My mother did a wise and wonderful thing for herself and our family when she married Walter Fleming Garland.
Walter walked the straight and narrow way without the dings against the guardrails that so many of us experience. He was unwavering in his faith, despite enduring great pain and waging an epic personal battle against illness over his final decade.
He devoted his adult working life to the gospel, the study of God’s word, and the Christ based education of thousands in their formative years.
Walter advised and supported me personally through some very difficult life experiences. He was always available to talk, and to listen, and he had a way of providing advice that was so gentle and non-patronizing that I often didn’t realize he had helped me reach the right conclusion until after I’d arrived.
As Walter Fleming Garland left this earthly existence to be welcomed into the loving arms of the God he served early this past Sunday morning, I was honored and grateful to have been touched by his life and testimony, and to have been in his presence in his final days.
Walter, “Dad” – we are grateful to you for your assumption of the mantle of father and grandfather left by the earlier passing of our beloved father Ted Frazier. We love you and we look forward to joining you in the joy and contentment of your new life. Thank you for your loving care and faithfulness to our mother, and for being a shining example of a husband and family leader.
I think I know the very words that greeted you as you left this existence in a flight that was faster than light itself and arrived at the threshold of your eternal home: “Well done, my good and faithful servant”.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. – II Timothy 4:7-8
There’s one good thing about having suffered large areas of second and third degree burns when I was nineteen and UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) surgery a couple years back: I can honestly say I’ve felt worse pain than my recovery from spine surgery over the last several weeks.
The good news is Dr. Ramnath eliminated 100% of my sciatic pain and my legs feel like they’re nineteen again. The bad news is I still have months to go before I’m fully recovered, and I’m starting the full scale physical therapy portion next Monday.
Pain levels are tolerable with the help of muscle relaxers and an occasional Vicodin now, except for rare sneezing fits such as the one brought on by last night’s hay fever attack as Robin and I were in the back yard observing the super moon. I ended up frozen in a stooping position for about five minutes with tears running down my cheeks as it felt like I’d been shot in the lower back with a nail gun.
Sneezing is a manly exercise in my family. When we do it we engage every fiber of our being in the event; as if expelling an evil spirit from our very soul. Dogs have been known to start barking several neighborhoods away when I or one of my brothers sneeze out doors in the middle of the night.
I’ve sneezed with broken ribs before…sneezing with a mending spine is a tad bit worse. For a second I was sure I’d popped one of those titanium rods right out of its socket.
I wrote this almost a year and a half ago. In hindsight it feels a bit prophetic. Since then I stumbled into a much better place to work, and a much better company to work for. I still have that dream of writing for a living, but things are pretty darn good right now. Thanks for all you did for me, Dad. Thanks for being proud of me, and most of all, thanks for loving me!:
Okay, it’s not as bad as all that, but the procedure is technically a surgery operation. They have to run the needles in under a live X-Ray to ensure proper targeting (imagine how bad a slip-up could be this close to the spinal column!).
Robin thinks I’m making it up, but the only time my back doesn’t hurt lately is when I’m riding the motorcycle. I’m hoping my back doctor will affirm that through some clever medical explanation. I imagine my next Lumbar Radiofrequency Rhizotomy will be scheduled for sometime in the next week or two.
But it’s better than having to ingest painkillers every night, right?
I was recently reminded of a debate my daughter once had with my former mother-in-law regarding my singing ability. Under the impression that I was a stellar vocalist due to 15 minutes of fame in a 1982 high school musical she’d seen a video tape of (The King and I, for which I shaved my head), my daughter was insisting that I could actually carry a tune.
My then mother-in-law was well aware that I could not lift a tune, much less carry one. The debate escalated and went unsettled until my daughter saw me a few days later and related the argument. I was duty-bound to inform her that her grandmother was correct, and in reality my one solo in the musical had been changed to a mono-log to spare the auditory sensibilities of the audience.
My daughter had seen the video tape of the play, and since I had outdone myself in the acting portion of the performance she had “mis-remembered” the mono-log as a Pavaratian vocal.
And the resulting debate, escalated and passionately argued by my daughter, was testament to her pride and desire to defend her father’s memory.
Despite the fact that she was 100% wrong, I will always fondly remember the incident and enjoy the comfort of knowing that my little girl will go to bat for me, win or lose.
I hope that both my kids know that Dad will always been there for them as well. And while we may discuss rights and wrongs privately, blood will always be thicker than water in my book.
My daughter, by the way, has the singing voice of an angel and precision tone and pitch.
She didn’t get it from me.
But I’m pretty sure she did get some of the tenacity, loyalty, and debating skills from me.