THE COLOR OF CHRISTMAS WAS PURPLE
Two police officers are forever changed by the meaning.
It was Christmas Eve and my sister Trula and her partner Billy eased their squad back into the lot at the Davenport Police Department. They had finished their shift on the street, and just a few minutes more of paperwork, Trula would be able to join her five children in celebrating Christmas. The crackle of the radio interrupted and dispatched them to a domestic violence call; the least desirable call for officers, compounded in danger by the holiday season.
Upon their arrival at the scene, they determined the wife had been assaulted and was severely distraught as she was interviewed. Their backups hand-cuffed and transported the dad to the station leaving the two officers with children who were crying and confused about “why daddy was gone”. Trula and Billy did the best they could in a bad situation.
Years later Billy would tell a reporter of how Trula took the children on her lap to calm them down and praised how good she was with them. The children who had seen their mother beaten and their dad leave home in a squad car handcuffed, were having a “really bad Christmas.”
A picture of Officer Billy Thomas years later after his promotion to Detective.
Close to midnight, while the mother grappled with what to do, the two officers had taken in the fact that looking around the room, there was not one sign of Christmas. No tree, not one gift. Too late, Billy had asked the oldest child if “Santa had been good to him?”The little boy responded by moving across the room and bringing the burly police officer a plastic sandwich bag: apparently, the only gift the children received. It was a sandwich bag of hard candy. The biggest thing in the bag was a lone purple lollipop and the boy was most proud of it, for it was his gift.
Both officers were remembering the gifts they had given out so liberally earlier on their shift, thus not one was left now. In the day and time of this story, there were no Wal-Marts, convenience stores or all night places to buy gifts. Billy related later he was almost moved to tears as he thought to himself, “God, I wish I had some gifts to give to these kids.” Especially realizing all they had gone through being devastated by their parents’ issues. Suddenly he remembered. He knew a promotional items businessman who was always good for a donation to fundraisers and police events. A call was made simply stating the facts: ‘no visit from Santa, no tree’.
In response to the immediate invitation by the man to meet him at the business, Billy arrived then realized he would not get a pay check for another week, so he quickly offered payments. The businessman waved off his offer to pay and filled the squad with gifts the likes of which the kids had never seen.
A train set with a full track and working locomotive kept Billy and the oldest boy busy for hours. Trula joined them with the other children on the floor enjoying the gifts until dawn though the two had now been long off duty.
As the officers prepared to leave the house, the little boy pressed the purple lollipop into Billy’s big hand saying “Here” and “Thanks”. The officer tough, cynical wild child officer, admittedly wept.
The “Color of Christmas is Purple” happened over thirty years ago and is still relevant to share. My sister Trula was a Pioneer Police Woman officer who championed domestic violence victims. The color of the domestic violence ribbon is purple.
And Billy? He became a top detective in those intervening years and told this story to a reporter after the fact saying for twenty years Trula tried to get him to share it but he wouldn’t. He pulled out of his pocket the purple lollipop in a plastic baggie and told the reporter he had carried it in his pocket every day since that night to remind him of the goodness “out there” and those who need him. Only a few exceptions due to warm weather, etc., ever lead him not to carry it.
“Why tell it now?” asked the reporter.
“Trula died .Just two days before Christmas and I had never told the story she kept saying was important. So I want to do it for her. I still pull that lollipop out when I think life is “crap” and it gives me faith. I never saw the family again after that night, but I will never forget the “night of the purple lollipop” that changed my life.
CHRISTMAS WITH THE UNION
(A 1940’s Christmas Story of “Shock and Awe” at Christmas Magic in Oklahoma)
CHRISTMAS WITH THE UNIONS (A LEGACY STORY)
The author that fateful year, and her sister.
The truth is, Christmas joy ebbs and flows. As a child it was truly a time of wonder but I always had a greater worry. When you are poor you are constantly reminded that Christmas is a hardship for Santa; who might not be able to find you, or have room for much in his sleigh, or even that Santa would be looking long and hard at your behavior.
