Thursday, July 23, 2009

Strong, Silent, and Oh So Funny

Exactly a week ago, I googled the address to a Baptist Church in Mesquite, and drove through downtown Dallas to make it to a funeral by 10. I wasn't sure I would be able to make the trip, and neither were a few other family members. But in the end, there was no way we would miss this funeral.

Uncle Bill was married to my dad's younger sister, Mary Jo. She was actually the first of the brothers and sisters to get married. My dad and Uncle Bill became good friends in their teens, and to hear dad tell it, he felt a little betrayed when he realized at some point the he wasn't the only reason Uncle Bill made frequent visits to their house.

I have scattered memories of him. All through childhood we made holiday visits to Uncle Bill and Aunt Jo's. I guess in situations like that, the strongest part of the person's character is what remains in memories. For me, it was that he was the strong silent type. He chose his words wisely, and measured them appropriately. Then came the zingers.

Uncle Bill's humor is the quality I remember most. He was the master of one liners. But he was quiet. So if you weren't listening, you'd miss them. Most people listened intently. Because he was quiet, he was extremely observant, and his humor reflected that. It was that observation that made him hilarious.

And he had a tell. I learned very quickly to listen closely when I saw it. He would lift his chin to straighten his collar. He wouldn't actually straighten his collar, just go through the initial motions. Then the zinger would fly, to be followed by peels of laughter. Every time.

Laughter is part of his family culture that he left behind. His family is always laughing. Even at the funeral, stories of Uncle Bill brought about a few belly laughs. While some people talked about his athleticism, and others talked about his lifelong commitment to the Lord and his hard work ethic, all reminisced about that smile of his after one of his one-liners.

Uncle Bill was and is part of our family fabric, and his color, though seemingly in the background, is the basis of the strength that makes the Ledbetters and the Houghs such a tight knit group. We will miss Uncle Bill. But because of him, we're strong enough to handle it.


Drew & Leigh Anne said...

You've once again hit the nail exactly on the head Stacy - you've captured Dad right on. Thank you for this blog ~ it brought tears to my eyes, but also a smile! :-)

Stacy said...

He will be missed a LOT! I wish I could capture more of who he was.

I didn't get to say good bye to you! I'm so glad I finally got to meet your kiddos, at least for a minute.

Love you!

Anonymous said...

Stacy, thank you for putting this on your blog! Your description was exactly right! He kept me sane by delivering those "zingers" all during our marriage and in some of the most awful times, or so I thought at that moment. He was a wonderful Husband, Dad, Uncle, brother and friend. We all miss him terribly! Aunt Jo

This Eclectic Life said...

You gave me chills, Stacy. I've known people like your Uncle Bill. What a beautiful and thoughtful memorial to him.

Stacy said...


He's from your neck of the woods actually! Well, Sherman area. It wouldn't surprise me that you know folks like him. It seems to be a common thread up there! I wonder why that is?