Happy Birthday Daddy!

I lost my daddy 31 years ago, May 26, 1984. He was singing two new songs that he had written; “There’s Heaven To Gain, Hell To Lose” & “Mama Rang The Dinner Bell”. The Nelson Brothers (A.J. & Doyle) came to my house on Thursday and they were rehearsing the two new songs. I had just come in from buying my daughter Stacia, all the trimmings for her birthday, May 25th. This was a rare occasion for the Nelson Brothers to be singing with daddy. They had started out with daddy in the early 50’s, and they were called; “Onie Wheeler & The Ozark Mountain Boys”. All of us kids thought we were cousins, growing up with the Nelsons! We didn’t know until we were grown that we weren’t cousins at all! What a frightening thing that was to find out! So the Nelson Brothers had not sang with daddy in a while. Daddy had surgery in February of that year for an aneurysm. He was fidgety because of not working, so Roy let him work the Opry a little bit. But this was daddy’s own thing. He had worked two shows with Roy and now he was going to do the Gospel hour of the show at the Opry. He sang one song, and then started singing “Mama Rang The Dinner Bell”, and just slumped over on stage with the microphone still in his hand, he hit the monitor with his head. He died in the circle from the old Ryman Auditorium. I was so busy greeting everyone at the funeral that I didn’t have time to think! I was watching the Music City News Awards show on TV, and that’s when I really began to cry! Because I saw what everybody else saw; my daddy slumping over on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry! I had never looked at it like that! That weekend that daddy passed away was Memorial Day Weekend. When Memorial day rolls around each year I’m saddened for all the soldiers that we’ve lost, but I’m also saddened for losing my daddy. I told Roy Acuff at the funeral; “you’re gonna have to find a new way to get out of this world because, daddy just took yours!”

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