Today is my last day at work with the State of Alabama. I will miss the people, but I will not miss the phone. This job has involved a lot of answering the phone and having the same conversation with different people every day. It is always pleasant to talk to someone who has mastered professional phone etiquette. But it is more entertaining to talk to the unprofessional callers. Have you ever been serenaded through the phone by a drunk plumber playing the guitar? I have.
Something I have noticed at this agency is that the people who really have their act together found all of the answers to their questions on the FAQ section of the website. Everybody else called to ask me their questions and they were never really ready for the answers.
“Give me just a second, I got to find a pen.”
“Hold on, I’m driving, let me pull over.”
“Can you e-mail me that? I ain’t got nothing to write with.”
My parents named me Zane after the dentist turned western novelist Zane Gray. I realize that this name has grown in popularity in subsequent generations, but not many of my peers share my name. Couple this with speaking through the phone and it is understandable that people mishear my name. To be clear, it doesn’t bother me when people get my name wrong over the phone. I gotten so used to it over the years that I have made a game of it. I have been updating an Excel spreadsheet titled Names I’ve Been Called since December 2018 and I wanted to share it with y’all. I omitted all of the cuss words.
I should have included Buddy and Boss. I’m not sure why people in this particular industry have adopted those two nick names. For the record I prefer Shane over Buddy.
I made a similar list a while back that you can read here.
It is the waiting room to eternity and time doesn’t always behave properly because it must yield to a higher authority.
One of the most difficult and strangest places to be emotionally is while you are waiting for a loved one to pass on. The 23rd Psalm calls this place the valley of the shadow of death. It is not an easy place to walk through alone. You’ll need a shepherd. Perhaps you have been there. It is when the doctors do not give you any hope. And the hope that God offers doesn’t always make sense. Nothing really makes sense. On one hand you would never wish for someone to die, but on the other hand there is a realization that death is imminent and you don’t want to see someone suffering. It is the waiting room to eternity and time doesn’t always behave properly because it must yield to a higher authority. Day to day schedules no longer take precedent and you begin to wonder if the clock is accurate because you seem to float in time, suspended in the memories with your loved one. One minute you are bawling your eyes out and the next minute you are crying from laughter. You are not sure how you are supposed to feel. And that is ok.
I think you truly enter into this valley when you know that your loved one is no longer aware of your presence. It hurts.
People pop in and out of the waiting room like characters from another universe. They make you feel better. They bring food and memories. They mourn with you.
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Ecclesiastes 7:1-4
As a younger man I found this a difficult passage of scripture to reconcile with my limited understanding and narrow perception of death. And also life. After a little more hands on experience with loss I now find great comfort in the words of The Preacher in Ecclesiastes.
It is good to mourn. Everyone mourns differently. I tend to write.
It is time to pick a new plan for reading my Bible through again. This year I chose a chronological plan because it helps me with a lot of questions I had as a kid who was very curious about history. For 2022 I did one of those plans where you get three chapters of Old Testament, some verses from Psalms, a couple of Proverbs, and a chapter from the New Testament. It was nice to get a variety every day, but I missed the feeling of moving from Malachi to the Matthew after you have been reading about how fed up God was with generation after backsliding generation then suddenly- to use a Bible word- there is hope!
“The flattening of language is a flattening of meaning. Language which is not taut with a sense of its own significance, which is apologetic in its desire to be acceptable to a modern consciousness, language in other words which submits to its audience, rather than instructing, informing, moving, challenging and even entertaining them, is no longer a language which can carry the freight the Bible requires. It has, in short, lost all authority.”
Adam Nicolson, God’s Secretaries.
As an English-speaking Christian who is gravely concerned with Truth, I use the King James Version as my Bible. I do like to cross reference other versions like the Amplified. If for nothing but its literary value, I prefer the King James Version. Even so, I always ask myself if I should read a different version for my daily reading plan. The conversation this year went like this.
Are you going to read the King James Version again? Yes. Why? I think I’m starting to get a grip on it.
This internal interrogation reminded me of something that Sarah recently showed me in one of the books on our bookshelf. It was something that my grandfather Tinker Reynolds wrote. He was constantly writing on everything. He would turn books sides ways and write in the margin.
