Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I've decided to go back and repost some older posts.  Much older posts.  Some people read my blog who didn't at first.  I wanted to repost this one because it is about Daddy.  I think about him and Mother in so much of what I do and what I am a part of.  So - this is about Daddy.

I posted this June 28, 2008.

This is my Dad, Frank Godsey Wilkerson

He was born May 2, 1913 and died August 8, 1993
He grew up in Troy, Alabama. He was the youngest of three brothers and lived amongst a large extended family. There were many cousins, aunts, uncles, and I'm not sure if he was born before his grandparents died.

Daddy's parents were artistic, and I know that Grandmother was musical, studying piano at Judson College. Therefore, Daddy got a full dose of every musical gene - It was said about him that he had perfect pitch. I don't know if he did or not, have perfect pitch, but I lived thinking he was the last word on music. He didn't profess that about himself, there was no arrogance to him, except for the amount we all carry around in our flesh - but he didn't take himself too seriously. He just had music "oozing out of his pores" - and rhythm. He clicked and beat and whistled all the time. He had a very clear, smooth tenor voice. Daddy was the soloist for everything, every event. He was the big musical deal in our small town of Evergreen throughout the years of 1946-19-whenever. That's the way it seemed to me.

The above photo of a photo is Daddy one year before he died.
He had Alzheimer's disease. The picture was taken at his birthday celebration, and we are all singing Happy Birthday to him. You don't see his forefinger raised in this photo, like a conductor's baton, but he did that on this day when we began to sing. When friends, during this diseased period of his life, came carolling at Christmas, he again directed the singing with his hands and arms. I wish it hadn't been that way, that he had to have Alzheimer's Disease, but he did, and lots of people have stuff in this world. I wish that he and Mother could have stayed in this world with me, until it was time for me to go, but that just isn't the way it works. Praise God for Heaven, Eternity, the sacrifice of Christ, which makes possible a very very very happy ending. The happy ending, so happy, we can't get our finite brains around it.

This is Daddy's Trumpet.

I never knew, until I was an adult, that this trumpet was a big deal. It's a Bach Trumpet and the best kind of one of these. Again, stuff like that I never knew. I never knew that it was such an "education" he got, graduating from Northwestern University. He did tell me that his voice teacher in Troy had to meet with his parents to convince them to let him go there. I wonder what that was about. Was it too far away, too expensive, too risky if he wasn't going to make a career out of it? I now understand how parents of college students think. He had already been to the Birmingham Conservatory of Music. He also attended Troy State for a while. I suppose he first went to Troy State, then to Birmingham C. of M., and then graduated from Northwestern.

In a car ride to Memphis, Tennessee, when Daddy was my transportation for "job hunting", he told me a lot of stories.
I was left with the impression, from his stories, that in his young adult years he wasn't eager to "settle down". He was the baby of the family and had lived a rather cushy lifestyle. I suppose Northwestern helped to mature him, and, also, his first job out of school, in Holly Springs, MS, and time in the Air Force during WWII. He wasn't involved in combat. He was stationed in Mississippi, working on airplanes. He was 34 by the time he met and married Mother. He was the new band director in Evergreen. She had moved back to Evergreen after living and working in Montgomery. She was 28 when they met and married.
What is it about Daddies and their daughters, or Mothers and daughters? It's two different relationships and they both have their unique characteristics. In my case, and I'm guessing Mary Ann's, it was a kind of hero thing. He ran a very tight ship, with the band, and at home. Yet, all he ever had to do was give me a look - it was in his whole face - and obedience happened. I wasn't scared of him, but there was very respectful fear.

Not the bad fear, but the healthy kind.

He was mostly fun and mostly happy. Very optimistic attitude - like it would all work out. He was not a worrier, not at all. There were some dark days for him, during the "turbulent sixties and early seventies" which impacted his career. Maybe another post on this blog, but not now. That's the only time I saw him really worry or be scared.

