Wednesday, May 5, 2010


“All night, all day, angels watching over me, my Lord. All night, all day, angels watching over me.”

Have you ever noticed how although you may think about people who’ve died, the world hardly ever reciprocates and gives you any hope that those loved ones might still be watching over you? Everyone always says it, but you never really have any evidence or usually any hint at all.

My stepdad, Roy, was a pig farmer/tree surgeon by upbringing. He was next to the youngest in a family of eight children. He married my mom when he was 27, and it stormed like crazy the night of the wedding. Roy never had any children of his own, just me, and I was ten at the time.

Roy was a God-send to me. When everyone else was too busy, he was always available to be the “assistant mother” as we called him. He coached my softball team, took me to ride my horse every day, took me fishing, taught me to run a trot line, seine for bait, and innumerable other skills that most kids living in town never learned. He hunted deer, squirrels, raccoons, and we always had quite the supply of hound dogs hanging around. For Christmas one year, he brought home two basset/beagle pups and gave me first pick. Moe and Joe we named them, and Joe was a great source of comfort during my adolescent years. He had great big floppy ears and was an excellent listener!

Roy’s constant availability stemmed from the fact that he had a drinking habit. His habit kept him from working at a regular job, but made him available to me. We had great fun together! His parents owned a pig farm down by the banks of the Neosho River. I had free reign to run wild through those woods and carry on like a banshee. Plus, with all of the sisters and brothers that Roy had, there was always a whole herd of cousins to play with on any given day. He even built me a riding arena in the middle of the field across the highway from his parents’ farm, hand placing railroad ties as the posts. You can still see it in the field on the west side of my hometown. Someday I hope to buy up every bit of that land, so I can relive all the memories I have there.

My mom said she prayed that God would send her someone to help raise me after she and my dad divorced. Strange that Roy would die of chronic alcoholism when I was 19. He was only 36. She had me go to Wal-Mart and buy him a new pair of Wranglers to be buried in, and since I was “legal”, I also bought him a can of Skoal for his back pocket. He was never without that round can. He was also never without pictures of me that we found after he died in the glove box of his truck.  He loved me. 

I think about Roy quite a bit, as he was the source of my hick soul, and I am getting closer to 36. I hope to teach my boys all the stuff that Roy taught me about living off the land and being self-sufficient. I hope they develop my love of animals and rural life, and take every chance they get to run around like wild banshees. I hope too that they can learn from Roy’s short life about things in this world that can take loved ones from us prematurely.

Usually my thoughts are my own about Roy, but last week someone brought a young pig up to the elementary school for the kids to see. They were having coin wars and one teacher was going to have to kiss the pig. I talked to the owners out in the parking lot and patted the pig while it squealed bloody murder. I told them about my stepdad being a pig farmer and all the runts that I’d taken home to nurse back to health. I told them how my oldest boy says he wants a pig. Then I went into the school and didn’t think much more about it.

Until they introduced the pig at the assembly.

Guess what his name was?


Coincidence? I think not.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I loved Roy also, he was a sweet, gentle man with a quiet sense of humor that you had to get to know. He really did love you, and it showed. Glad to see that he is remembered.


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