“Most of our hard heads can never absorb the beautiful wisdom and knowledge as it flows by. Like a rock in a clean spring branch if taken out of the stream to lie in the sun will be dry and hot so soon. But as The (Lord God, Jesus) is forever flowing we do not have to ever be moved out of the stream and we may not be able to absorb it all, but we can stay fresh in it. Besides, if one could absorb it all there would the stream cease to flow to touch others, it is so soothing to me I want to pass it on to others. If Ionly had knowledge I would be forced to converse with fools and illeterates, and to a fool you couldn’t impart knowledge. Oh to think that Jesus our Lord will sit down in our chamber and talk to us and is so glad to give us his wisdom, but will also stop with a drunkard on the edge of the gutter and tell him I love you too. So glad to be like that rock in the creek, still in the flow.
That’s really how I feel about reading the Bible. I want to stay fresh in it daily.
Have you ever failed to reach a goal? Sometimes the feeling of failure is so strong that you struggle to find the courage to begin again. Sometimes almost reaching a goal gives you the motivation to try even harder the next time. I had planned to cycle 4,000 miles in 2022, but I fell short by 90.8 miles. That is one really good day of riding. Or one week of consistent riding. Or somewhere between 2,500-3,500 calories, I’ve never really trusted my burn rate calculations. I did not achieve my goal. No one really wants to hear excuses why I didn’t. But I almost did it.
There are some goals where almost doesn’t cut it. Like finding a good wife. That’s an honorable goal. You don’t want to almost find a good wife. This is a discrete goal, where you either achieve it or you don’t. You don’t almost shoot a deer and expect to feel good about your effort. However, if you have a goal that is on a continuum, a number like 4,000 miles may have been picked arbitrarily because it is a nice round number.
I feel good about almost riding 4,000 miles this year. I think the main reason I can feel good about almost reaching that goal is because it still took a lot of hard work.
By nature I am a list maker. I am constantly making Birthday lists, Christmas lists, to-do lists, wish lists, grocery lists, and inventories of guitar gear. One of the most important and closely followed lists I make is a list of goals for each coming year. A lot of my yearly goals involve doing something every day: reading the Bible, studying Spanish, playing guitar, and cycling. I am a believer in daily habits. It is the daily things that make the big things happen. Although it is interesting when someone does something remarkable in one day, it is the people who are able to be consistent on a daily basis that really impress me.
You would be hard pressed to find an athlete on the planet that could cycle 4,000 miles in a single day. Maybe there is someone who could learn a language in a day, but I have not met them. Most of the people I know who have accomplished remarkable things also tend to be extremely self-disciplined. And I suppose that is one of my biggest goals: to be self-disciplined.
Self-discipline sounds like a a miserable thing to a lot of us. It comes out in our language when we comment on things that take a lot of self-discipline. “Why would you want to do _________? That sounds horrible!”
The Bible is clear that temperance (self-control) is a fruit of the Spirit. And whether you call it self-control, self-discipline, self-restraint, or temperance, it is against our human nature. It just isn’t natural. We need divine help in this area.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
I want to wish everyone a very happy and temperate New Year.
Are you a morning person or do you drink coffee? What is your routine?
I haven’t always been a morning person. Mom would often have to summon me by my full name to get out of bed for school. I have always been a breakfast person though. Maybe some morning people are born, but I believe that more often something makes you into a morning person.
I think I started being a morning person when I was working at Parks & Recreation and I had to be at the school by 6:30am. I was forced to be awake by the feeling of responsibility of running the before school recreation program, knowing that a couple dozen parents were depending on me to be there. But after a while, I just started enjoying being up that early.
There is something special about being awake before the sun comes up. The air smells and feels different in the morning. The atmosphere isn’t clouded with traffic and it is easier to think.
There is a difference between being a morning person and having to be at work early in the morning. If you have ever worked early in the morning you will understand what I mean. Morning people usually have a routine that happens before they even think about going to work. This baffles non-morning people. A morning person’s routine might consist of running a six miles, working in the garden, or even laundry.
