Flowers on the Wind: Remembering W.C.
By Red Dirt Kelly on April 16, 2013
Although the prospect of someone close to me dying is a thought I prefer to avoid, the process of what happens after someone dies is one I appreciate revisiting over and over.
No, I’m not enamored with personally experiencing the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, or with picking out coffins. What I revel in, rather, is the natural and almost always occurring stage of “telling a humorous story involving the dearly deceased” - an endearing ritual that usually takes place once people are convinced that their loved one has in fact died, and they’re going to have to deal with the situation.
In my last post, I mentioned I've been cleaning out my attic and paralled an old post card discovery to the V.C. Andrews “Flowers in the Attic” series. The second book in that series was entitled, “Petals on the Wind.”
Many folks I know detest flowers at funerals because they feel they are a waste – that they are simply money spent for a brief time, the flowers dry up, and are subsequently tossed into the garbage. The metaphor of Petals on the Wind, then, fits such that the quickly used beauty spent on a moment in a funeral just as suddenly blows away and is gone.
Unless…those petals are from written flowers, prepared by those who knew the deceased.
(left: Me and my uncle W.C. on my wedding day, August, 1985.)
Enter the “Memories of W.C. Yates at his funeral on May 24, 2002 read by Pam Nesdahl.” Pam in my cousin, W.C. is my uncle, and here are some of those petals I revisited this past weekend:
On nicknames he garnered
“Mom said that when dad was a little boy the kids at the school called him ‘Frog’ because he liked to jump from desk to desk. In his later years my mother affectionately referred to my dad as ‘Sparky,’ because he kept catching the pasture on fire.”
On his sense of humor
“One day the wind was blowing from the southwest. Mom remembers sitting with grandma and my dad, and grandma asking, ‘W.C., where do you think the wind comes from?’ My dad profoundly responded, ‘Amber!’”(a town directly south of them...)
“My dad liked to kid around with everyone. So, one day he decided to pick on Dean. He called Dean and said he ‘needed a new carburetor for the diesel backhoe.’ Dean had a lot of equipment that was always in need of various repairs, so this was a common issue to him.
Dean said, ‘Okay, well I guess we’ll have to work on it Sunday afternoon.’
My dad then started laughing and Dean got irritated; the more irritated Dean got the harder my dad laughed. Finally, dad was laughing so hard he had tears running down his face and gave the phone to my mom saying, ‘I’m sorry – you’ll have to talk to him.’
Mom asked Dean what was going on, but Dean was so mad he hung up. Dad thought it was hilarious that he got Dean so caught up in the fact that the backhoe needed a carburetor that he failed to realize that backhoes don’t have carburetors!”
“Just last Monday he was lying in the hospital bed. He had to share a room with a nice man who had a visitor with an annoyingly loud voice.
This nice man must have been tired of the voice as well, because he asked the nurse where the remote to the TV was.
Well, my dad sat up and started looking for his own remote. He found it tucked under his sheets and then immediately volunteered it to his roommate in order to help the situation.”
On his impulsivity
“Back in the early 70’s, we were
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