April 30, 2013
It was January 3, 2012 on a cold, rainy, very foggy night when I made the trip to Cheaha Mountain to visit with my very dear friend, Carolyn Alderson Jackson. Carolyn had been battling breast cancer for three very tough years, and was slowly losing the war. She and her family had rented a chalet there, because it was one of the things on her Bucket List. The fog was so thick on this night that I started to turn around several times before I got there, but I’m glad I didn’t.
She was surprised and very delighted to see me, and we had the best visit. Carolyn lived in Douglasville and I hadn’t seen her in several months, due to problems with her health and mine at the time. We laughed and talked and then laughed some more.
At one point during the visit when we had went outside to sit on the steps alone, she looked at me and said quietly “So, I got something to ask you”. Knowing her tone had changed, I knew the conversation was about to get serious. “Ok…Is this going to make me cry?” I replied. She then dropped her head and spoke to me in a broken whisper “Will you speak at my funeral?”.
I sat there in shock, not knowing what to say, and finally said “Carolyn, it’s an honor that you would think of me for this, but I don’t think I can, I mean, I won’t be able to”. She said “Yes, you can…I know you can. I have faith in you and I will be there with you”. Needless to say, by this point we were both crying. I told her she shouldn’t be talking like this, because she still had a long life to live. She smiled and said “Let’s face it Tammy, I’m not getting any better.” I still tried to argue with her, but she seemed adamant with her request , so I finally agreed, thinking this would not be a dilemma I would be faced with for at least a year and it seemed to make her feel better. It was the last time I would see my dear friend…
Carolyn passed away on January 30, 2013. She was only 49 years old.
The day I received the dreaded call my friend had been taken from me, my first reaction was shock, followed by anger….Sheer anger from the cruelty of losing such a wonderful person who had fought so hard against a cowardly disease such as cancer. If cancer had a face, I would have cursed and beat it many times. But there is no one to release the pain of your emotions to, no one you can convict for the senseless murders of this deadly disease, just no outlet at all other than leaning on your family and friends for comfort. Cancer may as well be a deadly tornado, wreaking havoc on the world, and leaving behind a path of devastation that can never be repaired.
The day of Carolyn’s funeral, I did very well until we all gathered in the room with our beautiful friend for the last time for the final viewing. I began to lose my composure and told my friends there was no way I would be able to speak. They comforted me and told me I could, but I couldn’t seem to gather my wits. Shortly before I was called to speak, I felt a calm sense of peace come over me and I knew instantly Carolyn was with me. I delivered her eulogy with a serenity that I know she was proud of, because her spirit was there with me the entire time.
Whenever I think of Carolyn now, I think of her with a radiant smile on her face, because you never saw her without one. She was the picture of life, with a big heart and loving soul that never met a stranger. She would envelope you in her arms from the moment of meeting and take you in much like a stray animal, as any true friend would do. I try my best not to think of her with sadness, because I know her cancer-ridden body is made whole again now…but at times I feel as a hole is in my soul because I miss her so much. It’s a selfish act on my part, but we are all human. When I have a funny story, I still want to call her and share it with her. I can still hear her delightful laugh in my mind. It’s the thing I try to hold onto the most. For I know she would not want me to be sad….
Carolyn became a very serious advocate of breast cancer and never passed up an opportunity to rally for the cure. Pink became her signature color. In fact, it was the color we all wore to her funeral.
Relay for Life was very important to her. So, this Friday night, I will attend Relay for Life , May 3 at Upchurch Field in celebration and remembrance of my very dear friend’s life in hopes that a cure will soon be found for this awful disease that has shattered the lives of not only its victims, but their family and friends too. I will also celebrate with the survivors, who have managed to beat this disease, which does not discriminate against any one particular person. We will all be there, the survivors, the families and friends of the victims, and all others whose lives have been affected by cancer in some way…joining forces in this fight in hopes we can change the statistics of the future for the better. Won’t you join me??
April 23, 2013
I enjoyed a wonderful meal at Logan’s Roadhouse Sunday evening all alone. I had a very pleasant server by the name of Kelly. She performed her job to perfection, for which I was grateful. To show my appreciation, I left her a very nice note of appreciation and a large tip. I hope this was something that made her smile. Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures in life that make your day…
My daughter and her husband have five kids, with a full-time job and a small business where they work from home, yet they still find time every night before they go to bed to tell the other one what they did that day that was appreciated by them. They also get each child to tell them one thing that day that they were thankful for. Now, this answer may not always be a significant one, sometimes it may be “macaroni and cheese” or “Barbies”, but it makes them more aware of their surroundings.
