to my Dad
Grant F. Pickett
So live your life that when you die,
even the undertaker will be sad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
dad died, the next edition of the local weekly newspaper carried an editorial about him
with the following story:
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."
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.
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."