Category Archives: Family

LOVE WAS HER LIFE’S THEME

My eulogy for my Mother, as read at her funeral.

When Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment?”, He answered, “Love God with everything you’ve got and show that by doing likewise with your fellow man.” Of course, that is a paraphrase but my Mother took it literally and quite seriously. I think it’s fair to say that love was her life’s theme.

Geraldine Elizabeth Ray Wiram August 12, 1919 - April 14, 2016

Geraldine Elizabeth Ray Wiram
August 12, 1919 – April 14, 2016

FROM BIRTHPLACE TO HOMETOWN

That was demonstrated from her beginning, in her birthplace, Greenville, IL. Her connection with family and friends that she knew prior to her family moving to Terre Haute, was something she always treasured. Of course, the most precious to her we’re those who went with her to Terre Haute; her Father E. K. Ray, her Mother Clara, her Sister Thelma and her Brother who died in infancy. Throughout her life, she looked forward to getting to know him in Heaven and now, she’s getting to do that.

The people I knew as Grandpa and Grandma Ray, Aunt Thelma and Mom started becoming part of their community through Grandpa’s job on the Pennsylvania Railroad, through neighborhood activities, through school activities, through service organizations and probably most important of all, through the Second Avenue Evangelical United Brethren Church. The relationships that were developed during that time are too numerous to mention but, as evidenced by some who are here even today, these were not passing acquaintances but loving relationships that Mom nurtured throughout her life.

MOST SIGNIFICANT NEW RELATIONSHIPS

I do want to mention two relationships that we’re of particular importance though. During that time, my Aunt Thelma met a handsome young man, named Bob McIndoo. For the sake of brevity, let me just say that I ended up knowing him as Uncle Bob. He was a man I truly admired and Mom loved him dearly, as she did Thelma’s and Bob’s children; my late Cousin Ron, my Cousin Janet Sue and my Cousin Jim. Since they have been a prolific bunch, that gave Mom In-laws, grandchildren and next generations of the same to love too.

The other particularly important relationship developed during that time involved another handsome young man named Chet Wiram. Although you won’t find his name in Mom’s obituary, he was of great importance in her life. His Dad worked on the Pennsy too, they lived in the same neighborhood, they went to the same schools and they were together in the youth group at Second Avenue EUB. There were 12 Wiram kids, 10 who survived childhood, so even if they had just become friends, that would have expanded Mom’s social circle exponentially. But, a romance blossomed and when he was 21 and she was 19, they married. Of course, that worked out to the benefit of many in this room today, including my Sister Nancy, our late Brother Dick and myself. Then, along with Mom, in addition to the Rays, the McIndoos and all those Wirams, there was us to love. Added to that we’re the Franzwas, the Sagraves, the D’Amicos and the Dillers, through a Son-in-law and three Daughters-in-law, who she loved as her own children. Since we have been a rather prolific bunch too, grandchildren and next generations were added to Mom’s circle of love through this too.

CHOOSING LOVE

In my view, Mom’s love was most vividly demonstrated in her dedication to her Husband and her children. Shortly after Nancy was born, Dad joined the Navy and went off to WWII. About nine months after Mom visited Dad in his Southern California port, Dick came along. And, not long after the war ended, their baby boomer showed up … that’s me. All during that time, Mom’s love was the driving force, holding that young little family together. At the start of the next decade, though, Chet and Gerry’s marriage ended. Mom responded by pouring her life and love into her children. In the process, she found the job that would provide her living for the rest of her life. She became a Long Distance Telephone Operator. In the beginning, that meant working a split shift and riding the bus two round trips per day, so that she could see her kids off to school in the morning and be there when they came home in the afternoon. She recruited my Aunt Carolyn and several neighborhood ladies to stand in the gap for the times she couldn’t be there. My Sister joined in with that more and more, as she got older. I don’t think its an exaggeration to sum up this season of Mom’s life by saying, “No greater love has a woman than this, than to lay down her life for her family.” Continue reading

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April 19, 2016 · 7:25 am

Single Moms – Mapping Their Son’s Masculine Journey

THE MASCULINE HEART

Wild HeartOn a recent vacation, while driving round trip from Southwest Washington to Northwest Wyoming, I finally managed to finish a book a friend had loaned me this past winter. It was The Way of the Wild Heart, by John Eldredge. It’s a follow-up to another of Eldredge’s best-sellers, Wild at Heart.

The subtitle of Wild at Heart is: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul. Its back cover expands on that by saying: “In Wild at Heart, John Eldredge invites men to recover their masculine heart, defined in the image of a passionate God.” In the book, Eldredge lays out three main longings of every male on their journey in life. Each man longs for: A battle to fight, An adventure to live and A beauty to rescue. In The Way of the Wild Heart, Eldredge expands on this theme by noting six major phases of a man’s life: Beloved Son, Cowboy (or Ranger), Warrior, Lover, King and Sage. This book’s main point is that God wants to come and father us through each of these stages. The key underlying theme, though, is the vital role earthly fathers and male mentors are meant to play in accomplishing this.

