Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Bettie & her Tall Texan
On Sunday morning we got the kind of phone call that no one ever likes to get. Jason answered the phone as we were heading to a friends house to record a song he had just finished writing. As we were heading down Music Row in Nashville we learned the sobering news that Billy & Bettie Walker had been killed in a tragic car accident earlier that morning coming back from a gig in Montgomery, Alabama. Along with them in the car were two of their band members and their grandson, Josh Brooks who is only 21 years old. Josh is the only survivor and is in critical condition at a hospital in Alabama. For those of you that don't know, Billy is Jason's great uncle and brother to our grandmother Evie Moreland. They were the only family we had out here in Nashville and they were the kindest couple you might ever meet. We had been at their house 3 times in the last week alone spending time with them, having lunch and moving some things that they stored for Jason in their home for us. We've stayed with them a couple times and they both made me feel so much a part of their family.
When I first met Billy at his house in April of last year, he gave me a huge hug. His parting words to me that night after dinner was something like, "Well if you're here to stay, welcome to the family, and if not, it was nice meeting you." You would have to hear how he said it too, it made us all laugh. I loved them both from the start. They have more energy and enthusiam than most people their age - they truly astounded me. We also had the priviledge last August, in fact the very next night after Jason and I got engaged, to see Billy perform at the Grand Ole Opry on stage. He had us join him backstage while he warmed up with his band and he introduced us to some other Opry members. We told him there in his dressing room of our engagement and he came over to me and gave me the biggest squeeze ever and welcomed me to the family. The picture to the left was taken right after that huge hug. As he performed, we sat behind him on the stage and cheered him on. It really was an incredible experience to be a part of.
Apart from all their generosity and love they've extended toward us, they also blessed us with coming out to Seattle to sing at our wedding reception. The first picture of them is from our wedding and the one to the left is when Billy put Jason on the spot and asked him to sing "If Things Go Well." Jason was telling Billy in this picture, "don't you ever do this to me again.." :-) It was an honor to have such a wonderful couple share that day with us. We will always have that memory on our wedding video to remember them by. Bettie was a remarkable woman, she seemed to think of everything. Her house was always in order and decorated so beautiful. She was a fabulous cook and just last Thursday when we had lunch with them she was showing me how to make authentic Southern sweet tea. I am really sad that I'm not going to have the chance to learn all I could from her. She was talented in many ways and she was such a huge supporter to Billy's music. Those two were an incredible team. They were so selfless, always helping others and being so encouraging. I'm so grateful that Jason got the opportunity to know that Billy came to respect Jason's writing. Just a couple weeks ago, Billy called Jason on the phone to ask if he could record one of Jason's songs, our song in fact, "If Things Go Well" - it touched Jason so deep that after all these years, he had earned the respect of not just his uncle Billy, but Country legend Billy Walker, The Tall Texan.
We will miss them so much - they instantly became a huge part of our lives. Bettie was my first real friend out here in Tennessee and I will miss her deeply. And Billy was like a grandpa to me more than anything. I admire them, respect them and love them very much. It is not goodbye, but see you later - for I know that their love for the Lord superseded everything else. They carried the heart of Christ and will continue to inspire others for years to come. Thank you Billy & Bettie for everything. We will miss you.