Life has the habit of shifting your relationships. Those high school or college friends who you would never lose contact with are rarely called anymore. Friends who move away and promise you’ll always keep in touch….eventually it fizzles out. As a child, I was closer to my extended family than I have been since college. And so most of my fond memories come from that time. My mom and I lived in a Dallas suburb and traveled to Searcy, AR–her hometown–regularly each year to visit relatives. (Funny that all those times crossing over the Arkansas River on I-30 and straining to see the capitol, I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be living here one day.) The first thing we *always* did upon reaching town was to stop at Uncle Orville’s shop in the back of an outdoors store in downtown Searcy. Uncle Orville repaired guns there. Mom and him would chat for a while as I eyed all the grimy tools and machinery he used to do his work. Then we’d make our way to Aunt Mary’s (my mom and his sister). Eventually, we would visit Uncle Orville and Aunt Imagene again at their house near Sidon. Sure they didn’t have a lot, but he made it enough. His kids, Matt and Aaron, took me on many outdoor adventures…good old country boys through and through. And we’d go running together when our mischief got a little past what he wanted. I’d even stay the night with them on occasion, on those trips.
I guess my greatest thoughts of the ways Uncle Orville lived was that he valued hard work and respect. He took his family to a little church down the road. He’d often be working in his garden out front of his home when we would arrive. And he always had his pipe in hand. His influence stretched across all aspects of our family…his kids, his nephews and nieces, and beyond. He was a good man who lived on great values and left that legacy to everyone he came in contact with.