Quote from "Stepping Heavenward" by Mrs. E. Prentiss

"She says I shall now have one mouth more to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music and drawing.

Well! This is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other.

Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which dwells is worthy of all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other dear darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, wondrously blest!"

Monday, April 20, 2015

They Called Him Uncle Tommy, but His Name Was Harry

Yesterday was the celebration of my Uncle Tommy's life.  He had been a victim of that insidious disease Alzheimer's.   My Uncle Paul who conducted the ceremony described him as a sweet older brother which I found so interesting.    So many times in families you hear how the oldest was mean, bossy, demanding, etc.    Maybe my ears tuned in to those comments because I'm an oldest and know I could definitely be some of those things.   He said they had their scuffles, but never once did his older brother punch or hit him.    He was a sweet brother who would turn away from conflict except when it came to war.   He was still in high school when the Korean War began.   My grandfather had to sign he could go because he was only 17.   But he felt the need to join the battle.   It was so interesting to me that my Uncle Paul described the reasons many joined the wars of their generation was not only strong love for their country, but their strong faith in the Lord.    That's a thought I am going to have to chew on.    Don't get me wrong I believe it.   I've read books on Stonewall Jackson and his letters to his wife during the civil war which were full of scripture and love of the Lord but, I guess too many movies and stories have made it all about American Patriotism alone, and not their faith.   

He led the way for his brothers whether it was football, his love for country joining the military, or his faith.   You see all 3 of my uncles and my father were military men at some point.   Uncle Tommy later became an accountant, but my father, Uncle Billy and Uncle Paul (chaplain) were all military men and being the eldest son he was the first.
I love, love, love hearing the stories of a person's life.   My Uncle Paul was actually married before my Uncle Tommy and when he asked Uncle Tommy to come to his wedding he said he didn't want to witness a murder.    Of course, he came and supposedly sat in the back row.   My uncle Paul laughed and said if you knew him, it wasn't a mean comment but his humor.    Soon after Aunt Marilyn (Uncle Paul's wife and I believe Aunt Sue's cousin) got a call from Aunt Sue that Uncle Tommy had called and asked if she would date him.    Of course, she did and as they say "the rest is history."   My Uncle Paul did say he couldn't come home for the wedding, but wished he could have been their for "the murder".   

Uncle Paul contributes he and his siblings strong faith to their mother and father.    Grandma Williams was the godliest woman they all knew even today.    She was a mighty prayer warrior.    His father, Grandpa Harry Williams,  was a baseball man for the beginning of the children's growing up years.   I remember seeing newspaper clippings at my Aunt Sara's house of him from his baseball career.   His mother, my Grandma Williams, would faithfully take all the children to church on Sunday.   There were six of them and my daddy was the youngest.   While they were at church, my grandfather was at baseball.   When he could no longer play, he coached or umpired.    Then he was captured by the Lord and saved.   What a wonderful memory for his family.   He then played an active role spiritually in the lives of his children.    Uncle Tommy had a godly heritage.

My Aunt Edna and cousin Leslie both talked about a story when he was young and outran a bull.   They (Edna and Tommy) were supposed to be home by three and cut through a cow pasture.   But in that pasture there was a bull and then a run to get out of the pasture.   Aunt Edna made it in time to get out of the gate but Uncle Tommy had to jump through the barbed wire and made it without one scratch!.   .

After his service to his country, he went back to finish school.   He was 23 years old and went back to high school.   What courage and dedication that was to obtaining an education.    He saw that Uncle Paul was going to college afterwards and thought if his brother could do it so could he.   So he worked nights for the power company (I think) and went to school during the day to get his degree.   

My earliest memories of Uncle Tommy and Aunt Sue were from when we came home from Germany.   I was ten years old.   After apartment living on 17 Frieburger Strasse in Heidelburg Germany, my siblings and I thought they had the biggest house ever with a huge back yard.   We laugh now about how we returned as adults and it was a nice sized, beautiful home, but not the mansion of our memories.    We loved being there.   There home was full of laughter and love.  Not only did Uncle Tommy and Aunt Sue surround us with their love, it was hard to believe their teenage children (our cousins) would give us so much attention.    I mean we knew they were in  high school and were football players and a majorette and we were only 10, 7, and 4.   We loved any time we got the chance to visit.

My last visit at their home my sister Sandi and I were at a home school conference in Tennessee and we wanted to stop by on our way home.    My sweet aunt Sue was already in the early stages of battling Parkinson's disease and although she had always been an excellent cook, it was too difficult now.   We went to KFC where they refused to let us pay for our lunch.   They were the type of family that was truly excited to spend time with you and you always left them full of joy.   I believe I saw them at my Uncle Wally's funeral, but that was my chemo year and my memories are very blurry.   Chemo brain is real.   That's another thing that I never doubted.   When I was battling cancer, I knew they were praying for me.

So why did they call him Uncle Tommy when his name was Harry?    I hope my cousins at some point tell me their version of this story.   When I was looking at the pictures before the service, my brother asked the same thing when we saw his name plate on the table that said Harry Carroll Williams.   Carroll was my grandmother's maiden name.  She was a descendent from Charles Carroll of Carrolton who signed the Declaration of Independence.    Harry was my grandfather's name as well.   So where did Tommy come from.   My father said a girl he dated didn't like calling him Harry so she called him Tommy.    My Uncle Billy said he thought that's what their grandfather called him and it stuck.   My Uncle Paul said that a neighbor friend held him up as a baby and said he should be named Tommy and it stuck.      Whatever the reason, he was always Uncle Tommy to me, my brother and sister.
As my cousin Greg told me before the service, he is out of pain, home with the Lord and it's a good thing.    That's the wonderful thing about knowing your family knows Jesus personally.   You can rejoice that they are in a better place where there is no more horrible diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or cancer.    They will reunite with their family that has gone before, and more importantly spend eternity in the presence of our Lord.     Although we may shed tears for our loss of a great man, we rejoice that we will one day see him again and we rejoice that he is absent from the body and present with our Lord.

Please continue to pray for his family and especially my Aunt Sue.     That stinking Parkinson's is kicking her behind.    I LOVED seeing the sweet attentiveness from her daughters-in-love.   The love of her children and their wives did my heart good.    She is still one of the sweetest people I know.  I would love for you to pray that her last days may still be her best days, that a cure for this disease is found, that she will be strengthened by the Lord during this sad time, and that she would be continually surrounded by the love of family and her God.   

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