Chocolate Bayou Fishing / Hunting Camp
Brazoria County, TX – West of Freeport, North of Chocolate Bay
Harry Matell, Rip Smock, Marion Polka, Adam Polka
When I was 5 years old, I was scheduled to go into the hospital to have my eye operated on. Before I went into the hospital, Dad and Uncle Marion decided to take me on a fishing trip to help get my mind off of the upcoming surgery. In his younger days, Dad was one of those guys that would fish darn near anywhere and Uncle Marion was even worse than Dad. The only places that they didn’t like to fish were where they might accidentally encounter another human being.
Uncle Marion had a secret fishing spot deep in the national forest just east of New Waverly. I seem to remember the lake was named Hoffstetter or something like that. It probably has a golf course and subdivision surrounding it by now, but in those days, it was pretty much free of human inhabitants. We started out in Uncle Marion’s pickup truck after Dad got off work on a Friday evening and reached the logging road that led to the lake right at dusk. We slowly made our way to the lake with lots of stops to remove fallen trees and to smooth out the ruts that were too deep for the truck. While we were traveling down the logging road, Dad and Uncle Marion had a long conversation about the black bears that inhabited the thick woods that we were traveling through. We were all kind of disappointed that we didn’t see any, but Uncle Marion assured us that there would be some hanging around the lake. By the time we reached the lake, it was after 10 pm and we were all tired. …
My Dad believed that women needed men to take care of them. I am not arguing with that. When I fell in love and wanted to get married at the tender age of 20, I was so worried that my parents would disapprove of the man I had chosen.
Fred, being 21 years older than me was not the only issue. The fact that he had 5 children, whom were all teenagers, worried me. I was afraid my parents would not approve. And, approval was very important to me.
Over my 50 some odd years on this earth, I’ve met a lot of people. Plain vanilla people are fine, but in my adult life, I’ve always been fascinated by people who are different, people who might be labeled as strange, weird, eccentric, or people that just plain march to a different drummer. We sometimes refer to these type of people as characters. My dictionary lists the following as one of the many definitions of character;
…a person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities); “a real character”
My father, Walter (Wally), had a certain way of doing things. It’s not that anyone called him Wally to his face, but it did become a running joke among his family. For example: “It has to be done Wally’s way”, which melded into “Ollie’s way”. Fitting, since he had a way of calling people, pets and things by special nicknames. His girls became Suebee, Jubee, Jeebee, and Patter. His two younger sons were the bugger boys until my two sons inherited it. Julie’s dog, Angel, was Angie. He had a unique way of doing everything and I sure am going to miss Ollie’s Way, but I suspect that we all have a little bit of “Ollie’s way” within us.
I firmly believe that God gives each of us, not only specific challenges, but a specific ministry. Most would wonder what type of ministry would be given to a man who worked hard his entire life, raised a family of 9 children, insisted his wife be a stay at home mom to love and take care of the home and children, had strong moral values, good Christian beliefs, knew his Bible like no one I know, taught Sunday school when his children were young, made sure his children were baptized as infants and schooled in the ways of God, knelt with his children each night to recite night prayers, made monetary sacrifices to send his children to private Catholic schools and worked as an usher shuffling the collection plate during Sunday masses. A man who, until life let him down and the Church let him down (Vatican II), had regular Sunday barbeques and invited the Priests and his fellow Catholic laymen for feasts fit for a King, a man who gleefully fed anyone needing or just wanting a meal. What could God ask of this good man? I don’t claim to know God’s intentions for my dad, but I do know that after I buried my husband, Ronald Thibodeaux Sr., I learned a lot about the ministry that God gave to my father, the man who had stopped attending Sunday mass and to all on lookers seemed to be destined to have serious regrets regarding his Christian life. God understood the man he was dealing with and chose to work with him, as he so beautifully does for each of us. My dad was very upset at Ronald’s death and worried about his daughter. He prayed, and prayed. I never even knew he still prayed before that time in January 1997. He prayed for me, as he prayed for all of his children that he loved much more than any of us ever realized AND much to my surprise he prayed for Ronald continually. One day a few months after Ronald’s passing, my father told me of a dream he had. He dreamed that he and I were riding in his red truck on the highway and the truck broke down. We were pondering our dilemma when Ronald drove up in his blue truck. The striking part of the dream to my dad (and me) was that when Ronald got out of the truck he was all dressed in pure, bright, blinding white. As Dad told me the story, he said that even Ronald’s hair and beard were the whitest white he’d ever seen. He described for me incredible vivid details, like what I was wearing and other details that I feel certain would not be so vivid in a normal dream, besides, I’m not sure that my dad had ever noticed what I wore. That was not his style. In his dream Ronald repaired the vehicle, working diligently under the hood of Dad’s truck. Once the truck was running again, Ronald stepped back and said “Everything is OK now”. Ronald returned to the blue truck and drove away. The thing that my dad emphasized once again was the whiteness, the pureness of this man that I have loved more than anyone in this life. Dad was so touched by his dream, and told me that he just could not fathom that Ronald had worked under the hood of his truck, yet not a blemish or spec of dirt, grease, etc. had contaminated his purity. My dad was pleased to see Ronald in his splendor and grateful to God for hearing his prayers. I too was overwhelmed with the beauty and joy of it all. I am grateful to my dad for sharing his dream with me, grateful for his love, and grateful for his ministry…praying for the deceased. I learned from Dad after he shared his dream with me that he consistently prayed for the dead. Not only did he pray when he prayed his night prayers, but he prayed each and every time he lay down for a nap. I also learned from him how much these departed souls appreciated his prayers. When Dad got the flu a few years ago, he dreamed of appearances from his mother and his mother-in-law. He was privy to information about their whereabouts in the next dimension. His mother, he learned was in Heaven, his mother-in-law in Purgatory. Dad continued to pray for Grandma Jacob as he was fully aware of her need for his prayers. I know that the grateful souls he so lovingly ministered to were there to greet my father as he made his journey to the other side. This gives me an enormous amount of peace. I know that he is home and he will be there for me when my God calls me home. I know that he is praying for his loved ones that are still making their journey here on Earth.
I thank you Dad for so very much, especially for sharing with me the story of your ministry. I love you always as much as a daughter can love a father
Your beloved JuBee.