Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mission Trip Cancelled Due to Dangerous Political Unrest in Honduras



Four days before our Honduras Mission team was to leave for our annual mission trip, the team’s leader, Frank Welch, faced a heart-wrenching decision.  Since Honduras reelected President Juan Orlando Hernandez in November, tensions have been rising between the people who supported the elected president and those who believe the election was stolen by a corrupt election process.  As the time for our team’s trip drew near, Frank learned that protests were being organized to take place in Tegucigalpa, the capital city and the location of the airport our team must use for the return flight.  These protests, planned for the day of the presidential inauguration, are intended to express disapproval of the election results and to call for a new election. 

In assessing this tense situation, Frank Welch consulted with numerous missionaries in Honduras and friends he has in government.  Each time he called, his sources were more concerned about the scope and potential hostility of the protests.  Planned demonstrations will now take place from the day our team planned to arrive in Honduras until at least the day they were scheduled to leave.  The airport has become a target of the protests, knowing that tying up the airport would interfere with dignitaries arriving for the presidential inauguration.  Protesters plan to block as many major roads around the capital city as possible, making transportation from the airport to the team’s mission site difficult and dangerous, if not impossible. 

In light of these developments, realizing that he did not feel confident the mission team could travel to its work site and return safely and on schedule, on Tuesday evening, Welch made the decision to cancel the trip. 


Commenting on the decision, Pastor Dee Vaughan said, “Our team is very disappointed that we cannot go.  We feel very sorry for the people we planned to serve.  But we are blessed to have a team leader who has the experience and connections to know the right thing to do.  His concern for the safety of his team makes me confident that we are well cared for every time we go to Honduras.  We look forward to our next opportunity to serve there.”  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Vaughan Family Update Christmas 2017

Vaughan Family Update
Christmas 2017
Friends,

This has truly been an eventful year for the Vaughans.  Where do we begin?  The Davisons have experienced several big changes in 2017.  Josh became pastor of Old Lexington Baptist Church in Leesville, SC.  The church has been very responsive to his leadership and is growing in all the ways that matter.  Elizabeth, after teaching in elementary school for several years, has returned to middle school special education.  Their three boys, Liam, Creighton, and Josiah, bring much joy to our family.  The boys are now 6, 4, and 2.  Dee and Linda recently took the boys to Greenville to see “Frozen on Ice.”  We were relieved to keep all three boys off of the ice. 

Josh and Jen surprised us this year, too.  After several years of practicing physical therapy in Charlotte, the two of them accepted jobs with Palmetto Baptist Health and have moved to Columbia. They are both working in the specialties they love (Josh in sports medicine and Jen in pediatrics), have bought a home, and, after only a few months, are telling the rest of the family where to find good food.  They certainly enjoyed Clemson’s National Football Championship.  Their puppy, Ranger, turned five this year. 

Andrew continues to work at Fatz CafĂ© in Irmo, spend time with friends, enjoy his nephews, and correct the rest of the family’s grammar.  He managed to break a foot and a hand in the course of the year.  Santa is bringing Andrew calcium supplements for Christmas. 




Linda continues to love teaching GED and diploma students for Lexington School District 2.  Their program won numerous state awards this year for the progress their students make and their graduation rate.  Linda also teaches young couples in Bible Study at St. Andrews and leads the advisory council for the church’s leadership development program. 

Linda’s father, Basil Clary, moved to Columbia in January to be cared for at the Tucker Veteran’s Nursing Care Facility. Ann kept Basil at home years longer than any of us thought possible, but the time for professional care had clearly come.  Basil passed away in October.  Our family celebrated his life and hope together.  He is deeply loved and deeply missed this Christmas. 


Dee surprised Linda with an early Christmas present—a Pomeranian puppy she named after her dad.  Basil or “Little B,” as we call him, weighs 4 pounds and has taken over large portions of our hearts.  He’s brought much joy (and expense) to our family. He celebrated his first week at the Vaughan house by breaking his leg and leading us on an adventure to the doggie ER.  



Dee has now completed six years of service at St. Andrews Baptist Church.  He published his second book this year, a collection of devotional readings for people struggling with depression.  “Seeing in the Dark” is based on Dee’s study of scripture, his own experience with depression, and the work he’s done with others as a pastor, counselor and group leader.  The book is available at Amazon.com or Helwys.com. 

