Lessons from Cavanaugh

What’s the best thing Granddaddy ever taught you?

Some of the sweetest memories I have of Grandaddy are of just very quiet conversations that he and I had. (One was at the hospital while WoWo was in a room, and we were out in the waiting area…another was when Mom was in labor with Dan…several took place at the filling station at Midway, when we came to appreciate each other’s work ethic and how he practiced what he preached, “If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, then just keep your mouth shut.”)

1. It was in the old Madisonville Hospital…don’t remember the exact date, but Mom was still going to UT in Austin, and Mr. Cavanaugh and I were sitting in the waiting area while the nurses were tending to WoWo. I felt the time was right to ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I think it had about the same effect on him that Wes’ question did in me. Betty was his only daughter, as you were mine. He gulped a little and said, “Just make me a promise…that you won’t ever hit her or beat her…before you ever do anything like that, just promise me you’ll bring her back home!” I saw in those moments how much he loved your mom, yet how he was able to convey through his wonderful sense of humor his love for me and what he expected of me as his son-in-law.

2. You and Ben had both come into the world without extended periods of labor, but it was quite different with Dan. I saw during that wait how much he truly loved his daughter and grandchildren. He just made me want to be a better man.

3. One of my favorite Grandaddy stories happened there one day sitting in that waiting area. He was sitting there reading the Meteor when this nurse walked by. She had a nose that made Jimmy Durante’s nose look small, freckled-faced, and when she walked she kind of sauntered (a very unwomanly stride!) As she came toward us, I noticed his eyes following her over the top edge of the paper he was reading. She was clothed in her nurse’s whites…cap, stockings and shoes. When she passed us and turned down the next hallway, he did that little swipe under his nostrils he often did….never looked up or toward me, but spoke loud enough for me to hear him. He said, “Lawdy, I know she can’t help being ugly…but she could stay at the house!” He immediately continued reading with that little smirk on his lips…vintage Cavanaugh.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I learned from him to see the humor in the world, even when you’re going through hard times.

One of the greatest honors I ever had as a minister was to be able to ordain Brother Jesse Cavanaugh Farris to serve as a deacon in the Midway Church of Christ. He had always loved The Lord and the church, but felt because he was shy and not a public speaker that he couldn’t serve in leadership. He was a good businessman and made our church a great treasurer.

One last thing, I never walk in the Midway church building and look up at that suspended ceiling that I don’t remember him (at 69+) helping me hang all those channels and every piece of tile. He was a great, great man!

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