Writing books is a healing process for me. It brings back times in my life that can never be replaced. It causes me to respect the times I am living in today.
Terry and I got married on March 1, 1975. In some ways, that seems like a very long time ago. In others…yesterday. We lived in a mobile home in a trailer park across the alley from my childhood home. Every morning I walked the short distance to Mom and Daddy’s house.
Daddy was retired so he was with us every morning and was the one who made pot after pot of coffee for Mama, me, and my sisters- Donna, Geraldine, and Wanda. We laughed and told stories around that happy table. On occasion, our brothers, Maynard and Jim, joined us when they came to town for a visit.
Geraldine was the first to have to leave because she had a job. Soon after, Donna and Wanda left to take care of their homes. I lingered a little longer because Mama let me use her washer and dryer and I had all my housework caught up.
The last day of February in 1976 my sweet sister, Wanda, passed away at the age of 35. That was a defining time in all of our lives. Never had sorrow hit us in such a profound way. Even in the fact that we were Christians, we were so lost. We tried to hold one another up in the knowing that we would see her again, but the words had a hard time sinking in.
Looking back, I see so many mistakes I made at that time. I was 20 years old and had so much to learn about comforting the ones I love. I really dropped the ball with Wanda’s children. Even though I prayed so hard for them and loved them from afar, I failed them as an aunt. It is remarkable that they love me today.
Our table emptied one-by-one with the passing of time. Donna and her husband moved and Daddy had a major stroke and died. Our hearts were broken. Exactly 25 years from Wanda’s death, we lost Donna. Even though we had been through losing a sister before, the pain of loss was still indescribable. Her children were grown, but their suffering was palatable.
Still, Geraldine and I met with Mama for coffee with her until she became unable to live on her own. She passed away in her sleep at the age of 93.
These days I still meet with Geraldine almost everyday. It is usually in the afternoon and well past coffee time, but our bond is very strong. Our brothers phone us regularly and we are very close. We talk about the days we were all together, but we are grateful for the love we share today. I never want to take my sister and brothers for granted. Even though I didn’t grow up with them in my parents’ home,(They were grown up when I was born.) my heart is knitted together with them. I love them so much.
If you have read through this I guess the message I want to communicate is that life really is precious. It is important to be mentally present with the people you are with whether it is having coffee, watching a ballgame, shopping together, or just having a conversation. Please, I beg of you, put down the cell phone, stop texting, and stop making mental lists of the things you must do. These things will always be there…people you love won’t. Give them your full attention. Pay attention to how they laugh and talk…memorize these things. Life is like a vapor. (Think of hairspray and how fast it disappears after you quit pushing on the button.) It really does go by this quickly.
Geraldine, Maynard, Jim, and my sweet husband, Terry…you mean the world to me. You are my past and my future. I love you all so much.