Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
August 6, 2017
Remembering tender, comforting words
Across the years, in families, we sometimes utter harsh words to one another. Most of us can remember having to say, “Please forgive me; I should not have spoken like that.”
When my wife wrote her memories of my dad, she said she chose not to remember dad’s insensitive words but to recall only those words she describes as tender and comforting. I hope my family will be that kind to me when they recall the words that I have uttered over the years.
Here are Dean’s memories of her father-in-law:
The man we came to call “Papa” was a man of few words, but when he spoke he said words that touched your heart. The words he spoke to me were words that are etched in my mind and heart forever.
On Christmas Eve in 1951 Walter gave me an engagement ring. I could not wait to show it to our families. When we arrived at the Albritton home, everyone was in the kitchen. I rushed in to tell everyone that Walter had given me a ring. Papa looked at us and said, “I hope you will always be as happy as you are tonight.” Well, we weren’t always that happy, but having celebrated 65 years of marriage I can say that overall we have had a happy life together.
Within three months of marriage I knew that I was going to have a baby. I was scared and as I got heavy with child I felt like I didn’t look very good. One day Papa said to me, “Dean, you have never looked prettier than you look now. Mothers-to-be always have the most beautiful skin.” That made me feel so good that I began to believe him.
The day our son, David, was born was a day to remember in more ways than one. The weather was some of the worst we had ever seen. A tornado hit our house and the town of Auburn. I just made it to the hospital; what was so bad was that Papa and Grandmamma were right in the middle of a storm trying to get to Auburn to see their first grandchild. Papa said these precious words, “It was worth the trip to see David.”
Money was tight and we decided that I should go to work. Papa wrote one of his few letters to us. This is what he said to me, “Dean, I think it will be fine for you to work. The change in environment will be worth more than money. David will do well in nursery school and mark my word, you will be glad that you are working.” In that letter he also wrote David a note and told him about all the things he was doing. His words encouraged me.
When we found out that David had Leukemia, Papa said, “No, we must not give up, there is always hope.” The doctors had said he only had a short time to live, but Papa did not want to believe it. When Papa and I stood beside each other at David’s grave, I saw a man filled with grief because he had lost his only grandchild. When our second son was born, I saw that man come to life again. I told Matt the other day, “Matt, you were loved more that you will ever know by your grandfather.”
As the years have taken their toll on me, I can understand what he went through as he aged. His hearing was gone and he was having a hard time walking and there was sadness about him. I wish I could tell him now how I am understanding more and more how he felt. He was a brave, strong man and he didn’t always speak as kindly as he should have, but I chose not to remember those words. Instead I remember with gratitude the tender words that were a comfort to me so many times. + + +