After all, the song, “You better watch out, you better not pout” was literally from my generation. And there was a reason for it. There were few Christmas movies or traditional stories of encouragement available to me. Others more privileged than I was at the time, tell me there were positive things out there, but not in my corner of the world. It was pretty much the church Nativity story told from the King James Version in the Bible, and the poem of the Night Before Christmas, as heard on the radio. So, there were definitely periods of my life where I looked forward to the holidays with trepidation, and some I looked forward to with anticipation. Mostly, it was with a sense of “I have no idea what this year will bring”.
As an adult, I became an addict. A Christmas Junkie. I was the one who sang the carols throughout the year and thought it odd that people thought it odd. Anytime of the year was identified by whether or not it was “before Christmas”, “close to Christmas” or “after Christmas“. I had a passionate commitment to Christmas with all the little nuances that make it the “magical” holiday; when everyone gets something, or everyone is remembered, and often not by anyone that they could identify. The recipient had to suppose it was done by an elf or helper on Santa’s behalf.
There have been memorable Christmas holidays through the years. Many for varied reasons. Some good, some sad, some just unforgettable. But at the crux of all of the celebrations has been the magic of those Christmas celebrations that were truly magic, because they shouldn’t have happened.
Clearly, one stands out in my mind for many reasons. My parents, meaning my mother and biological father were young at that time. As mentioned previously, they were so poor the prospects of a gift were about slim to none. My parents were a young couple who struggled due to only dad working outside the home. They were rocked with stressful personal issues which developed from their long list of life disasters that routinely befell them. Dad had been sick and was in a sanitarium for tuberculosis patients almost from the onset of their marriage. They lost their first two babies. They almost lost my sister due to a freak accident when she rode her tricycle off the front porch causing a handlebar to puncture her abdomen.
When I came along, mercifully I was alright, but my mother suffered complications so a hysterectomy performed in the home, followed. They experienced debt, and debt upon debt. Living with my sharecropping grandparents was difficult. Especially for dad who did not get along at all with his father-in-law. They moved out on their own as quickly as possible.
It was a struggle just to put food on the table. Holidays and birthdays were below low key, so they were just passed over verbally for the first few years. But this particular Christmas stood out because it was the first time that the “magic” appeared.
My dad apparently was a good worker and had been taken under the wing by some of his friends who worked in a welding shop. They taught him so many things and he was very adept at the techniques. He quickly caught on. Then and there he was introduced to this amazing thing called a “union”. It was the early forties and there weren’t a lot of workplaces that had unions. Some didn’t live up to the original concepts of “union” brotherhood. But this union did.
I still remember the reverence in my dad’s voice when he talked about “Tommy”. Tommy was the union boss who ran the jobs and the union in Oklahoma. Everything seemed to revolve around him and whenever his name was invoked, I listened to see what followed. It didn’t take me long to realize this “Tommy” had the power to influence our lives and could keep my daddy working and food on our table. Soon, he was sending my dad out on union jobs all over the United States and Canada. I think that if he were of this generation, they would say of him, “When Tommy speaks, everyone listens”.
In the first year that my dad worked for “Tommy” and the union, there began to be just a glimmer of hope that maybe this would be the year that Santa would visit our house as he did the homes of others. My mom wasn’t very encouraging when I expressed this thought. She cautioned me, explaining we were still paying off debts and things were very “lean” (a special word of my mother’s.) Still I hoped.
As Christmas neared there appeared a small Christmas tree with ornaments. I was enthralled by its beauty . In the day time you could see all of them ( probably only about ten or less in hind sight.) My mom showed us how to string popcorn, and at school my sister made a paper link chain to put on it. The paper was green and red and she had colored the links with great care using her crayons at school. It was great, but the thrill was when I found out the tree came from “Tommy” and the union. I was in awe. Wow, they thought of us and were so rich they could give us a tree with ornaments. It was hard to take in.
A greater surprise lay ahead. Mother told us that there was going to be a party and we were going to be able to go. We would travel 24 miles to Muskogee, OK where Tommy was, and we were going to the “union hall” where dad always went to do business with the union. That was where he got his jobs and where his pay came from. I had no idea what a union hall was, but thought this must be some fancy castle-like place one would find in the storybook of fairy tales. I couldn’t wait.
The night arrived for the party and we left as soon as dad was off work. We traveled to the union hall; a trip which held some challenges for me as I was always carsick. This was no exception but I recovered quickly when we got there.