We hope this snapshot gives you some idea of how our lives are going and the many blessings we enjoy.  We’d love to hear from you.  May the Baby born in Bethlehem long ago be born in your hearts in a fresh way this Christmas season. 


Dee, Linda and Andrew Vaughan

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

An Interview about Seeing in the Dark



An Interview with Ronald “Dee” Vaughan

Ronald D. Vaughan is pastor of St. Andrews Baptist Church, Columbia, South Carolina. A native of Greenville, South Carolina, he is a graduate of Furman University (BA) and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, DMin). Dee has also served as a hospital chaplain, a fire department chaplain, and a college and graduate school teacher. He and his wife, Linda, have three children and three grandchildren.

What were you hoping to accomplish with your new book, Seeing in the Dark?

I wrote Seeing the Dark to settle a dare and answer a prayer. In the darkest days of my depression, my talks with God—more, at times, like jeers at God—were very caustic and sarcastic. In one of those crying out moments, when I felt no hope for myself, my ministry, or my future, I said to God, “If all things really can work together for my good, prove it. Bring something good out of this hell. I dare you.” I later realized that my dare was, in fact, a prayer. I was drowning in depression and needed to believe God was still with me and working in some redemptive way I couldn’t yet see.
As I began to see specks of light in my darkness and began making some progress in the journey toward healing, God gave me many opportunities to share what I was discovering with other depressed people. I soon realized that some of my most significant ministry would be with people stumbling in depression’s darkness, longing to discover enough light to guide them in finding their way. The growth and gratitude I saw in my fellow pilgrims settled the dare I’d made and answered the prayer within it.
Seeing the Dark is my testimony that God can redeem even something as dark and difficult as depression by giving those who make it through the valley the gifts of experience and insight, which they can share with others to help them see light in their emotional and spiritual darkness.

Memoirist Mary Karr says that a person needs about ten years on an experience before they can write well about it. Your major bout of depression was almost ten years ago. When did you know you wanted to write a resource for people dealing with depression? When did you actually start writing these devotions?

I took several steps on my journey of writing Seeing the Dark. The book began with a list I made while I was in the very dark days of my illness. I called that list “Wisdom.” Any time I read, heard, or thought of something that shone a bit of light on my illness and illumined the next step of the path toward healing, I wrote it down. The list includes scripture passages that spoke to me at a time when spiritual truth was very difficult to hear. The list also contains quotations that offered me a helpful word. Many of the items on the list were discoveries I made in working with my doctors and counselors.
When better days came, I suddenly had numerous opportunities to minister with people struggling with depression. I shared some of the truth I’d learned through sermons, small group work, and especially in counseling individuals.
The joy and meaning I found in supporting other depression sufferers motivated me to find a way to share help and hope with a broader audience. Two years ago, I began writing what I’d learned in the form of brief biblical meditations. I intentionally kept each meditation short because I know depressed people don’t have the focus or energy to wade through long treatises. I designed each meditation to be a daily dose of spiritual insight and encouragement.

The six parts of the book resemble stages a depressed person might experience as they seek to connect or reconnect with God. Are these stages you have gone through? Why did you choose these six parts?

When I began writing, I had no plan to separate the meditations into groups. As I wrote the devotionals, however, I began to see themes emerging. Later, I decided that these overarching ideas offered me the best way to arrange the meditations and an opportunity to name some of the big issues people face in understanding and overcoming depression. At times, each of these section themes was the major issue of my recovery, but I don’t think of them as stages, in the sense of completing one and moving to the next as one would read the chapters of a book.
My guitar has given me a picture of how I think this process moves. The issues named by the sections of Seeing the Dark are like the notes of a chord. When I try to identify a chord I hear in a song and play it on my guitar, I begin by finding one note of the chord I can match. Then I experiment with another string to find the note it can add to the chord. I continue until all six strings are adding their sound, making the chord more beautiful and complete. I think people build their healing journey in much the same way.
People get their first grip on depression by finding that first note of truth they can identify and relate to their experience. Then, while continuing to strum that string, they learn other dimensions of healing they need and add those insights to the therapeutic chord they’re building.
My spiritual chord of healing began when I identified the truth that God can see in the dark. I needed to believe that God saw a more positive reality and more hopeful future than I could see. From that starting point, I began to reclaim my power to make choices that could prepare me for healing to happen. As I made choices about diet, exercise, and schedule, I realized that my power to choose extended to my attitudes toward life. I keep a few of these tough questions I needed to answer posted on the wall near my computer so I would see them often. As a strategy for improvement took shape, my toughest issue was putting what I was learning into daily practice. I had to reckon with the truth that the only way to change my life was to change the way I lived each day.
I suppose the final note I added to my chord was embracing the challenge of using what pain had taught me to help others. I’ve been amazed at how important sharing what I’ve discovered with others has been in reinforcing these points of light in my own life. I’ve heard someone say that we teach what we most want to learn. That has been true for me as I keep strumming the strings of growth and healing.

