Tribute to my Dad

Grant F. Pickett

So live your life that when you die, even the undertaker will be sad.

 

      I'd like to pay tribute, in this short article, to my dad, Grant F. Pickett.  He was one of those quiet, unassuming men who quietly live their lives and yet make a major impact on those all around them whose lives they touch.   My dad was older, in his late thirties, when he married my mom so that means he was older than most men trying to raise a young son and daughter.  He was actually nearly 47 years old when I was born.

      My dad was respected by his family, his church and in his community.  He was born and raised in Macomb, Oklahoma, in the central part of the state, before it was even a state.  Born in 1895, he was 12 years old when Oklahoma gained statehood in 1907.  The youngest of four children he had a brother and two sisters.  My dad fought in World War I in the field artillery in France and Germany and remained a Private by his choice.  He once told me that he would tell me what his father had told him, "don't volunteer but if you're drafted, go proudly but remain a buck private."  By the way, his father had fought in the American Civil War so I doubt that very many men my age can say that their father fought in World War I and their grandfather fought in the Civil War.

      My dad taught school for a year after returning from the war but one year was enough.   The contract he signed showed that his pay for one year's service was $50.  He later went to work for the U.S. Post Office in Sand Springs and worked there for 36 years.  Most of those years he was the Assistant Postmaster and when he retired he had only missed 4 days of work.  Actually that was three days plus two half days.  He took his job with great responsibility and people were accustomed to seeing him at the Post Office inside or at a window and knowing he would be there. 

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      I never heard my dad use any profanity, never even once.  He was not a “holier-than-thou” person, just a good Christian man who acted according to those principles as we all should.  He was the kind of man that you wanted as a friend when things were falling in about you and you needed someone you trusted to talk with.  He was often sought out by those who needed some sound advice of plain old common sense and didn't want their story to be spread around or shared.

      He was 6’ 2” and stood straight as an arrow to his full height.  Broad-shouldered and white-headed, he was an impressive sight to see.    My dad's hair had prematurely changed color; actually his hair had begun to turn white in his late 20s. People often commented on how distinguished he looked with a full head of white hair and he was proud of that beautiful white hair.  Perhaps it even gave him a ‘philosopher’ look.

      He treated my mom like a queen.  I never heard my parents yell or argue and my mom said it was because they never yelled or argued.  I've heard it said that the greatest gift that a man can give his children is to love their mother.   I learned how to honor and treat women from the excellent example I had in front of me for 17 years.  I hope I've been able to pass along that lesson to my boys as well.

      Anyone who knew him and had any dealings with him knew he could be believed and could be completely trusted.  I was a senior in high school when in February of that year my dad died of a massive heart attack.  At that time he was working as the City Clerk for the City of Sand Springs.  A friend of his, who was interesting in the political side of city government, had run for the office of City Finance Commissioner on the promise that, if elected he would hire someone to do the actual financial "nuts and bolts" of the job as the City Clerk while he handled the political side of the job.  This friend won the office and my dad was hired for the City Clerk's position.  He enjoyed helping the city while leaving all the "politicin' and ribbon cuttin'" to his friend who had won the election.

      When my dad died, the next edition of the local weekly newspaper carried an editorial about him with the following story: 

      Many years ago a young man moved into town and went to a local furniture store to purchase some items to furnish his new apartment.  When he told the store owner that he wanted to purchase the merchandise on credit the merchant told him he would need some references, expecially since he was new to the area.  The young man told the merchant that he really didn't have any references but his brother was Grant Pickett.  The merchant stood up, extended his hand to the man and told him, "If you're Grant Pickett's brother, that's the only reference I need.  You pick out whatever you need."

      At my dad's funeral I was surprised and a little confused at something I saw happen as people were coming into the church.  I saw an older gentleman, who seemed to be working with the funeral director, go up to the front of the church where there were hundreds of sprays of flowers.  He broke off a single bloom and placed it in his lapel, then walked back toward the back of the church.   This seemed like an odd thing for anyone to do and I thought it was a bit upsetting.

      Months later, during the summer, I had a chance to work for the funeral director who was a long-time family friend.  He had hired me for several weeks to provide me with a job and some money before I went away to college in the fall.  I had a chance to talk with him and I mentioned the story about the older gentleman who seemed to have taken one of the funeral flowers for himself.  The funeral director told me, "when I got the call that your dad had passed away, I knew that because he had been such a close friend to me that I wouldn't be able to prepare the body myself so I called that man in from a facility in Tulsa to help me."

 

…….. and then I remember what I had once read:

               "So live your life that  when you die, even the undertaker will be sad."

Good advice from my dad

Page created 07/04/2007

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