Love Won

“Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

My dad was an enigma. From his youth, he was clearly someone special, otherwise my teenage mama-to-be would never have been drawn to him, and her daddy, a shrewd judge of character, would not have consented for her to marry him.

The eldest of what would eventually be an even dozen children, Carl McKeever was intelligent, possessed with excellent common sense, strong in body and handsome in appearance. But he had a temper that he could not always control and developed a fondness for drink. His mouth was foul, particularly when with his friends, and he had a mean streak in him.

And yet, people were drawn to him.

We still have the hand-scribbled note on a piece of brown paper, torn off from a grocery bag apparently, where Grandpa Virge Kilgore consented for Carl J. McKeever, age 21, to marry Lois Jane Kilgore, 17.

So, they must have seen something there.

The youthful Carl J. McKeever could be harsh and mean and unloving. Even with a growing family, he would sometimes squander his pay shooting craps with fellow coal miners. More than once he got into serious fights when they all became drunk, landing himself in the calaboose in our little community of Nauvoo, Ala. Dad could be a mean drunk.

He carried facial scars for the rest of his life from one of those fights.

And yet, he was the dearest man.

Go figure.

Here is something from those years that I find perplexing.

This took place in the late 1940s. We lived in a mining camp six miles out from Beckley, W. Va. The six children (of us) ranged in age from about 5 to 14.

I was about 9 and my sister Carolyn 7. From time to time, at night after supper as he sat in his green “easy chair” by the radio, we would give dad a pedicure. He seemed to go to sleep while we worked at clipping his nails and scissoring the hair on his toes and ankles. No, we did not know the term ‘pedicure.’ We were just loving on our father in a most unusual but tangible way.

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Joe McKeever has been a preacher for nearly 60 years, a pastor for 42 years, and a cartoonist/writer for Christian publications all his adult life. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.