I’ve known Lee Davis since he was a high school kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, back in the early 1960s. He lived two doors away from us with his wonderful family, which included his older brother who was away at college.
Russell Davis, Lee’s father, worked for the power company and was as good a fellow as ever was. His mother Hazel, who had been the brightest person in her high school, was devout in a most charming way. She went about singing hymns to herself and saying prayers for the sick and bereaved, always with a good word for everyone.
And Hazel was a wonderful cook. We know, because the Davises often invited us to Sunday dinner after church, and we enjoyed pot roasts with dark gravy or chicken and dumplings, delectable heart-warming meals on snowy winter days. We were just married and a continent away from home, and the dear people of Welsh Hill made us part of their family. It’s how I learned that Jones is a Welsh name.
After Lee graduated from high school, he went into the Army. I rode with the family to the Wilkes Barre airport where he met his fellow recruits. The family hugged their goodbyes to Lee, and he walked up the steps onto the plane, and found a seat by a window where we could still see him. In no time the plane was roaring down the runway past us, and as soon as its wheels left the ground, Lee’s father broke into great sobs. I held him as feelings for his young son flying off into who knows what welled up inside him.
When Lee came home from the Army, he married his high school sweetheart Barbara, Barb, he called her, and they eventually ended up in San Diego where Lee managed a marina. He is such an outgoing, friendly person. It was the perfect job for him, and he loved it. Maybe 10 years ago, Lee retired and spent his time fixing up the house, putting together a model railroad that took up his whole garage, and taking care of Barb, who through her life suffered from one serious condition after another.
Lee also started emailing a wide circle of friends with daily messages about more or less zany things. There were days I got six or seven emails from him, most of which I didn’t have time to read. Then on a day a couple of weeks ago, there was only one email from Lee. “Barb died” is all it said. They had been married 58 years, and Lee had done everything he could for her as she suffered with her afflictions. It was a heroic effort on both their parts.
I wondered how Lee would handle this loss. After a few days of no emails, he sent one that told the story of a farmer who was asked to give the invocation at a church dinner. He rose to his feet in his bib overalls and prayed, “Lord, I hate buttermilk.” The pastor opened on eye and gave the farmer a glance.
The farmer went on, "Lord, I hate lard." The pastor grew concerned about his parishioner. But the farmer continued with, “And Lord, you know I don't much care for raw white flour." Now a lot of the people were concerned about the farmer. Then the farmer added, "But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up that we don't like, things we don't understand, things that sadden our hears, help us relax and wait until the mixing is done and we maybe have some biscuits. Amen.”
Lee is not having an easy time of it, but he said this story helped him realize that he needs to let the mixing go on for a time and see how the biscuits turn out. I wrote back to say that I think he is on the right track. Most Easters take time, I told him.