I want to write this down right now, while I can still remember as many of the details as I can. It’s strange but if I wait even a little while longer, some of these details will just fade away and I think this day was one of the most important of my life. That sounds a little dramatic and I apologize for that. But I think there is a lesson here and I want you boys to know it, even as I ponder it and try to learn it for myself.
Last Friday, we got to spend one final day with your Grandpa Doe. One thing you boys need to understand is this – we had absolutely no warning that this was our last day together. He didn’t die of a car wreck or some other type of accident. He wasn’t in pain or feeling a little bad. We weren’t concerned that we might need to visit with a doctor of any kind. He seemed like he was in great spirits. He spent a long and fun-filled day with his wife, your dad, me, and you boys. And it was truly a great day.
It started with a haircut. Your Grandpa Doe was terrible about keeping up after haircuts and Ricka often reminded him that it was getting time to get a trim. Grandpa Doe was thrifty – a nice way of saying he was cheap. This man rarely ever spent more than $8 for a haircut. He had gone to the same barber shop that had cut his hair, his father’s hair, and grandfather’s hair. Your dad had his hair cut there before and so has your cousin Matt. In all, five generations of hair had been cut at the same barber shop, usually by a man named John Gruten (and I have no idea how that man spelled his name).
Anyways, the day started with your Dad needing a haircut. Your Dad’s job required that he speak publicly quite often and lead large meetings and it had become apparent that at buzzing at the barber shop was something that just wasn’t doing a good job anymore. We had found a place called Roosters, which is kind of like a men’s salon with wood paneling and all, and this place tended to do a better job at cutting hair. So, when I placed the appointment for your Dad at 11, your Grandpa Doe asked if I would get him an appointment too. On a funny sidenote, Nana asked me to gently ask the stylist to trim Grandpa Doe’s eyebrows, only we didn’t warn him of that ahead of time!
So, tea tree tingling shampoo, a few snips in places that probably surprised him, and $30 later, Grandpa Doe had the styling experience of his life. I think he did enjoy it though. You see, growing up, this is what your Dad and Grandpa Doe did on Saturday mornings – they would go to the barber shop. So here the day was starting out like old times. Sort of. With a tingling scalp experience afterwards.
Afterwards, we all met up at 9ers Diner. He ordered fried catfish and I don’t blame him for it. Out in Midland, TX, it wasn’t easy to get fresh seafood but here in Katy, TX you could. He tried to get Graham to eat his cheeseburger and Graham was more interested in the nacho chips that had been put in front of him. You boys never will eat your main meal (even if you love it!) if there are chips or fresh bread to be had. Grandpa Doe paid for lunch though and he sure tried to make you eat. And you did eat! Just not the burger. Afterwards, Nana and I took Graham and Max shopping while your Dad and Grandpa Doe and Justin went manly shopping. Will tells me that you went to a few gun stores, hashed out the merits of this and that rifle cartridge, decided that the best one ever made was one that neither of them had ever owned, and went to an Academy sporting goods.
Your Dad and Grandpa Doe liked to discuss things and compare notes. If the day had been surrounding some kind of repair, the conversations would have revolved around which tools were better, who was making better tools nowadays, where the deals could be found, when the deals could be found and so forth. On this day, since they were walking around gun stores and an Academy Sports store in the ammo aisle, the conversation stuck to ammo cartridges.
Earlier in the day, I had done a quick posting to sell a car and as luck would have it, someone wanted it immediately. So Grandpa Doe entertained Justin while Will worked to get the car cleaned up and ready to show. Your Dad tells me that in the past, it was Grandpa Doe that had to keep him focused on the task at hand. But that day, it was Grandpa Doe who couldn’t pull himself away from a giggling Justin. They had more fun talking and playing and your Dad was cleaning out the car.
I remember the extreme heat broke that day. Up until that very morning, the temperatures were in the upper 90’s, with the heat indexes close to 110. But not this day. This day a storm moved in. It rained a few minutes here and there but we were enjoying the sights and sounds of purple clouds rolling around the area. The storms didn’t seem all that organized, but they kept the heat at bay – even if the humidity was still a little high.
Later that afternoon, we all met up at the house and put you boys down for a nap. We were going to watch the 2nd Captain America movie, but discovered that somehow your grandparents had missed the Avengers’ movie. Basically, you have to follow the order for the franchise or none of it will make sense. That was kind of strange through. Your grandparents were a lot like us – they loved staying home and watching movies. When it came to tastes in movies, we were pretty similar so to find out they had somehow missed this major blockbuster of a movie meant it had to be reconciled. Your Dad and I love this movie because there is a line in it that gives reverence to God Almighty. If you ever watch it, there is a scene where “Thor” shows up and steals a prisoner. Iron Man jumps out of a plane to catch them. Captain America is advised to sit out the fight because Thor was supposedly from ancient legend, basically gods. Captain America replies “There’s only one God ma’am…and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that!” Grandpa Doe and Nana liked that part too.
While watching the movie, Will decided to start cooking dinner for us. Your Dad is an awesome cook, and while I do my best to copy every thing he does, food flavors just come together for him really well. On this night, we decided to make nachos. That mean melting queso from scratch. I know when you read this, you boys will have had so many homemade nachos and queso you will know exactly what I mean. One great thing about serving nachos to a diabetic is that the corn chips don’t impact the blood sure as bad. Your Grandpa Doe was always one to over indulge on the carbs, so making this meal seemed like a good thing.
During the meal, his brother Tom called and they discussed the house that belonged to your great-grandparents. You see, Grandpa Doe had spent the better part of 2 years getting that estate closed and it had been a long and arduous task. They were about to complete the sale of the house and finally be done. Grandpa Doe was so relieved that they were nearing the end and a close date had been set a couple weeks out.
