Saturday, December 31, 2011

White Christmas and Memorial Service

My dad's heart attack continued

My last post was primarily about my dad having a heart attack as he was headed for a session of dialysis, and we were waiting to see how much he might recover. Well, unfortunately, I have to report that there was too much damage to his brain when he was deprived of oxygen. Doctors recommended hospice care for him. We agreed and my dad passed away at 2:55am on Wednesday, December 21st.

White Christmas

On December 23rd, snow began falling in Odessa. By early Christmas day, the area had about 8 inches of snow on the ground. It was our first white Christmas in as long as I can remember. We enjoyed the snow. It made the day special despite the sadness we were all feeling. In fact, we hadn't even put up a Christmas tree or any lights. And we had barely done any shopping. I guess this was like getting back to the true meaning of Christmas, because one of the main things we did was go to church for a birthday party for Jesus celebration with my mom. It was nice and simple.

Snowy Ride

We did have to get out and drive in the snow, which was kind of scary. One of my uncles had purchased a special meal for us to be prepared at HEB. So, we just needed to go pick it up. I'm sure he didn't realize we'd be having to get out in the snow to get to it, but that was ok. It gave us a good look at the area covered in snow. See the pictures below:

Memorial Service

We decided to donate my father's body to science and planned a memorial service to celebrate his life midway between Christmas and New Year's, a week after his passing, on Wednesday, December 28th at 11am. We held the service at the church where my parents still went to and where my siblings and I grew up, West Odessa First Baptist Church.

My sister and I created the bulletins for the service and a memorial slide show (see the video below).

And I wrote the eulogy for the preacher to read. Here is a copy of the Eulogy:


Lawrence Allen Ashley was born March 27, 1946, in Crane, Texas. He was the second and youngest son to William Wesley and Zilla Best Ashley; and little brother to Albert Ray Ashley, who is here with us today. The family lived at 1813 McCall Place, behind what was "Strike It Rich" in Odessa. They lived there until Lawrence and Albert were grown.

Lawrence graduated Permian High School in 1964, and went on to Draughon's Business College in Lubbock where he met Mary Lou Day. The college sweethearts married June 10, 1967, in her home town of Spur, at First Baptist Church. Mary says Lawrence talked back then of becoming a preacher.

Mary worked at a forklift company, helping put Lawrence through Texas Tech University, where he graduated in 1970, but not before a massive tornado touched down May 11th, just blocks from where Mary was staying.

Lawrence and Mary moved from Lubbock to Midland so Lawrence could start work at an accounting firm called Conley, Peters and Smith. The house they rented there in Midland was later torn down and is now DerWeinerschnitzel.

For a while, Lawrence and Mary lived on and operated a brine station between Odessa and Andrews. That is where Mary learned many new lessons including how to throw a rock at a rattle snake to get it to coil up, then shoot it with a shotgun.

When they got ready to put down roots, in July 1972, they bought a house and had it moved to 25th Street in West Odessa. Lawrence's father passed away a couple of months later. Then, the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter, Vanessa Jane Ashley on January 26, 1973.

They added a son, Wesley Allen Ashley, on January 31, 1975. That's also about the time Lawrence began building his mother a home on the property on 25th Street, and she came out to live by the family. The family grew again, when they added a second daughter, Amanda Danielle Ashley on February 16, 1987, even though Lawrence and Mary said they were probably too old to be parents again. Lawrence joked he felt like Abraham and Mary was his Sarah.

Lawrence and Mary joined this church more than 30 years ago, when it was still called Westside
Baptist Church. They both taught Sunday school classes here. Mary worked for a while as the church financial secretary. And later, the couple worked cleaning the church, which Mary still does now.

Over the years, Lawrence has had many interests and hobbies he has pursued. Among them, carpentry, collecting cans and melting them down and forming tools, computer programming, spinning cotton into thread and weaving it into material. The local paper, the Odessa American even did a story on him giving demonstrations on that hobby. And he collected books - lots of them - and read on just about everything under the sun - especially about economics. He could give lectures like nobody else on economics - just ask his kids!

And he loved boating and fishing. In fact, he built his own boat - a kayak sailboat - years ago. He talked endlessly about fishing trips he'd gone on as a boy. And he still wanted to go back to Lake Corpus Christ, where he remembered catching a great number of big catfish. His last fishing trip was just this last March, at a pond near Canyon Lake (San Antonio), where his was the biggest fish of the trip. Amanda had to help him reel in his fish, because he was sitting in his wheelchair and the fish just about pulled him into the water!

Lawrence walked daughter, Vanessa down the aisle here when she married James Wooten on June 25th, 1994. Lawrence and Mary became grandparents to James' daughter, Steffany that same day. On September 19, 1996, they welcomed their second grandchild, Joshua Wooten. When son, Wesley married his wife, Marlo on May 23, 2003, they became grandparents again to Marlo's seven children: Whitney, Russell, Zachary, Hunter, Emily, Jaci and Abi Inzer. Wesley and Marlo have since given them 5 more grandchildren: Chavvah, Ayres, Batiyah, Flynt Maverick, and Gideon Ashley. Batiyah passed away at birth in 2005.

Lawrence and Mary also became great-grandparents to one boy - Logan, and to two girls - Amelia and Caroline - with one more on the way in April.

Complications of diabetes sent Lawrence into the hospital at the end of 1998. He lost a little toe and had a heart attack, requiring triple bypass surgery. Soon, he was spending three days a week in dialysis. He did that the rest of his life. His diabetes claimed his eye sight, but never detered him from his studies - especially on economics.

On December 7th, as he walked out of the house, to head for dialysis, Lawrence had another heart attack. This time it did too much damage to his brain. And doctors were not able to save him. He went home to be with the Lord on December 21st at 2:55am with wife, Mary by his side.

My mother wanted my aunt and uncle (her sister and brother) to sing at the service, which they did beautifully. All in all, the service turned out well.

We are now all back home in Cibolo. We've got my mom here while my brother works on her house. It is in pretty bad shape - needs lots of electrical and structural work. We wouldn't mind, though, if my mom decided to give up the old house and just stay here with us. Of course, we will support her in whatever she decides to do. I do ask, though, that you keep her in your prayers. Doctors just told her she is diabetic and has problems with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. And she is trying to adjust to living without my dad. She has been his caregiver for so many years now.

Thanks for checking in on us and may God bless you all and give us all a happy new year in 2012!

1 comment:

servedogmom said...

Someone so special......can never be forgotten. Thinking of you with sympathy and gentle thoughts during these difficult days may it make your sorrow easier for you to bear knowing there are others who understand and care. We know all too well what it is like to lose a loved one close to the Holidays as Tom's mom passed away two weeks ago. As the New Year unfolds like pages in a book yet to be written, bringing hope and endless possibilities praying God fills your coming year with all that's best and blessed.

Discovery Documentary - Life or Death : Battling to Breathe