Thank You and I am Sorry……

This week two beautiful souls from my childhood were promoted to Glory.

Debra Ramey Marchman and Lynn Jiles Ward, both passed away, both beautiful women inside and out.

Debra was one of my brother Tom’s best friends.  She and her ex-husband were both big parts of my childhood.

After Tom passed away, they helped keep me moving forward.  At five years old, I didn’t understand death, but what I did know was there were people who stepped up and took me under their wing helping me and my family during this difficult time.

In my mind Debra will forevermore be that beautiful 16-year-old girl on the sidelines and football field tossing her baton into the air and catching it with perfect precision on the beat of the drum.  Her smile was infectious and she always made time for a hug when a little boy ran up to her amazed at how she sparkled both from the sequins on her costume and the radiant light from her face.

Debra’s final years were difficult, her family protected her and cared for her, it is comforting to know that when she drew her last breath and was united with the Lord, her smile returned and that radiant spirit will now shine forever.

I can still picture Lynn Jiles gliding across the stage as she won the Miss RCHS pageant many years ago.

At the time, she epitomized beauty and grace in my mind.  Her beautiful smile, perfectly coiffed blonde hair and blue evening gown was as close to a movie star as I had ever gotten as a pre-school kid.

As a Senior in High School, and Editor of the yearbook, it was my job to help produce the yearly Miss RCHS pageant.  During my year,  we invited all of the past queens to be recognized at the pageant.  I had ulterior motives, I wanted to see Lynn Jiles.

When she arrived for the evening’s festivities she was still as beautiful and kind as she was so many years ago.  Her smile needed no spotlight to reflect her inner beauty and her kindness was the same as it had been many years earlier.  She still remained that perfect image of a movie star that I had so admired when I was a boy.

I am sorry to say I lost contact with Debra and Lynn through the years.  They were icons in my life when I was a child who needed comfort, I am sorry I never got to the tell them thank you.

There were many others who came to my side during that time.  They “adopted” me when our family was going through a grief that no family should have to endure.  Many of these same people were going through the same loss as I was, as Tom was their friend.

During those terrible days there were many people who came to the side of our family and for a young boy they became my surrogate big brothers and big sisters.

As I sat at Debra’s funeral yesterday I thought about them, I thought about Doug Stockton and Ronnie Hunter and Pat Coleman and Glendis Bearden, I remembered the kindness of Tim Marchman and Grady Nichols and Shirley Nichols.  So many faces and names passed through my thoughts and I felt a debt of gratitude to them all, many of whom I have lost contact with, Jan Rogers, George and Jim Gillespie, but all people I will forever hold in my heart.

There were more people than I can name here, more people than I can even remember who helped a little boy when he needed it most.  When I think of them, I still see those youthful faces filled with love, kindness and futures that would change the world.

Those faces did change the world, they graduated, moved on, had families, children, grand-children and spread love and kindness along the way.

They changed the world in their lives, but what many of them probably never knew was they changed the world of a little boy who had lost his brother many years sooner.  I am sorry I never got to tell them thank you, I am sorry I didn’t have the adequate words to say it sooner, I am sorry.

I am sorry I never let many of them know, but for the ones who took me aside and just gave a little love or big brother care, I say thank you, I appreciate you and will never forget you.

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