The old brick building was dark and on a dark street. But when the doors opened, the smell of food and the sounds of music immediately enveloped us. Not even the cigarette smoke which hung thickly over the room could dampen the impressions of lights and magic.
When I turned into the main room, which was bordered by tables filled with laughing and loud people, I stopped in my tracks. There in the front of the room by a little stage was the biggest Christmas tree I had ever seen. It was taller than my dad and with so many colors and sparkling things on it that I thought it must be covered in jewels. The most amazing thing was that on several branch tips there were what looked like candles with bubbles bubbling up to the top of the light. They were glowing like lights and yet like candles. I was sure only castles had trees like this and now I had seen them.
My knobby knees began to shake and I then realized I was shaking all over. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I had never seen anything so beautiful and I knew if no one stopped me I could have gone the distance across the room and actually touched this phenomenon. It wasn’t a picture, and it wasn’t a movie, it was real and I was here. I felt my mother reach for me and guide me toward a table not far from the spectacular site.
Misinterpreting my shaking for hunger she set about gathering food on a plate from the pot luck buffet which was spread on many tables. When she brought the food to me, I was completely taken aback. I had never seen so many kinds of foods and colors of foods. She had carefully taken three or four desserts and cut them into equal pieces and put a little of each on a plate for my sister and me.
All my car sickness was behind me and I quickly began to sample foods I never even knew existed. This may have been, in fact, the beginning of my lifelong love affair with food and it’s connection to complete and utter happiness. I only know that if I had known about heaven I would have thought I was there.
After a while a man who laughed a lot and told jokes began a small program. Different people were introduced and they told what their job was with the union. For the life of me I cannot remember what Tommy looked like but I do remember what I felt like when they said his name. I thought surely he was the most famous person I would ever see and I wondered if I would ever meet him.
The happy man asked if there were any children who would like to perform. Slowly people began to prod their reluctant children to go up and do something. There were poems and some songs and even my sister got up and sang. She had such a pretty voice for her age.
I finally was pushed forward and knew there was no escaping my “duty” and thought it was very little to pay for this magical night and the wonderful chance to go to my first real party. I decided to “tap dance” and hoped I did a really good job. I thought I must have as everyone nodded, applauded, and smiled at me afterwards. Some gave me pats on my head when I walked by on my way back to my seat. I remember thinking, I could get used to that kind of attention.
Suddenly there was a a thunderous applause as everyone turned to look to the back of the big room. Oh my gosh! Coming in the door was a person I had only seen in pictures.
“The real and only Santa Claus”. That’s what Tommy said as he made his way to shake Santa’s hand. I could hardly breathe. I was sure of one thing. Only Tommy could have made this happen. He was so important even Santa would come to his party.
More astonishing was the fact that Santa turned and motioned to folks in the doorway and they began to carry in some big sacks . Without so much as a word to anyone, he reached into the sacks and began to pull out packages wrapped in colored paper and tied with colored string. Each one had a name on it. As I watched totally stuptified package after package was pulled out, and the name read off. All the people were there to claim their package. They a looked as surprised as I was.
And then it happened. My dad was shaking my shoulder and saying my name and asking me if I wanted my present? What I thought I’d heard, I had heard. My name. From Santa’s own mouth. And he’d reached in the sack and pulled out a package and it looked like it was going to be for me. I walked up there hoping those shaky knobby knees would still support me. He handed me the package and I remember saying “thank you, Santa” then running back to my table afraid he would find it was a mistake.
Nothing has topped that innocent initiation into Christmas magic that I experienced at the union hall that Christmas. I have received many gifts; many expensive gifts, some very sentimental gifts, and some touching gifts. But that initial magic is never to be forgotten. And it didn’t really end there.
When we arrived home, instead of carrying us up to bed sound asleep, my dad pulled the car over the railroad tracks and looked at our house. He awakened us by making a very big and loud deal of the fact there was a light on in the house that he didn’t leave on. He said he wondered if someone had broken in. My sister and I were horrified.
We all moved stealthily toward the house and Daddy opened the door cautiously then went in. We heard him shout.”Come in here. I don’t believe it.”
I was sure our little Christmas tree had been stolen and began to cry. But when I entered the room, there by the tree on the table were some more gifts. They had to be from Santa because the paper and string on them were just like the ones at the union party.
