top of page
  • Facebook

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Remembering my dad, Thomas Thompson Ellsworth

Written by Ervin Ellsworth, Tiffany Gravett’s Dad

I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot throughout the past few days. This week marked the 37th year without him here on earth. I remember many of the things he taught me about life as I would reminisce of stories told and things we would do together. In his last years, Alice and I felt the calling to be help mates with him and my mother as they pastored a small church in the country outside of Marionville, Mo. This not only was an opportunity for me to see firsthand some of the ups and downs of ministry, but also provided me alone times with my dad like I didn’t have in my years growing up.

One of the things I remember doing with him would be to drive around the countryside witnessing and inviting people to church. I can remember the first time doing this. I had a lot of apprehension but knowing this, he wanted me to watch him and see how it was done. As we pulled up a small lane leading to a small tin building that was about 10 ft. x10 ft., I mistakenly thought it to be a chicken coop or tool shed and wondered why we had driven here. In reality, what I didn’t know was that two people resided there. I remember the door to the shack propped open by an old hickory limb and an extension cord tightly stretched across the ground, one end laboring around a light pole as the other plugged into a small window fan in the doorway of the shack. Looking back, I remember my dad springing out of the car as if he was a man jubilantly ready for battle. He had a smile on his face as the two residents stumbled out of the shack with wet towels around their necks as a way of cooling themselves from the sweltering June heat. I recall my dad greeting them as if they were Heads of State or royalty. I watched my dad as he laughed and joked while at the same time witnessing about a loving Savior that cared about their needs. My dad was one of the most real people I’ve ever met in my life and people could see that in his eyes.

As we began to say our final greetings to the couple, my day asked if he could pray with them and he did. Backing out of the drive I remember a deep sigh as Dad peered at me and said “God is good!” to which I replied “All the time.”

As we drove away Dad said, “You’re next!” Instantly my stomach began to churn as I tried to convince myself I could do this. After all, watching Dad made it seem like a piece of cake so why should I be so nervous? Almost instantly I heard the sound of the turn signal clicking as if telling me time is counting down. “Why not just tell him you don’t feel ready yet?” I thought to myself. But much to my less-than-courageous attitude, we had already arrived. Dad opened his door and sprang out like before. I on the other hand recall lifting the handle to the door and feeling as if something were holding it closed! Looking back now, I think I might have been pulling it closed more than pushing it open. Finally, after finding my way out, dad and I walked up a lane about 60 ft. to a small front yard.

Looking in the yard I spotted a Harley Davidson motorcycle and on the other side was a man bent as if repairing something on the engine. As we sauntered closer the man stood up to reveal that he was huge, tattooed and with a beard that looked as though it had never been shaved. He was wearing a leather vest with many different insignias; some not so bad, others very profane. I remember thinking, “Dad, what have you gotten me into?” Dad looked at me, grinned and winked. Instantly, something began to come over me. I felt as though a warm blanket of peace began to wrap itself around me. I looked at the enormous man and proclaimed, “What a great looking bike!”  The man began to smile and tell me things about the bike and how he had acquired it. The more he talked the more excited he became. As he began to run out of things to say about his bike, he began talking about his personal life and mistakes he had made along the way. Tears began to well up in his eyes and as his face turned crimson, he began to sniff and wipe his nose with the back of his hand. From somewhere deep within, words began to flow out of my mouth as I witnessed to him and then left him with a prayer. As Dad and I returned to the car, the same sigh I had heard coming from my dad began to flow from me. I realized at that moment what it meant. There is no greater feeling than knowing you’re in the will of God. And if you make the first step, God will be there at the second.

The following Sunday, as I was sitting in my pew waiting for the service to begin, the woman from the shack, minus her husband, wearing the loveliest clothes she owned and smelling of Brut aftershave (the one perfume available to her) walked through the church door, and as the months went on we would see her family fill the church; sisters, nieces, nephews and friends would come to hear Dad speak about a God who could change hearts. All because Dad saw great value in lives no matter the social status or the amount of things they possessed. That was my dad!

In my times with Dad, things would happen in the church that I didn’t quite understand or I wasn’t comfortable with. After each service we would gather around the front, and the piano player would begin to play. Some of the songs were soft, some with an upbeat tempo. Usually when the upbeat song would start, one of the ladies inevitably began to get excited. As the music continued, she would become more worked up and would strut across the front of the church with her hands tucked under her arms flapping and moving her head and clucking like a chicken after a handful of corn was scattered on the ground.

Immediately her husband would start jumping up in the air running all over the church. Don’t get me wrong! I believe God moves in mysterious ways but this, to a young spirit-filled believer, was more than I could comprehend. Later I pulled my dad to the side and told him of the thoughts I was having. He smiled at me and in a voice that seemed to be laughing and speaking at the same time said, “Son, something I have learned and you need to know as well. God isn’t impressed as much by you making a commotion or jumping in the air. God wants to see how straight you walk when your feet are on the ground.” Wisdom I’ve remembered to this day.

I am much older now. I’ve listened to some of the greatest speakers of our times. I’ve heard theologies taught and songs being sung. Over the years, I’ve not witnessed much of the fleshly commotion that manifested itself in the form of a clucking, strutting chicken.

Still, when I think of God I remember a not so well dressed woman smelling like men's cologne walking into a small country church because a man truly believed, whatever you’ve done to the least of these you’ve done to a loving and caring God!

I love you, Dad!



31 views0 comments


bottom of page