Several years ago the Marietta Daily Journal ran a story about the Sons of the Confederacy wanting to honor a Confederate Soldier who had saved the lives of his fellow soldiers during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The event happened near what is today the intersection of Burnt Hickory Road and Old Mountain Road. When I read the story, I realized that the hero was my great-great grandfather, Isaac Petersen Collier. He was a part of the regiment from his home county of Upson, down in middle Georgia.
I had heard versions of this story during my childhood. But it was the work of my uncle, Joel Shattles, who brought the story to life for the family. This was not the only story that he brought to life and shared with our family members.
My Uncle Joel died recently at the age of 86. He was an amazing person. After his wife of 55 years died, he found a way to work through his grief, filling his days with writing stories for his grandchildren and great grand children. He also discovered a talent and passion for family history. After moving in with his son and his family the two of them teamed up to research our family tree.
Military service is a proud tradition in our family, going back in this country to the Revolutionary War. On Monday, November 8, my Uncle Joel was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, an honor he well deserves. During WWII, he was a part of the 15th Cavalry Division and earned the Purple Heart and many other medals. Joel Richard Shattles was the ninth of 13 children, 12 of whom grew to adulthood. Of the six adult sons, including my father, five served in the military during WWII, representing all the major branches of the armed services. The youngest son, not of age for WWII, served during the Korean War. Thankfully, all returned safely.
We are all missing Uncle Joel; but his legacy will be a vital part of our family for generations to come.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
HE WAS A GENTLE SPIRIT
My father had a gentle spirit. Does that sound like a trite phrase? In today’s world I don’t think we have enough masculine gentle spirits for the phrase to be trite. Father’s Day, and any day, is a good time for me to remember my own dad and his kind and gentle spirit.
(My grandmother with my Dad, right, and his twin brother, Dan)
He was loving and kind, protective and encouraging, the perfect father to me and my sister. My father, David Collier Shattles, had Parkinson’s disease from the time I was in elementary school until his death in 1986, yet, as long as possible, he continued to work and to play golf. He didn’t complain about the Parkinson’s. I never heard him use it as an excuse for not doing the things he needed to do.
He was never rich, nor famous, yet he was an inspiration to all who knew him. He worked for Eastern Air Lines for over 25 years. The employee passes allowed him to take his golf clubs for impromptu visits to his brother, Joel, in Jacksonville or other family members elsewhere and I was often his traveling buddy. My mother and sister didn’t like to fly, so, despite the passes, we never traveled to exotic beaches or the renowned golf courses. He played on the courses in the Atlanta area, enjoying the pleasures of a sport at which he excelled.
If marriage, fatherhood, golf and his work defined his later life, his early adult years were defined by his service in the Army Air Corps. He was a hero honored with many medals and knew many close brushes with death. He was a part of the crew of the Vagabond King in 1943 as part of the raid on the Ploesti Oil Fields. Later in 1943, stationed in England with the 8th Air Force, the Vagabond King was set for another mission, when my dad developed tonsillitis. It was an ill-fated mission, with my father, the only crew survivor, having been left behind in a base hospital in England to have his tonsils removed. His faith and that of his parents was very strong, and I know that their prayers were constant for the safe return of my father, his four brothers and his brothers-in-law serving our country during World War II.
His was a kind and gentle spirit, full of love for God, family, and country. I have been blessed that the men in my life, my father, my husband, and my son, all been endowed with this spirit of love toward others.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Our daughter called recently - called just to share some news and chat while she was out walking her dog. We talked, laughed, caught up on things going on, and then each went back to our day. But it was a brighter day because of her call.
The night before her call, a similar one from her brother brightened my evening. They are both grown-up now, living their own married lives, but we are connected by that mother-child bond that links us to one another for life. Each contact with them, every memory, reminds me of how much I love being a mother – of being their mother.
As a child, growing up in the South, Mother’s Day was always a very special holiday. One special memory is of the Mother’s Day flower, usually a rose, although a carnation would also be acceptable. In our family, we always wore a rose on Mother’s Day. The tradition is that you wore a white rose if your mother was no longer living and a red rose if she was. I can remember my mother stopping at the florist across the street from our church to pick up flowers for us. Most years, however, we found a rose bush with blooms that we could pick from. My grandmother, who went to church with us, always wore a white rose, sometimes in a corsage. It was from her that I learned what the white rose symbolized. I don’t know when the tradition faded away, but I know I seldom see anyone wearing a rose for mother’s day.
Since 1981, I have been blessed with the joy of motherhood for myself. I wish my own mother had been with us longer to enjoy more time to with her grandchildren. She would have been impressed with the individuals they have become. Each year since 1987, I have missed by own mother on Mother’s Day. I miss the conversations; the sharing of traditions; just knowing she was there.
I have to admit, when Peter was first placed in my arms, I was overjoyed but also frightened. Would I be able to keep him safe, healthy, help him grow into his potential. Having a strong help-mate in their father made it less frightening; but still, I have to admit to being an overly cautious mother. When Katie was born two years later, I was still the cautious mother. With the second child, I have heard, mothers are supposed to be far less worried about germs and bumps and bruises. But, truth be told, I still worry about them, just not as much.
Being further away from our children’s day-to-day lives, and knowing they are responsible adults, I don’t stress like I did when they were young. I still tell them to drive carefully, however, when they are going on a car trip and other such motherly advice. They are polite and take my advice in stride. We’ve also reached the point where they tell us to have a safe trip, and other such cautions. It’s nice that they are concerned about us as we are about them.
Mother’s Day has a proud history as a holiday set aside to honor each individual mother. Personally, it is not only a day for remembering my own mother, it is a day for honoring the joys that motherhood has brought to me.