I don’t know what impressed me most about the gifts. The fact that Santa brought a play stove of metal that looked like mom’s cook stove and had a real oven door that opened; or the fact that there was a box of cherry chocolates for both my sister and me. We pretended over and over to cook each cherry chocolate before we ate it.
Mom and dad had been given a ham to serve for Christmas dinner, wrapped and in a basket. But the gift that really received raves was a small radio that we played in the evenings . We would listen to “Red Ryder”, “Father Knows Best”, “The Shadow” ,”The Lone Ranger “and many more favorites. It was a “family” gift from Santa. And I couldn’t help but conclude that Santa must like unions and union people because he sure took good care of them.
For years to come and until daddy died in his seventies, Tommy played a role in our lives through my dad. Less as the years went by, but when we buried my dad the union remembered him again. This time with flowers. Tommy was still living, but not active in the union, yet he made contact to be sure the union benefits found their way to my step mom.
All my life I knew that there were important life lessons to be learned about unions as they played out good and bad. However, for that young spindly knobby knee girl that needed hope, the union gave me the inspiration and dedication to recount that “magical” experience. Time and again, in my work and personal celebrations of the spirit of Christmas, I sought to “Pay it forward “, with all the same level of magic I had been given.
I have never forgotten that beyond the wonderful religious significance, Christmas is about children and the parties are to inspire, to bedazzle and to permeate the very souls of young children. They can learn the most important life lesson–that God gave us unconditional love for Christmas and we’re to share it for a lifetime with everyone.
In my business at the 5 Points Wellness Complex, I had a Christmas party for the clients and their entire families. (About 250 give or take the year.) It was always to promote the magical experience of Christmas for the children. and we had the perfect venue and perfect “Mr. Mrs. Santa Claus.
The camaraderie of setting up for the party was always fun with volunteers to help.
The food was exceptional with dessert tables, full course meals served buffet style, and the volunteers out-did themselves contributing their food specialties to round out the menu.
Santa always had gifts for the youngest to the oldest. In this case Joseph’s hat of many years had fallen apart and it was “his trademark”. His head being unusually large, Santa was engaged to find and replace one for him. One was found in Boston, and Joseph was “restored” to his storytelling, jovial, self.
Whenever I am invited to holiday parties, it is nice. But when I am invited to the parties for families and the efforts are made to create magic for the children, I know those people and companies have their priorities right.
So let this be my challenge to you. You have time to plan your Christmas magic. Plan it for the right reasons, for the right people and endeavor to bring Christmas to a child’s life. Now there is a “high” you’ll never top and a legacy you can pass on that will never end.
Time is promised to no man or woman, or child. In the depths of our poverty when others had plenty, even excess, my family encountered and received the simple magic of caring people. This magic has carried me through more than sixty more years of ebb and flow.
Thanks Tommy and all of you union guys who knew how to create a brotherhood and chose to share your magic. It started a Christmas legacy for me that carried into my celebrations with my family and others.
Always present the “Meaning” with the “Magic”.
CHILDREN RUSH DOWN ( A LEGACY LETTER)
This letter was written when I was working in the Domestic Violence Shelter. This Christmas was so special because my two son-in-laws, my youngest daughter and one grandson were allowed unprecedented permission to be Santa’s elves and help me make after hours deliveries to the Confidential location for the Shelter for families.
For over an hour after their arrival at the shelter, they traversed three flights of stairs making sure that each apartment received gifts for their families. No elevator there. Being in “stealth mode” due to the sleeping children was very important. Dripping with sweat but very happy, it was a wonderful sharing of the Christmas spirit and the conspiratorial nature of having to keep the secret. Even my young grandson Jared understood that to keep the families safe meant keeping that secret location “a secret“.
I wrote this accounting of that night’s events for a Holiday Letter contest for our local paper.
HOLIDAY LETTERS: Children Rush Down
My favorite time of the holidays is that magical time when all the children have gone to bed at the Domestic Violence Shelter. Only Santa knows the confidential location and he always arrives with perfect timing when the last child has shut his eyes. I love that he always surprises the moms, who think they won’t have anything, and actually haven’t had even one gift in years. Early Christmas morning there are moms trekking to the office; they stammer thanks, show surprise, and shed tears. The children rush down to tell me that they are so relieved because, despite all my assurances, they were sure Santa would not find them.
