My last grandparent passed away on Saturday, November 29, 2008. My grandaddy, Strother Marks, who was going to be 94 on December 12th this year. I am very sad that he is gone, and he will be missed. He was the last person in his generation left in his family. His younger brother, Bernard died quite awhile ago, and his older sister, Lossie died in 2000.
All three of these people will be missed. They were a generation of story-tellers. If I have any gift for telling stories, I got it from them. They had such rich life experiences that finding a good story to tell was not hard to do. It was the delivery of the story that always amazed me. I was always captivated when I listened to their stories. My father also has this gift, so at least my children will be able to hear their stories through him, as well as his stories. In honor of grandaddy, I am going to tell you the story of his conversion that he told me when I was about eight.
Grandaddy was drafted during WWII. He was in his thirties so he was a little older than the rest of the draftees, and my grandma was pregnant with my dad. They already had one son, Earl who was about six years old. Grandaddy had to go to Paris, Tx for basic training. He had never been that far away from home before. He grew up in Kentucky and had moved to Indiana when he got married.
After basic training he found himself on his way to Europe. He landed on Utah Beach during the invasion and actually made it onto the beach and survived. Then he moved through France to Belgium. He dug a fox hole in the cold wet snow. During what later became known as the Battle of the Bulge, he watched so many of his friends die right next to him in those fox holes. It was so cold and wet. The army had not issued the soldiers the correct socks and boots and their feet were cold and wet, which is not a good combination. One starry night in that foxhole grandaddy prayed for the first time since he was a boy. He prayed that if God would just get him through this particular night and home to see his son, Donnie (my dad), he would devote his life to him.
Well, the Lord did watch over him, because he made it through that night and a few others. However, his feet were frozen and permanently damaged during his time in that foxhole. As soon as the battle was over he was shipped to England to get medical care for his feet. Sadly, his feet were damaged beyond repair. He would be able to walk, but the nerve damage was so severe he would not ever be able to drive a car again. He got shipped home with a purple heart, and got to see his new baby boy.
Now, I know you are thinking that he went home, started going to church, and lived a life of service for the rest of his life because he was so thankful. Well...not exactly. He went back home went to work at Whirlpool, and started gambling and drinking at back door gin houses, and poker tables. But all the while the Lord was working on his heart. He kept reminding him of the promise that he had made in the foxhole. When my dad was about ten he decided it was time to keep good on that promise. Something convicted him and he went to the same church that we will be holding the funeral at on Thursday. He did live a life of service from that point on, in his own way.
I love you grandaddy! I hope I did your story some justice and I know you are with your brother, sister, mom, dad, and grandma now. See you when I get there!