I could write a book about the antics of my youngest son, Don. I feel confident that he would have been diagnosed with ADD but I don't think Attention Deficit Disorder was even on the books fifty years ago. Not only was Don's attention span very short but he was perpetual motion. . .even before he was born I felt like I had butterflies in my stomach.
One day when Don was just a toddler I put him in his bed for a nap and later opened his bedroom door to check on him. The bed was empty and the window was open! Don was gone! I ran outside and found him rolling a garbage can several times larger than he was, right down the middle of the street!
At about the same age Don and I were in the front yard when my next door neighbor came out. I went over to talk with her for a few minutes and in the length of time my head was turned, Don had turned on the water hose and was filling the back seat of our car with water! He seemed to be having such a grand time. My neighbor commented on how much patience I had. I told her I had to or I would go crazy!
I had a gas stove in the kitchen and Don discovered that if he threw something up on the burner that it would catch on fire. One day he threw one of my good shoes on the flame so I had to watch closely when cooking. I don't think Don was intentionally being bad rather he was just curious and "inventive."
Our house was on an incline and one day I looked out the window and in horror watched my car backing down the drive way, then on across the street, and finally stopping within a few feet of smashing into the window of the neighbors house. Don was in the car! He had somehow dislodged the brake and the car took off!
This story now brings a smile. Our church was in a revival and had chosen our family to represent an "ideal" Christian family. There we were, husband and wife with our three little darlings standing on the platform. That was the same day that I received a phone call from my neighbor, "Mrs. McFatter, your house is on fire!" I ran out and sure enough I saw flames on the fence right next to the eaves of the roof. My husband and I picked up blankets and started beating the flames out and I was hollering the whole time at Don. But then at church that night there we stood smiling and looking like that "perfect" family.
The reason for the fire? Don said that he was killing mosquitoes!!
There are many more stories that I could tell but when Don was about sixteen he finally "grew out" of being so hyper. He grew up to have such a sweet and loving nature. I can't count the times that before going to bed he would say, "I love you, mom. I love you, dad." And when he was a little younger, he and Curtis had a routine that they went through just about every night. Curtis would start singing from his bed, "I love you a bushel and a peck" and from Don's bedroom he would answer with the next line, "A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck." Then Curtis with, "A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap", and Don would complete with, "A barrel and a heap and I'm talking in my sleep about you. They would then go back and forth with, "About you", until Don would drift off to sleep.
This incident still touches my heart. When Don was a teen I had a serious burn and was in the hospital for five weeks. I had to have skin grafts and some days I was pretty sedated. I had asked Curtis to bring me a milk shake. Later I called the house and Don answered. I said, "Your dad was supposed to bring me a milk shake." Curtis was not home and it wasn't long until Don came running through my door. The hospital was about eight or ten blocks from our house and Don ran all the way after picking up the shake from McDonald's. He was panting and was
Thank you, sweet Don, for the love you showed that day. It will live in my heart always.
In 1976 Don was killed instantly in a car accident. And the last thing that Curtis did was to sing the little song, in a whisper, "I love you a bushel and a peck" as we said our final "good bye" to our youngest son, the sunshine of our life!
On Don's birthday, each year, I write him a letter as this makes me feel closer to him. I would like to share the letter that I wrote March 20, 2000. And, incidentally, March 20th is the first day of Spring!
The calendar says that you would have been forty-two years old today. But God has allowed us to keep you eighteen - always! After all these years, I can still see you sitting on the couch, putting your shoes on, flashing that beautiful smile and expressing your joy of having your own car, your own job to pay for it, and a CB with a handle of "Cracker Jack Kid."
School had been difficult in many ways and you were just weeks away from graduating and then suddenly you were gone! Everything was dark for a long time but day always follows the night. And, now, I find it so comforting to be able to keep you young, laughing, and happy!
The scripture on today's calendar is:
"Save your people and bless your inheritance
Be their shepherd and carry them forever."
Don, if I could go back there are many things I would wish to do different but one thing I would never change - to teach you about Jesus the Good Shepherd. Each day brings me closer home where more and more of our loved ones have gone on before. When I finally make it home, I want to see Jesus - then you, precious Don - then mother and dad and then family and friends.
Don's memory is like a beautiful flower in my heart with a sweet, sweet fragrance. On the next post I will share a remarkable story of love concerning Don.
The picture above was one of our favorite pictures of Don.