The book’s subtitle reads “Biblical Meditations for People Dealing with Depression”. What value do you think this book holds for someone who loves a depressed person, versus someone who is depressed themselves?

I’ve learned that a loved one deals with depression almost as much as the depression sufferer. His or her life becomes organized around helping the depressed person see light in the darkness and walk the road toward healing. As is true for many kinds of caregivers, the weight of helping a depressed person bear life’s unusually heavy burdens, along with compensating for the emotional deficit in the family system, can take a terrible toll on the helper. Even more exhausting is the effort some loved ones make to “keep up appearances” or keep the sufferer’s needs a family secret.
I think Seeing the Dark can help a loved one understand the experience of depression and some of the key issues the depressed person faces in finding healing. I also hope the book will give a concerned family member or friend some of the words they need to express their worries and point the sufferer toward hope. The book may even help the concerned friend or family member experience God’s presence in the healing process. God often seems far away to a depressed person. When depression captures a relationship, the one trying to help may also feel they are in a strange dark place and struggle to find God. I want this book to be a kind of star chart that guides the depressed people and those who love them to the places where the light of our Christian faith shines, even in the terrible darkness of depression.

Did anything surprise you while you were writing?

I have friends and family members who know I enjoy writing. From time to time, one of them will ask me if I have a current writing project. I wondered how people would react when I told them I was writing a book about depression. I heard myself using humor to lessen their potential discomfort with the topic, “I’m very excited about a book I’m writing about depression!” I imagined the conversation waning into awkward silence. That didn’t happen. What’s surprised me is how many people, when hearing about Seeing the Dark, have affirmed the need for this kind of resource and expressed gratitude that I was attempting to help depression sufferers. In discussing the book, many people have shared with me their own struggle with depression or the struggle of someone they love. Some seemed relieved I had raised the topic, giving them a greater sense of freedom to share a painful part of their journey and celebrate their growth and recovery.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Sculptor's Attitude

The Sculptor’s Attitude


I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight. I have responsibilities to fulfill today.

I am important. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or...
I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.

Today I can feel sad that I don't have more money or...
I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.

Today I can grumble about my health or...
I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today I can lament over all that my parents didn't give me when I was growing up or...
I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today I can cry because roses have thorns or...
I can celebrate that thorns have roses.

Today I can mourn my lack of friends or...
I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.

Today I can whine because I have to go to work or...
I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.

Today I can complain because I have to go to school or...
I can eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.

Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or...
I can feel honored because the Lord has provided shelter for my mind, body, and soul.

Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped.
And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.

What today will be like is up to me.
I get to choose what kind of day I will have!

Author Unknown

Friday, November 3, 2017

Lessons Daddy Taught Me




In January of this year, the call came that we were both hoping for and dreading.  CM Tucker Veterans Home in Columbia had a room for Daddy.  For many years, Daddy had lived in the presence of Parkinson’s Disease – during those years he worked in maintenance at Peachtree Center, he went camping with my mom and other family and friends, attended countless family celebrations and generally lived a full and happy life.  However, as time passed and the disease progressed, Daddy began to lose his ability to care for himself and do all the things that those of us who are healthy so often take for granted.  By January of this year, Mother was having to care for his every need, and we found ourselves making the difficult decision to move him to “Tuckertown” as he called it.  As Daddy has traveled this difficult road, through his words, actions, and stories he has taught us all some important life lessons.

