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My Father, Farrell E. Forrest

My dad was born in Springfield, Missouri, but when he was a small child he moved with his parents to the hamlet of Biggers, Arkansas. During Dad’s early years his father abandoned his mother and their five children.
Despite this sad development, he had a happy childhood, and one of the stories he used to tell me revolved around a contest among the siblings to see which one could dress the most quickly. My lively dad would run back and forth to gauge the progress of each child, thereby hampering his own, so that he seldom won the game.
He was a winner, though, for he was always ambitious, and throughout his lifetime, he was known to be a hard worker. He quit school in the eighth grade to support his mother and his siblings.
In his early twenties, in Memphis, Tennessee, Dad met my mother. A few months later they were married, and a year after, in the small town of Portageville, Missouri, I was born.
Dad was feisty, impetuous and fun-loving, and he probably nearly drove my saintly mother crazy. Many times he would come in from work, rubbing his hands together in happy anticipation, a smile spread over his handsome face and say, “Let’s go to Portageville.” We children would dance in glee for we dearly loved our aunts and uncles and cousins who lived there. My mother would gather our things, and off we would go.
For as long as I can remember–even almost to the year of his death–my dad pastored churches, even pioneering several. They were relatively small churches, and he always worked a secular job. For many years, he was a door-to-door salesman, selling Fuller Brushes, and then Singer Sewing Machines. He eventually had his own shop–Forrest Sewing Center.
My dad was extremely studious and spent many hours preparing for every sermon he preached. Although of modest means, he always found money to invest in Bible commentaries and other books. I can see him now in our small living room, a Bible on his lap with two or three other books opened and stacked on each other. We youngsters were the library aides, and when he wanted another book, he would call for Homeletics, Handsful on Purpose, or Clarks commentaries, citing the volume he needed. Some of them had Roman numeral designations, and part of my mathematical training was in learning that system as I found commentaries for my father

For his 80th birthday, which proved to be mere months before his death, I threw a big party for my dad. Did all the planning long distance (with the help of some of my family) for I lived in California and the party was at a hotel in Springfield. Dapper, yet, wasn’t he. I bought all his clothes for that day, including a pair of silk shorts which I laughingly presented. At the party, I quizzed whether or not he was wearing his silk underwear.

His eyes crinkled in their usual way. “Shirley, I couldn’t wear those things.”

Years ago, his body was laid to rest in Greenlawn Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri. He awaits now the resurrection.

I honor my dad on this Father’s Day.

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My devotional blog is here.

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Sensational Parenting Notes

The world today is replete with distinctive news of parents. In England, of course, was the touching anniversary memorial service for Princess Diana, where her younger son euologized her as “the best mother in the world.”

LONDON — Princess Diana’s family solemnly marked the 10th anniversary of her death Friday, with her younger son eulogizing her as “the best mother in the world.”

The bishop of London used his sermon at a memorial service to call for an end to the sniping between Diana’s fans and detractors, and a priest who has led an annual remembrance said it may now be time to let go.

“To lose a parent so suddenly at such a young age, as others have experienced, is indescribably shocking and sad,” Prince Harry said at the memorial service at the Guards’ Chapel near Buckingham Palace.

“It was an event which changed our lives forever, as it must have done for everyone who lost someone that night,” said Harry, who was 12 when Diana died.

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Then there’s this Associated Press story from Alaska.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A father who was too drunk to drive had his 11-year-old son drive him home, police in Fairbanks, Alaska, said.

Police stopped the boy late Tuesday after he was seen driving the wrong way on a one-way street in his father’s 1992 Chevy pick-up truck.

The boy’s father, Frank Neff, 35, of Fairbanks, was too drunk to drive and had told the child to drive them home, authorities said.

Neff pleaded no contest to charges of reckless endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the incident. He was ordered to spend 15 days in jail and to take parenting classes.

He told police he’s been teaching his son to drive since he was 8 years old.

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This one tops them all.

Holly Schnobrich

Mother-of-two Holly Schnobrich knew she was too drunk to get behind the wheel of her car.

But her judgment was so clouded by drink and drugs that she asked her five-year-old son to be the designated driver.

After her 2002 Mitsubishi screeched to a halt outside her house, Miss Schnobrich even boasted to a worried neighbour: “He’s a good driver.”

But when five-year-old Weston Schnobrich was quizzed by police he was forced to admit he was “having a hard time because I can’t reach the pedals”.

The 24-year-old mother is now behind bars in Lafayette, Indiana, charged with child endangerment and public intoxication.

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My devotional blog is here.

 

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Trembling Feet, Royal Protocol Armageddon and a Wink

I love to read of the telling actions of highly placed people, especially when it involves their response to challenging and unfamiliar situations. The “humanity” and sameness of us all intrigues me. While I certainly know I will never meet Queen Elizabeth or President Bush, I enjoy thinking of the preparation each of them must have made for their recent meetings with each other. And, again, though I will never be in the presence of royalty, throughout my lifetime, there have been times when I brushed up on etiquette rules and considered essential protocol for certain meetings. For of course, I want to be “cool” when I meet VIPs, avoiding any profound gaffes.

