The passages of this blessing have the resonance of truth. I remember who I was in Beth’s presence…I was more a patient, gentler person. She provided that example to many of us. And it reminds me that I can become a better man.
Beth’s graceful living echos in me, and I see her gentleness in many of you. I hear her echo of kindness recalling the day I crashed my red stingray bicycle coming off Jamestown hill, practically breaking the bike in half and myself…as she picked me up , She was my caretaker, my other mother. Cleaning my cuts and scrapes…putting a dozen bandaids on my knees, elbows and chin…Distracting me,and all the time by telling me about the time she cut off part of her finger…she taught me that courage and tears can coexist.
Beth showed many of us how to face the temptations of life, when one day in 1967 we found an unopened pack of Marlboros on the street…seeing our obvious fascination with the prospects of being as cool as Steve McQueen…she sat us all down around the table and said…let’s smoke them all…well I don’t think any of us ever became smokers after that…it was a graceful lesson.
The Whitworths, the Turnbows and the Paces are an extended family…and I still feel it today, I miss Vera, Calvin, My Dad and now Beth. I miss those days of Barrenfork Creek picknicks, Beth and Ralph cooking in those cast iron skillets, blowing up those tarten patterned rafts. I miss the trips to Tenkiller when summer days sometimes spawned rainstorms, that made the road slick, and the one evening coming home when Beth had all of the kids in the little white Rambler, and we crashed in the ditch…everyone was OK, but Beth…I remember her crying…for what could have been…but it wasn’t of course…Beth protected us that day...and many others.
Beth and Ralph continued to be important in our lives, as we grew up, married and had our own families. We were lucky that they came to Texas a few times to stay a day or two. We enjoyed intense conversations that are still dear to me, because they were about real things. LIFE TALKS. About being fulfilled, finding one’s place in the world, giving back the blessings we are given…Beth knew about such things, She was a Free Thinker. Philana and I visited them just last fall, our conversations picked up where they left off….regardless of the time between visits…. Beth was a listener, she heard us when we were happy, and was happy with us. She felt when we were hurting, and offered the wisdom that only grace provides.
Her generosity of spirit will never leave our collective memory…and so, as the blessing tells us…Beth will live on in us through our thoughts and words, and what she did is part of what we have become.
Beth was like touching home base… …Olly Olly Oxen Free Everybody goes home!