Monday, September 14, 2015
The House of Mourning
I plan to honor him in memories for the rest of my life, but right here I want a little record of his 90 years.
Wendell John Clough was born August 25, 1925, with his twin brother Warren. I remember my grandmother telling me that over 100 people came to see the little guys when they were born.
The Great Depression came along a few years later, and it sounds like the Clough family participated to the full. When things were improving for some in the country, they had a house on Deering Ridge Road in Waterboro (then Waterborough) Maine burn to the ground. The twins were eight, and their brother Robert 10 when lightning struck. My Dad gathered his little treasures and dropped them out the window of the house before he got out, but the fire licked up little toys in the grass along with the house. They had to live with their grandparents after that, and times were tough.
The saddest part of his whole life happened three days before he turned 18. Warren, his twin, was hit by a car and killed. It was tragic and my Dad talked sadly about that, with no comfort of knowing Warren was in Heaven as their family knew so little of God at the time.
His other brother also died young. Robert was a photographer, and he stood up to take a picture of Richard Nixon (quite a while before he was President, maybe a senator?) who was touring Maine. His heart gave out then and he died right there.
Dad fought "The Fire of '47" in Maine while he was a student in Boston. He raced home to help save the farm, and his home was spared.
At the age of 25, while still living in Boston...well, let my just quote him on this.
"In December, 1950, Billy Graham came to Boston, Mass. for a crusade. Some church friends invited me to go to hear him. On the final night (December 30, 1950) I felt convicted to go forward.
"But I still faced the problem of believing the Bible. Was it true that there was an Adam and Eve? Was there really a worldwide flood with Noah's Ark? Was Jonah swallowed by a whale?
"I thought I must spend the rest of my life trying to find answers to my questions and thoughts, or I could step out in faith and believe. After much soul-searching and conviction, I went forward and made my decision, not just to receive Jesus as my Savior, but to receive the Bible as a book to be believed."
My Dad had no regrets. He launched into the Christian faith gung-ho. He tested and tried the Lord's promises, and he shared his faith with the people around him. He worked at General Electric for the obligatory hours each day, and helped in the church the rest of the time. He was a deacon, a teacher, a youth leader, and the man who ran the bulletins off on the mimeograph machine.
He met my Mom in the Youth Group. He was the leader, and she was a helper. They have a sweet story of one night when he took the group to his house on a cold winter evening. She went to make hot chocolate for the gang, and somehow, the sight of her stirring that hot chocolate must have stirred him up too, because they had their first kiss right then and there.
They were married six months later, and the story is immortalized forever in Josh's Lego video.
Wendy came along about ten months later, in 1964, named after him, and I was hot on her heels in 1966. We had a great Dad, who played horsie with us, sat us down to watch the moon landing when we were 3 and 5 and (we still remember it!), bought and trained a dog for us, worked for us, cared for us, sent us to Christian schools, took us camping, taught us to swim, did Disney with us a few times, and taught us that God is our Heavenly Father, and we'd better obey him and follow Him.
I don't know if I'd ever have gone on my first missions trip when I was 16 without Dad. Mom was scared for me to go off to Mexico, Dad was thrilled. I'm glad I went; it was life-changing for me.
Daddy came to visit me in Peru when I was a missionary there. That was probably the longest "just Dad and me" time. He left his mark on Peru with his friendly, outgoing ways, and his hilarious answer to the "mi casa es su casa". He asked if he had to help with the taxes.
Daddy's sense of humor is legendary. One of my new favorite examples is from just a few months ago. He got pneumonia and was in the hospital, doing very poorly. Mom and Wendy were in the hospital with him, in tears, thinking he was dying. Mom bent over him in the bed, saying, "Oh no, look how grey he is."
Dad's eyes opened just a slit, enough to see her bending over him, and even in that condition, he couldn't resist. "BOO!"
Mom jumped a mile! Wendy's tears to laughter as she jumped too, and Daddy immediately was a little better, pleased with himself for another successful joke on his longsuffering wife.
We're missing him, the Dad we knew, but we don't sorrow like those with no hope. We know he's with God, in Heaven because God has promised it. Our pastor, Pastor Storey told how my Dad witnessed to his two nurses that last day in the hospital. That was normal for him.