A married couple I know have been together for 30 years now, yet the first thing out of his mouth every morning to her after a kiss is “Good Morning, Beautiful, did you sleep well?”. With a comment like that, how can you not smile? She also puts little sticky notes in his lunch, wallet, etc. that say “I Love You” and “ Have a Good Day”. Now that, folks, is how you keep the flame burning…
Taking someone for granted can happen very easily, and as a result, divorce ratings have skyrocketed in the past twenty years. Whatever happened to romantic getaways, picnics, and taking your sweetheart out for a night on the town for dinner and dancing? Little things like this tend to break the monotony of life, and leave us with a smile the following day. So, ask yourself…what have you done to make your significant other smile today?
We live in a busy world where everyone is always on the run and we rarely have the time to visit, let alone really sit down and talk to anyone. Most conversations these days take place via text or social media chat, and lacks the personal touch of actually sitting with someone and enjoying their company. These new habits are ruining our society as a whole. It is taking away our social skills and leaving our children unable to interact with others. All they know is text and chat. Most teenagers cannot even look you in the eye when you are trying to talk to them. And some adults are just as bad.
How are our children ever going to be able to make it in the real world if we don’t teach them proper social skills? Has it become too easy for us to entertain a child by placing a cell phone in their hand? Take special time with your children doing outdoor activities, or even playing board games, something that will increase their social skills instead of leaving them with their head buried in a computer or gaming console. Anything computer related is always enjoyable, but should have a limited time frame. Excessive computer time can rot your brain. Teach your child how to engage with one another and the sky will be the limit for them…Just my two cents, folks….
I would like to take a moment and congratulate Melinda Wellborn, Lori, McCain, and everyone who took time to participate in the 2nd Annual Walk/Run for a Cure this past Saturday. With 260 participants, a staggering $23,116 was raised for Relay for Life. Absolutely phenomenal!
Clay County lost one of its best citizens last week with the passing Mr. Jim McClellan. His name will always be associated as the face of the Clay County Rescue Squad. He was an outstanding individual and his presence will be sorely missed.
I am very pleased to report that Chief Benny Davis continues to make a slow recovery. His pneumonia has cleared up, but remains on the ventilator, which they are slowly weaning him from. He is alert and communicating by writing. It’s a slow progress, but he’s getting better everyday. Our prayers remain with him and his family.
April 16, 2013
As Devontaye Zackery made his way down the aisle for Senior Lead out at the very first CHSCC Prom with his 2 year- old daughter Samantha as his escort, the crowd erupted in applause, cheers, and finally a standing ovation. Some who didn’t know Devontaye’s story just thought it was a cute thing to do. For others who did, there were tears in their eyes and a smile on their face.
On October 23, 2012, Devontaye lost the love of his life, Terri Jo Brown at the very young age of just 18, very suddenly when a blood clot traveled to her lungs. Terri was taken to the hospital, but further testing revealed her to be brain dead. She was removed from life support on October 26, leaving behind a very stricken fiancé and 2 year old twins, Hadden and Samantha.
Devontaye’s love for Terri goes all the way back to the 4th grade, when he admits he had a crush on her for a long time. He would finally get his shot with her at the age of 14. They were inseparable for two years.
Life is unpredictable at times, especially with young love, and at the age of 16, Terri became pregnant with twins. Devontaye was right there for her. He assuring her he would stand beside her every step of the way, and he proved this to be true. Devontaye moved in with Terri and her parents and immediately got a job to help support them, while both continuing to stay in school.
The twins were born on February 15, 2011, healthy and happy. Life was hectic and came with ups and downs, but it was still good. Terri and Devontaye were happy and loved their little family. Until that fateful day when Terri passed, and life changed for Devontaye. They were both still in their Senior year at CHSCC.
This was a very hard time for Devontaye, a time when most teenage guys would have given up and handed the reins over to the parents. But not this young man. He kept working, sometimes pulling a 40-hour work week, on top of being a full-time student. He also joined the National Guard, in which he serves one weekend a month. He is an excellent father, he is there with his children every minute he can be. He takes them to the doctor, stays out with them when they are sick, plays with them, takes them to the park, feeds and diapers them. In this day and time when there are so many absentee fathers, he is like a breath of fresh air. I think he is an exceptional young man and should be commended…
Devontaye and Terri Jo had looked forward to going to their Senior Prom together, but time took that away from them. So, he did the next best thing and took the other love of his life, a little piece of Terri, their beautiful daughter, Samantha. Terri must’ve been looking down from Heaven with a smile on her face….