Although there is something therapeutic about a morning routine, what I like most about the mornings is the morning sunlight. The kitchen in the house I grew up in faced due East. I can still see the light pouring through the window onto the kitchen table. That’s where much of the human interaction in our home happened. These days I enjoy seeing the sunlight peak over the horizon as I ride my bike through the backroads around my house.
I could tell you about it. I could even show you pictures. But it is really something that you have to experience for yourself. Maybe it will make you into a morning person.
The art of time management is a very grown up thing. It is ultimately what distinguishes us as adults.
I suppose I have the same self awareness as I did in my earliest memories. But lately I’ve been feeling very grown up.
Perhaps it’s is because I have a mortgage now. A death pledge to pay a lot of money plus interest. There was a time when I would roll my eyes at stuffy grown ups who didn’t know how to loosen up and have fun. Now I wonder when silly young people are going to quit wasting time and get serious about life. I think there is a keener awareness of time that comes with age and gives older people the ability to be sharp and direct with words. I haven’t reached that point yet, but I can see it in the distance.
A lot things that adults have to do are not enjoyable, which is why a lot of people are reluctant to become adults. People who do not choose to evade responsibility are grown up. Responsibility often looks like a father working to provide for a family, a mother taking care of a home, a child taking care of a pet or a toy.
I think the main reason that I am feeling so grown up lately is because I am keenly aware that I cannot do everything that I would like simply because of time.
One of the greatest things about being a grown up is being a master of your own time. One could argue that working a job does not make one a master of their own time. I suppose that may be the case for many people, but I tend to look at time as currency that I can trade for resources to support my family.
The art of time management is a very grown up thing. It is ultimately what distinguishes us as adults. Time is the ultimate responsibility. How someone spends their time defines them. If you don’t believe this ask someone who is doing time.
How we treat time perhaps is more telling of our character than how we spend time. One could hardly deny that the irascible, impatient, reckless driver forcing his way through traffic like a Bull of Bashan has a concept of his own time, but a total disregard for the time, and indeed the life, of others. These people are bound by time, not masters of it. Frankly, they are not grown up.
There is chronological time, which is what most of us think about when we think of time. You can measure chronological time with the steady predictable ticking of a clock. We can think of this kind of time horizontally, like a timeline. And there is kairological time, which cannot be measured with a clock and could be thought of vertically. Heaven often operates on kairological time.
Jesus spoke of “The times and the seasons.” Chronos and Kairos. Acts 1:7
Kairological time is manifest when an unpredictable event comes and unapologetically crashes into chronological time. The birth of Jesus Christ, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, and The Day of Pentecost are the most significant kairological events in the history of mankind. But kairological events are not limited to these. Every time the Word of God is preached there is potential for a kairological moment. Every time someone is filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost is a kairological moment.
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.II Timothy 4:2.
Instant in season and out of season: Kairos and Chronos.
It is simpler to get a handle on chronological time. The whole world operates on chronological time. And how we handle it defines us as humans. But there is much less awareness of kairological time. The entire Cosmos operates on Kairological time. And how we handle it defines us as spiritual beings.
This came as a surprise to me when I moved away as an adult: not everywhere allows funeral processions. Even some places in Alabama have given up on this tradition.
Uncle Barry and Gram made the trip up to Cullman a few Saturdays ago. We ate at my sister’s house and just visited. It was good to see both of them. Uncle Barry was having open heart surgery the next week. He had had a heart attack earlier this year. After they amputated his big toe, they told him that he needed to have open heart surgery, but he wasn’t strong enough to handle it just yet.
I had to struggle to reconcile those words “not strong enough” relating to Uncle Barry. When I was a kid I didn’t think there was anyone stronger in the world. He once picked up a headache ball with one hand. I wasn’t exactly sure what a headache ball was, or how much one weighed. So I imagined it as a wrecking ball used to tear down old buildings, and I gave it the satisfyingly immense weight of 300lbs. A real headache ball weighs at most around 100lbs, and is used to keep the cable on a crane from flying around in the wind.
I watched Uncle Barry lift up Jacob Wray onto the roof the church so Jacob could fetch the keys that he had thrown on the roof. I can still see the panicking women and the grinning men watching the spectacle through the clear church windows.