First, Daddy has taught us to be wise in choosing our life’s partner.  One reason moving to the Tucker Center was difficult for Daddy was that Mother took such good care of him.  She helped him dress, shaved him, managed his medicines, took him out to eat, fixed his favorite foods, drove him to the rook room, carried him to Tribe Talk Live, made sure he had his cheese crackers at bedtime, and a thousand other things that made his life full and happy.  She took the “in sickness and in health” part of her vows seriously and worked very hard to make his life happy and full.
Second, I learned never give up on your dreams.  In these last months, Daddy’s dreams were very simple.  He wanted to be at home with my mother.  When he first arrived at Tucker, he was fully aware of where he was and made no bones about wanting to go home.  In fact, one evening Dee and I brought him shrimp for dinner.  He refused to eat it, saying he would take it home with him and eat it there.  Then he looked at me and said, “Get me out of here now!”  Explaining to him that we couldn’t do that just didn’t go over with him.  As he held his cup of water in his hand, he asked me, “Are you going to take me home?”  When I tried once again to explain that it wasn’t an option, he threw his whole cup of ice water on me.  Man, he had good aim, even sitting in his wheelchair.  We cleaned up the water as best we could, and as I sat there shivering in my wet britches, Daddy decided he had made his point and ate every one of the 12 shrimp we had brought him.  However, he never quit wanting to go back home and eventually began to believe that he was home.  One day when I was pushing him in his wheelchair down the hall at the Tucker Center, he looked around him and said, “You know Linda.  Your mother and I don’t need this much room.  I think she and I should give this house to the church and build ourselves something smaller.”  Many times, when he was talking to my mother on the phone, after a short conversation he would tell her he needed to go to work but that he would be home in a few hours.  He often called his caregivers Ann and would get upset if one of them didn’t answer to her name.  Bless their hearts, they played the role of my mother quite often because it made Daddy happy.

Daddy taught me that there is always time for a good story.  Daddy was a storyteller all of his life and that didn’t change when he got to the Tucker Center.  He entertained all his visitors and his caregivers with stories about his life.  Some of the stories were true, like the time he and mother were on the pontoon when the water got rough and a bucket of worms flew up in the air and dumped all over my mother, even going in her mouth.  Other stories were creations of his vivid imagination, but he believed they were true and they made him happy.  While Daddy was living at the Tucker Center, he built multiple houses on the lake, bought and sold property which made him a fortune, rode in a helicopter and threw money down to my mother, bought and sold several trucks, and worked in maintenance at Tucker.  He often complained that they didn’t pay him and he was going to retire.  When he got too upset about not being paid, his nurses would write him a “check” for his work that he would carry around in his pocket.  One of my favorite stories Daddy told was about his purchase of a motorcycle.  We were sitting in the dining hall while he ate his lunch one day and he told me that he had bought a motorcycle.  We talked about what kind it was and how much he paid for it.  After a while, he got a big grin on his face and said, “I gave the motorcycle to Zach.”  I asked him if Tommy and Genene knew about that and he said “no.”  Later that afternoon, we were sitting out on the front porch of Tucker when a motorcycle roared by on the street below.  Daddy looked at me, grinned, and said, “There goes Zach.”

Perhaps the most important lesson that my daddy taught me through these last few months is that true love never fails.  Your body can fail you, your mind can fail you, but the love you have for others remains strong.  It may exhibit itself in unusual ways, but it is love still the same.  My husband, Dee, arrived at Tucker one afternoon to visit my daddy and found him tenderly cradling a sock in his arms.  Daddy was obviously upset and when Dee asked what was wrong Daddy said, “My cat has died and I need someone to bury it.”  He thought the sock was his cat, Lillie Belle.  Daddy often talked about his babies (his dog Daisy Mae and cat Lillie Belle), and worried about them being taken care of.  He also kept each of his children on his mind.  One of his nurses,

