Walking with Dad


Laura Loweyard

The day we buried my father was a day that he would have gloried in. Before his illness he would have gone into the woods to get a close up look at the wondrous transformation of winter into spring. As we stood around the grave in the Alabama country churchyard, the warm sunshine was as comforting as the words spoken by the minister. The red earth was heaped beside the open grave and the grass which would frame the grave was still winter brown but the promise of spring was in the still bare branches of nearby trees on the verge of bursting into new life.

That was almost 39 years ago. I almost never think of Daddy in the graveyard. Daddy’s spirit cannot be contained in a grave. His spirit lives in my children, my grandsons, my great-granddaughter and in me.

Daddy was Yancy L. Roper. He was born in Butler County Alabama in 1900 – the last child of 14 born to Isaiah and Emma Roper. Grandfather Isaiah was born to a white father and black mother in 1850. It is assumed that she was a slave. What kind of relationship existed between them is not known. It appears that his white father was fond enough of him to pass on land ownership. It was a farm of sizable acreage. Grandfather Isaiah supported his huge family from the farm. Daddy learned to keep books at an early age and from these records, it seems that Grandfather was prosperous enough to hire outside help and to even pay his own children for the farm work they did.

But all of that was way before my time. Yancy married a slight brown-skinned girl with the unusual name of Lorenzia Mastin in December 1927. They would be married for 17 years before I was born. Momma said I was a miracle child and so was my brother, who was born nearly two years later. Momma often told the story of her strong desire to have children. She said that she prayed to God, pouring out her heart in anguished supplication for children to love and cherish. The birth of children to the middle-aged couple was a great joy.

Grandfather Isaiah and Grandmother Emma never saw us. They had died a few years earlier. Daddy told us many stories about them, though, and we went with Daddy to visit and help tend the graves. We also visited the house of Isaiah and Emma. The house and land no longer belonged to the family and Daddy was sad about the loss. The once-productive farmland was overgrown with weeds, bushes and trees – the house a refuge for mice and other creatures of the wild.

3/10/2016 10:57:46 AM

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