Before I was born, Uncle Barry and Uncle Tony came over to Dad’s house to help level an ancient building in the back yard. An old neighbor came over to watch the men work because that is what old men do. Uncle Tony, ever the prankster, told the old man that Uncle Barry’s name was Charles Ray. Uncle Barry single handedly lifted up the building so Uncle Tony and Dad could sure up the foundation with cinder blocks.
“Y’all killing Charles Ray!” The old man protested not knowing Uncle Barry’s herculean strength. This saying has survived in our family and is used whenever one person seems to be doing all the work.
Every Christmas Uncle Barry gave me a pocket knife. Even after I was grown he wanted to know what I was carrying. Or maybe he just asked that because he really wanted to show me what he was carrying.
The last thing I did with Uncle Barry was pray with him.
He came through his surgery fine the following Wednesday. I was glad to hear that. I am always amazed at how quickly heart surgery patients bounce back.
But then Friday came. My sister told me early Friday Morning that Uncle Barry didn’t make it. That was July 1st. It is one thing to know that death is imminent and another when death comes suddenly. I am still trying to sort out having seen him laughing and carrying on less than a week before his death.
My Nonna died on July 4th. It took me by surprise, but it shouldn’t have. The last time I went to see her I felt like the little boy that Dad was taking to visit a bedridden relative that I really didn’t know. I was always amazed at how he could carry on a conversation and laugh with someone who was barely awake and incoherent. Now I realize that he was probably saying goodbye to a shell of a person who used to be so full of life. That was Nonna, full of life. And laughter.
She was always laughing. Or rather cackling. I love laughter. I wish I had a laugh track from her house circa 1995. Starring Aunt Shelby, Uncle Ferman, Cindy, Dad, and Nonna. I would listen to often. Who am I kidding? I can hear it right now.
We used to go to Pop & Nonna’s every Monday night and party. They’d be enough food to feed half of Sterrett. We ate everything from chicken and dressing-a dish normal people may only get at Thanksgiving but we might get in August-to humble kraut and weenies. I don’t remember ever really running out of food. My brother said the Lord must’ve helped her. She made some of the best cakes. Twinkie Cake was my favorite.
Nonna had two refrigerators and two freezers. I believe that her and Pop might’ve been hungry as kids and they didn’t want that to ever happen again. Not to them, nor their children or grandchildren.
Nonna was also a card shark. For the first part of my life they, the adults that is, played Hand & Foot, a variation of Canasta. I never played that. But I did play Rook. We played a lot of cards, but there was no gambling. There was never any alcohol either. Nonna sure new how to party.
Nonna died of congestive heart failure. Similar to Uncle Barry, her heart just quit.
“I’m just so tired. I don’t want to take any more medicine.”
So we had two funerals in one week. I have to confess, that I much prefer weddings to funerals. There is never any punch at funerals. And there is a lot of crying at funerals. But there is also a lot of comfort at funerals.
After Uncle Barry’s funeral we rode in funeral procession from Sylacauga to the Vincent City Cemetery, just a kudzu patch and a magnolia tree away from the house I where I was raised. Funeral processions passing right in front of the house was a regular occurrence when I was kid. Just like the passing trailers packed with cotton on their way to the Cotton Gin were normal. Mom and Dad had taught me that it was rude to keep playing when the funeral procession passed.
“You need to stop what you are doing out of respect for the dead.”
This came as a surprise to me when I moved away as an adult: not everywhere allows funeral processions. Even some places in Alabama have given up on this tradition.
I got off my bike and stood at attention in my dirty jeans and sweaty glasses and watched countless funeral processions to that cemetery. Even then I could feel the heaviness of this custom. Uncle Barry’s was the first one to that cemetery I remember riding in. It was really moving to see old men pulled over on the side of the road, standing out in the heat with their hats over their hearts, and shirtless young men who stopped in the middle of weed-eating a fence to show respect for the dead. It made me proud to be from Alabama.
