Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Steps of a Good Man

I've called him father-in-law for 37 years now, and my respect and admiration for him have grown with each passing year. Evon Richmond Thaxton is indeed a giant of a man in my eyes! He is an example of what the patriarch of a family should be: committed to God and his loved ones, unselfish, steadfast, faithful, and wise. His wisdom does not come from having a college degree, but it comes from 90 well-lived years of experiences, both good and bad. More importantly, he is wise because he has walked close to The Teacher.

His life has been an open book and has taught me and countless others much about "the steps of a good man." I've listened in amazement as he told us about the hard times . . . trying to eke out a living after his daddy died . . . trying just to survive and support the family when jobs and food were scarce . . . walking miles and miles to get to and from a job . . . living on one 5-cent peanut patty per day . . . coming so close to death when his appendix ruptured . . . watching over a sick or injured child . . . losing a beloved grandson . . . and the list goes on and on. I can't imagine his feelings the day he learned that his wife had cancer. He faithfully, and with great inner strength, stood beside her as she bravely battled the horrible disease that eventually took her life. But the steps of this good man never faltered; they stayed on course . . . steady . . . one foot ahead of the other . . . not turning to the right or left. I'm sure he often wondered where the next step would take him, but he always knew Someone walked beside him.

Even though life has taken him through many deep valleys and up steep, rugged hills, I've never once heard him complain about those difficult times or blame God for them. He simply has taken and continues to take one step at a time and with God's help, he deals with circumstances head on. "He took it like a man" is more than just a cliche; it so aptly describes PawPaw, as I have come to call him.

He's told us about hard times, but with a grin on his face, he's also recounted so many light-hearted, tickle-your-funny-bone-stories, too. Sitting around the kitchen table with him, we've often listened to his tales of the past and later wished we'd recorded his wit, wisdom, and family history. What a sharp memory God has blessed him with! We've laughed at the antics of him and his eleven siblings, especially those involving Leon! Recalling humorous incidents involving his own eight children has often prompted many good laughs. And it's mind-boggling to hear him tell of all the changes he's seen and experienced in his long life. Our appreciation for his heroes - Uncle Clarence, Uncle Aza, Mr. Roy, some of Cenchrea's pastors, and others - has heightened as he's shared stories of their exemplary lives. Without a doubt, he's taught us that although the steps of a good man may lead him through trials and tragedies, there's so much more to smile about and to be thankful for.

I am so very thankful that God placed me in his family and that I - and our sons and now our grandchildren - have been able to learn valuable life lessons from his example. And we are still learning every time we are with him! I'm sure he's not aware that he's taught us that . . . the simple life is the best life . . . a real man takes care of his family . . . hard work really never hurt anyone . . . a man's word should be dependable . . . family is a gift from God and is to be cherished . . . being rich in this life has little to do with money . . . loving your neighbor is not an option . . . fads and fashions come and go but The Truth never changes . . . there's more to Life than the things we get so wrapped up in . . . and last but not least: "A good man's steps are ordered of the Lord."

Thanks, PawPaw! I couldn't have asked for a better teacher - or a more wonderful father-in-law! I love you!
"Happy Birthday to you . . . Happy Birthday to you . . . Happy Birthday; God bless you! . . . Happy Birthday to you!!"


Anonymous said...

Ok Glenda You knew that was gonna make the tears start to flow so early in the morning..LOL What a great tribute To a great man Thanks for sharing can't wait for Mom to read it..Love Ya Be blessed

Gerry Smith said...

What a blessing it was to read your account of Evon and the impact he has had on your life as well as many others. Bud and I so much enjoyed reading it. Bud could barely read it for the tears [it brought back many memories].

Nancy said...

Beautiful tribute, Glenda!! I hope you printed it out for "Pawpaw." What a rich heritage!!