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Along Life’s Road with Quimby Melton Jr.

By Laura Melton Geiger Publisher My Daddy, Quimby Melton Jr., was a Southern gentleman. He grew in grace and in spirit and in love. When he left this mortal Earth he left it as a Christian. He was 90 years old. Most of all, he loved and cherished my Mama. For 69 years they were true to the vows they took on June 30, 1943 before they passed under the crossed sabers in their full military wedding at Fort Riley, Kansas. They indeed loved and cherished each other, till death they did part. ’Lord, help me to help May,’ was the prayer he repeated over and over. When he graduated from hospice care the first time, he said to me, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do without that nurse coming in to check on your mother.’ He would always ask her to check Mama while she was there to see him. In March of 2012 he was hospitalized with pneumonia. Upon learning he was going home, he whistled ever so weakly but without mistake, ‘I’m Getting Married in the Morning’. It was ‘˜his pretty wife May’ who captivated him. She was his reason for living. Mama and Daddy have four children. We are all married to our first spouses. They showed us to stick together for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. Daddy figured he edited or published more than 16,000 newspaper editions in his lifetime. Newspaper work is consuming but Daddy found time to excel in other areas with Mama’s unconditional support.  He had a distinguished political career. He served 14 years in the General Assembly where no tax increase got out of the tax-writing Ways and Means committee under his six-year chairmanship. There was interest in Daddy running for governor ‘“ his duty was to family. He kicked off George Busbee’s gubernatorial campaign. Gov. Zell Miller always told me he wanted to take Daddy ‘on the stump.’ Gov. Carl Sanders’ daughter came Sunday afternoons to go fox hunting with the Master of the Foxhounds, my Daddy. He was at home with the mighty, and equally so with the meek. He loved his fellow man. Because of his love for his ex-soldier friends, he would always stop on the side on the highway or the sidewalk to aid a distressed veteran who was holding a sign seeking help. His wallet carried a picture of Jesus in the plastic part and he gave generously to every solicitation that came his way, unless it was by phone. Horses were Daddy’s favorite hobby from the time he was seven years old until he took his last breath. He trained in the horse Cavalry and jumped, often in his scarlet coat and seemingly as high as the moon, until he was 70. He cared for the horses he owned 77 years, just about as well as he protected his wife and children. His last horse, Bandolier, died at 38 in the pasture where he spent his life, only a few yards from where he was foaled. Daddy raised Bandy, broke him to ride and trained him to jump and hunt. We agree with Mama that Daddy’s horses were the luckiest on earth. And we are blessed. Along with training his four children to ride and jump, Daddy had horse sense and taught us so many life lessons. When a horse had thrown us or we were otherwise unseated from the saddle, he forced us to remount immediately and ride on. Don’t quit, even when terrified, we learned the hard way. His method of raising four-legged creatures as well as two-legged ones offered encouragement instead of punishment. I recall Daddy spanking me only once and he wore me out for being ugly to my mother. I deserved many more. His last words to me were, ‘Laura, carry on!’ He loved God and Jesus Christ. Daddy asked us to read the Bible aloud in his final days when he could not read it himself. ‘The red-print, Jesus’ words,’ he instructed. One of his favorite verses was Micah 6:8: And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? That sums him up. Well done, thy good and faithful servant! After 56 years from his diapering of me to the donation of his body to Emory for medical research, I assess him this way: First a loving husband. A Christian gentleman and loving father, a truly Great American who exemplified giving back to his beloved Griffin, region, Georgia and United States, a man who found good in nearly everybody. He never complained and was always responsible and fair. Just as he, I believe in God and I believe in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and I believe that this strong and good man has been freed from a once strong and good body which finally wore out. I also believe General MacArthur and his brother Fred led my hero straight ahead into heaven. This final word: We come into this Earth from the loins of women and most of us are cared for by them until old enough to look after ourselves. Then when the body fails and its functions slow down, women take care of and nurture us again. Women looked after my Daddy at his start and at his earthly end. I know he would have wanted to say thank you to all of them. So thank you ladies. God knows they are ladies. And angels. As he said so often, God bless you. Au revoir my precious Papaman. — Parts of this were adapted from the last ‘Good Evening’ written by Quimby Melton Jr., upon his father Quimby Melton’s death in 1977.

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