Unexpected “heroes” make this possible, like the skinny 16-year-old who volunteered to help load gifts despite owning no coat, gloves or hat. The CEO who arrived Christmas Eve at the agency headquarters in a Corvette and covered the last-minute admission of a family who needed gifts. He shopped himself to assist Santa. Embarrassed, there was the mom who had told her kids there was no such thing as Santa but then got up in the middle of the night, saw all the gifts, and asked to have paper to make a Christmas tree to put them under. She had no idea there would be so much.
Very dear were the clients who stood in awe when the snow started exactly at midnight and said, “It figures, because this is a real Christmas.”
Christmas letter the following year
WHY SO MUCH? ( A LEGACY EDITORIAL LETTER )
This is a guest editorial I wrote on behalf of the Domestic Violence Program I worked with in response to getting gifts for the Family Domestic Violence Shelter. It actually is in response to the over abundant gift giving we had which took truck loads to the shelter and left us enough “left overs” to provide birthday gifts for the shelter children for a year. (Santa said it would be okay). We were able to also serve some families that had been in shelter but were able to leave and start re-establishing homes, but had no means for a Christmas.
WHY SO MUCH ?
The question asked long ago in “Miracle on 34th Street” appeared again in the gift-laden room last Saturday where we sat feverishly wrapping packages. The question “Is there a Santa Claus?” was rephrased as, “Why so much?”
It wasn’t to provoke a debate about commercialism. It was simply a statement borne of amazement. Surrounded by mounds of toys, clothes, and household items donated by a generous Q-C population, the astonished questioner was overcome.
Just then the door opened and Davenport Police Sgt. Bruce McKee walked in with another armful of gifts. This was the fourth delivery from the NorthPark Mall collection organized by Sgt. McKee. Policemen, known to dread domestic violence calls due to their danger to officers, and counselor-advocates, who often push the officers on behalf of their clients, were spending a whole day freezing together on common ground to collect toy donations for children served by Family Resources Violence Intervention and Counseling Services.
As gifts grew into colorful towers, the question was blurted out not in judgment, not in rejection, and not as a result of a belief system. “Why so much?” simply begged the question, “Is the giving so great because people care so much? Or love so much? Or have so much? Do people need so much to know love at Christmas?”
Some felt it was an expression of caring to let the victims know we can’t always stop domestic violence, but we do care it has happened to them.Some felt the victims need the “magic” of at least one memorable Christmas. Others felt it could be tinged with guilt on the part of the givers, and need on the part of the receivers.
The questioner started to answer her question by relating the wish expressed by one client that day “just to be in a safe place with my children.” But the bottom line is this. In the year of a tsunami and hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the eyes of love still fell on the hidden tragedy of pain inflicted on domestic violence victims.
Special thanks to Sgt. Bruce McKee and the Davenport Police Association and Union who organized and ran the toy collection. We also salute the employees and volunteers of Family Resources who made the wrapping and distribution of gifts possible, and finally, the families who inspire us as they continue to strive to heal and regain control of their lives.
- TIME is the only thing that seems appropriate to write about as New Year’s Eve 2013 approaches and New Years Day 2014 tantalizes us with thoughts of hope, peace and capturing elusive love for some. For oh so many reasons I want to be sure to mark this date and time in my life. Let me start with just some simple milestones that occur to me at this moment and seem most pertinent.
- HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEW YEARS DAY, DADDY.
- My biological father Lloyd Jewel Godwin was born on January 1, and would turn 99 if he were living on New Year’s Day. Already living on his own at age twelve, he became a boxer to survive. At age 21, to win my grandfather’s permission to marry my mother who was 16, he agreed to become a sharecropper and work with the family. Often this meant picking cotton in the scorching sun up to 104 degrees, and sharing housing with “in-laws”.
- Later Dad learned the welding trade and traveled for the Oklahoma Union until retirement. This was a job he was able to work with some prestige and recognition for his “gift” at specialty welding techniques. He was highly regarded professionally and worked jobs all over the U.S. and Canada, as well as Alaska.
- Top left: Lloyd (about 4) and brother Leman (about 2) before the death of their mother Estella the following year.