Two deaths in the family in such a short time has caused me to do quite a bit of thinking in last few days. Both of these relatives died of heart disease. Heart disease runs in my family on both sides. I am not a cardiologist, but it also seems like heart disease and good cooking run in the same families.
“Uncle Barry, what did the doctor say you need to do about your heart?” I asked him the last time I saw him.
“Don’t get up over 300lbs. Eat regular.”
“I’ve been eating pretty regular all my life! I should be fine.”
“Naw!” He laughed, “You got to eat right.”
I am earnestly trying to reverse the trend of heart disease and diabetes in my family. It is a noble endeavor, but ultimately it doesn’t matter how healthy you are physically if you are not healthy spiritually when you ride in your final funeral procession.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
I love ice cream. I once received an emergency haircut after I snuck out of bed to finish off the ice cream. I stuck the empty plastic ice cream bucket over my head and licked the sides. There was no hiding the evidence in my hair the next morning on the way to take Zach to school.
My parents had an old Amana ice cream maker that was louder than three holiness preachers. Like so many other appliances from the 80s, it was brown and tan. I am not sure it came from the factory that loud. When you’re a kid you think broken things are normal, like the refrigerator that won’t stay closed. The noise didn’t ever stop us from partying though. And my parents hardly ever made ice cream without it being a party. After all, what you need to have a party is special food and special people. So by that definition, every night was a party at our house.
I suppose the rackety Amana was better than the hand crank ice cream makers that some of my older friends have told me about. I guess you’ll gladly do whatever it takes to have some ice cream. I imagine you could rig up an exercise bike to an ice cream maker if times were tough and you were smart enough. I bet Creed could do it. Anyway, I’m not thinking about engineering, I’m thinking about ice cream.
Like I was saying, the ice cream machine noise was part of the atmosphere of a party. All the adults would be sitting around the table playing Rook. They yelled anyway, but they had to put in extra effort to raise their voices above the electric motor whining away in the kitchen. The kids probably got away with more mischief since the noise was running interference for them. No one ever said anything about the noise until someone turned the machine off.
“Man that was loud.” Somebody would say as if Jesus had just rebuked the sea and the disciples were marveling at the calm.
They always made vanilla and strawberry. Those were the only flavors I thought homemade ice cream came in. Man was it ever good. Strawberry is probably still my favorite, but ice cream has to be real bad for me to not like it. In Virginia they made Grape-Nuts Ice Cream and acted like it was the best thing ever. If you’re not familiar with Grape-Nuts then you probably don’t know about fried bologna neither. It’s a cereal that poor people used to eat instead of food. Just put a little bit of fine gravel in the vanilla next time you make a batch of homemade ice cream and you’ll get the same texture and maybe a little better taste. It tastes bad because you had to grow up eating it for it to taste good.
To someone out there, homemade ice cream with Grape-Nuts in it will bring back a flood of fond memories. It just didn’t do it for me.
Sis. Beane made some lemon ice cream one time at youth camp. She put it three or four times the amount of lemon flavoring that the recipe called for. Bro. J.L. Parker took a big bite and made a sour face. “Sister, that’s the best I ever tried to eat.”
Dad used to tell us about how Pop would ask him and Uncle Melvin what kind of ice cream they wanted from the store.
No matter what they asked, Pop always brought back Cherry Vanilla.
Dad would laugh about that story.
It was around the time that he knew he was about to die that Dad asked for some Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream. As many times as he told that story, it was the first time that I ever remember seeing it. One of the last things I saw dad eat was Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate. I fed it it to him. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat that flavor again and not think of him.
So I’m thinking about getting an ice cream maker, or seeing if Creed can do the bicycle powered deal. I want to experiment with some different flavors. I think peach ice cream would be good. And apparently they used to make that at Nonna’s, but I just don’t remember it. Or maybe we can use some of these blackberries that grow on the back fence. I mean just about any fruit will be good in ice cream.
“Anything with five cups of sugar in it is bound to be good.”
Ology is often translated as the study of. It is from the root word logos, word in Greek. It is more accurately translated as what can be said of.
Theology- that which can be said about God. Psychology- that which can be said about the mind.
What can be said about Dan Theo Wells?
We must first establish his identity. Who is Dan Theo Wells?