Jennifer Evans, became my sister, Debbie, in his mind, and Daddy would often tell me, “I just talked to your sister a minute ago.”  One day we were visiting and Daddy couldn’t wait to tell me about my sister, Cathy, running in a foot race.  Apparently, Cathy was running against an Olympic champion and was 12 laps behind her when the last lap began.  Then Daddy grinned and said, “Darn if Cathy didn’t catch that woman and win the race.”  He was so proud.  When Daddy had a problem that needed to be solved, he had me call Buddy.  One day, he told me his truck had broken down, and he was worried someone would tow it away.  I told him that I would call Buddy and ask him to take care of it for him.  That didn’t satisfy Daddy.  “Call him right now.”  So, I did and, fortunately, Buddy was on his way home from work and answered.  I explained about Daddy’s truck and Buddy talked to Daddy and told him that he had put it in his garage and would take care of it until Daddy could come get it.  Tommy, he talked about you a lot.  Sometimes he was worried about you – he thought you were sick and I had to do some quick talking to convince him you were fine.  Other times, he would tell me about a job you had keeping books for a pharmacy and how he was helping you run the numbers.  Even when we couldn’t be with him, we were always real in his heart and mind.  His love for us led him to create situations in which he could express that love.  His greatest love was my mama.  I don’t think I ever visited him that he didn’t talk about her.  Sometimes, he told me that he had just seen her;  she was working around the corner.  Although this comforted him, it became a problem when he wanted me to take him by her office to see her.  “Linda, her office is in this building.  Why can’t we go see her?”  So, I lied.  “Daddy, she had to go out for a while, she had a meeting, she’s off work now and gone home.”

Other times, he worried about her health.  He was convinced that she was addicted to drugs that she ordered from Mexico.  Most visits, we would call Mother so that Daddy could talk to her.  More than once, Dee and I would be sitting there listening to their conversation and Daddy would put his hand over the phone and whisper to us, “She’s drunk or she’s on pills right now.”  One day when they hung up from each other I called Debbie and asked her to assure Daddy that she would get mother into a rehab program and make sure she didn’t do any more drugs.  I couldn’t convince him she wasn’t doing what he believed she was doing.  As I’ve thought of his concerns, I’ve realized that he was doing everything in his power to take care of her.  His mind set up situations that needed solving and then he stepped in to help solve them.  Although Daddy often expressed concern for my mother and her addiction problems (for those of you who don’t know, Mother is not an addict), he also spent a great deal of time expressing his love for her.  One day on the phone, he told my mother that he had an idea.  He wanted them to renew their vows.  “What do you think about that Ann?”  Another day, he told her that he wanted to dance with her.  As he talked about wanting to hold her in his arms, I was putting my hands over my ears thinking, TMI Daddy – too much information.  One of the sweetest conversations I overheard them have was when they talked about how Daddy had always told her he loved her.  Mama reminded him that he would tell her, “I’ll love you forever” and Daddy finished it, “and one more day.”  That conversation occurred about a month ago, so even towards the end of his life, Daddy remembered who mattered most to him.


What I would say to you my family--mama, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren-Daddy loved you.  When life took away most everything else, it couldn’t take away his love.  Be proud.  Know who you are.  You are Basil Clary’s beloved family.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Pictures of Basil

This past January, when Basil moved from Gaffney to Columbia to the C.M. Tucker Center or “Tucker Town,” as he quickly named it, a large number of family members came with him to move him in and help him get settled.  His entourage filled three cars.  As we unpacked his Gamecock blanket, his supply of cough drops and cashews, his military police ball caps and his television, we saw a bulletin board on the wall across from the foot of his bed.  “We’ve got to fill this board with pictures,” we said.  “We can keep the faces of people who love him and snapshots of moments of joy in his room and, hopefully, in his heart.”  That two by three foot corkboard was soon filled to overflowing with photographs, cards, notes—pictures of life and love we hoped would make that strange new place feel more like home.  We realized that one of the best things we could do to help him through a tough time of change was to fill that room with pictures for Basil. 

About nine months later, we’ve gathered here because we’ve moved into a strange new place.  We’ve begun a new chapter of life without Basil in this world with us.  This isn’t a journey any of us wanted to make and it’s tough.  Averi, one of Basil’s great-granddaughters, put the challenge of this time into words so well through this letter she wrote for him after his death. 

Dear Granddaddy,
            I really miss you and was heartbroken when you passed. I think about Thanksgivings and Christmases without you there. I think about conversations in your living room and your chair being empty. No one will ever be able to replace the man who once sat in that now empty chair. But, I know that we didn’t show up to be sad. We showed up to celebrate what a truly great life you lived. I know you’re watching over all of us right now form heaven. I promise that our family will live life in a way that honors your name and the legacy you left behind.
            I really was lucky to have an amazing great grandfather like you. You always made me laugh, you always let me know how proud you were of me, and you always made me feel special and loved. But it wasn’t just my life you touched, I know that you touched the lives of every single person in this very room. I am eternally grateful for the years I had with you, and I will cherish the memories forever!
                                      Love you,
                                                         Averi

Since we find ourselves in our own kind of Tucker Town today, a place that in some ways feels far from home, we need to take hold of our opportunity to make it better, even make it beautiful.  Just as we filled room 402 of Patton Place with pictures for Basil, we need to fill our new place, our new chapter of life, with pictures of Basil. 

