t have had it any other way.

To give your mother and me a chance to mourn, your Grandma and Grandpa Lingle, along with your Uncle Terry and Uncle Steven, came down for the funeral and slept in a tent in my parents’ front yard.

I miss your Grandpa Chuck terribly.  I sometimes find it unfair to see all of these people who are in their fifties and sixties who still have their fathers.  But I’m so thankful for the thirty-one years that I did have with him.  And I am definitely grateful for the ethic that he instilled within me.  I don’t doubt that I was truly blessed by God with an amazing father.

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Preview #5 of Book Five of the ADVENTURE CHRONICLES

 

Jamie felt lightheaded.  His stomach was doing acrobatics in his abdomen and the thought of standing up terrified him at the moment.

What is wrong with me?  He glanced up at Bill, who was talking to a girl who was wearing a Jameston Camels shirt and holding a can of beer.  At least, the young ninja thought that it was beer.  He found that he could not focus on it very well.

The bartender seemed to notice that Jamie was looking at them.  “Can I get you another tea?”

Jamie had lost count of how many glasses that he had imbibed.  “No,” was all he could say.  Did the way that he was feeling now have anything to do with his beverage?

At this point, Maria stumbled into his field of vision, nearly falling over him.  She glanced up at him with a smile that was suddenly replaced with a look of bewildered concern.  “You don’t look so good,” she commented.

“It . . .,” he found speaking extremely difficult, to say the least, “it only matchesh how I f . . . uh, feel.”

Maria straightened up to her full height.  Jamie faintly realized that she must be able to handle liquor very well to be able to do that, considering how much she had drank.  She reached down and grabbed the young ninja’s glass from the bar and sniffed it.  “What’s in here?” she demanded of Bill.

“Long Island Iced Tea,” returned the barkeeper with a chuckle.  “He really needed to loosen up.”

Star’s eyes narrowed dangerously at the man.  “How dare you make that decision!  Don’t you even have the faintest idea what a designated driver is?”

“He didn’t seem to mind all the time he was drinking it,” retorted Bill.

“He’s never drank alcohol before!” raged Maria.  “He couldn’t tell the difference, you idiot!”

“Get over it!” he snapped.  “He looked like he wasn’t having a very good time.  He’ll thank me in the morning!”

Through the fog that was blurring everything in Jamie’s head, the young ninja felt a slight pang of anger.  He had absolutely no willpower to act upon it, though.

Maria was still arguing with Bill.  “He’s not having fun, so you spike his drink and make sure he gets so sick that he can’t talk?  Are you always this stupid?!”

Maria leaned over and helped Jamie to stand.  He had barely any control over his legs, so she wrapped his right arm around her neck and started helping him toward the set of stairs that led to the second floor.  “Heather!” she called and the hostess looked up from where she was dancing in the midst of a group of college men.  “I’m taking my usual room!”

Then Star turned back to Bill.  “As for you, Jamie will not thank you in the morning!  If I were you, I’d be gone by the time he wakes up.”

“What’s he gonna do to me?” he asked, looking at Jamie contemptuously.

“Let’s just say you’re lucky he doesn’t have his ninja sword with him,” she returned.

Bill’s eyes widened.  “Wait!  You mean he’s that ninja friend of yours?!”

Star nodded.  “He’s also religious.  So he’s not gonna be happy that you tricked him into getting drunk.”  Then she turned and the two of them started ascending the stairs.

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Legacy Blog #3 Grandma Deline and Grandpa Winfred

My Beloved Daughter,

This week, we’re going to talk about my maternal grandparents.  Of the two of them, Grandpa Isaac was the first of my grandparents to pass away.  Grandma was the last of my grandparents to pass away.  In fact, you met her.  You were almost five when she passed away.

By the time that I was born, my mother’s parents had already been divorced, remarried (to other people), and divorced again.  Here’s what I know:

Grandpa Winfred was an affectionate man and a hard worker.   He worked at a mercantile store in little Gobbler, MO, until it burned to the ground when your Grandma Pat and her siblings were children.  He was also an alcoholic and somewhat stingy.  After he and your Great Grandma Deline divorced, he married Lenore.  That marriage ended badly and he dated another woman (her name eludes me) who died of a seizure while walking to the store to buy him a bottle of whiskey.

After that, Grandpa moved around and spent time living with almost all of his kids and their families.  He didn’t live with your Great Uncle Donald because he would make his dad take a bath.  He lived with my parents and me and yes, he smelled really bad.  He had an old coffee can that he would keep next to his bed to spit in, since he had really bad emphysema and often suffered from terrible coughing fits.  I can still remember the smell, though I’ve never smelled it anywhere else.

On a positive note, Grandpa overcame his alcoholism and his stinginess.  The last Christmas that he was alive, he randomly gave me sixty dollars and gave your cousin, Jaimilee thirty dollars’ worth of change.  He gave his car to your Great Uncle Ronald and moved in with your Great Aunt Ruth and Great Uncle Larry.  As the latter was a minister, Grandpa Winfred had a steady dose of Jesus while there and, the following December (he didn’t quite make it to Christmas), he woke up in the middle of the night and told Aunt Ruth that he was going to die that day.  And he did.  Uncle Larry preached the funeral.  And he’ll be waiting for us in Heaven.

