Life’s Playlist…… We Are Family by Sister Sledge

On this date back in 1972 “The Waltons” premiered on CBS.

I loved the Waltons, a family drama that neatly wrapped everything up within an hour.

Set in rural Virginia in the 30’s and 40’s, the large family faced the issues of their generation with the love of family and their faith.

We watched The Waltons every week….. that is until the fire.

In one of the later seasons the Waltons’ house caught on fire, it was a very dramatic episode and evidently it effected me, because after that episode daddy never let us watch it again.

The Waltons ran for 9 seasons and through it all, the trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, a simple “Good night John-Boy” would set all well with the world.

 

Life’s Playlist….. American Trilogy performed by Elvis Presley

This patriotic anthem has nothing to do with Labor Day, I just love it and when I hear Elvis sing it makes me feel close to Gracie Hudson, one of the most important women in my life.

I have been thinking a lot about Gracie lately, I miss her, but I know she and my mama are sitting on the banks of a pond in heaven, cane pole in hand, catfish biting and laughs galore.

Gracie was a powerhouse and I loved her deeply, in my childhood she was my Rochelle mama and she loved Elvis like no one else!

I remember watching this very concert in the Hudson’s little house in Rochelle, far too many of us crowded into the living room over Thanksgiving weekend with Gracie squealing to each note out of Elvis mouth.

It’s not Labor Day, but special memories, something I hope you will create on this Labor Day 2017.

Thanks to all the men and women who keep America running…. the workforce of our great country!  Happy Labor Day!

Travel Buddy

My mother had one sister, Beck.

My Aunt Beck was always a part of my life, we would visit her and her family in Florida for vacations, they would visit us in the mountains for holidays and when she and my mother were together, the love they  shared for one another was infectious.

When I was pondering a move to South Florida, my Aunt Beck was the one who made me realize it would all be OK.

Since she was the one who moved away from the nest at a young age I valued her opinion as much as anyone else.  She told me to follow my dreams, the words of encouragement were the ones who finally made me realize I could still move away and be a vital part of my family from hundreds of miles away.

After I moved, Aunt Beck and Uncle Larry visited a couple of times to make sure I was adjusting to my new surroundings.  I was so proud to show them my life in Florida and when I bought my condo they were my first guests.

My relationship with my Aunt Beck grew even closer once I left God’s Country.  We talked on the phone a lot and after Uncle Larry passed away we became travel buddies.

Whenever I was making a trip home to God’s Country, I would pick her up in north Florida and she would come with me.

The trip to pick Aunt Beck up added an hour to my trip each way, but the memories created as we drove up the highway far outweigh any perceived inconvenience the added miles would create.

Her house was about 20 miles off the interstate, so she would have her neighbor bring her to the interchange, we would meet at McDonald’s and she would jump in the car and we were off.

From the time she got in my car we talked.

We talked about everything.

We laughed and sometimes we cried, but I learned about my family history, we talked about how life happens, we talked about dreams and we talked about what we wanted for those we loved most…….  we just talked.

And the conversation never stopped going up or down the highway towards the mountains that beckoned us both homeward.

We evacuated hurricanes together, we came for birthdays together and one year we came for Christmas together, driving those roads were all more special because Aunt Beck was with me.

When mama’s last days were imminent, I called Aunt Beck before I left West Palm Beach and she was waiting for me at the interstate when I got there.  That was our toughest trip.

She was with us when mama went home to be with the Lord and on the night mama passed, Aunt Beck sat beside her as she made her final journey home.

On the trip back to Florida, we cried more than we talked, but our time together and the wisdom she imparted also gave me peace.

When Sam, Chelsea, Zack and I decided we were going skydiving, in the Spring after mama died, she made that trip too.  She cheered us all the way to the ground.

The only thing Aunt Beck and I ever disagreed about was the route we would take home.

When Uncle Larry was alive, they always drove the back-roads and highways enjoying the sights and sounds of the small towns through Georgia.

I was having nothing to do with those back-roads.  I wanted to get on the Interstate and hit the gas getting home as quickly as possible just stopping for gas, drive-thru burgers and a quick bathroom break.

On our last trip together we took those back-roads through Georgia.  We drove through the small towns that she loved so much and saw she told me new stories about the vistas we saw, the ride was painfully long, but the conversation was magic.

When Aunt Beck passed away, a piece of my heart went with her.  My travel buddy had now gone on her final trek and I was honored to help carry her home.

I think about those conversations on the road often.  I miss her voice, I miss her laugh and I miss her wisdom, but most of all, I simply miss her.

Aunt Beck was my travel buddy, but more than that she was one of my greatest life influences, I look forward to our next journey together.

Life’s Playlist…. Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell

Sometimes when you hear that a person has passed away it takes you back to moments in time.

Yesterday, when I heard that Glen Campbell had passed, I had one of those flashback memories.

Glen Campbell performed the songbook of my youth.  His songs were there during every Pickin’ and Singin’ night my family would enjoy with our friends.

I remember his “Rhinestone Cowboy” days, his CBS Variety Show, and his tumultuous days with Tanya Tucker.

In his later years, Glen Campbell’s role as an elder statesman of country music was carried out with dignity.

A few years back, the world was heartbroken to hear he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and yesterday we were heartbroken again when his death was announced.

Glen Campbell seemed like he was part of the family and he will be missed.

In choosing a song to honor his memory, I could have chosen many…..

Rhinestone Cowboy

By the Time I Get to Phoenix

Galveston

Gentle on My Mind

Southern Nights

and many others, however I chose my favorite….. Wichita Lineman.

Glen Campbell’s musical legacy will live forever and his body is now restored as he serenades with the choir of angels.

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.