This is James Wells and on Friday, Dec 3rd we were able to help him celebrate his 60th birthday. We first met James when we moved to SL in 1976. James was a really recent convert at that time. He lived/lives right around the corner from where my grandmother lived (she was living with my aunt in Grafton at the time). We were in the same ward. He was Elders Quorum President I think...and Robert served with him. When my grandmother felt well enough to get to church, Jim would bring her. Then in 1979 he was called as bishop when Giles Lambertson moved. Robert and Jim were Giles' counselors in the bishop and Robert became James' 1st counselor.
I need to have Robert blog about his various experiences with James. Jim knew how to do what needed to be done even tho he had been a member only about 5 years. And he was only 31 at the time. Jim can still cut through the muck and get to the heart of the matter, to the heart of the problem. But you know humans...they do not like to be told truth. They want things sugar coated and I can tell you, Jim is as sweet as can be, but he will never sugar-coat anything.
James would talk about pathetic, do-nothing people as bust outs or is it bus stops...either way. I always use the incorrect phrase and Robert always corrects me. We've taken on James' phrase when talking about people who absolutely refuse to help themselves, but are always on the look out for a handout. He has said that if he were still bishop, he'd probably find the same people who were on the welfare rolls still on them. And he'd be correct. We both agree on that, and a lot of other topics. There's no reason why a healthy woman cannot go to work if her husband is out of work...I did. And I had young children at home. There's no reason why people out of work need to keep buying and needing needless things.
We have had that discussion so often....and there I go...spewing it here as well.
The party was so typical Jim and Jackie, his amazing wife. They asked for no gifts, only food to be brought so that it could be donated to those less fortunate. And you should have seen the corner with cases and bags of food. Jim's daughter Annie sang some songs and she has an amazing voice. The last song was Daddy's Hands...and it was a lovely tribute to James....and very much James himself:
I remember daddy's hands folded silently in prayerI think this says so much about this man, this husband, this father, this former bishop. After Annie was done, her accompanist took the mike and Steve said if there were 120 or 150 more bishops in Elyria Ward, James would still be the Father of the Ward. James set the standard for future bishops and they had huge shoes to fill, huge footsteps to walk in. Steve mentioned that when he called to see about moving to this area, he put the down the phone and commented that he felt his bishop was a philosopher....and never once did he hear the hillbilly in the voice nor the man on the phone. We laughed because we understood.
And reachin' out to hold me, when I had a nightmare
You could read quite a story in the callous' and lines
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind
I remember daddy's hands how they held my mama tight
And patted my back for something done right
There are things that I'd forgotten that I loved about the man
But I'll always remember the love in daddy's hands
Daddy's hands were soft and kind when I was cryin'
Daddy's hands were hard as steel when I'd done wrong
Daddy's hands weren't always gentle but I've come to understand
There was always love in daddy's hands.
I remember daddy's hands workin' 'til they bled
Sacrificed unselfishly just to keep us all fed
If I could do things over, I'd live my life again
And never take for granted the love in daddy's hands
Jim has always been there for everybody. How does he do it? But he has been protected and guided and knew where to look for that inner guidance. Just a few days before the party, on the way home from Columbus a truck veered right into him, throwing Jim and car off the road. The car was totalled, Jim's leg got banged up and he said he felt as tho he had seen his last day...but luckily for all of us, he lived to see more.
Happy Birthday, James.