During this meal, Grandpa Doe tried to get Justin to eat chips dipped in queso but Justin would have none of it. Finally, Grandpa Doe put his little cup of queso next to Justin and just continued to dip his own chips in it and eat them. Finally, Justin got curious enough to timidly dip a chip in the queso. After a few bites, he realized that Grandpa Doe was onto something. After a few more bites, he was stealing the dipped chips out of Grandpa Doe’s hands before he could eat them. It took Grandpa Doe by surprise the first time and then it was just a game. We had more fun watching them dip chips and eat them, Justin stealing his Grandpa Doe’s also, and Grandpa Doe giggling along with the rest of us.
After dinner, we cued up the Captain America 2 movie again and got ready to sit down to watch it. We finished up most of the dishes, and Grandpa Doe sat in the living room playing with Graham and making funny faces at Max who was in a play area on the floor. Grandpa Doe was still rolling the ball to Graham when I took Justin upstairs for a diaper change. Your Dad went to the bathroom. We were all out of the room maybe 5 minutes when we heard Nana call for us to come.
He walked to the bathroom, felt a pain in his chest, and passed away while still on his feet. The doctors we have spoken too and told them what happened have all told us that he was gone before we even got him to the floor even though it looked like he was breathing. His body was just letting go.
I don’t want to tell you this story to scare you. It’s actually the opposite. I don’t want you to read this story and find fear. You see, we had a great day. A truly great day. You have to see that in these details I written here. The day was awesome.
Secondly, you have to appreciate that getting time with your grandparents was actually pretty hard given the circumstances. There was a lot going on, and they had come into town to spend the weekend with us and celebrate a slightly delayed 1 year old birthday party for Max, a party we had scheduled for the following day. This was the first time we had seen them in 9 months. They arrived the night before. Had this happened the day prior, the week prior….but it didn’t. Your Dad describes this day as one of the greatest examples God has ever given him to show him how much his Heavenly Father loves him. His Heavenly Father gave him one final great day with his Dad before he called him home. It could not have been more beautiful and perfect.
I’m going to tell you boys a lot more about your Grandpa Doe in other posts but this one, I just need to tell you now. Maybe I’m writing it to remember it myself. I cling to the memory of the day because I agree with your Dad – it was a gift of a day.
I want you to read his obituary that your Dad and I wrote up on the drive to Midland 2 days later. I want you boys to know you are so loved. I never want you to go a day and question that. God knows the number of our days. He knows our own individual great journeys. He knew the moment they would begin, and He knows the moment they will come to an end on this earth. But He has promised us that there is so much more – a future and a hope. He has told us that we should not speak of the dead as though they are dead because they are in fact living. That is why God never called himself the great “I WAS” He says “I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. From this we know that John’s journey on earth had a very specific end. So does your Dad’s. So does mine. As does yours. God set it into motion that John’s end was at the close of a very great day.
John David Bentley of Midland, Texas, was taken home to the Lord on September 12, 2014, in Katy, Texas, at the age of 64. John was born to Margie and Jack Bentley on April 13, 1950. He spent his early years on a farm near Stanton, Texas, until the family moved to Midland. Graduating from Midland High School in 1968, he met Ricka Holloway that summer. John and Ricka fell deeply in love and wanted to get married. When her parents objected, they stole away to Mexico and were married there. That was nearly 45 years ago. After getting married, they joined Main Street Church of Christ where they were baptized together and began their lives.
Those who knew John knew that he had a tremendous work ethic – a passion he passed on to his children. In addition to working full time at the United States Post Office, he started a real estate leasing company in 1986, and built it up to become a thriving and successful business. Through his diligent hard work, he ensured his family was always provided for. He single handedly guaranteed that the Home Depot would stay in business because he had perfect attendance every weekend. John had a very personal attachment to his rental business, and always believed in a hands on approach to them, taking great care to ensure that any work that needed doing was done well. He recently retired from the Post Office after 29 years to work on his real estate business and spend more time with his family.
As a landlord, John was truly kind. He sincerely had a heart for people who were suffering and worked with his renters in every possible way when they fell on hard times. He understood what it was like to live with physical ailments, family emergencies, and plain old bad luck. His compassion may not have made the most business sense, but he never failed to give people the benefit of the doubt. In spite of this dedication to hard work, John truly loved to make people laugh and is probably best known for his witty and dry sense of humor. He loved to play jokes and oftentimes spoke in a comical language all his own, translating words like popcorn into “mompeas”, and microwave into “crimowave”, and always with a particular fondness for all things involving turnips.
John is survived by his wife, Ricka; and their three children, Tawnya Green and husband Tim, William Bentley and wife Melissa, and Timothy Bentley and his wife Shoshawna. He is also survived by his eight grandchildren, Matthew Green, Victoria Green, Elizabeth Green, Sheridan Bentley, Graham Bentley, Reagan Bentley, Justin Bentley, and Maximus Bentley.
Although his passing was sudden, his final day here was spent with family and grandchildren. It was a day full of laughter, love, and good food. John will be deeply missed by his wife and children, and especially his grandchildren who called him Grandpa Doe or simply “Doe ey”, a title bestowed on him by his first grandchild, Matt.
The family will receive friends on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, September 17, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. with Justin Wood officiating at Nalley-Pickle & Welch Chapel at 3800 N. Big Spring St., Midland, Texas, 79710. Interment will follow at Resthaven Memorial Park in Midland. The family suggests memorials be donated to the American Diabetes Association, PO Box 1132, Fairfax, Virginia, 22038. Arrangements are under the directions of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home & Crematory. Online condolences can be made at http://www.npwelch.com. – See more : //www.legacy.com/obituaries/mrt/obituary.aspx?n=john-david-bentley&pid=172476710&fhid=23293#sthash.WpDQik1K.dpuf