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The years had worn her down by the time the picture was taken.  Those years filled with 4 kids, 4 battles of cancer, numerous doses of chemotherapy.  Yet, she never gave up.  She would have made Jimmy V’s speech look like a introduction to Bozo the Clown on TV.

I don’t know how she did it.  The kids first.  4 of us spanning birth years of 1963 to 1975.  3 boys.  That was hell enough for her I am sure.  Since I was born, and Lord knows for decades before she smoked.  She stopped in 1987 when her own daddy had a heart attack.  She worked part-time was I was in elementary school at Kroger.  Back then minimum wage was $3.35 an hour.  So, roughly $125 a week for full time. HA.  She spent part of it, saved part of it and sent money to my oldest brother and my sister while they were in college.  She loved us kids though.  She was lucky enough to see the birth of one grandchild before she passed.

She was room mother and field trip chaperone.  Her voice was heard at the PTA.  She was on the school beautification committee when I was a kid.  Our neighbors envied her azaleas, tulips, dogwoods and ferns.  They came to our house on Easter to take pictures.

As best she could, she kept an immaculate house what with kids, being sick, cats, two dogs and company.  It wasn’t easy.  She made meals and baked and made goodies that would truly make you smack your preacher they were so good.  She got it from her momma.

On Sundays after church services you could find us at her momma’s eating lunch and hanging around.  She called her momma every day on the phone.  Nothing more than to say I love you and to check on her.  That is the way life and family is supposed to be.  Not this shit we all have now where we don’t make time for anyone and family is generally the last thing many think of daily.  When did it become like that?

I don’t know how she raised 4 of us, lucky enough to see 3 get out of the house.  Being last, the cancer beat her down and took her before I got out.  At her funeral in 1989, I remember vividly our pastor making the statement that as time grew near, he asked her the one thing she was going to miss the most.  Her answer without skipping a beat, seeing me grow up.

I think of that often.  More often though I think of what could have been done differently to possibly have saved her.  I’ve come to the realization that when God calls us, He chooses the time and place and the way.  Not us.  I don’t know how she worked through the cancer.  How she made it through her husband leaving her with less than a year until she would die.  I often believed that once that happened she realized or felt that there was nothing left to live for.  Not discounting my siblings, myself or the new granddaughter, but rather she knew we could all carry on.  But her one true love in life was gone.  And that friends I believe is what took her.

Tomorrow is what would have been her 73rd birthday.  This is the 27th year of me thinking about her on her birthday and what should have been a long and fun life.  When you get ready to call it a day today, speak to your loved ones-kids, parents, spouses all.  Tell them you love them.  All of them.  And mean it.  Work on your marriages, your health and make the best of it all.  Be a positive influence for your kids.

Happy Birthday  Rose.  You are loved and most definitely missed.  Love & Mercy-Your Son.

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