He is a man of many titles: Bub, Slim, Pop. I suppose that some of my cousins could say that they lost Uncle Bub, Uncle Slim, and Uncle Dan and elicit treble condolences from sympathetic friends.
But when the roll was called in the Army only one name was read out, Dan Theo Wells. After a moments hesitation, Slim and Bub both stepped forth.
I knew him as Pop. My paternal grandfather. And really the only grandfather I knew. Tinker Reynolds- or Brant Douglas Reynolds, both one and the same- died when I was only two years old.
Most people knew Pop as Slim. But unless you were one of my cousins from Chicago, it only sounds right if you say it with a Southern accent. For anyone who struggles with a Southern accent, when in doubt make the vowel a diphthong: Slee-um.
Pop was incredibly economic in his elocutionary endeavors. I have ridden from Sterrett to Irondale and back with Pop and said fewer than three sentences.
Throughout my life, Pop was not a church-going man. I used to screw up the courage to invite him to church from time to time.
“Pop, you ought to come to church with us tonight.”
“I know son.” He would sigh.
I remember reading James 1:27 as a teenager and immediately thinking about Pop.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27 KJV
In part, Pop was a deeply religious man. He always kept a substantial garden. Perhaps it may seem a small thing to many, but he grew it to share. I guess you could say that he visited the widow of Tinker Reynolds in her affliction. Among many others.
Pop was also a man of principle. Pop never allowed alcohol at any of the barbecues he hosted. In his way, he more than once warned his employees in the hay business-Zach and me- about the dangers of alcohol.
“I took one drink when I was young and it tasted like horse ?¡$ś.”
I always thought that sounded pretty dangerous.
I think that because he was a man of principle he had an excellent reputation in his community. Integrity doesn’t require wealth or education, integrity requires character. Pop had character.
Around 2012 I think, Pop had an accident on an old Farm-All tractor. He started the tractor before he was fully seated and the tractor was already in gear. The sudden jerky motion threw him off balance and he fell off but his foot hung on one of the pedals and he was trapped in front of the engaged rear wheel. The tractor drug him a few feet until the barn post stopped the forward motion, but the huge tractor tire continued completely tear off his left quadriceps.
Nonna eventually heard him screaming and she ran out to the barn.
“Turn off the tractor!” He said.
It was the hand of God that Dennis Brasher-I think this is the right name, forgive me if I am wrong- happened to be driving by listening to the police scanner. He instinctively knew that the call was for Pop.
“Slim, I’m sorry this is going to hurt.” He said as he applied pressure to the gruesome wound. He kept his hands on what was left of Pop’s thigh for the whole ambulance ride to Birmingham. it is a testimony to Pop’s toughness that he remained conscious for the entire ordeal.
I honestly thought Pop was going to die then, so I got on an airplane and flew to Alabama from Virginia. But he was made of tougher stuff than I thought and lived another nine years out of spite I believe.
Time would fail me to recount a lifetime of fond memories of Pop. Perhaps the best thing that I can say about Pop, is that he had a good name. Even if few used it and even fewer knew it.
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1 KJV
The last time I saw him coherent was October 27th. He and Nonna had soundly whipped COVID-19 much to my surprise and delight, but something had interfered with Pop’s Parkinson’s medicine and he had begun to hallucinate.
One moment he would be talking to me as clear as he was capable and the next moment he would just be talking to himself, or to whoever would listen about something that happened 40 years ago. Then he would be in the present 40 years ago, or perhaps in a dream.
But he knew who I was when I walked in.
“Is that Zane? Set me up.”
“I’m sorry you got to see me like this.” He said referring to the hospital bed.
“I’ve been worried about y’all’s sugar so I brought y’all some peach pies.”
We chatted for a little bit. Before Pop said, “Give me one of them pies.”
“The more I eat it, the better it gets.” He said with a grin
I must confess that this is not how I want to remember Pop. Sure the hat is there and those look like his hands. But I want to remember the Pop who hit a charging cow with a 2×4. And the Pop who lifted me with one hand into his Toyota pickup truck because I was too little to climb in by myself. And the Pop who brought me a cowboy hat one night after his trip to Tennessee. And the Pop who would bring all of us grandkids an Icee.
