The Weekly Photo Challenge for this week (4/29/2016) is centered on the theme of Admiration.
In my lifetime I have been blessed with so many role models. My father, both grandfathers, and next door neighbor who became like a second mother in the beginning to me and a very close and trusted friend and advisor as I matured are the people I will detail here.
First of all, let me tell you about my dad. He was a good man, a Navy veteran and a great teacher of how to be a citizen, friend and a man. My dad was a moral man, but not necessarily a devoted Christian. He did not attend church, but did not want us to miss the chance to gain from the benefits of being part of a church congregation. I will explain how all that worked in the last section of this post.
My dad was a good husband, too. Sure he and my mom had disagreements about particular problems in their relationship or in the way the family or household operated, but he dealt with it by discussing, not using his physical strength. He was also a good son who respected his parents in all ways. He definitely deserved the admiration I had for him.
His dad, and my namesake Joe “Hoss” Owens, was much like my dad, no doubt why my dad was who he was. Granddaddy was well-liked throughout his small town of Glade Spring, VA and even to this day is recalled by people who know I am his descendant with smiles and hilarious stories. My admiration for him remains to this day almost a decade and a half after his death.
My maternal grandfather, Ray Russell, was an exceptional man in his own regard. He was among the first generation that worked at the Eastman Chemical Corporation in Kingsport, Tennessee. Continuing an interesting theme, my Grandfather Russell was another very moral man but necessarily the church-going type. I found out that he had been at one time, but I was not bold enough before his death in 1982, when I was just 17, to inquire about this further. Granddaddy Russell had the role of Grandfather down pat. He knew exactly how to thrill his four grandchildren with everything he did. He was also the mayor of his hometown of Clinchport, Virginia in 1977 when a great flood basically washed the town away. Watching him deal with the aftermath in his soft-spoken, yet direct way only seemed to add to my admiration.
The last person I will talk about in this admiration post is the person that set me on a path to my strong Christian faith. While it is difficult to admire one person more than the others that are integral in your life, Minnie Bryan deserves one measure more due to the lasting effect and continuing reach of her influence. My mother had a professional career as a very sharp and capable nurse, so there was a need for day care from early in my life. I had another lady provide this for a small time, but it would be Minnie that would forever shape my life. She brought one qualification extra that the three men I have just highlighted did not, her unshakeable and unquestioning faith in God and example of service for Him..
From a very early age Minnie transported me to and from church. I got involved in a lot of activities with adults forty, fifty and sixty years older than me and quickly began to understand how to live God’s instructions. I feel like I earned some admiration from them as I conducted myself on a plane older than my age. But it was due to Minnie’s steady hand that I developed like this. One vital component of her teaching was something called the J.O.Y. Principle. This stands for Jesus first, Others second and yourself last. You can get a more in-depth understanding through this link The J.O.Y. Principle which will take you over to my faith-based blog, Faith By Acts.
A part of Minnie’s Others focus that remains and grows stronger each day is the desire she had to find me a good Christian girl to marry. Minnie was not one to beat around the bush and she got to know Libby Thomas very thoroughly, in effect vetting her as Congress would a new political appointee. When all the questions had been answered and probing was complete Minnie arranged for a blind date. The rest is history, twenty-three and a half years worth, with two kids as a bonus.
Minnie lived this principle every day in every way that I saw. As I begin each day I choose to refocus my heart, mind and actions using this guideline. So far it has not failed me. I am now counting eighteen years since Minnie’s presence slipped the bounds of the human existence, but her influence remains very strong. In her absence I am able to maintain the connection to her strong influence by enjoying my special almost sibling-like relationship with her daughter Martha. You can read more about this in a birthday tribute post I wrote in 2013, My Definition of a Sister, Happy Birthday Martha.
These are my admiration subjects and I will leave you with a final picture of me and my dad on the day my brother came home from the hospital. I was not a happy camper about a new baby. It is my favorite picture of me with my dad.