Most of the time, our lives don’t go exactly as we planned.. Sometimes the paths we have chosen take on a whole new direction that lands us in unfamiliar territory, and we are forced to make a new plan. It doesn’t always mean this is the wrong direction, it just means you have to choose the one that is going to make you happy. For Terri and Devontaye, it meant they had enough faith in their love to know everything would be alright in the long run. There’s a saying “Life is not about weathering the storms, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. I’m sure Devontaye and Terri Jo never thought they would be parents at the age of 16 either, but they loved each other and wanted to raise their children in a loving environment, so they followed their hearts and did just that.
I always smile when I hear someone tell another “I could never be as strong as you”. Well, let me tell the secret behind the smile…
Strong people don’t just happen. They weren’t born that way either. They have just simply made the choice to make the best of what God gave them and that means taking the good with the bad.
Life is not always about laughter, fun and good times. It also includes heartaches, loss, and hardships at times. But that is what it makes it an entire package. God never told us it would be easy, and that is when you have to dig down deep and find strength to carry on. Not all of us make this choice. Some crumble under the pressure. Therefore, there are others that have to step up and take control of the situation, and not always by choice. Sometimes it is just because they are the last ones left standing.
It doesn’t mean these people are void of feeling either. Strong people hurt just as bad as others do. But you may have to peel at the layers sometimes to find this out.
So, the next time you see a “strong person”, let them know how much you appreciate them…It will mean more than you ever know.
April 10, 2013
A beautiful weekend was enjoyed by many in Clay County! Spring finally arrived and not a moment too soon. The lingering cold temperatures and a lying groundhog had people very discouraged, so you can imagine everyone’s delight when the weekend called for radiant warmth and abundant sunshine. It brought people out of hibernation…
There were several fundraiser activities going on over the weekend that were well attended. Miles for Mescal in the Lineville Park, We Run This at Central High School of Clay County, and Relay for Life Sips N’ Strokes at Mt. Prospect Baptist Church, which were all very successful. I tell you, it never ceases to amaze me how the good people of this county never fail to let you down. If there is a need out there, Clay County citizens will dig deep to help the cause, even if it means getting into their budget. Not too shabby for a county that is supposed to be below poverty level, huh?
On Sunday, I was invited to join the Brotherhood meeting at Mt Prospect Church to hear Mr. Don Buckhannan speak. For those of you who live under a rock, Don was the star of a youtube video that went viral over Christmas when his son, Daniel surprised him with BCS tickets and quickly became an internet sensation. Don told about how much he enjoyed this national attention, but said the real thrill of the entire incident was getting to share it with his son, Daniel. It was a very inspiring message and everyone enjoyed it. It was the highlight of my weekend.
On the downside, I had to make a trip to Walmart this weekend, because there are just some things you can’t get in Clay County. And I hate going to Walmart with a passion. In fact, I would rather drink from a septic tank before making that trip, but necessity wins out every time. I have yet to leave a Walmart without being angry. Let me tell about a recent trip I made there…
I was in a huge hurry on this day, but decided to stop by Walmart to get some toilet paper, since I was out. So, I ran in, grabbed a package from up front by the door, and went to the express lane with two people ahead of me. Grandpa, up in front of me was checking out, and apparently have some major problems out of his debit card. He was griping to the cashier “I better not get charged several times for this”. The cashier seemed as aggravated as I was. He looked like he came over on the Mayflower. He probably didn’t even know who the card belonged to…
So, after waiting in line for almost 10 minutes, I gave up and went to another register that only has 2 people as well ahead of me. Well, the lady in front of me was also having trouble getting her card to run because it was broken, so the cashier was trying to tape it up…and very slowly at that. Got tired of waiting in that line, so I went to the only other express lane, 20 items or less, with 3 people ahead of me who had carts with obviously more than 20 items. But, what choice did I have? I started to be the cart police and count their items. But since there was only 1 more open register that was packed, I decided to cut them a break.
Things were going smoothly, but I noticed the cashier kept looking around asking where Melissa was. I didn’t really care who Melissa was, but I found out why she was looking for her. When it was my time to check out, she looked at me and said “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I’ve got to close this lane so I can go to lunch. She can take care of you at the next register” and pointed to the tape lady cashier. I said “No, she can’t. I’m leaving.” and walked out. Left my toilet paper right there on the counter. Maybe one of the 5 people behind me needed it.
The morale of this story is: Don’t go to Walmart if you are in a hurry when only 4 out of the 30 registers are open. Oh, and keep plenty of toilet paper in stock. I did, however, get to see a guy being chased down by 3 security men because he was shoplifting, so it wasn’t a total loss. This little incident made me smile to myself while waiting in line at Dollar General in Clay County to get my toilet paper…a very BIG package 🙂
Please be aware of a couple of fundraisers going on this weekend: A yard sale at Texaco in Ashland with all proceeds going to little Kayla Harrington, who will travel to Texas to be evaluated for a double lung transplant (her story will appear in next week’s edition) and Olive’s Boutique in Lineville, where they will be raising money for Jud Hill, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Please show your support for these in need.