Grandma Deline Smith  (she kept her second, abusive husband’s name after their divorce) was never selfish.  If you went to her home and mentioned that you liked something that was there, you inevitably left with it.  “You take that, hon,” she’d always say.  When she passed away, your Cousin Christie told us how Grandma Deline (you called her “GG”) would allow any homeless person to sit in her front yard and she’d feed them.

And affection?  Grandma was the fountain of love that Grandma Pat stepped out of.  She gave the warmest hugs.  She gave this special kiss where she would pucker and make this loud smooching sound that I still miss to this day.  She especially loved children and always had a place on her lap for them.

She lived in St. Charles when I was dating your mother and I would stay with her on the weekends that I drove up from Springfield to see your mom.  Grandma loved Sarah and always welcomed us to snuggle on her couch to watch a movie.  By this point Grandma was in such poor health, she really only got out of bed to eat or go to the bathroom, so her living room usually went unused, anyway.  She had Dementia and would often forget what she was doing or where she was.

After your mother and I got married, GG moved in with Aunt Ruth and Uncle Larry.  Then, she moved in with Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Patrick.  Then, after Grandpa Chuck died, she moved in with Grandma Pat.  Finally, both of them moved in with your Uncle Greg and me in Springfield.  On the morning of December 3, 2008, I drove Grandma Pat to her bank in Van Buren.  Uncle Greg called us and told us that GG had died in her sleep.

The funeral was in Kennett.  Cousin Christie gave the eulogy, talking about Grandma’s free-heartedness and kindness.  You weren’t able to come to the funeral and I don’t remember why.  Your mother and I probably couldn’t afford to get you from St. Charles to Kennett.  The highlight was seeing Cousin Dan lean over GG in her coffin and give her one of those loud smooches.  I still tear up when I remember it.

After all of the years apart, GG was buried next to your Great Grandpa Winfred.  I was reminded of hearing your GG tell me, in the final years of her life, that she would always love him.

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Legacy Blog #2: Grandma and Grandpa Davis

My Beloved Daughter,

 

The first entry for this legacy blog will be to discuss my paternal grandparents.  James Wesley Davis (lovingly called Wes by his friends) married Pauline Wright on December 4, 1934.  Unlike so many marriages that you see today, theirs lasted.  They were married up until Grandma died in her nursing home in 1999.  The funeral, attended by your mother and me when we were still engaged, was a very sad affair.  Grandpa Wes was inconsolable.  Grandma had been his whole life for nearly sixty-five years.  What was the secret to the longevity of their marriage?  One could say that divorce was simply not an option in those days.  But that wasn’t always the case, as we’ll see next week when we discuss my maternal grandparents.  No, I truly think that their dynamic was the absolute truth of the “opposites attracting” ideal.

Grandpa Wes was a jokester.  He was playful and fun.  I can remember him wrestling with the grandkids on the floor.  He told me that we weren’t having Christmas one year because the Canadian military had shot Santa Clause down over Toronto.  He added the letter R to words that nobody ever thought would have it.  I can’t tell you how many times I ate “tarcos” with your Grandpa Chuck’s parents.

Grandma was the stereotypical proper southern lady.  Her hobbies included crocheting and reading romance novels in her soft rocking chair, as well as cooking some of the greatest southern food I can remember.  She made homemade dill pickles and I am firmly convinced that your love of that particular treat came from her.  Granted, her pickles were extremely spicy but I enjoyed them.

I don’t remember Grandma Davis being particularly affectionate.  If I wanted a kiss, she would turn her cheek to me and allow me to give her one.  That was it.  Then Grandpa would tell me to come sit on his lap while he tried in vain to tickle me (as you know, I’m not ticklish).  That’s not to say that Grandma didn’t love us.  She just showed her love differently that Grandpa.

Nowadays, we have internet dating that will attempt to match you to your “perfect” match.  In the 1930s, dating services of any type simply didn’t exist.  Grandma told me that she and Grandpa met in a small church (I don’t recall where it was, though they did marry in Arkansas, so I figure that the church was there).  She told me that he bugged her incessantly until she agreed to go on a date with him.  The rest was history.

Though Grandpa was a certified welder, I always remember him being a farmer.  They had eleven children, with two of them sadly dying as infants.  This large family was really a necessity for farming at that time.  The boys worked in the fields when not in school and the girls helped Grandma in the house.  Your Grandpa Chuck and his siblings grew to adore their parents.

For more than six decades, your great-grandparents enjoyed a close and loving marriage that stood the tests of time.  Grandpa’s sense of humor seemed to vex his more serious wife but there was never, to my knowledge, any discussion of divorce.  When I compare the two of them to the marriage that I had with your mother, I notice one startling thing.  Grandma and Grandpa were polar opposites.  Your mother and I were most assuredly not.

