Starkville, MS 39759
November 13, 1993

Dear Ken:

I talked with your Mama yesterday and told her to do something for me: I told her to tell you if I were there I'd give you a swift kick in the seat of the pants. She shared her perplexity about such a thing: "Why would you give him a swift kick in the pants? Over some controversy?" I told her no, just on general principles and to remind you of who was boss in our little gang. Also, to keep you sweet as you always were. Not being able to give you the kick, I had to settle for sending a hug and the message that one of the greatest honors I have ever had in my life has been to be able to claim you as my cousin.

I've bragged about you a lot, and it has given me joy to remember our childhood days. My grandson Danny (Suzy's son--Suzy is my youngest child) resembled you when he was a small boy. I remember once when your parents were at Janet's and I took Danny over there. Moochie was fascinated by Danny, and I told him I was always reminded of you at that age when I looked at Danny. He said, yes, he thought he did look a little like you. Handsome toddler and little fellow, there was something very familiar about him. He's a bright man now, quite astute and mature for a sixteen-year old. I could wish him nothing better than that he would be like you. He has a gentle quality, as you have always had, and he is an "encourager." As I recall, I never "preached" better when we played church than when you would clap for me. You took your runs "preaching," so I would clap for you. Your theology was often more orthodox than mine, though you were so small!

When you're better, I'll tell you a thing or two about adventures we had when you were too young to remember. For now, I'll just say I love you and I never close my eyes without praying for you. You're in my heart.

I thought about how blest we've been. Who would have thought a bunch of scalawags from Tuxedo and East End could have had the grand adventures we have had. You went furthest--you were, I guess, the brightest. But we've all done work that has touched people's lives for the better, and we've had the glorious experiences of holding our own lives in our hands to "give away." Like so many dandelion puffs, we've sent the seedlings sailing off with our wonderful genetic heritage. You're a grandpa, so you begin to see the possibilities. I'm a grandma six times over and will be a great-grandma before I'm sixty-five, if these beautiful little girls keep "falling in love." Well, old son, the poem is for you I hope you like it.

You've been a climber of mountains, and God blessed you with a great "belay" team for all your rappelling and climbing. Your folks love you, and you proved them strong in their support of you. When you were climbing, the ritual may have been silent, but it was well and truly kept:

"Belay!" you said.

"Belay's on," was the reply.

"Ready to climb!" you said.

"Climb on," they answered back. "Climbing!" and you were off and climbing.

"Descending," at times you had to say.

"Descend," your belays replied and your descent was far less painful than would have been a free-fall. Then as you grew and climbed higher, the ritual was repeated many times.

Today you can hang onto your harness, Ken, and trust the love of God and your precious wife, buoyed up by your Mama's and literally hundreds of other folks prayers for you to support you while you rest.

You'll climb again, and whether it be the way I might choose or not, your certain destiny is God's throne. It may be I will be there before you. But I do believe that we will "know as we are known" and all the questions we ever thought to ask will be answered. If you should happen to get there first, tell Mama I'm coming, too. In God's own time, we'll make it "home," each one of us. In the meantime, pray for me, greet Beverly for me, and be sweet!

I love you,


The Mountaineer