June 7, 2014 for JC’s Memorial Service in Warren, Arkansas
I remember as a young teen, looking up to Uncle J.C. as one I considered really smart, loving, and a lot of fun. On his visit to us in El Dorado, we were all in the car driving through town; we passed the Lion Oil building, with its bright red sign, J.C. very calmly spoke to my mother, “Louise, do you know what Lion Oil spelled backwards says?” Knowing he was a tease, and being very self-conscious, Mom hastily replied, “No J.C. and I’m not going to try saying it because it is probably something nasty that will embarrass me!” With a big grin, J.C. said, “Louise, look at it, Lion Oil spelled backwards spells Lion Oil. That is called a palindrome, when the spelling or meaning is the same forward or backward.” While Mom was stuttering her surprise, I was thinking, “Wow, I want to be like J.C.”
Fast-forward 60 years through J.C.’s remarkable life as professor, friend, husband, father and much more that I was sadly too busy to be involved in – having visited him in Tulsa only once. I now finish a 2006 Guatemala jungle adventure and begin my first of two visits with J.C. and Lilliana in their beautiful home. Suddenly his long lost nephew is a member of their culturally different family, with my own bedroom, mingling with Lilliana’s loving extended family, eating, joking, discussing faith, hearing J.C.’s poetry, his opinions on local Indian affairs, and his strong fight with failing health. Trips to the zoo, Antigua, and Lake Atitlan make a warm home visit another vacation that I’ll never forget Lilliana! Though no palindromes on that visit, J.C.’s sense of humor keen intellect, abiding faith and great love of people again had me looking up to J.C. as a late-in-life hero, graciously fading.
If someone dare question J.C. about his faithfulness to the church, I suspect that he might quote something like this from James 1:26-27 . . . those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. As a full-time church worker my whole life, I think J.C. might have had some of his faith priorities straighter than mine! I am confident I will see J.C. in heaven, probably singing some of those old hymns he loved, or maybe writing another poem, and one more time I will look up to J.C., smile, and say, “My hero!”
Pix of Family on That Trip (click to see larger or start slideshow)