Aunt Dare embodied family; Whit Merrifield

Published 9:31 am Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dare Baby.

My dad said that name with reverence.

It was his baby sister, the youngest of a large family.

Her passing last week means much more than the loss of a beloved aunt for her many nieces and nephews. It is the passing of an era.

She grew up on the farm at the Barnhardt homeplace in Fork. She was smart enough to accomplish pretty much whatever she wanted to do (She graduated as valedictorian of her Shady Grove High School class.), but she stayed home.

As the youngest, she felt it her responsibility to stay home and take care of her parents as they aged. And since they were farmers, she did her share – sometimes most – of the hard work that went along with farming.

I remember going to the homeplace on Sunday afternoons, when most of the family gathered. Aunt Dare made sure there were things for us to do. She would set up the croquet game. We would play softball. We would throw the ball over the house to someone trying to catch it on the other side. Did anyone say lemonade?

My favorite memory of Aunt Dare always came at Christmas. She never failed to show up at our house with a batch of her famous Corn Flake treats. I still don’t know how she made them, but I got chastized more than once for digging in even before saying thank you. Man, those things were good.

Aunt Dare didn’t marry until late in life, and her husband died not too long after that. She only held public jobs occassionally. But to her older brothers and sisters, she was always “Dare Baby.”

She did what she needed to do. She embodied the meaning of family, foregoing her own life to do for others. We need more of that these days. Just take a walk through a nursing home or assisted living facility. Look at the lonely faces. I’m not knocking those places, they do the best they can, but just as nobody can make you mad like family, nobody can care for you like family, either.

Whit Merrifield should make us all proud.

The Kansas City Royals second baseman ended the 2018 Major League baseball season with a bang – leading all Major Leaguers in hits and stolen bases. It’s his second year in a row to win the stolen base title.

His, too, is a story of perseverance. He played in the minor leagues for what seems like forever before being called up for a shot in the big leagues. Even then, it seemed like the Royals didn’t know what to do with him.

But with every game he got to play, he got better. Coaches finally noticed. So did the front office folks. When other teams went looking for players to help them contend for a title this year, the Royals said look at anybody, but not Whit Merrifield. He’s staying.

It’s been a while since Whit played for the War Eagles or even the University of South Carolina, where he had the winning hit for a College World Series title.

We still remember him as one of our own.

And for good reason.

While the baseball skills are obvious, it appears that Whit Merrifield is a fine man, as well. He’s polite. He’s respectful. He plays hard.

Yes, be proud. One of the best Major League baseball players is from Davie County.

– Mike Barnhardt