Showing posts with label Stan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stan. Show all posts

Sunday, June 21, 2020

I SALUTE MY FATHER FIGURES THIS FATHER'S DAY

Today is the day set aside to honor our fathers. My father is buried in the family cemetery on our farm in south Georgia, just where he wanted his body placed, overlooking green pastures and shimmering little lakes.

Near him is my sister's husband, Stan, who was a great father-figure to me.
In fact, he was more like a father than my Daddy, in many ways. I was six or seven years old when my sister brought Stan home to meet her family. Tall and handsome in his Air Force uniform, he became a much-loved son to my parents and a brother to the rest of us. He was the kind of man a little girl needs for a father, and unlike my daddy, Stan was warm and affectionate. I talked to him and he listened. He actually seemed interested in me and what I had to say. Naturally I loved him. The day my sister, June, married Stan and made him a permanent part of our big clan was one of the most important days of my life. The two of them were my biggest supporters as I grew up, graduated from high school and went away to college.

Stan's letters cheered me up and encouraged me those early years at Georgia State College for Women. I was always welcome to visit them on weekends in Atlanta. I loved every minute I spent at their house. Stan died in 1975 and rests forever on the farm in south Georgia far from his birth place in South Dakota. 

In that cemetery on the hill, is the grave of my brother, Ray, who was a father-figure for all brothers and sisters. At an early age, he took on responsibility for family needs, and all his life he put the welfare of his brothers and sisters and his parents first. His generosity and his leadership knew no boundaries. Most of his kind deeds will never be known because he wanted it that way.
Ray Council


Ray and I started at the new Albany High School at the same time, but I was a freshman and he began his first year as a teacher. One of the perks of having your brother teach at your school is getting to ride to school with him instead of catching the bus.

I was always one to keep the rules. The thought of getting in trouble with school authorities and then having to face my parents was about the worst thing I could imagine. So I don't know how I came to skip school with my friend, Jeannine. We walked to her house because her parents were gone and we had no fear of being caught. I don't remember what we did that day, but I knew we had to be back at the school before the bus came and before Ray left for home.

We did a good job of fooling everyone, we thought. However, Ray asked me where I had gone. His friends, my teachers, told him they missed me in class. Ray knew I had ridden with him to school. I was terrified that I would be in trouble with Mother and Daddy and with my teachers as well. But my big brother did not turn me in. He gave me a stern lecture, and I never skipped school again.

Ray was a strong presence in my life. His advice on financial matters was as good as a college degree. He taught me how to balance a bank statement and how to keep books. He gave me responsibility for helping with the family business. I knew I could go to him anytime with my questions or problems.

He served in the U.S. Navy in WWII and graduated from the University of Georgia. He was a man of his word and it was said that a handshake with Ray was as good as a signed contract. At a young age, he had to take up the slack when my father's health failed. Ray's leadership in our family kept us all on an even keel. His work ethic was deeply entrenched and he could never be lazy.
In his last three years of life, after being diagnosed with cancer, he came to visit me often. We had the best discussions and long talks. I  cherished those times with Ray. He enjoyed coming up to the mountains and attending the music festivals here. One of his hobbies was music, singing and collecting good albums of all genres. He loved opera and he really enjoyed country music.

He never had a child of his own, but he was like a father to most of his siblings who respected him and looked to him for leadership. He had a step-child and was a good father to her.

On this father's day, I salute Stan and Ray, the father-figures in my life. Those fine men who helped make me who I am today. I still miss them and live each day as they taught me.

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