April 7, 2013
A good friend of mine, Sheila Handley McDonald lost her beloved pet, Buffy last week and was devastated. Buffy was 16 years old and died in her sleep. Sheila knew Buffy’s health was deteriorating and had talked about having her put to sleep to relieve her pain but nature took its course before Sheila was forced to make this difficult choice. Even though Buffy went peacefully, it still did not dull the pain of her loss to her Master.
You see, Buffy was more than a pet…she was a loyal companion to the very end. This sweet creature saw Sheila through some of the roughest times in her life, the most difficult ones were the loss of her mother to cancer, her father, who passed as a result of injuries from a fall,the death of a very special Aunt Joanne, and the tragic passing of her best friend, Carrie Smith. Sheila also lost her brother, Terry Handley some 30 years ago in an automobile accident. She was very close to him and has never quite recovered from this loss.
Sheila and Buffy formed a bond from first sight that only grew stronger over time. Buffy’s constant presence warmed Sheila’s heart and helped ease the pain she had endured through the heartbreaking losses in her life. “ I could hold her and talk to her and she seemed to listen” said Sheila. Buffy went everywhere with Sheila and was always dressed to perfection. She summed it up with “She was the child I never had”. Sheila’s love for animals showed everywhere she went. She never lets a pet pass her by without a kind word or a pat on the head. She even keeps dog treats under the counter at Young’s Drug Store, where she works for the customers in the drive-thru who have their pets with them.
Buffy’s health began to decline last year when she contracted a virus and had to stay at her veterinarian’s for over two weeks, because she could not keep anything down. Dr. Sanders was skeptical, but told Sheila not to give up hope on her furry friend. Dr. Sanders went above and beyond the call of duty with her care, and eventually Buffy finally began to get better. But age was taking its toll on her…
The day that Buffy passed, She and her husband, Roger laid her to rest in the corner of their back yard. Sheila called Pattye Sudduth, a beautiful, sweet lady and a fierce pet lover as well, who was by her side in mere minutes. Pattye is known for being the town caregiver to all pets, mostly the strays. Sheila and Pattye released pink balloons to serve as type of memorial in Buffy’s honor. Both shed tears for Sheila’s lifelong friend, but her heart seemed a little lighter as she watched the balloons rise and disappear into the skies.. Buffy’s resting place now has a headstone that reads “A Loving Companion” under her name with a beautiful little bouquet of pink flowers from her co-workers at Young’s.
My daughter, Angela, another huge pet lover, does not have children, but has many pets instead. All of her animals are rescue animals and she currently has 20 at this time. She loves them all and she chastises them much as one would a child. I often tease her by saying the only difference between her pets and children is that she can leave them alone during the day without going to jail. She recently lost Gertie, a beautiful long-haired Chihuahua, who she took in after she was brought to Dr. Sanders when she was found near death on the side of the road. Gertie was a spunky, loving little soul who gave as much love as she was shown. Gertie contracted cancer, and lived past her life expectancy due to tender, loving care she received from her master. Gertie lived a very rich life to the very end when she went peacefully in my daughter’s arms. She was buried underneath the very window she used to lay in everyday. Even though she has other pets, none will ever take the place of her dear, sweet Gertie. Losing Gertie was hard on me too… coming to her “Nana’s” was her favorite pastime.
Many people underestimate the power of a pet’s love and what it can bring into a person’s life. These are sweet creatures who love you unconditionally, that provide comfort and joy every day of their life. To see their little eyes light up and ears perk at the mere sound of your voice can sometimes make their day. You can leave the room and come back back in five minutes later, and they will meet you with as much enthusiasm as if they had not seen you in ten years.These animals place you on a pedestal and nothing you do can ever knock you off of it in their eyes. A pet is a gift from God and should never be taken for granted. Pets fill a void in their owner’s life and when they are gone, they mourn just as they would a family member.
There are those who have never had children who view their pets as just that. Some people can never truly comprehend this bond, and until you live it, you will never fully understand. Pet lovers are ridiculed at times for their feelings, although I have never understood why. My opinion is this: if a person can love an animal with all that they have inside, their character is one to admired and respected. I feel these people are completely trustworthy, loving, and make the best loyal friends.
God Bless our furry little friends and their caregivers. Both rank in my category of “Angels Among Us” and they help make the world a better place