Archived Story

Remembering some of my 83 years

Published 5:55pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Today, April 7, 2013, is my 83rd birthday. It is a bright Sunday morning with spring definitely springing forth, with forsythia and jonquils heralding the new season. As I check my emails I find a delightful e-card from my loving Fran, even as she deals with the pain of a toothache. She served my favorite breakfast, too!

I have written many lines, filling three books, and one of those lines suggests that we should honor our MOTHER on OUR birthday, as it is a day she doubtless remembers very well. My mother sang to me, read to me, taught me a lot of stuff and loved me as only a mother could. She wrote me a letter every day when I was in basic training in the Air Force . . . the mail clerk never failed to announce one for “O. Goodwin,” perfect for an airman of Scot-Irish descent.

She was also a tireless worker bee who shared with me how to use a broom properly and how to clean the bathroom—all of it, fixtures and floor. To quote from the tribute I wrote for our church’s Book of Memory, “Mother turned houses into homes in a lot of places for whoever in her family needed her . . . ‘available’ to ease the living or the dying . . . If alone, she was probably reading. If you came in she would offer you coffee and conversation . . . she seemed to be content to be at home, in Daddy’s big chair, by the bookcase.”

My father, whose name I also bear, died from injuries he suffered in an automobile wreck when I was 8 years old. I honor his memory, too, as I remember the things he taught me. Some of these were how to build a fire in the water heater stove and how to mow the yard with a reel mower, for which I furnished the motive power: keep the center of the mower on the edge of the last swath for thorough coverage and every blade of grass cut to the same height.

He also took me out to the ball game (Uncle Wallace was shortstop for the Moors of Mooresville) and to the field where a barnstormer was offering airplane rides. That first ride with my Dad and his subsequent explanations in my relentless thirst for knowledge laid a foundation for my becoming an aeronautical engineer and private pilot.

When Mother Nature failed to provide, we adopted two children through the Edna Gladney Home in Fort Worth, Texas. They have been a wonderful blessing to us. I was happy to play with other people’s kids, but Fran felt keenly incomplete with no little people underfoot. They sure filled our house and our hearts as they grew to become big people, full of knowledge and confidence. They in turn have given us more little people to cherish and watch grow big, too.

There is no way to cram 83 years of living into one column, just as there was no way to do that when we sold our big house to “downsize.”  We bought a little four-room house in “The Woods” and I promptly added three more rooms! I felt that we deserved at least one good house when we retired, and I designed our dream house and built most of it myself. It is the only problem-free house we have ever had, and Jim and Shelby Dorsett appreciate it now.

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