This man I call Dad.
This man is Omer Gwen Reaves, born 9-24-31 in Lloyd, Arkansas.
Humble beginnings for an exceedingly humble man.
I call him Dad, sometimes Pop. And I will always call him the most gentle and tender-hearted man I have ever known.
December of 2013, this man I call Dad was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Cancer. Incurable and virtually untreatable.
In the early ‘Sixties this man served his country on the U.S.S. New Jersey. His service came after the Korean war, and just narrowly ahead of the Vietnam war. You could say he dodged a bullet.
Point of fact: One of Mesothelioma’s main cause seems to be exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure is common among servicemen aboard ship.
Some bullets you just don’t see coming. Some bullets can find you 50 years later.
That silent gun was fired, and the damage has been done. This man I call Dad is still here, serving his time, serving his country, serving his God.
Everything I know about love and life and music I learned from my dad.
Many of my childhood summers were spent traversing our nation’s roads in a camper as we journeyed from one country church to another, where my folks would set up their limited equipment and sing about that “some glad morning” when they would “fly away, oh glory.” My dad sang of Too Much to Gain to Lose; how “somewhere up ahead there’s cool clear water, and defeat is one word I don’t use.”
From an early age Dad showed me harmony, in his music and in his relationship with my mom. By his simple easy presence he inspired harmony and calm in our family.
This man. Soft-spoken, mild-mannered, slow to anger and quick to lend a hand or offer a smile.
If I am a good father, I owe it to Dad. If I am a good husband, I owe it to Dad. Anything I have achieved as a writer or musician I owe to my Pop. If I am any degree of man at all…I can only point back to my dad.
This man, whose tongue lay still more often than not, has the heart of a poet. From his writings:
SERENTIY (an excerpt)
~ I looked upon a scene so grand
Nothing moved across the land
But somewhere out there hid from view
Was life so full yet ever new
Low clouds had overhung the sky
Almost no breeze at all passed by
Then as I looked and listened long
The silent Nature breathed a song
My heart once troubled felt relief
The years of toil seemed oh so brief
Within my soul there welled a song
Almost, I thought, there is no wrong
Then I was made to understand
As I touched Nature with my hand
The mighty tree that stood alone
Was strong because the wind had blown
I would not know if I could win
Were there no trial without, within
For even as the mighty tree
Without the storm I’d weaker be
Within my heart now lifted more
I felt a song unknown before
At first a bubbling melody
Then words burst forth in victory ~
We don’t know (and the doctors can only guess) how much time my dad has left.
The world is richer for his step upon its skin, and will be poorer for his absence.
Low clouds had overhung the sky
As we count the months, and eventually the days, it becomes ever clearer that this man I call Dad is near his final gate.
Stormy waters in this life come rage around me every day
But I am near the gate
No evil fate can come and tempt me off the straight and narrow way
For I am near the gate
I’m near the gate that leads to glory
That narrow way I’m passing through
A band of angels stand to greet me
I am near the gate. ~ Shawn Lane
I’ll take your hand, Dad, and we’ll walk together to that gate. But not too soon.
First, another song or two, okay?