Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Friend: A Gift in Our Lives for Thirty-four years

Ode to Skoneeeeeeeeeee

Where to start? Sadly, we were not much in his life here at the end. Separated by geography, and the daily things of life. But, I’d like to write down my memories of a man that touched my life in many ways, and I am thankful for the gift of that fragrance of memories.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my family picked up and moved for the eighteeneth time from Illinois by thy rivers gently flowing to Texas my Texas. It was a culture shock to say the least. And I went from making Cs and Ds in school to straight A’s, so that tells you a little about the lesser quality education in Houston. I also went from a small town high school where guys wore short hair to a hippy culture of smoking areas and an administration that was experimenting with black teachers and all white students in history class.

We moved to Houston for the sole purpose of attending a church that met every night because the idea of needing to eat food physically every day also applied to the need for spiritual food every day, too. I received a lot of worldview values and history and patriotism at church during high school, too, which helped make up the slack from school. My parents enjoyed socializing with folks we attended church with—and that is where we met John Skone-Palmer. His sister called him John, but I only knew him as Skone (prounounced with a long e at the end).

Skone is almost exactly one year younger than my mom. He was bright and gregarious, and thirty-five years old when he started coming over to our house. I remember my Dad and Skone taking me along on rides to fetch stuff from the store, and trying to use that time to warn me about wolves---guys that just wanted you-know-what. Hearing the lectures from my parents was one thing, but Skone backed them up, and encouraged me to listen to my parents. Being the oldest, and the first of my siblings to graduate from high school and later marry, I also saw Skone befriend my siblings, and regale us all with his stories.

Skone was there the night I met my future husband. He had bet my sister and my friends and me a small amount on the spread of the Rice-Aggie game. Not knowing very much about football, or Aggies or betting, we had fallen for his trap. He came to collect that Saturday night, and my future husband just happened to be visiting with another Army buddy my Dad had roped into coming home from church with him. Skone invited us all to pile into his Buick and spend his new-found gain on pizza for everyone. I just happened to sit mighty close to my future husband, and a letter exchange began ending in our marriage that next April.

We kept in touch with Skone over the years by what is now called snail mail. I was a big letter writer, and wrote to friends and family all over the country. Skone would send me a cassette back where he read my letters aloud and commented or answered questions. He seemed to enjoy the pictures of the boys for his refrigerator door.

My sons remember those cassettes, because I often had to borrow their recorder. I think our oldest remembers Skone’s visit one time in his truck. Skone was a semi-truck driver. I think he worked mainly from the port of Houston, but had a delivery to our area once and visited us. I doubt it was a restful visit for him, as our boys were small and our house small, and they were very loud. But, trucks and little boys are always a winner.

When our firstborn was still a toddler, but old enough to enjoy trains, Skone invited a carload of his friends to ride the Rusk-Palestine old timey train. It was fun, and thrilling for our little guy.

We often visited with Skone whenever we’d travel back to Houston to see my folks, and attend church there, too. We got to know Skone’s widowed mom, and his dear sister, Robin.

I hear he ran for office and found a little bit about it on the website when I googled his name. His bio lists his honorable time in the military in the early sixties, and interests in protecting capitalism. I am glad he is spared the anti-capitalism protestors in Denver this week.

Skone suffered a bout of cancer a few years ago, but I had heard he beat it. I guess it came back. And we got word via email from my folks that Skone had moved to be with his sister, but died on his birthday last Sunday.

As Christians, this may sound heartless, and while we grieve for his sister, we are so happy for Skone that he is in heaven reunited with his dear parents and friends and relatives that have gone on before. Oh, what a great celebration, and wonderful party that must be that another faithful soldier has come home.

Recently, I read a poem or story describing what it must be like when we die---how as a ship rounds the cove out of our sight, there is much rejoicing when those on the other shore spot the newcomer. And selfishly, I am so glad Skone will be part of the welcoming party, along with Nance’s mom, and our old friend, Wayne Mitchell, for when the Colonel gets to go home. Colonel Thieme taught us the Scriptures when I was in high school, and we listened to his tapes for years and years. He truly brought the Scriptures alive and daily, faithfully, from the original Greek and Hebrew drummed into us God’s plan for the ages, and a desire to know and please our Creator. We see the Colonel, and our time there at Berachah as a gift from God that helped shape us, and like I wrote earlier, gave us our worldview which I believe is God’s Divine Viewpoint of history, and the order of nations God put in place to keep the human race alive. Without God’s institutions, flawed humanity would self-destruct. But, when God’s order and foundations are taught from the Scripture, there is the beauty that our Founding Fathers intended.

We have not arrived as Christians. We still sin, and make mistakes, and have a lot to learn. And to us, that daily, spiritual learning or walk is such fun !

All this to say, Thanks to God for the life well lived of our friend, Skone. I am so glad Robin was with you at the end of this life, and will make corrections as I learn more. Thanks for all the interest you and your dear sister showed in our boys’ lives. Thanks for your wisdom and encouragement. I am envious, in a way, that you are free of this political season. No more hippies. No more emotional, irrational, left-wing, inconsistent, traitors. No more pain. No more tears.

You lived life big, Skone. You did not miss a thing. Nothing got past you. We will not forget you.

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