In one sense, this has already happened.  Over the past week, I’ve been the gathering place for cherished snapshots of Basil’s life.  The slide show some of you saw during the visitation includes about 200 pictures, each one evidence of a life well lived and beautiful memories made.  Every picture of Basil bears a testimony, “He blessed my life.” 

Each one of you has a unique set of pictures of Basil to keep and cherish, some in your photo album and the best ones, the most important ones in your heart.  Let me share of few of my own pictures of Basil as I remember and give thanks for one of the most important men in my life’s journey.  The first I would call…

Welcome to Gaffney

Linda and I had been dating a few months when I made my first trip to Gaffney to meet the family.  Everyone was intrigued and a bit anxious about this psychology student preparing for the ministry.  Debbie asked Linda if I’d call on her to pray. 
Mammy set me straight for being late.  But at the dinner table, the first time I’d eaten with Basil and Ann, our relationship got off to a great start.  Basil, testing the waters of sarcastic humor with me, told Linda, “Pass the tea pitcher to me before Dee drinks it all.”  I intercepted the pitcher and, while Basil looked on, poured every last drop of tea into my glass.  He didn’t throw me out, though he probably should have—many times.  But that evening was my first experience of one of Basil’s gifts.  He treated me like family.  I believe I can speak for all the in-laws who’ve married into the Clary clan that Basil embraced you, right from the start, as one of his own.  Only two years after I met Basil, my own father suddenly passed away.  The faithful family love of a man I admired has been a star in my sky for which I’m very thankful today.   

That dinner scene stirs in my heart another picture of Basil at…

The Head of the Table

Basil, like many fathers of his generation, had his place to sit at the table.  The rest of the family took its place around him.  That was true in ways much more important than the seating arrangement.  For a long time, I didn’t know that the Clarys were a blended family.  I knew they were mixed up, but not blended.  I didn’t know it because you couldn’t see it.  Basil loved all his children fully and deeply.  He was “daddy” to you all.  And that flowed out of the love he had for Ann, a love story that took them through 58 years of marriage.  If you want to know what love is, I wish you could’ve followed my little mother-in-law around her house as she met Basil’s every need every day for years before his condition demanded other care.  During these past months at the Tucker Center, Basil would often say, “I love that little woman.”  And in the strength of the love they shared, the rest of us became a family.  

I have another picture of Basil as a…

Football Hero

Though Basil’s roots are in Gaffney, his family lived in St. George during his high school years.  During that time, Basil was a star, really the star of the high school football team and basketball team.  Being a small school with a short bench, Basil had to play both offense and defense.  He also kicked field goals and extra points, so he was involved in virtually every play of every game.  In one game, as he played quarterback, an opposing player delivered a dirty hit on Basil and knocked him out cold.  He lay motionless on the field, but Mammy was moving very briskly in the stands.  The legend goes that she had removed one of her shoes with a pointed heel on it and was on her way to the field to deliver righteous retribution on the player who hurt her boy.  Ike intervened and Basil was the only casualty of that play.  Basil played quarterback for St. George for three seasons and never threw a single interception.  He led his team to many victories.  He was quite a basketball player too.  When Linda and I lived in Henderson, NC, we had a backyard basketball goal.  During a visit, Basil came out in the yard to shoot a few.  A concrete well cap stood about twenty-five feet from the side of the goal.  Just to challenge himself, Basil stood atop that well cap and hit three shots in a row.  He decided the time had come to go indoors. 

Basil was always a gamer.  He knew how to figure out a strategy for winning anything he did.  Linda and I played Scrabble with him once.  She and I impressed ourselves with the big and strange words we formed.  Basil knew that Scrabble is about where you form a word more than the word itself.  He double lettered and triple worded us into the ground.  Then, to celebrate his victory, he asked Linda about her educational pedigree, then asked me the same question.  He ended his post-game interview by remarking, “I just beat two Furman graduates, one who’s about to get his master’s degree.  I think I did pretty well.”  

