Grateful for My Father in Law

by on October 17, 2012
in Uncategorized

He will be 97 on Wednesday, October 3, 2012!
He can still explain how early seed experimentation and hybridization began at Mississippi State University.
He still hears you, sees you, knows who you are, and displays a wicked, wry sense of humor. He still has a head full of white hair.
He can still walk the long gravel driveway to get the mail although it causes his leg to hurt, enjoy a bowl of spicy corn and shrimp soup, and explain exactly how he wants the yard and grounds maintained.
I’ve learned several things from my father in law in the thirty five years I have been a part of the Bunch family including:
1) Don’t touch a barb wire fence in a storm when it’s lightening. Papa Dean told my sons a story from his boyhood in Oklahoma. He said that after a storm he was sent out to ride the fence line and see what, if any, damage had been done. He described the wide open Oklahoma sky, the red bluffs, and the big old horse he rode. You almost hear the squeak of the worn leather saddle and feel the trot, trot, trot of the horse under you as he said, “I looked down the fence line and saw some humps; big, dark humps on the ground,” he said. “As I got closer I saw it was cows. . . our cows. Unmoving. Dead.” He went on to explain that the cows had huddled near the fence during the storm and touching the wire were electrocuted when the lightning flashed in the dark sky and sparked lethally through the metal. The boys learned to use their heads, know where their feet are, and stay out of danger.
2) Don’t mess with nature. The boys got in the most trouble, EVER, at the grandparents when they had playfully cut into a young tree and stripped bark from it. I have never seen Papa Dean so angry! They got a serious lesson in taking care of trees, the damage cutting into a tree causes, and what can happen to a sapling when the bark is stripped. The grandsons learned early on that the outside of a house was to be taken care of just like the inside of a house.
3) A young, teenage boy can walk behind, control, and plow with five mules. Papa Dean’s father didn’t have tractors or lots of farmhands to help him, although Dean said his mother could plow the straightest rows of anyone in the family when she could help. Dean had a sister and a brother who was born very small with several physical difficulties. The family was told the brother “would never grow up.” (He is still alive and cognizant most of the time.) It fell on Dean’s shoulders to man up and do a man’s work around the farm. He never said if he wondered if he could hook up and control the five mule team, he never said if he asked for help, he never said if he was afraid; he just did the job. The family survived. The boys learned not to be afraid of tackling big tasks; hard work is good.
4) A little chocolate never hurts. Every Christmas Papa Dean would begin his scientific experimental work. His special boiler, thermometer, spoon, and pan were assembled. The wrinkled, only- acceptable recipe was brought out. And he made fudge. The family eagerly awaited each batch and, as chocolate connoisseurs, would discuss the flavor, texture, consistency, and quality of the delectable fudge. Not to be outdone, Dean also turned out peanut brittle (often from a big, draw string bag of raw Oklahoma peanuts brought back from a visit home) and penuche. When it came to making a great cup of coffee and delicious candy, Dean was the expert. Gary and the boys have all taken turns in the past as his understudy in this important family undertaking learning the secrets and experiencing success as well as failure. Most importantly they learned if a batch doesn’t turn out right, try again; don’t give up.
If we use our heads and what we know to avoid getting into dumb, deadly situations; if we take care of what we have and the world around us; if we dare to do the difficult well; if we take time to add sweetness to life; won’t we have left an admirable legacy?
Happy Birthday, Papa Dean, and thank you for letting me be a small part of your life.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Proverbs 20:29: “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”
Leviticus 19:32 “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”

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