- Top Right: Lloyd living in Arkansas with relatives (about 12) just before he was put out on his own
- Bottom left: At 20 on his own and working as an amateur boxer in Oklahoma.
- Bottom right: Wedding day of my parents; Marguerite (16) Lloyd (21) Morris, Oklahoma 1936
- Bottom center: Lloyd age 44 visiting in Davenport, Iowa.
- Throughout his life my father was known for his coal black hair, (no grey until his 70’s and then, only a distinguished “Widow’s Peak.” He was also captivating with his Paul Newman blue eyes and often known as a “ladies man”. When my Oklahoma relatives met my son Steve as an adult, they were stunned to see that, with the exception of my son’s snapping brown eyes, he was very much “my Dad.” Same height, build, mannerisms and quick mind that loves to learn. My Dad read history, studied the wars, military and stories of America’s west extensively. He had a wonderful collection of well read books, despite the fact that he never got to complete school beyond eighth grade.
- My son Steven Eric Grubbs at age 48. (4 years difference in the age of my dad’s picture ).
- Time has flown by so fast that I can hardly imagine that 52 years ago January I married my husband. Students at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK. I was 18 and he 21; the exact legal age to marry without parental consent. We tried to elope but under parental pressure we ended up with a church wedding to prevent the wrath of my mother from descending on us. .
- Later in a twist of fate, or perhaps “earned respect”, my husband would become my mother’s best friend. It would be friendship that lasted until her passing.
- (She is pictured with my step-father Dr. Willard Smith)
- My husband and I committed to growing old together, and with only one blip of Time on our marital radar, we have. (I will be 71 in February and he is 73).
- There is no question in my mind that Time is also loss. As in recent years, we are forced to prepare for loss. Family, friends, and “Fur Friends”. At this writing we are conducting “hospice care in house” for our beloved greyhound and “Fur-son,” Big Buddy Grubbs. If you can imagine how wonderful it is to have a beloved pet, how great it feels to receive that unconditional love for years, then take it to the extreme opposite and realize that the “loss” of that same pet takes you to the depths of emptiness in a special part of your heart. So it is that we prepare to lose Big Buddy, but in that loss we are sustained by the knowledge that “the process of losing him” reminds and prepares us for the inevitable loss of one another. So in that, we are thankful.
- Big Buddy Grubbs in his Oklahoma State University gear escorting his love, Baby Doll Grubbs in her Oklahoma Sooner’s gear, to a Christmas party in 2011 sponsored by the Quad Cities Greyhound Adoptions group, Maysville, Iowa. They are the group that helped connect us to these two as well as our first greyhound Dex.
- The “writer inside me” compels me to also record the following:.
- “We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; in feelings, not in figures on a dial.” Philip James Bailey, Festus
- Somehow, that translation of Time speaks to me when I review my life. It encourages me to realize I am not in a battle with Time but rather I am living in an accumulation of deeds, thoughts and feelings that are not dictated by the years I have left. I believe each of us might be more satisfied with life were we to look at our life in review using that criteria.
- “Indifferent to the affairs of men, time runs out, precise, heedless, exact and immutable in rhythm.” Erwin Sylvanus, Dr. Korczak and the Children.
- Truly, that quote sums up my thoughts of this milestone: Indifferent to the affairs of men (or women), Time runs out. I consider that I am not the thumb on the stopwatch; I am the runner in pursuit of another step. Yet I do believe, with all my heart that when the Time runs out, it is over. No bargaining, no purchasing of another day; simply the knowledge that Time runs out. This is probably the one function of Time that I do understand. I am however comforted by a belief system which includes the unwavering “knowledge” that there is life after death which is a whole new and different discussion of “Time”.
- I would not be a credible writer if I did not summarize my thoughts of Time, the end of Time and compare it with the ‘written word’ concerning Time.
- The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. J. M. Barrie, The Little Minister.
- “Having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obligated by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.” Benjamin Franklin.
- I do not make New Year’s Resolutions, but rather choose to adopt an “attitude of mindset” for the New Year. So in 2012, with this quote in mind, I chose: “Open to change in the Time I have left.”
- In 2014 I offer this thought.
- Happy New Year.
These men of our family are precious to me for the service they gave to their country. This spans from WWII to present. And introducing our first woman of the family, Jamie Allen.