So then, I snickered and laughed aloud when I read this article about our President and the Queen at last night’s white tie dinner. Think what you may of President Bush, I believe almost everyone would agree that he possess a boyish, tender side to him. I can just see his shoes tapping away from the Queenly visit jitters.

Hope Matt Frei doesn’t mind, but I’ve brought over his entire article from BBC. It’s a charming piece.

Washington diary: Royal jitters

By Matt Frei
BBC News, Washington


Queen Elizabeth II and George W Bush at the White House for a state dinner

The Bush White House hosted its first white tie dinner for the Queen

I have seen George Bush fumble for grammar, cringe in front of the cameras and shrug off insults from world leaders.

I have seen him joust gamely with opponents and stare down enemies with a cold eye.

But I have never, ever seen the commander-in-chief of the mightiest nation on earth look utterly terrified.

This week an elderly lady, who is at least a head smaller than the president and who, by all accounts, has never harmed a fly, achieved – unwittingly – what Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Nancy Pelosi have all tried and failed to do: reduce George Walker Bush to a quivering mass, make his lower lip tremble and – I promise you I saw it with my own eyes – make him blush to the roots of his Texan rind.

Yes, the 43rd President of the United States was smitten by her Britannic Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Memorable gaffe

The endearing thing about George Bush is that his body language and the spoken variety both betray his true emotions at every turn.

At Monday night’s state dinner, the first white tie event in the Bush White House, a pair of lacquered black shoes could be seen virtually tap dancing with jitters on the red carpet next to the royal footwear.

George W Bush welcomes the Queen to the White House

Her Majesty was not amused by President Bush’s gaffe – and wink

Then there was George Bush’s hesitant “should I sit or should I stand” toast which left the Queen on her feet, sipping her Riesling all by herself.

The most memorable gaffe had been committed earlier that day, when the president almost implied that the Queen was 200 years older than her current age by thanking her for attending America’s bicentennial celebrations in 1776.

He corrected himself mid-date, then did what he often does in sticky circumstances. He winked, smiled and lunged for recovery.

The Queen was heard to mutter: “Wrong year!”

The president responded with disarming honesty. The Queen had given him “a look that only a mother could give a child” he told his guests and the world, under a glorious Washington May sky.

Call me churlish, but I thought this was a charming escape from Royal Protocol Armageddon.

To my knowledge no reigning Queen of England had ever been winked at.

The first Elizabeth would surely have had George Bush’s guts for garters. This one responded with dead-pan aloofness. Her Majesty was not amused.

There wasn’t even a flicker of a smile and the stiff upper lip of the House of Windsor remained resolutely stiff in the land of the free.

Shared ancestry

If I may take the presumptuous role of presidential shrink for a moment, I would say there are three reasons for George Bush’s quivers.

Barbara Bush and her son George W Bush

Does the Queen remind Mr Bush of another matriarch in his life?

It is not royalty per se that makes American presidents nervous. It is British royalty.

For all the loathing of the Red Coats, Mad King George and British colonial rule, America feels the Stockholm syndrome of its ancestry. Even an abused child sent for adoption is fascinated by his or her real mother.

Secondly the Queen probably reminds George Bush of his own Mama, the formidable Barbara, the matriarch of the Bush clan, who apparently raised her eldest son with a patrician mixture of love and discipline.

He may argue with his father over Iraq and diplomacy. They have a vexed relationship. But, I’m told, it is the mother he cherishes and dares not contradict.

Britain is to history what Saudi Arabia is to crude oil. We have lashings of it and don’t feel the need to draw attention to it

 

The third point is a more general one about the role of Britain’s history in the United States.

Americans nurture their historical shoots like a gardener fusses over a sapling. In Virginia, where the rich earth moans with the memories of the civil war, the war of independence and the lives of the founding fathers, every brick and beam dating back a hundred years or more is festooned with a plaque.

History is such a precious commodity because it is so rare in a young nation.

By comparison Britain is to history what Saudi Arabia is to crude oil. We have lashings of it and don’t feel the need to draw attention to it.

The Queen and Vice-President Dick Cheney watch a performance at Jamestown Settlement, Virginia

Americans are proud of their young nation’s relatively short history

Despite lattes and paninis, suicide bombs in London and the foreign takeover of English football, Britain lives, breathes and governs unselfconsciously in a historical context.

Which American politician doesn’t at some stage enlist the help of the founding fathers or invoke the American dream enshrined in the Bill of Rights? Which British politician ever mentions the Magna Carta?

For Americans, the Queen and her pageantry embody an exotic reality tinged with a whiff of shared ancestry.

It is a matter of affection mixed with curiosity verging, sometimes, on incomprehension.

It is the same attitude found when Washington grandees munch cucumber sandwiches on the British ambassador’s lawn and are too polite to ask about the missing crust.