Grandma fell and hit her head in her nursing home in 1999 causing her brain to bleed.  It was this that took her from us.  I remember this because the Pope was visiting St. Louis at the time.  We went to Kennett for the funeral.  While we mourned for our Matriarch, our grief could never have matched what we saw in Grandpa Wes.  He had lost his love, his partner . . . his best friend for over sixty years.

He lived for another four years after her.  Your mother was pregnant with you when he passed.  Grandpa Chuck’s health was so bad by this time that he couldn’t go to the funeral.  My cousin, Kim, gave the eulogy about Grandpa’s legendary sense of humor.  She put together a scrapbook with copies of marriage licenses and very old photos.  My dad and each of his living siblings got a copy of this scrapbook.  When Grandpa Chuck died in 2006, Grandma Pat gave me the scrapbook.  Someday, you’ll have it.  Keep it safe, as it is a priceless treasure.

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Preview #4 of Book Five of the Adventure Chronicles

Elvara was examining the writing curiously.  “Are these the same symbols as the one that was carved into the desk at your school?” she asked Ben, pointing out the upside-down stars in circles that surrounded the writing.

Ben nodded, not seeming the least bit uncomfortable at being the only Renegade present.  Apparently noting her accent, he asked, “Where are you from, anyway?”

Deck jumped in.  “London.”

“They are Satanic pentagrams,” concluded the elf-maiden.

“Why do you say Satanic?” asked Ben.  “Not all pentagrams are Satanic.”

She nodded.  “True.  Some pagan religions use them in their worship, as well.  It is Satan’s way of deceiving them into worshipping false gods.  But Satanists generally tend to turn the star upside-down, like this.”  Then she went back to studying the graffiti.

Ben leaned toward Jamie and whispered, “Where did you find her?”

“She’s very knowledgeable about religion,” returned Jamie.  “She’s studied it all her life.”

“It sounds as if she’s partial to the Christian faith,” commented Ben as quietly as he could.

“I am,” said Elvara without a hint of emotion, causing Ben to stare at her in shock.  “If one has studied them for as long as I have, then one will inevitably find the Right Path.”

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Legacy Blog (For My Daughter) #1

My Beloved Daughter,

 

You may be wondering why I’m writing this blog.  With everything else going on, with me pulling overtime so much through my day job at the travel agency, along with working on my next book and the publishing duties that I’ve accepted . . . not to mention sometimes having to force myself to post other blog entries . . . you might wonder why I’m adding something else to my writing schedule.

Why, indeed?

As a child, I remember hearing my parents’ stories about their childhood.  I remember Grandma Pat telling me how she’d saved up to buy a certain 45 LP and listened to it over and over until her brother, Uncle Roger, broke it out of frustration.  Her threats to tell Grandma Deline (you called her GG) prompted him to save up his money to replace it.

I remember Grandpa Chuck telling me how he had received a paddling in school for shoving another boy’s head in the toilet.  The teacher told your grandpa that he wasn’t getting punished for that part, as even the teacher seemed to think that the other boy deserved it.  He was being punished for not flushing it first.

I remember stories about how my great grandfather, Geoffrey Isaac, was an enigma that puzzled our entire family until my Grandpa Winfred’s funeral, when brothers that he hadn’t even known existed showed up to pay their respects.

I remember hearing about how Grandma Deline had pulled Grandma Pat out of the creek when she had nearly drowned when her floating tube had capsized.  Or about how my Grandpa Wes had bugged my Grandma Pauline (those were Grandpa Chuck’s parents) at a Pentecostal church until she’d agreed to go on a date with him.

But, they had so many more stories.  There were so many more things that I have heard that have slipped through the cracks in my memory and are lost to us.  When I was younger, each work day seemed to drag on, making me long for the afternoon.  Now, at forty-one years of age, the weeks seem to fly by.  As I write this, you are twelve and have a boyfriend.  I see the lovely young lady that you have grown into and shake my head in wonder and despair, begging the Lord to tell me where the time has gone.

My parents left me a legacy.  Grandpa Chuck left me his sense of humor and his tough work ethic.  Grandma Pat left me her affection and imagination.  I wish that I could remember more about their pasts so that I could pass that to you.  I am determined to leave you a legacy.  I’m more proud of you than any parent could ever be.  You are beautiful and more intelligent than I was at your age.  And your writing.  Knowing that you are writing fills me with such joy that I feel that I might burst.

And so I give you this blog.  I will try to update it every Thursday or Friday.  Just remember, this is based on my memories about how things happened.  They are colored by the prejudices that I’ve picked up over the years.  Memories, unfortunately, fade.  But I’ll be as honest as I can be.  You deserve that much.

When I am gone, you will have my books.  But I want you to have more than that.  I want you to know about my past and about the wondrous childhood that led me to where I am today.  I will keep this blog for that purpose . . . so that you may have something tangible to read and pass on to my grandchildren.

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