GODWIN SIDE; WAYNE BEARDEN MARRIED TO CHARLOTTA GODWIN,DELMAR KISER MARRIED TO MILDRED GODWIN, GILBERT “GABE” GODWIN SON OF AGRIPPA AND AMY GODWIN, JERRY LYNN KISER IS SON OF MILDRED GODWIN KISER AND DELMAR KISER.
JACK MARRS, SON OF ARTHUR AND RHODA MARRS: JOHNEY CECIL MARRS,SON OF ARTHUR AND RHODA MARRS.
Johney Cecil Marrs at “The Wall” via an Honor Flight from Texas. He was honored, and grateful, for the opportunity.
Jerry Hogue and Ty Marrs
JEPPIE NEIL HOGUE WAS FATHER TO MY COUSIN JERRY HOGUE. I AM RELATED THROUGH MY BIOLOGICAL GRANDMOTHER ESTELLA FRANCES HILL MARRIED TO MY GRANDFATHER AGRIPPA WESLEY GODWIN.
ELVEN ANDREW MARRS , “UNCLE BUD” IS RELATED THROUGH THE MARRS FAMILY.
MY STEP-FATHER, CAPTAIN WILLARD M. SMITH
MY SISTER TRULA’S SONS, JASON, DARRIN AND BRADLEY TANNER
MY BELOVED FATHER-IN-LAW ALBERT HARRY “BILL” GRUBBS.
SGT. JASON WILLARD TANNER RET’D. Served in Somalia and Afghanistan.
SGT. JASON TANNER SERVED IN AFGHANISTAN AT TORKAM AIR BASE
Nephew Scott Grubbs, son of Jackson Ross Grubbs and Vickie Pittman Grubbs Waggoner. He had a distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force and amazing tours in Afghanistan/Iraq retiring Master Sgt..
Husband of Nancy Snyder Neese, Daughter of Sylvia “Sib” Godwin Snyder. Max Neese served in the U.S. Air Force
PROUDLY ACKNOWLEDGING OUR LONE FEMALE, JAMIE ALLEN WHO IS THE DAUGHTER OF JOHN MARRS, AND GRAND-DAUGHTER OF JOHNEY CECIL MARRS.
WE ALL TRY TO “SERVE AND SUPPORT” IN OUR OWN WAY, AS I DID AS AN AUTHOR.
I was honored to co-author a unique novel with my grandson Justin Jeffrey Grubbs. When my nephew was deployed to Afghanistan we had “fair warning.” to prepare.As a morale “booster” I began to write a novel to tell of the some of the deployment challenges in uprooting one’s life to to go to a place once considered, while he was there at Torkam Air Base, “The most dangerous place on earth.” I would send chapter by chapter as I wrote it; and soon, he requested I include some of his unit in the novel. I was happy too. They would read it as “content readers” to be sure I did credit to the Army.
Pictured is my “co-author” who had been to a Leadership Forum sponsored by General Tommy Franks. When he heard him speak, Justin was inspired. He contributed some invaluable content ideas for the format of the storyline. Justin Jeffrey Grubbs was a freshman at the University of Minnesota at the time.Note he is wearing his shirt designating General Tommy Franks
The novel was printed using two different covers; one with the “Infidel” shirt (a private unit shirt reminding them how they were looked upon by the enemy) and one with a plain black shirt for the novels shipped to Afghanistan for the soldiers. This of course a safety measure in case of seizure or a find by the enemy.
- I stood in the shadows of the mountains of Tora Bora where Bin Ladin planned his deeds.
- I have said ‘lets go’ and ‘move out’, when other Americans would rather quit and go home.
- I have pushed my 40 old body to surpass the 20 year old ones around me.
- I have looked my son in his eyes and told him that I will be OK knowing that I truly do not know that answer.
- I have fought the urge to say “F” it, and I lead my men to drive on.
- I have dealt with the lonely nights and slept without the caress of my girl.
- I stand next to men every day that do the same thing that I do and that fight the same demons that I fight every day.
- I drive on when I am hurt and cannot stand from the pain.
- I smile and say I am OK when I am ready to break.
- Hurt or sick, well rested or not, mentally straight or a mind of cluster, I drive on.