Late in his life, Basil loved to play Rook with a circle of dear friends not far from his home.  There was no gambling involved, other than Basil’s driving there and back, but once again, he knew how to play the game and win the game.  And he made it fun for everyone. 

Have you seen the picture of Basil in his uniform?  The story of his life includes a picture of his…

Military Days

Basil didn’t welcome the draft.  Mammy didn’t either.  The story goes that you could see her heel marks all the way from Gaffney to Ft. Jackson as she tried to hold on to him and keep him from going.  But he went and he served.  Basil was a military policeman who guarded some of our nation’s early nuclear weapons in Texas.  We honor him for giving some of the years of his youth to serve our nation.  Out of that experience, Basil was always a very patriotic American with a deep respect for all who serve. 

The next picture of Basil I want to mention illustrates some of the fun he brought into my life and many of yours.  I call it…

ESPN

I was visiting the Clary home.  Linda had gone somewhere, leaving me in the den with Basil.  Being a sports fan, he often watched ESPN in the early days when they featured a lot of kick boxing and Canadian football.  A kickboxing match was on TV.  The round ended and, as often happens at such events, a beautiful young woman who was not, shall we say, overdressed, stepped into the ring carrying a sign announcing Round 2 was about to begin.  Basil and I sat there in silence for a moment, the ministry student and the father of the young lady he was dating, when he said, “That stuff don’t bother us preachers, does it, Dee?”  I think I answered, “Doesn’t bother me a bit, Basil.” 

Basil could see and seize the humor in a situation, put it into words, and brighten the day of everyone around him.  But not even he knew what to say in the scene I’d call…

A Short Ride in the Truck

Our son, Josh, was a toddler in a car seat.  After we all met for a meal in Gaffney, Linda and her mom went shopping, leaving Basil and me with Josh and his car seat.  We made plans for several stops we would make, a guys’ afternoon out.  We walked out to Basil’s pickup truck in the restaurant parking lot to install Josh’s seat and get on our way.  That’s when we made a discovery.  Basil’s truck didn’t have a center-seat seatbelt.  The only place we could strap the car seat down was the passenger side of the truck.  The car seat wasn’t so tall that you could see it from outside the truck.  This left me only one place to sit—in the middle of the seat, right up next to Basil.  We wracked our brains for an alternative, but no good options emerged.  So, we all crawled in the truck.  Basil cranked it with me sitting closer to him than a teenage sweetheart, and said, softly, “Dee, why don’t we just go home.”  I quickly seconded the motion. 

Many of our heart pictures of Basil have him in the black and gold of his Gaffney Indians.  He was, without a doubt…

The Fan

Soon after I married into this family, I learned one of Basil’s preseason football rituals.  About August, he would say to me, “Dee, I don’t think we’re going to have much of a team this year.”  I’d answer, “Oh, that’s too bad.”  “Yes,” he’d continue, “we just don’t have much of an offensive line.  Those little boys don’t average but about 285 pounds.”  A grin would come across his face and I knew football season had begun. 

I tell people they haven’t seen real high school football until they go to a Gaffney Indians game.  And you haven’t experienced Indian football unless you saw a game with Basil.  Most of the games I attended with him were at the old Reservation.  He greeted people from the time he got out of his car, shaking hands on both sides of the aisle has we climbed the stadium to his reserved seats.  He knew everyone within ten seats of his.  And when his team took the field, they had his full and full-throated support.  In fact, one time, I’m told, Basil cheered so loudly and enthusiastically after a big play that his teeth flew out of his mouth and bounced off the back of the fan in front of him.  Basil’s smile would’ve been incomplete if he hadn’t intercepted his top plate before it fell to the ground.  That was the Allstate Good Hands play of the game.  Even when illness limited Basil’s mobility, the coaching staff reserved a special parking place for him so he could attend.  And he and Ann were Thursday night regulars for Tribe Talk Live at Chick-fil-A. 

I love the fan Basil was because he didn’t just cheer for his Indians (who gave Byrnes a whipping the night before Basil died, by the way).  Basil cheered for us.  He was our biggest fan.  He cheered for us in whatever we did.  We saw it, even in his days of illness at the Tucker Center.  Linda or I would say,“We’re leaving, but his grandson is coming by later.”  “Would that be the state champion wrestler grandson or the physical therapist grandson?”  Or Linda might comment “Daddy has to behave with a minister in the family.”  “Do you mean his son-in-law the minister or one of his grandsons-in-law who are ministers?”  Trust me—the Tucker Center staff and residents knew our family very well.  The Gaffney Indians never had a greater fan than Basil.  And neither did we. He’d ask us, I’m sure to keep cheering for each other.

