It has been wisely counseled, that if one is seriously dating a girl, get acquainted with her family. I found this to be a great benefit in my own case. Soon after I met and was enamored by my wife-to-be, I met her parents. I then understood why she showed so much maturity and good sense at her young age. She was sixteen when we first met, although I did not then know it.
Xenia Lee was cautious about my attentions at first. She had her reasons because of impressions she had gotten from my foolish antics around girls at the store where she worked: flirtatious and immature. She also thought of me as “just a college smarty.” It was only after I met her parents, Ashby and Ruth (Bond) Fitz Randolph, that her father said, “I don’t see anything wrong with that fellow.” Ten she took me seriously, and we began to date regularly, convinced more and more over the next year and a half that we belonged to each other.
Ashby grew up in Berea, a rustic area of the state. He developed a great appreciation of nature. While still a relatively young man, he had to have a leg amputated because of osteomylitis, a bone infection. Upon recovery, he continued teaching school, relying on Ruth’s presence to help him about. He was a man of strong conviction and perseverance. Ashby was a greatly respected teacher in the areas of Jarvisville and West Milford, West Virginia. Xenia Lee was one of his pupils through elementary school, and with that background preparation she became valedictorian of her high school graduating class at Bristol. He loved outdoor sports and, following retirement, that was his preferred recreation. I was drawn into that, not with his fervor, but with enjoyment.
Ruth Bond was the daughter of , and grew up near Weston, West Virginia on a wll-kept farm. She was enthusiastic about almost everything she did. She was her father’s helper on the farm and challenged her brothers by what she could accomplish. She, as did Ashby, had a competitive spirit in the good sense. She became a school teacher, also, and was a strong support and helper to her husband in his teaching. While Ashby was more sober, she had a great sense of humor. We sometimes got a chuckle out of hearing him ask her what she thought was so funny. She was a wonderful example to Xenia of what a good wife should be, an inestimable benefit to me during all our years of marriage.
I’m sure that there were times when they wondered about their wisdom in agreeing to our marriage. Still, they were patient while I tried to “grow up.” Being around them helped me to develop a broader view of human relationships. Generosity was a characteristic that they nurtured by their own example. My views of life generally expanded in our relationships with them.
Ashby taught me the finer points of nature, as well as how to relax. We spent many an hour together fishing. From him I learned about sharpening tools and some things about using geometry in building. He was not averse to telling me his opinion on some habits I had. One such occasion was on our honeymoon trip when we drove from Kansas to Texas to visit Bon and mother’s doctor brother, Ian. I had the habit of driving with my left arm out the window holding onto the drip rail that was common on cars at that time. He remarked, “Some people think they have to hold the roof on as they drive.” Then he reminded me of the danger in case a tire blew. I listened.
After our retirement, we went to live with them in West Virginia to help them, as Ashby was becoming more in need of care. These were good years with work and recreation interspersed, many evenings playing their favorite card game of Rook. Ashby grew more bedfast, and his care involved more strenuous lifting, as he was a big heavy man. Xenia and I developed back problems, turning care over to their son, Rex, and his wife, Phyllis. Then Ashby and Ruth moved to New York to be with their daughter, Mae, and her husband, George Bottoms. I realized how close we had become when, just before leaving on the trip, he looked up to me beseechingly and asked for prayer before they left their beloved home of many years.
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