A Special Day

As I sit here in the quiet of the morning, the day that my father would have turned 100 years old, I cannot help but reflect on the man Frank Williams was. As I have shared many times on this blog, Frank and Betty Williams adopted my sister and I. He became my daddy the day I moved into his home. I don’t ever remember calling him anything but daddy. My father had a special way with children. He loved them greatly and he hated seeing young children hurt. When Delphine and I first moved in with the Williams, there were four other foster children already living in the home……all boys. Leroy was in high school. Bobbie, his younger brother was in junior high. Todd was about the same age as Bobbie and Ricky was my age. That old farmhouse in Lowden, Washington was bursting at the seams. Over the years, my parents were foster parents to approximately 25 kids. That is love.

Delphine and moved in with the Williams family on July 15 and just a couple of weeks later, the Williams Family Reunion was held at the ranch in Lowden. Now before I go any further, let me make it very clear that Delphine and I were not very affectionate children. We had already been in two different foster homes. Our younger sister had been taken away from us. To put it mildly we were not in the mood to meet a whole bunch of strange people and especially people who always wanted to hug us. Well, God knew more what we needed than we did, because he bought a whole bunch of hugging Williams excited about meeting us. Uncle John was the worst. He realized very quickly that Delphine and I were uncomfortable with all the hugging, he decided to make it his personal mission to show us the love that is the Williams family.  He was successful in his endeaver. 

The Williams family reunions were (and are) an annual event where all of the Williams brothers and sisters, cousins, in-laws, out-laws, friends etc. get together for a weekend of fun, fellowship, eating and of course music. There were 14 children in my dad’s family and at grandmother Williams funeral they decided that they didn’t like the fact that the only time they all got together was at weddings and funerals so they decided that each year they would gather for the Williams Family Reunion. Dad’s family was (is) very musical so there was wonderful food, loads of fun and ALWAYS a Saturday night sing along. Uncle Walt would entertain us with “I’m Going to Hire Me a Wino to Decorate Our Home” and “They’re Coming to Take Me Away”. Uncle John and Aunt Nettie and their kids would sing all the old country songs. Leo would join in for “You are my Sunshine singing the high tenor part”…..and my dad would whistle along. Daddy had the most beautiful voice and whistle I have ever heard. When he whistled it was like a bird singing. When he passed away, the two things that I missed the most were his singing and hearing him whistle. Even today, 22 years later, when certain songs are sung (I’ll fly away) in church, I tear up and remember hearing my dad either singing or whistling that song.

My dad’s love for his family was like our Heavenly Father’s love is for us. Unconditional. As the youngest of six, I had a unique view into my father’s relationship with my older siblings. As you can imagine there were things said and done that hurt him. Actions that angered him. Words spoken that embarrassed him. Actions that just made him shake his head. While dad was swift with a spanking or talking to when it was necessary, he was also just as swift in letting us know that he punished us because he loved us. As a foster child, I struggled a bit with understanding the concept of unconditional love. I spent much of my first year of living with the Williams trying to be the perfect little girl. That way I would be able to stay. At that time, I didn’t realize that from the time I walked into the door a scared little five year old, I was loved unconditionally and I was part of their family. I will forever be grateful to mom and dad for showing me what true love really is.

Dad, Delphine and I with “King”

I had a very unique relationship with my father. I was not a girly girl. I wanted to be down in the barn working with my daddy, not in the house baking bread. I wanted to be out in the field riding on the combine or walking through the field. Daddy and I bonded the most when we were working with the sheep. I was his little farm hand and we both loved it. We had so many life talks while grooming sheep for the fair. He was a master teacher and I learned much about life from him. I still remember when he and mom took me to WSU for college. As we were driving to Pullman dad said “you need to watch out for those senior boys, they just want a trophy”. He never said another word about college boys etc.

The Man and His Horse

After I graduated from college and returned home I began sending out resume’s to TV stations all over the United States. When I was offered a job in Fairbanks, Alaska my dad was not real happy.  He was happy that I was starting my career, but sad that I was moving so far away. To make matters worse that day….my sister Delphine became engaged that same day. Poor daddy. He was in a foul mood for several weeks. In his mind, he was losing his two youngest daughters.

After I returned from Alaska and met Dave (who would become my husband) my dad seemed to be much happier. He had his baby girl home, but he was facing the very real possibility that she was falling in love with this Dave guy. Daddy wasn’t too sure about Dave. You see, Dave is 11 years older than I am and gasp……he was divorced. I still remember the time that dad invited Dave to go for a walk with him out in the sheep fields. I knew exactly what was going to happen on that walk and it was verified when they got back. When Dave and I had a chance to be alone I asked him what daddy said. Dave wouldn’t tell me everything, but just said “he made it very clear that I better not hurt his baby and take good care of her”. That is a responsibility that Dave has taken very seriously over the years. My dad made a huge impression on the man I went on to marry.

Mom and Dad Always Together

My greatest regret is that my children never got to know their Grandpy. Dad was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor when Libby (our oldest) was just 11 months old. As a matter of fact Libby learned to walk in the halls of St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, Washington. Dad fought a valiant battle with the beast named Cancer, but ultimately lost on June 2,1990 when I was just two months pregnant with our second child, Reuben. My daddy loved kids………and he would have loved my kids. Dave and I have worked very hard to keep Grandpy’s memory alive with our children. Kaylee (who is my mini Ginny) has commented many times that she thinks she and Grandpy would have been buddies because she is so much like me. She is probably right.  He definitely would have given her a few pointers on grooming and showing sheep!

I could go on and on talking about daddy……but I am going to end with the words to a song that I think I’ve shared on here before, but they fit so well……the song is Daddy’s Hands by the Judds

I remember Daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer

And reaching out to hold me when I had a nightmare

You could read quite a story in the callouses and lines

Years of work and worry had left their mark behind

I remember daddy’s hands how they held my mama tight

And patted my back for something done right

There are things that I’ve forgotten

That I loved about the man

But I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind

When I was crying

Daddy’s hands were hard as steel

When I’d done wrong.

Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle

But I’ve come to understand

There was always love in Daddy’s hands.

I remember daddy’s hands working til they bled

Sacrificed unselfishly just to keep us all fed

If I could do things over, I’d live my life again

And never take for granted the LOVE in daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind

When I was crying

Daddy’s hands were hard as steel

When I done wrong.

Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle

But I’ve come to understand

There was ALWAYS LOVE IN DADDY’S HANDS!

Daddy….Happy 100th Birthday!

I love you and I hope I know I will see you again one day.

Frank Werner Williams
Nov 1, 1912 – June 2, 1990
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