Attending games with Basil brings another picture of him to mind.  Basil was a great…

Friend-Maker

I often joked that Basil would go to Walmart and come out with a new wrench and two new friends.  He had an uncanny gift for connecting to people.  He would find a way to start a conversation with anyone anywhere that would usually result in finding common ground and starting a friendship.  I’ve seen Basil make friends with millionaires and with the down and out.  He connected with people with whom he had much in common and people who were vastly different.  He saw every stranger as a friend he hadn’t yet met.  In this impersonal age with so many people living their lives through their smart phones, we need to walk in Basil’s footsteps and rediscover the gift that awaits us in every person God sends across our paths. 

I also have a picture of Basil…

In the Workshop

Basil was a gifted craftsman who built wooden furniture for his home and his family.  We cherish several things he built for us.  He and Ann were guilty of industrial espionage more than once as he would take his tape measure to a furniture store and, when no sales staff was looking, call out the dimensions for Ann to jot down.  Then he would hurry home and create a reproduction.  He shared his heart and his gifts through every one of those creations. 

Giving reminds me of Christmas and my heart picture of Basil as our family’s…

Father Christmas

Basil loved Christmas more than anyone I’ve ever known.  He loved to decorate, right down to spraying snow on the tree.  He loved the magic and mystery of waiting for Santa to come.  He loved the Clary rituals of him going to the tree before anyone else to see if Santa had come.  He loved opening his gifts, especially those he had left subtle hints about, like item and page numbers from catalogs.  Among these many Christmas memories, one stands out in my mind that revealed so much about Basil’s heart. 

We were gathered in the basement on S. Petty Street on Christmas morning.  The Wright girls were very young, but Basil had decided Jennifer was old enough to receive one of the new-fangled digital watches.  She opened her watch and was thrilled with it.  Happy Hallmark movie ending, right?  No.  Natalie saw Jennifer open her watch and came to Basil, lip trembling and big eyes pooling up with tears and asked, “Do you have a watch for me, Granddaddy?”  A look of horror flashed across his face.  He didn’t think Natalie was old enough to care about a watch.  He couldn’t stand the thought of her feeling left out.  So, in a moment of generous genius, he answered, “Of course I do.”  He took the watch off of his own wrist and gave it to her.  And we all saw granddaddy’s beautiful giving heart.  We gained yet another glimpse of what I think was the secret of Basil’s wonderful life, what made him so precious to so many.  Though he was a great athlete, a veteran, a hard worker, a big strapping man, Basil was always a….

Joyful Child

I believe one of the secrets of life is experiencing the joy of the journey.  Basil never lost the childlike gift of finding great joy in simple things. 

·        The taste of a Gaffney peach.
·        Teasing a grandchild.
·        Riding the sled down the driveway and the hill on a snowy day.
·        A game of cards with good friends.
·        Barbequed wienies in the crockpot at Christmas.
·        A weekend camping trip with Ann. 
·        Spoiling one of the little animals in his life.
·        Rolling down the car window as he returned to Cherokee County to breathe in some of the air that smelled so much better than the air anywhere else.

Basil rejoiced and was glad in each day the Lord made.  What a gift and example to us all. 

This journey began at the Tucker Center.  I want to take you back there for one last picture of Basil, one of him…

Surrounded by Love

When we learned that Basil’s body was wearing out and that his earthly life was coming to a close, his room at the Tucker Center became a sanctuary of love and gratitude.  Ann was at his side.  All the children spent time with their dad.  Brother and sisters came to him. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren looked at him, talked to him and held his hand.  Hymns were sung.  Prayers raised.  Stories told.  Laughter shared.  Tears shed.  Love expressed. 

That, my friends and family, is a picture of what a life well-lived is all about.  In those closing hours of life, Basil didn’t ask for his trophies or medals, none of the things we so feverishly pursue, but only to be surrounded by the people he’s loved into the fullness of life, people who tearfully gratefully saw him off on his final journey home. 

You and I are blessed.

We have these pictures of Basil to keep. 
We have this example to follow.









We have these gifts to share.