Telling the stories of Texas with photographs (and words too...)
A few years ago, Margie’s father, David Pacey, started to paint again after not doing so for many years. That Christmas he gave me a painting he made of the exterior of The Rock Church (the old St. Olaf’s Lutheran Church) in Bosque County (first picture). He used a photograph I’d taken to make that painting.
As we drove around Texas looking for “things what need photographin'” I often, at his request, would take photographs of wildflowers and abandoned buildings that he could use as a basis for his paintings. That’s part of why I made the photographs from Fedor below as well as the abandoned house, which is south of Sandoval.
He was also interested in mixing his own paint, and from time to time we’d send him clay we collected. Some of that clay came from the grounds of the old church in Salty, and some also came from Lee County.
The first time I met Mr. Pacey, it was a bit unexpected. I flew out to visit the family near Fairhope Alabama at the end of my Christmas break, and it was a last-minute trip. The first night I got there Margie already had plans for the evening so I was left alone with him (a man who had already told her that he was going to show me his gun collection) and her two brothers.
We had a fantastic time playing poker while she was gone, and when Margie got back, she was a bit surprised and asked why he hadn’t given me a hard time. “Well, I didn’t think I’d like him so much!” he responded.
Like the Mobile Greys, who organized and came out to support the Texas Revolution in 1835, he loved Texas even though he was from Alabama. Over the last few years, when he came to visit he was able to sample some of the best BBQ Texas had to offer, including Kreutz Market in Lockhart, Cooper’s in Llano, and the Thorndale Meat Market.
Two weeks ago, on June 8, Mr. Pacey got to walk his youngest daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Following the wedding, he and Margie’s brother came back to Hutto to visit for a few days.
Things didn’t quite work out as planned. The day after his arrival, he was admitted to the hospital and his care team determined that he had a large mass on his right kidney and would quickly need surgery to remove it. Because of the situation, it would need to happen here in Texas.
Yesterday morning, David Mighell Pacey+ opened his eyes as a man whose failing body required medical care. Despite the best efforts of a fantastic care team, he experienced complications after the surgery and died in the early afternoon. He closed his eyes here in Texas to open them in the presence of our Lord.
“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
We are so thankful for the extra time he was able to spend with us in Texas. During that time, we were able to have sausage and brisket with him on Saturday. This week he painted with my daughter (I have also added a photograph of his final painting that he made that day, and my daughter’s first painting). He played games with us. He got to enjoy the Wendish noodles that we made Sunday evening. He was able to read Pr. Spitzenberger’s book. I’d even hoped to bring him BBQ from the Thorndale Meat Market and City Meat Market in Giddings, though that didn’t happen.
As I talked with my daughter last night and comforted her, I told her that even though he is not with us, our sadness tells us that we actually have something to be thankful for, even as we grieve. We are sad because of the good times we had with the person who is no longer with us, and because of the good memories that we have of them.
When I take out my camera and aim it at something “what needs photographin’,” so often I remember someone for whom I have such good memories. John Deere Model B tractors and GM flatbed dually trucks remind me of my Grandfather Clifton. Old auto parts stores remind me of my Grandfather Strickland. Old country stores and early sixties Chevy trucks remind me of my Great-Uncle Eugene Strickland. Old country churches (of the white frame variety) remind me of one of my Sunday School teachers, Clifford Gilliam.
And now, when I pull out my camera to photograph Texas wildflowers or some brisket, Holy Trinity Fedor or The Rock Church… when the shutter clicks, I’ll remember my father-in-law, David Pacey. I’ll think about poker games and paintings, pecan trees and guns, Minie balls and old coins, and all the times we had together, though right now they seem to have been far too few. I’ll remember the way he welcomed me into his family and loved me like his own son.
I mean, he even gave me two guns from that gun collection he jokingly threatened to show me!
Goodbye, for now. As you always told us, “love you bunches!” May you rest from your labors, and Light Everlasting shine upon you.
Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abram’s bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my Fount of grace,
Lord Jesus Christ,
My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end.