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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Thanking God for Aunt Dot

Everly​'s dear Aunt Dorothy Parrish, "Aunt Dot," died yesterday after a steady decline in health over the past year.  She was preceded in death by the love of her life and husband, Henry Parrish.  I want to give a brief story of some events in her life, and I will probably get some details out of order.

Henry grew up in Taft, TX, a small piece up the road from Portland, where I lived through my preteen and teen years.  He became a professional tennis player and continued in teaching and coaching until his retirement.

Dorothy, the older sister of Marie Weaver Estes, grew up in Conehatta, MS, with a large family.  She left for Texas after reaching adulthood and became a successful office manager for a church in Port Arthur.  When Marie graduated from high school, she got on a bus to go to Texas and seek her fortune with the help of Dot.  Marie met Herbie there in Port Arthur, and when he finished his engineering degree they married and started a family, with Everly as their firstborn, followed soon by Eric and Ruth​.

Dorothy's skill as a manager caught the attention of the preacher/entrepreneur Howard Butt, who offered her the job of being his assistant.  This work took her first to Corpus Christi, where she met Henry.  They eventually married and settled in Portland.

One of the strange parallels of Everly's and my life was that Everly would come in the summer to spend a few weeks with Aunt Dot in Portland.  They lived on the far side of town, but their yard adjoined the yards of some of my friends.  They did not attend the church where my dad was pastor, so Everly did not come as a guest to my Sunday School class.  Sometimes Everly would visit another relative on the very block where I lived, and she probably played tennis on the public court by our church, where I also tried my hand with a racket every now and then.  If we saw each other, I never knew it.

Dorothy and Henry followed Dorothy's work to Kerrville, TX, near the Laity Lodge that was part of the HEB Foundation's work.  Everly, Ruth, and Emily​ all had some good summers at the youth camps sponsored by Laity Lodge.  Dorothy was always a great support to Marie, to her nieces and nephews, and to all the family spread from Mississippi to Texas.

Everly often talked with me about conversations she had with Aunt Dot and Uncle Henry.  We all have important adults in our lives which help us to mature and grow along with our parents.  Sometimes young people especially need that family member who is an aunt or uncle to help think about matters that become too overheated or painful when talking with our parents.  Dot and Henry did that for Everly, and it was always obvious to me how she appreciated the blessing that they had been for her.

Spending holidays with Dot and Henry was always a treat.  In more recent years, our Broadways had the opportunity to join in Weaver Family Reunions.  Upon retirement, Dot and Henry decided to move to the Weaver's old home place.  They got a house next to baby sister Geraldine and Ben Haralson.  Our family began making the stop in Conehatta a standard resting spot for our overnight break on the trips between NC and TX.  Getting to see the aunts and uncles, and sometimes some cousins, too, made our long travel more pleasant.

Soon it became clear that Henry's declining health was accelerating.  Dorothy cared for him with devotion and love as he slipped into dementia.  After he died, we realized that we must not have noticed that Dorothy was also struggling.  Soon she was unable to care for herself any longer.  In her last years, it was a struggle to find a way to keep her both happy and safely cared for.  Last week she fell asleep and did not wake up the next day.  Caregivers could not arouse her for several days.  Finally, yesterday, she drifted from sleep into death, into eternal rest.

Dorothy, and her beloved Henry, lived admirable lives.  They met in later years, found reason to care for one another, shared a deep devotion to God, and built a beautiful loving home.  From that relationship and home the love only multiplied, flooding out into the lives of family and friends that touched many parts of the world.  One reason Everly was the strong woman we knew is that she saw that possibility in Dot, a woman of confidence, leadership, principle, and compassion.  David, Naomi, Lydia, and I could not help but love Dot because of the great love Everly had for her, a love that embraced us all.

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