Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Choices and Responsibility

My earliest memory of my dad encompasses his clarity of choice to be responsible and to do what needed to be done for the best possible outcome.
Not too many years ago, while having my eyes examined, my doctor told me to go home and hug my Dad and Mom and thank them for my eyesight. We discussed how when I was born, one of my eyes were underdeveloped. It was prevalent in several of my cousins as well. Daddy and Mom took me to Dr. Baldwin. He explained I could have surgery, which was not full proof to correct the situation or go through a series of consistent eye drops, patches, and exercises to strengthen the vision of the right eye. My parents made the decision to forego surgery and became very dedicated to work together to improve my vision. At 18 months old, I began to wear glasses. Sometimes my eye was patched; sometimes the lens of my glasses for my left eye was obscurred so I was forced to use my right eye. I remember laying on the counter numerous times to have drops administered. What this remembrance of this very personal ability to see, is completely due to my parents' willingness to do what needed to be done; not to take the easy route, but to infact be consistent in following a doctor's plan to the last detail. Thank you, Daddy.

Dad never hesitated in helping with helping Mom with the day to day raising of us kids. I had a peach chiffon dress with puffy sleeves and a bow that needed to be tied in the back. To this day, I can recall how it felt to have Daddy "puff those sleeves" and tie that bow perfectly. He may have been originally instructed by my Mom, but he never hesitated to make us feel as though we were the ony one in the room.

Daddy could have been an actor! He dressed one time for a "faux" fashion show in a "tea length dress, complete with gray curly wig, a Tea box purse, cap (ballcaps) sleeves, and large ladies glasses. Daddy walked toward me holding that box purse ever so femininely and I simply could not fathom that that was my Dad! It was hilarious.

Daddy told me one time, "Jona Ruth- You may not be any better than anyone, but you are just as good. Work hard."

I have always loved watching my parents together and how my dad loved my mom. I never, never heard them raise their voices, I heard them giggle together, even in the last days, Mom was in his hospital bed with them and they scared the nurse when she came in to take vitals! They held hands. They cared for each other deeply!

I have learned so much from my parents. My Dad could always make me laugh. He could tell the best of stories with great detail from his childhood in Virginia and of his parents and six brothers, of his courting of Mommy, and farming. He was so smart.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What my husband has to say about his father-in-law...

Abbie Childers

A Google of “Abbie Childers” will give you no results other than an offer to reunite with him if he is one of your “classmates”. Abbie has never authored a book, written a song, achieved great corporate success, been awarded a degree of higher learning, been the subject of any news show or article, or given credit for changing world history.

By most standards of today, Abbie was born into a poor farm family of early 20th Century Virginia. Abbie will most likely pass this life in much the same social and economic status.

Having said that, Abbie Childers is the greatest man I have ever encountered. Before I continue, let me define a “man”:

Janet Saltzman Chafetz describes six areas of masculinity in general culture. With apologies to Chafetz, I have taken some liberties with her list as I attempt to relate it to Abbie.

· Physical -- virile, athletic, strong, brave;
· Functional -- provider for family, defender of family;
· Spiritual – God fearing, passionate that all good comes from God and that even the bad is allowed by god for our good and His glory;
· Intellectual -- logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical;
· Interpersonal -- leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, free, individualistic; demanding;
· Other Personal Characteristics -- success-oriented, ambitious, aggressive, competitive, proud, moral, trustworthy; decisive, adventurous.

· Physical -- virile, athletic, strong, brave;
I have known Abbie for over 35 years. I have met many of Abbie’s former coworkers and supervisors. He is a man that has achieved much respect because of his level of commitment to his work. Plainly speaking, Abbie has always been an extremely hard worker. From a youth his routine duties on the farm included feeding and milking. When asked he will tell stories of working horses. He can relate the first tractor his Dad had. His Dad, brothers and he were respected for their hard work in the local community.

I understand the hard work related today with putting up hay for the winter. He started life stacking hay in the field without today’s modern equipment. He tells of throwing a rope around the base of a stack of hay and dragging that stack to the barn with a team of horses.

Abbie carried the training of his youth into adulthood. I have worked beside Abbie roofing, laying carpet, putting up fence, running equipment, building buildings, caring for cattle and horses, and wrestling goats. Although almost 30 years my senior, I have never been able to keep up with him. A stroke, cancer, heart bypass, and multiple surgeries have slowed him. Abbie’s greatest frustration in life today is this slowing but he will still outwork most people I know.

