Thursday, June 30, 2011


June 30 is a bittersweet day for me.  On this date, one of the most important men in my life was called home and one of the most important men I would never meet was born.

Bob Chandler with his only child, Terry.
March 1957

James Elton (Bob) Chandler was born on June 30, 1923, the only son of his parents and the much loved brother of three sisters.  He would later marry Gladys Arlene Shearon and the couple would have one child, a son, Terry Elton Chandler.  Terry was my husband and center of my world.

Like most little boys, Terry idolized his Daddy.  Bob was a dump truck driver for the Tennessee Dept. of Safety.  Terry often spoke of memories of his Dad leaving before daylight on icy, cold winter mornings so he could run the salt truck over the roads before everyone was out and about.  Terry had his toy tractors, trucks and graders and spent his play time building 'roads' all over the little hillside in their front yard.  He wanted to be just like his Daddy.

Unfortunately, those little boy memories are all he had of his Daddy.  Bob was killed in a auto accident on August 5, 1963.  Terry was only 9 years old.  Obviously, I never met Bob but he was one of the most important men to ever become a part of my life.  Without his existence, I could have never known Terry. 

I am quite sure Bob went to his grave never truly understanding what an exceptional son he had.  Thank you, Bob, for teaching your son in the few short years you had with him.  He was a wonderful man; full of laughter with a warm heart and compassion for others.  I have no idea what you were like, but I would like to think Terry took those traits from his Daddy.

The Herbert McDonald Family
February 1965
(L-R)  Herbert (Paw), David, Horace, Van (my Daddy) and Ilene (Maw)

June 30, 1966 was one of the most sad and difficult days of my life to that point.  It was the day my Paw McDonald was called home.   James Herbert McDonald was born on December 18, 1908, only months after his Dad had died of TB.  He had an older sister who was only 2 when he was born.  His Momma raised him and his sister on her own, doing whatever she could find to do in order to support herself and her children.

 I loved my Paw McDonald.  I was the apple of his eye and I knew it.  If I wanted it and it was in his power to give it to me, it was mine!  We used to sit together in his rocker and watch TV or just talk or eat.  He would perch me on his lap and tickle me, or wedge me in beside him as we shared a bowl of popcorn and watched TV.

He was always laughing and picking on me or my sisters.  He took my side no matter what; I always knew Paw would stand up for me.  I once picked up the plug from an extension cord that had somehow ended up in the yard.  It was wet with dew.  I hid it and went into the back bedroom and shoved it into the outlet with the bare wires pushed into the palm of my hand.

Well, of course, the power knocked me across the room and scared me witless!  Momma was immediately there, scolding me out of pure fear for what could have happened.  Paw came in, picked me up and cradled me in his arms.  He took me to 'our' chair and held me on his lap as I cried and Momma checked my hand over.

He rocked me for what seemed like hours afterwards, but was probably only minutes.  He asked Momma not to fuss at me and told her it was his fault because he should never have let the thing be in the grass!  As soon as I was feeling better, he announced that I had been a good girl and now we were going for ice cream!  He and Maw loaded me and my sisters into the pick up and off we went to the store for bought ice cream!  That was a real treat for us because we usually only had home made ice cream.  Isn't it funny how that changes as we grow older?! 

Seeing my Paw lifeless on their living room couch was one of the memories of my childhood that haunted me for years into my adult life.  Paw didn't have an easy life.  His own Dad died before he was born. He went to work by age 12 to help support himself, his Momma and his sister.  He walked 12-15 miles every Sunday afternoon to sleep in the back room of a paper plant, where he would work Monday through Friday, then walk back home again on Friday night so he could give his pay to his Momma and help on the farm on Saturday and Sunday.

He loved his family in the only way he understood...he worked hard and made sure they always had everything they needed.  They didn't have all they wanted, but they never lacked for the things they needed.  When Daddy went to Germany, he held my Maw together while Daddy was so far from home.  A relative told me once that she and her family would most likely have starved had it not been for Uncle Herbert and Aunt Lean (what they called my Maw McDonald).  

Her husband had a lazy streak and wouldn't work.  Paw would help them and give them food he and Maw had raised.  He would quite literally whip his grown nephew in order to try to get him to go out and work to support his family.  He was eventually successful.  The nephew went North to work for Caterpillar and soon sent for his family.  They remained there and he was quite successful in providing a good life for his family.

He raised three sons of his own and taught them to work hard, respect others and provide for their families.  He wasn't a church going man, but held a belief in a God that created him and blessed him with all he had.  He loved to watch The Gospel Jubilee on Sunday morning; thought there was no one on this earth who could out sing Vestal Goodman!  Conversely, he absolutely thrilled at watching wrestling on Saturday afternoons!  I can still see him perched on the edge of his rocker and physically air fighting with his fists as he watched and rooted for his favorite wrestler.  Watching him was much more fun than the silly wrestling!

I will always miss Paw.  It has been 45 years and I was only 8, but my memories of him remain vivid in my mind's eye.  I can see his grin, hear his chuckle and the sound of his voice as he talked.  I would not be the person I am today had Paw not been a part of my life.

“Honor your father and mother.”
This is the first commandment with a promise:
If you honor your father and mother,
“things will go well for you,
and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger
by the way you treat them.
Rather, bring them up with the discipline
and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Ephesians 6: 2-4  (NLT)

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