Friday, November 07, 2008

Shepard Family Update, November 7, 2008

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life;
and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.

- Confucius

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Hello on a wonderful Friday in San Diego where this week's email originates. The election is over and there are no more political phone calls or commercials on TV. Praise be to God!

Tomorrow is the 112th anniversary of the birthday of Bura Davis, who died 22 years ago. She, of course, along with her husband William Shepard, form the couple who is at the heart of this family blog. All of us are their descendants, or family or friends of their descendants. I am sure you share with me a deep appreciation for the lives of these two and the values they taught us. They were not perfect people -- none of us are! -- but we can be grateful for the legacy of love they left us.

Gram was a slight woman all her life -- I bet she never weighed over 110 lbs, maybe not even that much -- but she had a big heart, and was without a doubt the spiritual center of her family. I was her fourth grandchild, born when she was only 51. She was the bearer of the religious torch for our Shepard family. She was proud of the fact that her parents and grandparents had been good Church of Christ members as far back as anyone could remember, probably to the very beginnings of the "Restoration Movement" of early 19th century America. I have heard that William Shepard even met her at the South Flat Church of Christ near Elmwood, Oklahoma, sometime before 1915, when they were married there.

It is hard to imagine the impact on her of the changes that occurred in her family and in her world during her lifetime (1896 to 1986). Had she or Grandad lived until today, the election of Barack Obama, the first black American to become president, would certainly have left them absolutely astounded, perhaps even dismayed! I always had the impression though, that Gram accepted the cultural changes she experienced with grace and strength, even though with some misgivings. She was serious and caring, and not a gregarious woman, and was characterized by the stoicism of mid-America, having been raised a Hoosier. She did have a sense of humor, and I can still recall that unique laugh of hers. Grandad was the man of the family, and was the funny one of the two, but she was as steady as the rock of Gibraltar.

I still sometimes find it hard to believe that she has been gone for over 20 years, and Grandad for over 30 years. To put things in perspective, nearly half of our present family was born since Grandad passed away.

The first picture I am including today shows Bura (Gram) as a young mother of 22. This picture was taken in 1919, when Woodrow Wilson was nearing the end of his second term as President. She and Grandad had been married about 4 years and had two children at the time, Pauline and Elmer, who are in the picture with her. It is not the best quality picture, but beggars can't be choosers when it comes to photos this old! And it certainly does not flatter her. But it does show her love for her family and her background presence, where she usually made the biggest impact. After all, women did not even have the right to vote in the U.S. until the year after this picture was taken!

Okay, trivia question for this election week... Who was president of the U.S. when Bura Davis (Gram) was BORN? Think about it for a moment before reading on.

While you are thinking, let me say that the second picture I am including today shows my musical brother Darrell Shepard. Did you know that he is part of a band known as "Midlife Chrysler"? Visit their website to find out more about them and their schedule.

The picture is actually two pictures in one: the left half of the picture shows him way before the term "mid-life" was even in his vocabulary, much less part of the name for his band. It may have been taken when he was a student at Abilene Christian University. He will have to confirm that for me. The right half of the picture shows him just a few years ago. (Around the one and only time that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the Super Bowl.)

Did you think about the trivia question above? Here is the answer: Democrat Grover Cleveland was the lame duck president on Gram's birthday, Nov 8, 1896. BUT Republican William McKinley was "President-elect." He had won the presidency just 5 days before she was born.

On the day of her birth, I wonder if THEY were glad there were no more political commercials on TV!? ;-)

One last bit of trivia, and the final presidential comment: 4 years to the day before Gram was born, incumbent President Benjamin Harrison was defeated in his bid for re-election. Harrison was the only Church of Christ member (he was even a minister!) to ever be president of the United States.
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