Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jerry D. Morris 1935-2008

This past Thursday (12/11/08) my wife's grandfather passed away. We spent Friday figuring out whether to drive or fly to Cotter, AR.  We flew there on Saturday for the service on Sunday and back last nignt (Monday).

Today I've been thinking a lot about his life and legacy. Jerry was affectionately known as "Pa" by his family and though he gave me permission to call him that....I never felt entitled to. Jerry was a true patriarch. He and his wife Marilyn had four children. Those children had 6 grandchildren. And 3 great grandsons (with another grandson/granddaughter on the way).

At the service yesterday I felt a justified sense of pride telling a stranger at the funeral that the unruly child I as dealing with was "Jerry's great grandson." The stranger perked up and said to Elijah "Oh, I am your great-grandfather's neighbor."

I think this would have pleased Jerry. He did many things with his life (see here and here) but he would be the first to tell you that his family was his greatest treasure and accomplishment. The day after he passed away an article was published in the local paper about family holidays and conversation that happened to quote him:

"For many, many years," Jerry Morris said, "Marilyn's grandfather, Clarence Hopkins, gave the same blessing. Now, we ask various members of the family if they can
remember it, and many of them can still recite it."

Morris believes that telling stories about the character of grandparents and, as his
family calls them, "greats," encourages support of one another and results in a
strong family.

"There's so much value," he said, "in simple human interaction."

I'll leave you with a poem he wrote and gave us copies of last Christmas that at the time was about his parents but now means so much more.

Maude and Jim Morris

They gave us a good name

Our mama and dad,

That's a fine garment in which to be clad

We had no idea what wealth we had

That good name from mama and dad

They worked as farmers in the Ozark hills

Toiling and tilling the land for its yield

Feeding their children with the food from the field

Loving and laughing and teaching

As bells of time pealed

They raised twelve children with their work and

their love

And never complained that any of us heard

We had lots of warmth, even when it was cold

And ate great food, all bountiful and bold

They sent us to school, all scrubbed and clean

And told us to remember our name

'cause that was the best path to fame

A good name, our dad always said,

Was the best possession anyone ever had

And truth was the way to be trusted and revered

And we were to speak it whatever occured

They died, as all people do

But they left us their good name

And that is most true

by Jerry Morris

The Twelfth Child

Here is my wife and I leaving our wedding as Pa (far right) looked on......

(Click on Pictures to Enlarge)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Have I Done?

I am already regretting this whole Blog thing. When I started it I thought I had things to say and time to say them. Turns out I was wrong.

I originally wanted to do one entry a week. Then that got relaxed and I am afraid the next posting will be something like:

"August 11 2010

MAN I haven't posted on here in forever. Internet use is limited here in prison. Also, typing with only one arm is not easy! Have I got an update for you....."

These blogs are such a humbling exercise in vanity. I don't think I need to build up that muscle.

I'll keep trying though.