· Functional -- provider for family, defender of family;
One of the greatest motivational factors in Abbie’s life is his love and devotion of family. He has endured vocations injurious to his health to provide for his family. He got sand poisoning at General Motors. His exposure to farm chemicals still manifests itself today when Abbie is around perfumes and deodorants.
I challenge anyone to talk derogatorily against any of Abbie’s children, grand children, or great grandchildren. When my grandson Mason (Abbie’s great grandson) was born, Abbie and Retta volunteered to watch him when his mom worked. They and Mason have bonded at a level rarely seen.

· Spiritual – God fearing, passionate that all good comes from God and that even the bad is allowed by God for our good and His glory;
Abbie is a leader of his local church. For many years he was a trustee of our church and the local Baptist youth camp. Many young people at camp have been blessed by staying in the cabin that Abbie worked to maintain. I have never known Abbie to speak an untruth. Abbie maintains the treasury that the church uses to help people in need. Abbie at one time went outside the country to help install a radio tower to broadcast the witness of Christ.

· Intellectual -- logical, intellectual, rational, objective, practical;
With little formal education, Abbie is one of the most practically intelligent people I know. Given a little time, Abbie can fix anything mechanical. Recently I blew a head gasket on one of my tractors. Without a repair manual, Abbie tore it apart, repaired the problem, and reassembled the motor. Abbie has taught me to weld and fabricate many parts for our equipment.
His Christianity is practical. When his neighbors become what I would consider to be a nuisance, he sees someone that needs a hand.

· Interpersonal -- leader, dominating; disciplinarian; independent, free, individualistic; demanding;
All five of Abbie’s children and his subsequent extended families respect Abbie for the above listed characteristics that he has exemplified as the Patriarch of the Childers family. His children have all grown to be productive, caring, highly respected members of society. There are no “black sheep”.

· Other Personal Characteristics -- success-oriented, ambitious, aggressive, competitive, proud, moral, trustworthy; decisive, adventurous.
Abbie has never shied away from any challenge or responsibility. Were it not for the sudden unexpected death of Abbie’s nephew he would be today managing a farm in Virginia.
Abbie is greatly loved and respected in his community. I have never experienced an individual that did not speak highly of Abbie.
This has become very evident in recent years as Abbie’s heath has somewhat failed. His neighbors are concerned and seem anxious to help when they can. When it snows, there is almost a line to clean Abbie’s drive. It makes me jealous when I drive around the corner to my snow covered drive.
I have often contemplated what it is that makes Abbie so well respected. I have come to the conclusion that it is his moral quality and strength of character. People reach out to those around them that are genuine and sincere. He would sacrifice his own well being to aid another person.
In short, Abbie has and continues to indeed change the world. His influence has made me and everyone he touches better for knowing him.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In the beginning...

Starting in the beginning.....
Abbie A. Childers, originally named Absamol Abbie Childers, was born to Nora Ethel Pippen and William Childers. He was the fifth son of seven, which included James, Howard, Raleigh, Cecil, Abbie, Ernest, and Lee. More about them later.

Retta Mae Horton, 2nd Child, first Daughter to Mary Ellen Stipp and Henry Horton. Her siblings include Tom, Retta, Juanita, Leo, Mary Ruth, and Leslie. More about them later.

Abbie and Retta had 13 dates before he ever kissed her. They were at what we would call a concert, where Eddie Arnold was performing. He is one of my favorites to this day. He was singing "Molly Darling", when he kissed her.

On Saturday, Jan 30, Shawn and I were with Dad and Mom at Cracker Barrel in Champaign. We bought an Eddie Arnold CD. Shawn put it in the player and we all crooned to "Cattle Call", "I'm Sending You A Big Bouquet of Roses", and "Make the World Go Away". It was not too bad. Daddy has a really good voice. It should have been tapped a long time ago.

We discussed who they dated before each other. Dad's girlfriend was "Boot", (AnnaBelle) from Virginia. He never called her when he moved back to Virginia. I asked him if he broke her heart. His reply, "Yes, I think I probably did". No doubt.

Mom dated two others, one that went to the service, she wasn't too crazy about and another one that died when she was about 31 or so from a fire when he was refilling his gas in his running tractor.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To Share or not to Share

A little inspiration from my little Devin friend...I have been recently burdened to share bits and pieces of my parents life with most importantly my family. However they are such a unique pair, they really deserve to be shared with many. What they can teach us is limitless and wonderful.

Check out their picture...Who would not want to know about these two?