He wasn't a perfect person, and as a teenager I had issues with him, but hindsight puts him higher and higher on a pedestal. I've read that that is common with those we have loved, after they die. It began to happen for me before he died. I was getting older, and I knew he was fading away. My aging, and all these different stages, give me a better understanding of Mother and Daddy and all the things they experienced and lived through.

The big deal about Daddy is really the big deal about God.
When I was 15, Mom told me that Daddy had "given his life to Christ", that he'd become a Christian. That is how she put it. I didn't know what she was talking about and she had said the exact same thing to me regarding my aunt and uncle, the year before that. It is unusual for me not to ask questions, but I didn't. I don't know why I didn't because they were all in my head. All I could think was, "I thought they already were Christians - I thought all of us were already Christians". I just looked at her. I guess I thought they had just decided to get even more serious about it. We couldn't have gotten any churchier than we already were. Integrity had always abounded, and no outstanding vices. Daddy already guarded what we watched on television. I distinctly remember the lesson about always telling the truth. And, in a band lesson, when I was running my mouth, Daddy told me not to gossip - and that was in front of my friends. I replied to him, "but it really did happen", and he said, "but that is gossip and you don't need to repeat it". Here's a story about daddy and his reputation: My friends came to me, one Monday morning, during football season, as I'd put my books on my desk in homeroom - actually they rushed up to me - to tell me that Daddy had cussed on the band bus on Friday night. I knew my Daddy and I knew he didn't cuss. They knew it too and that was why they were telling me with much exclamation. We were all in the 7th grade, so cuss words at that age in 1963-64 were shocking. I told them that he most definitely had not and especially not in front of his students. To prove it, I went and asked him. I told them, "I'll just ask him and show you that he did not!" I was very smug about it. So I asked him. And.. with a head somewhat lowered and with a serious straightforward voice he told me that he had. He'd lost his temper when hit by a very large, wet spitball on the back of the neck. He'd had enough of the deafening noise, I suppose, and then to get hit by a spitball. Anyway, he pulled the bus over, stood up and I don't know what angry tirade came out of him, but some young male fool had the nerve to say, "I didn't throw it, Mr. Wilkerson!" And that was when he cussed. In his words he said, "I don't give a damn who threw it!". And then he made everybody sit down and be quiet. I don't remember the rest, but I'm guessing the rest of the ride home was very quiet.

Anyway, all of that before he "became a Christian" and before I did. Before either of us had understood the gospel of grace. The good news of grace.

That year Daddy had understood that our good works are like filthy rags to God and our sins sweep us away. He understood that we are all separated from a Holy God and that Jesus is our Savior, our redeemer. He understood that Christ's righteous life was a substitute for our fallen life. He understood that we get to be born again, brought to life, through faith in Christ and his work on the cross - and his resurrection. That year he said Yes to Christ. He was born again.
But that's not how he told it. Either he or Mom told me later that his response to whomever had shared the gospel with him was to say, "Well, if you mean have I ever prayed that prayer and actually asked Christ to come into my heart, well, no, I haven't."
And so, then, I guess he did.
It was his life and watching him grow, and conversations with him, that I know that the paragraph in italics above explain what he came to understand.

It took another year, and then, by God's grace, I understood, and I said Yes.

We also both understood that to live we had to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. That God didn't just give us saving grace, but enabling grace, to live like Christ.

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Galatians 2:20
After that I watched both Mother(who had trusted Christ at an earlier date) and Daddy grow together, and it was a very nice thing, once I understood the gospel, to share all of that with Mom and Dad - We communicated on that eternal level. There was still "stuff" and we had to work through parent/child issues - but still - how blessed I was.
So here we are at the end of my post. And that is my Dad. I have now told about Mom and Dad. I said that I learned a lot from Mom. I learned a lot from both of them. They were really really good parents. It was all so much fun, and so secure.

1 comment:

Clark and Laura Forman said...

I didn't know that your grandmother was a Judson girl!! How have we gone all these years and not even talked about that :) What kindred spirits she and i would have been. I would have loved to have sat and talked with her about her days at Judson and compared them to mine...
Thanks for sharing your family with us, I love reading about them!!! :)