Blog 1315 – 04.16.2019
A few hours ago my wife’s dad, (mine too since 1997) Wallace Mendel Stokes, aged ninety two, graduated, went home from this illusion of time and space, died. His ninety-two years left indelible love marks on so many hearts, mine included. I say as many have come to say in recent years, “Thank you for your service.” And I mean for so much more than the brief time he spent fighting the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II.
Wallace contracted Malaria there and never breathed the same but how he loved the air on his sixty or so acre farm not far from Sumter, South Carolina. There he raised his eight children – Harold, Esther, Jack, Linda, Gene, Paul, Sarah, and Luke. His first wife, Willie Mae, died shortly after their fifth child Paul was born. But another pretty lady, Betty Lou, came along and she and her young son Gene joined the Stokes Bunch and later Sarah and Luke arrived to complete the set.
Wallace Stokes was a farmer, outstanding in his field. Wallace was a Christian and never missed an opportunity to help someone who needed it along the long and winding roads of life, for to him more than anything else he believed that is what Christians do. Wallace loved his children and his wife and always prayed for that bigger family reunion that he has gone to ahead of us.
Having to say his own “See you laters” to his beloved first wife Willie Mae and their first child Harold he knew that this would be bitter, sweet for all of us, this brief parting. But he knew those bitter tears in our eyes now would eventually give way to smiles as we realize that Wallace Stokes’ heaven is a beautiful crop filled farm with a mellon patch producing even bigger ones that he grew here and is all awaiting the rest of us for a Great Family Reunion to top them all.
I loved and still do Wallace Mendel Stokes. I figure he and my first dad have a lot of catching up to do and that the better higher version of James Clifford White might even let Wallace get a word or two in this time. They only met once in this life but they were talkers both and great story tellers. What stories they must be sharing now. I look forward to hearing them again and probably a lot sooner than it might now seem.
My heart and hugs go out to all of Wallace’s surviving family and friends, which I have long considered myself to be as well. My dear wife, Linda Lee, did not get to be there for Dad’s crossing but will be driving soon to celebrate his life in South Carolina with all who are able to gather. I will not get to be there but I will be recalling some of my most precious times with him. I share but one. The Stokes were visiting us in Houston and he and I attended a Sunday morning service at First Church Of God which had once been the chapel of Gulf Coast Bible College when Linda and I attended in the early nineteen-seventies. Neville Mazingo, also a GBC alumni, was pastoring the church at the time Wallace and I attended. That morning when he got up to preach before starting he allowed Wallace and I to sing a duet together. It was not on the program and probably surprised a few folks but Wallace and I were in heaven together for a few minutes. It was just great getting to sing with him. Most of his old church quartet that he sang with long ago are now back together as well as a multitude of loved ones that he knew in his long life here. Don’t worry about Dad. He is finer than ever and us, well, we’ll be along soon after our chores are through.
Your friend and fellow traveler,