Barry Was Once Known As An Escape Artist.
When Barry was a toddler, he preferred running around the neighborhood, instead of staying in his own yard. His mom was tired of chasing him back to the house so she would tie one end of a rope around him and put the other end on a clothesline, so he could move about in the yard. (To clarify, this was in the late 50’s). Then she would go inside and have tea with her neighbor. When she glanced out the window to check on him, the rope lay on the ground and he was nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, she knew where to find him.
Another time his mother had a hard time keeping Barry in his crib. She grew tired of continually putting him back, so she attached a screen or cover to the top. Within minutes, Barry would climb out and appear beside her in the kitchen.
Finally, his mom decided to watch him escape. Pretending to leave the room, she left the door cracked so she could peek in. Barry had loosened the screws on the bottom of the crib and slipped out. She caught him at the door. This must have been his first home improvement project.
Since he moved over a dozen times when he was in school (because his dad was in the Navy), he kept his girls in the same school district all the way to graduation. He wanted his kids to have best friends, something he says he never had (til he was married).
Here are more stories he shared, give or take some of the parts.
- Barry teamed up with a few kids to try an experiment involving a lighter and another boy who had a gassy problem. I guess they wanted to see if the natural gas (fart) would produce a bigger flame when exposed to fire. Well, the only fire that happened was on the boy’s pants.
- He recalled when his uncle had a bar near Bemus Point, NY. Barry was able to retrieve the loose change from the vents in the floor using string and bubble gum. The money he collected was used to buy pop and baseball cards.
- Another story he told involved a yellow Volkswagen beetle. It was something about how he sat in the back with the gears exposed from the engine and a friend was in the front steering, but they were blinded by the trunk hood that was covering the windshield. They drove down the road from Mayville to Jamestown, NY. It’s amazing they didn’t crash.
- When his family moved to Buffalo when he was in high school, they lived in a rough section of town. None of the kids at school would befriend him. Fortunately for him, he was much bigger than most kids his age, and soon was seen as a bully. After punching a few kids in the nose, others would walk toward him, take one look and then run the other way. He said this one scrawny kid came up and just stood there. Barry walked over to him and then thought, “Hmm, maybe this kid wants to be my friend.” So they talked and no one threw a punch and they became friends. He said it was almost like they were David and Goliath, but on the same team.
- Barry had to spend a few nights in jail. He told the story of how he bought a carton of beer from the store but some older boys stole it from him. Later on, he spotted them in a bar and so they got into a fist fight. The cops were called and Barry was arrested, possibly also for underage drinking. All he wanted was his beer back. After a couple nights behind bars, his Aunt Barbara got him out and he went to live with her. She taught him more about God and how to live a better life. This was probably one of the turning points in his life.
Barry Mellows During His Married Life
Thankfully, by the time he married Malinda in 1984, his life took a turn for sunny and brighter days. They eventually joined a church in Meadville, PA where they raised their girls. They were involved with the Sunday school program (all ages) and helped out with children’s and youth activities.
When his girls were little, he loved acting like the lion in the Wizard of Oz by singing “If I were King of the Forest?” and then he would make the same noise the lion made. Often at the dinner table, he would say, “When was the last time I scared you?” and then you would pound his hand on the table or shake it to startle his girls (or anyone else in the house). As an adult, he loved the phrase ‘beam me up, scotty’ as if he could leave his present situation and land somewhere else. (He said this several times when he was dealing with his own cancer.)
Barry Always Trusted God
The one sure thing I knew about Barry was that no matter what was happening, he always trusted God. This faith carried him through job changes and health concerns including caring for his wife Malinda, when she was battling cancer for three years. He spent many early mornings with his eyes glued to the Word of God and then praying for the needs of others. He loved sharing his life experiences and lessons while teaching or speaking in his church.
His routine didn’t change when we were married. He continued to serve others, as if there was no other way of doing things. Serving was in his heart – having a desire to help people in need. I watched him engage with other people, listening to their stories, and often spending time at their houses fixing broken windows, or building on additions. He was full of compassion and wanted to share his love for Christ in this way. He continued on this path until he went to heaven.
Barry Had a Heart For Children
For two years, we hosted a Camp Corbran at our house (and the third year was at a local park). Barry would take the kids on nature trails pointing out deer tracks, different kinds of trees and plants, and allowed the kids to climb up into the deer stand. He showed them how to make camper pies and catch fireflies.
He loved living in the moment. If there was music, he would be dancing. If there was a song he knew, he would sing and make up the words as he went. He would tell the same story over and over again, just incase we didn’t hear it the first time. (And this is why I have remembered them.)
One of his favorite songs to sing and raise his hands in praise to was Ten Thousand Reasons.
We were happy when 85 friends showed up for his 54th birthday bash (Sept 23, 1012), 9 months after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Barry encouraged us to live one day at a time – and that included making the best out of each day. He was able to enjoy his youngest daughter’s senior year, her graduation party and even another trip to the beach. He died a month later on July 19, 2013.
No one knows when there last day is. What I’ve learned from Barry is to carry on – enjoy the life you have been given – dance – sing – and don’t worry what others think. Here’s to you, Barry!
Share with us some of the ways you have kept the memories alive from friends and family who have since passed.