SHOWING THE WAY Continue reading

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Filed under Family, Fathers, God, Making a Difference, Single-Moms, sons

Repairing America’s Social Fabric

Securing The Legacy Of The Greatest Generation – Part Two

Rockwell Diversity

YESTERDAY’S SUPERIOR VALUES

In Part One of this series, I pointed out a number of values that were commonly held in the heyday of the Greatest Generation, values that are significantly different from (and I think vastly superior to) our related values today. My purpose in doing that was to explore how America would benefit through reacquiring those once-common values and applying them to our present-day challenges. With that in mind, in this article, I want to more specifically try to answer the question, “What are the problems facing us today that can be addressed in this way?” Once I’ve examined the “What?” question here, in future articles I intend to take up the question of “How?”.

TODAY’S DAUNTING CHALLENGES

As I’ve considered this “What?” question, it has seemed to me that applying once-common values of the Greatest Generation might offer solutions to a broad range of present-day challenges. However, to illustrate my views on this, I’m going to focus on a single concern. It’s one that’s deeply troubling and in fact, this disturbing matter is the one that got my thinking started on this topic in the first place. It’s School Shootings. Continue reading

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Filed under America’s founding ideals, community, faith, Family, Judeo-Christian values

A Housewarming Gift In Heaven

Nancy Gary Dick Backyard

MY BIG BROTHER

This past Friday morning, we got the news that my big brother had passed away overnight, near where he lived, in Alabama. When our big sister broke the news to our nearly 95-year-old mother, the words of comfort I offered her included: “Thank you for giving me as good of a big brother as a guy could ask for and thank you for pointing all your kids to Jesus.” My comfort during this time lies in knowing that that’s where my brother is now … at home in Heaven with Jesus. As a result, more than I would ordinarily, I’ve found myself considering what things are like in Heaven.

My Big BrotherChester Richard (Dick) Wiram is my big brother. Of course, there’s a lot I could tell you about him. If you’d like to know some of his biography, I recommend starting with his obituary, that appeared in our hometown newspaper. What I’d really like to tell you about, though, is a bit about the kind of guy he was and how he impacted my life.

BROTHERS?!

When he passed away, Dick was close to 70 years old. I’m nearing 67 so that means Dick got the first three years of his time here on Earth to himself, without the responsibility of being my big brother. If he was still here with us, I expect that he would refer to that time as “the good old days”.

Isn’t that the way it is with brothers? You can say and do things with each other that you couldn’t get away with if it was anyone else. But, you can do so with your brother because it’s usually done in jest and because of the love you share. Dick was great at that. I told my wife, Ruth; it seemed that Dick had done that by taking our Dad’s wry sense of humor and developing it to a whole new level. Continue reading

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Filed under character, commitment, Family, Heaven, Love, Making a Difference

All Are Precious In His Sight

Barbara Boyle's 3B Class - Warren Elementary - 1955-56

LIVE IN HARMONY

This past week, I got to spend a little time with a First Grade Teacher who is also one of my very favorite people. She was teaching our class to join her class in singing and signing a song called The World Is A Rainbow. This was in preparation for an assembly that, I assumed, was related to the upcoming Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Although it would be an oversimplification (and somewhat outdated) for me to say that her purpose in this was to teach racial harmony, that was certainly a part of what she had in mind.

My first lesson in racial harmony came when I was First-Grade-aged or younger and it took place in church, not in school. Then, the song we sang was entitled Jesus Loves The Little Children. As I thought of these differences in experiences between the kids of today and the kids of my day, that led me to consider the ramifications.

ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD?! Continue reading

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Filed under Christians, Church Issues, community, Culture, diversity, Education, faith, Family, God, Jesus, Love, race, religion, society

Play Mean but Play Clean

dick-butkus-coverWhat comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.

Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith  to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.

So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading

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Filed under character, commitment, community, Culture, entertainment, faith, Family, ideals, Love, Making a Difference, Marriage, society, Sports, Substance Abuse, values

Stand By Me at the Glassy Sea

Ron CoxRonald Ray Cox, a friend from the time of my birth, passed from life on Earth to life in eternity at about 8:32 a.m. (EST), October 19, 2013. Knowing that, it’s likely for you to think that I’m writing this to honor my friend and to tell you wonderful stories from a relationship that stretched out over nearly 70 years. Though I do want to honor my old friend, since there was a gap in our relationship from the time we finished college until about five months prior to Ron’s passing, when he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, I don’t have those nearly 70 years’ worth of stories to share. Thankfully, I do have the story to share of how I was blessed in reconnecting with Ron at the end of his life and getting to witness how he and his Wife, Kim, embraced God and each other through their final season together.

Continue reading

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