I want to remember this Pop. And I hope you do too.
I love you Pop.
Dan Theo “Slim” Wells, was born on April 16th 1935 to Daniel Webster Wells and Dovie Dunnaway Wells. He served the United States Army in the 3rd Armored Division from 1958-1960. He married Nola Mae Brasher. They had three children Perry Charles, Melvin Johnny, and Jason Theo.
Mr. Wells began working for Stockham Valves and Fittings shortly after his discharge from the Army. He retired from Stockham in the mid 1990s before the plant closed. During his time at Stockham he helped cast many of the valves for the Alaskan Pipeline.
Dan Theo Wells passed from this life in his home on November 12th, 2021.
Sometimes I wonder if people who don’t go to church on Sundays still take a Sunday afternoon nap. My parents always took a Sunday afternoon nap between church services. When I was little kid, I didn’t fully appreciate this practice. Instead of napping, I would read the Sunday comic page. Or that was always the first thing I did instead of napping. The Sunday comics were special because they were in color, and many of the strips followed a different story line on Sunday. Some comics only appeared on Sunday, like Prince Valiant. Which I read religiously even though I always felt like I started in medias res and that the only way to get the back story and fully understand what was going on was to have started following the comic back in 1937. But the artwork was good so I toughed it out while Mom and Dad settled in for their nap.
We had to be quiet during the nap, or at least until they fell asleep. Being quiet meant not stomping around or yelling. You can only read the comics for so long and then they are done and you have to look at all of the photographs and read the captions in the various articles until you find something that might be interesting. Then you could read the whole article, or until you got lost in all of the Balkan names. The 90s offered us a lot of good news content. Kosovo, Princess Diana, Monica Lewinski, Elian Gonzalez. Even world events get boring after awhile and I’d go find something else to do, but the newspaper ritual continued as long as I lived at home.
When I started playing guitar I would go back to the church on Sunday afternoons and hang out with Jacob, a friend who was also learning to play guitar. Perhaps that’s misleading, he was learning, he already new how. He was a gifted musician. If it hadn’t have been for him, I probably wouldn’t have started playing guitar. Initially I wanted to play the bass. But Jacob got a bass before I did, so I got a guitar.
He was always saying, “Go get your guitar.”
We’d meet back at the church after lunch and hang out until the next service. I suppose the statute of limitations has expired so I don’t mind telling you that we raided the Sunday School refrigerator and snack cabinet quite a few times. I don’t think they missed that forgotten vanilla ice cream though.
We would spend the afternoon all of the guitar riffs that we new and some of the ones that we didn’t and we couldn’t tell the two apart. It was great fun. I still kind of do the same thing now at band rehearsal. We just don’t raid the Sunday School snack cupboard. And we are practicing church songs that we are going to sing for the evening service, and not trying to perfect Lynyrd Skynyrd licks.
Jacob was notorious about waiting until I had just finally got handle on a rock’n’roll guitar lick enough to make it remotely recognizable when he would suddenly say, “Sir?” while looking toward the front door of the church. It never failed to scare the daylights out of me.
On rare occasions, probably due to impending weather, we would help Pop haul hay on a Sunday afternoon. There was always a tangible unspoken urgency to hurry through the chore in order to make it to church in time for the six o’clock service.
Appreciation for a Sunday afternoon nap comes with maturity. Just like having a steady job comes with maturity. Perhaps the shiftless can enjoy a Sunday afternoon nap, but they didn’t earn it.
There are a lot of differing opinions on the art of a Sunday afternoon nap. Clothes or pajamas? Recliner or bed? Post nap shower or no? I’m a pajama-bed-shower man myself. But sometimes the nap is so good you just have to get up and get to band practice and hope for the best.
“That was a good nap huh?” Adam will say if I ever skip the post-nap shower.
“Yes. How’d you know?”
“You got that nap hair going on. Hehehe.”
I don’t always get a Sunday afternoon nap these days because we have a one year old who can’t entertain herself by reading the Sunday comics yet. But as soon as she can read, I’m taking a Sunday afternoon nap.