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Montgomery family remembers Curtis Gibson
Jacquelyn Montgomery wrote this remarkable tribute to her father, Curtis Gibson. It was read at the memorial service by Troy Long, Pastor of the Bearwallow United Methodist Church. She consented to share it with readers of ColumbiaMagazine.com
Curtis William Gibson. Dad. Grandpa
It is within the context of our daily, everyday, ho-hum lives that the nature of our Self manifests, that we reveal the measure of our integrity and character, our strengths and our weaknesses, our nobility and our frailty, the touch of the Divine and the reality of our mortality.
Sharing our daily lives with others allows us to feel loved, involved, needed and necessary. It validates our crucial role in Life, and helps us avoid the depression and hopelessness of disconnection.
During the last two-and-a-half years, Dad was a part of our everyday, regular, usual life as a family.
He came for a visit of six weeks, became seriously ill for the first time in his life, and stayed. He kept his house in Texas, as his way of believing he could always go back there if he really wanted to, and resume his former everyday, regular, usual life. But he really did not want to do that. After living many years alone, living right in the middle of family was what he wanted to do.
It took some adjusting for him: he missed his youngest daughter, Cyndy, and his three Texas grandchildren, Josh, Sean and Jennifer. He missed his son, Doug. He missed his lifelong best friend, Ernie. He missed the mountains and sweeping views of the desert. He missed real Mexican food!
It took more adjusting: we were loud; we were rambunctious; we were testy; we were weepy; we were goofy; we were all over the place. We let the dogs in the house, on the furniture and in the car.
We were sometimes difficult. We were often late.
But we were always family. His family.
And we also had to adjust. There were major upheavals in our lives, and we had to adjust to Dad being with us through those. He was ever-present. He was persistent. He had bachelor-man habits that took some getting used to. He was ill and required care and attention. He was independent and required space and freedom. He was highly intelligent, and required informed and thoughtful conversation. He was an avid reader and movie buff who required a regular diet of books, magazines (National Geographic by the pound), videos, TV movies and of course, at least two daily papers and the USA Today, IF he could snag it. He hated his hearing aids, and required the TV and National Public Radio, and Bluegrass Music to speak up so he could hear them.
He delighted in thwarting my embargo on sweets before supper and in sneaking candy to the kids at every opportunity. He took youthful pride in sneaking a cigarette in the house, and getting away with it. He would say, How come you always have to be the one to catch my goof-ups?! when he got busted. He drank coffee and loved his sweets, green chile and spicy food.
He loved second-hand stores, yard sales, flea markets, National Geographic Magazines, and a good bargain. Whether anyone needed the item or not. He knew a slice of Heaven had come his way every year when the famous Highway 127 Yard Sale would come practically to his door! He loved Bluegrass Music, Johnny Cash, early Country Music, A Prairie Home Companion, and National Public Radio. He loved hot peppers, honey buns, good gravy and biscuits, and eating breakfast out. He loved just driving around to see the sights, watching the squirrels and birds and passersby. He loved his freedom and independence. He loved a place where he could just spread out his stuff and not worry about keeping things just right.
And he loved his family.
Dad showed us his love and his appreciation constantly. A new kind of candy bar. A dress or coat for me that he thought would look good, especially if it was a bargain. A piece of jewelry for Rebecca. A new PlayStation bag for Ryan. The sports page twice a week for Steve. You are beautiful, You are smart, Congratulations, Way to go, Guy! The weather report daily. Many newspaper clippings, often. What can I do to help? He called Cyndy and Doug regularly. He called his special friend, Brigitte. And then would delight in relating the goings-on in their lives.
Thank you was easy for him to say, and he did so, and he meant it.He was equally gracious with Youre welcome!
Dad was generous with his love, his time, his talents and his money.
He was insightful, a deep thinker, intuitive and very pragmatic.
You could ask him absolutely any question, ranging from the speed of light to how to lay out and pour a concrete sidewalk, from movie trivia to how to pick cotton, and he could answer you, and it would be a correct answer. It got to where, when Ryan would ask one of his challenging Mom, why or ... how ? questions, I would respond with, Ask your Grandpa, Im sure he knows! And nine times out of ten, he did know. And if not, he was excited to figure out how to find out.
He could read a person as easily as he could read a book. And he was rarely wrong. Dad had a clear-cut sense of what was right.
He would not meddle. But if you asked, he would tell you. Straight out. From the hip. No apologies. But also no recrimination, no judging, no anger.
He was kind-hearted, soft-hearted, and loved beauty. He tended roses in El Paso, always brought in flowers and pictures, and marveled at the green of Kentucky. He fussed at the dogs, but cried when they died. He shushed at the cats, but delighted in their antics.
Dad was strong.
Dad was born in a tent, under a pine tree, in the same forest where Smokey the Bear would later be found. His father was working in a CCC camp, and they lived in a tent that hooked onto the car. He grew up in New Mexico, with time spent with his mothers family in Oklahoma, and as a youth moved with his family to El Paso. He grew up with few comforts and many challenges.
He dropped out of school, ran away by hopping onto a freight train, and joined the Navy after lying about his age. He served four years during the Korean War. It was more than a conflict, he said. It was war.
He had the strength to leave the war behind him and to make a life for himself.
He had the strength to overcome his early conditioning and become a loving and gentle father, and later, grandfather. He had the strength to endure divorce, twice, and to love again. He had the strength to let his children move far away from him in their youth, both geographically and emotionally, and to remain constantly available and welcoming to them when they were ready to reconnect. He had the strength to look mortality in the face, twice in the last two-and-a-half years, stick out his tongue, and turn his attention to the ups and downs, the futures and everyday, ho-hum, delightful lives of his loved ones.
And now we, his loved ones, are faced with the challenge of living our lives without Dads physical presence, of enduring this hole in the very fabric of our lives, of adjusting to the profound sense of loss. We pray that with faith, the loving support of family and friends and the Grace of God, his memory, spirit and legacy will continue through each of us who knew and loved him.For the obituary, click here: Curtis William Gibson
This story was posted on 2005-02-06 17:56:49
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