- And then someone will ask me why I do what I do if it causes so much pain. Most of the time I tell them, as I tell my son, if not me then who? Someone has to defend this country so it may as well be me.
- But after our last few e-mails Aunt Joyce, you need to know that it is for the 89%(who do not serve).
- It is for a retired history teacher, or so an old man can have his garden.
- It is for a hard working father or mother so they don’t have to leave their kids.
- It is for the student that just hasn’t figured out yet where they want to go.
- And it is for the author so she can have a story to tell.
- You see Aunt Joyce, There are many reason that I do what I do, and most of the time I don’t understand them, and maybe like my Mom’s kids, mine have suffered some too. I do what I do because it is what I am good at and all I know how to do, it is the only thing that brings me pride besides my kids. When my days are over if someone were to ask me then,” Would you do it again?” I would say yes. As long as every adversity that has come my way stands in front of me again, then yes But only if you don’t change one moment of the pain or one moment of the fear or loneliness. I will do it again. These are the things that have made me who I am and what I am.
- Some of these things are not good, but they are still me. I may not be able to stand next to a more perfect man, but as I said I have stood in some pretty good places that other men will never stand; some men would be afraid to stand, and other men would never try to stand.
- At the end of it all when I look back at things I have done, I get one thing out of it, pride. But you have to go through the “suck” before you get there.
[WITH HIS PERMISSION IN REPLY TO MY EMAIL CONCERNING HIS BIRTHDAY}
AND NOW A MOMENT TO REFLECT ON THE INEVITABLE
HERE’S TO THE CRABBY OLD MEN IN MY LIFE
( A Legacy Reflection)
I do not begin to take credit for this literary piece. It is an email in wide circulation but believe me when I tell you that more than forty years in the health care field validates for me that this is a truism that people should recognize and benefit from. For that reason, and the fact even my Uncle Chief (Dr. Clodus Smith) sent it to me, I have included it in my legacy collection.
In the days I worked as a nurse’s aide, before becoming a nurse, I remember well a couple that I met. He was in a nursing home and was a large man with coarse features and wild grey hair. His wife was a beautiful white haired lady with her hair meticulously drawn back in a bun at the nape of her neck. She visited him daily.
He had been a Superintendent of Schools who was a highly educated man and very scholarly. A stroke had blind-sided him and made him incapable of articulate conversation and his mind wandered in worlds known only to him. He was very gentle and easy to direct when giving his cares. He had a loving nature that had survived the stroke and everyone loved caring for him.
One day above his bed appeared a neatly hand made poster with a picture of him as a distinguished educator. These words accompanied the picture. “Mr. Rath is a very dignified man who has earned the respect of his friends and his peers. Please do not baby talk to him as it demeans who he has been his whole life.” I never forgot that lesson and I tried to teach it to all others I encountered in the health field as a nurse and caregivers.
Please now read and learn from;
Crabby Old Man
When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Tampa, Florida, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Missouri. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem. And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this “anonymous” poem winging across the Internet.
Crabby Old Man
What do you see nurses? ……What do you see?
What are you thinking……when you’re looking at me?
A crabby old man, ….not very wise,
Uncertain of habit …….with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food……and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice…..”I do wish you’d try!”
Who seems not to notice ….the things that you do.
And forever is losing ………….. a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not………..lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding ……. the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse……you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am …… as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, …….as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten……with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters …….who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen ………..with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now. ……..a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty ………my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows……..that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now ………. I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide …….. and a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty …….. my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other ……… with ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons ……..have grown and are gone,
But my woman’s beside me……..to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, ………. babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children ……… my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me ………. my wife is now dead.
I look at the future ………..I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing ……..young of their own.
And I think of the years…… and the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man………and nature is cruel.
Tis jest to make old age ……look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles……….grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone……..where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass …… a young guy still dwells,
And now and again ………my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys………….. I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living………. .life over again.
I think of the years …all too few……gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact……..that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people ……….open and see..
Not a crabby old man. Look closer….see……..ME!!
Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might
brush aside without looking at the young soul within…..we will all, one day, be there, too!
May we all look not at the crabby old man, but at his legacy.
A Pictorial Salute for Father’s Day to my father, Lloyd J. Godwin and Step-father, Dr. Willard M. Smith.
Dr. Willard M. Smith