"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Giants in the earth

A few years ago, what the kids call the Mafia

follows are the general  outline of comments I made while officiating the funeral of my father-in-law Jay Henry, June 2. He was 93, born July 14, 1929, died  May 23.

  • Genesis 6:4. “There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that…”
  • There still are. Today we gather to salute, to honor, to celebrate, to say goodbye, to mourn such a one,  James Lidge Henry, a true patriarch for his extensive family.
  • These comments are for each of you, Susan, Sara, Jim, Jason; grandchildren-- Chad, Bobby, Jared, Alexx, Roxanne, Sam; great grandchildren-- Hugo, Ellis; in-laws, Jennifer, Karen, Perry, me, Angela, Cat, Sophy, Candie.
  • “Pepa”  Grandchildren revere him...you are so fortunate in scattered times …a beloved icon. As a relative new in-law, one who had never heard of Jay Henry until I met Susan, I quickly realized I had been adopted, fully accepted…as each of you in-laws have learned.
  • How accepted? He and Margaret didn’t judge. They never questioned—and we never argued, about opposing politics. How tolerant? They didn’t disown me, though they couldn’t understand however, that I was not an OU fan. My command was always, “take care of our daughter.”
  • My view of Jay—a gardener, a meticulous detail person. How dare another leaf fall down in his garden area after he’d just swept it clean. If he was ready to leave a dinner, a trip, whatever, impatience showed. He’d have everything in order and packed. We often heard him loudly snap at Margaret, who always took 30 minutes to say goodbye. “Margaret, let’s go!”
  • And he and Margaret are one of the great love stories of all time, meeting on a tennis court at OBU. Jay, a lanky kid from southern Oklahoma, took the bus up to Enid to meet the folks, got off on the US 81 corner near the Jolly house, and probably saw the Champlain oil mansion at the end of the block.I wonder what he thought? He told me Margaret was the first Republican he’d ever met. 
  • Editorial comment:  get rid of any stereotype you ave about rural people being hicks. . Jay’s intelligence, character, drive, experience, wisdom as a leader, and as an always generous father in good times and dark times was unparalleled. 
  • Except for Margaret, Jay was used to being in charge, gained at Baptist Hospital, which became his other life. Before it was a trend, he managed by “walking around” the halls, greeting every employee by name.
  • A few years ago, Susan and I were at the Cowboy museum for an even, ant Uncle Ray was there. Soon we noticed he was just sitting there, not being responsive. We feared a stroke, and he eventually was taken by ambulance to ICU in Baptist.  We headed that way
  • Jay and Margaret arrived, Margaret dropped off first, and we were milling around outside the ICU doors waiting for news. Jay walks in, walks up to the reception desk..they're also cop and a nurse in there.  Jay  demands, “Open that door.”It opens, like the Red Sea, and Jay, retired, but in charge, barges in.
  • Family man—Jay loved taking relatives on road trips to southern Oklahoma, to towns and cemeteries, and his favorite place, Corbit.   The Henry’s  lived down the road from Wylie Post’s family home and walked there to tell his mother about the accident. Irony. Jay is being buried not too far from Wylie Post in the same cemetery.
  • He was proud of his and ancestors and heritage, including Clan Campbell,
  • I asked the kids about memories that might help us appreciate Jay and smile today.
  • Everyone of them mentioned the trips Jay and Margaret would take the entire family on.
  • They all spoke about a road trip to Mexico, with Jay driving, and Margaret reading a tour guide as the went. I can imagine some of the kids’ rolling eyes, and Jay was not the most patient person driving either, especially if someone was slow in front of him. He’d gun it and pass, even several cars (This is one of the reason I really identify with him, and it explains Susan’s gritted teeth when I drive—it’s genetic).
  • Jay was in charge and always trying to corral the 4 kids to stay on schedule, on a road trip of a cruise. Good luck. In Mexico City, he was ready to go, but couldn’t fine Jim and Jason. I think they’d been told not to, but there they were at the top of the Sun Temple. Wish we had a recording.  I can’t even corral my wife to stay on my schedules,—can’t image four of them-Genetic.
  • By the way, they drove in a station wagon, back before seat belts, and you’re old if you remember the second back seat looking out the rear view window, .
  • One more item—Sara told me there was a period  when the kids experienced Jay and Margaret falling in love again. She  said there were a  few times when one of them would barge in somewhere, and embarrassed, beat a hasty exit.
  • It was all about family. In these last years, Susan and Sarah and Jim became more and more involved with their care. Susan took over much of their bookkeeping and other duties, and Jay told me many times, “Thank you for loaning us your wife.”
  • There are portions of a fitting Scottish funeral poem speaking to each of you in this family.
  • Relax, I’ll not try to say it in Scottish, and  update the language. It’s Jay, talking to each of you:
  • “Good night, and joy be with you all, your mirth has cheered my heart, in sorrow may you never part. My spirit lives, but strength is gone, Remember children, the deeds I've done, and in your deeds I live again."


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