So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts

Monday, July 4, 2016

First Date was a Good One

JULY 4, 1963

Although I  had sworn off men that summer, I was persuaded to go on a blind date by a charming  young man, Barry Beall.  
He arrived in a convertible with another couple in the back seat. I was not impressed with  his looks or his car, and he seemed to be rude and arrogant as we rode into Albany and out to a rented house on the creek. I knew a crowd had gathered by the number of cars parked on the grass. I  also knew I would not know them. Being shy anyway, the ordeal of this party I had agreed to attend filled me with anxiety. My throat tightened and I hoped this stranger with the blond crew cut and nice smile would help me fit  in.

It didn't happen. We entered to a full chorus of Here's Barry, and he beamed. While I sat at the bar alone, he sat on the fireplace hearth and played guitar while he serenaded the girls and guys sitting on the floor in front of him. I wished I had listened to my instincts when he called. I wished I said no and then I'd not be sitting here in a  room full of strangers who did not know me or care whether I was comfortable or not. 

After a while, I walked down to  the water's edge and listened to the frogs singing. The dark ripples slowly nipped at my toes. The serene setting calmed my thoughts. I felt completely alone with the creek and the frogs. When Barry's hand touched my shoulder, I almost jumped away, not thinking it was him.

"Water's nice, isn't it?" I looked up at his remark. 
"Yes, it's dark and  looks deep."
"Would you like to go out on the boat?"
Awhile ago I had wanted to just go home, so I  don't know why I said, "Yes, that would be nice."

As we moved over the quiet water, Barry, who had been an Eagle Scout, maneuvered the flat boat with not one sound. The oar slipped in and out with barely a break in the surface.

Eventually he sailed us into a quiet cove. It was dark from the shade of the tall trees on the bank. I have no idea of what we talked about. I can't remember one word of the conversation, but I became completely enthralled. The chemistry between us was combustible. 

Later with friends we sat in the car and watched the fireworks, but I don't remember seeing them. I remember snuggling in the backseat, laughing at his cute remarks, and I remember the good night kiss when he  walked me to my door. 

I don't remember the minute I knew I was in love with Barry, but the  next day my sister-in-law, Mary said to me, "You are going to marry that man."

I had no intention of marrying anyone at that time, and I hardly knew this man. But I could not sleep for thinking about him. Before I came inside that night, he asked me to go home with him the next weekend to meet his father and mother. 

July 4th holds bitter sweet memories for me. July 4, 1963 was a day that changed my life and maybe it was the  most important day in my life. For forty-five years we celebrated the holiday and our own anniversary. Sometimes we were part of the boat parade on Lake Chatuge. Some nights we watched fireworks with our friends, but we were always in a happy mood.
That is, until July 4, 2009  when Barry was in Emory Hospital fighting for his  life. 

We talked about how much we wished we were with the Morings and the Clarkes that sunny day, and I said, "Next year, we will be there celebrating America's birthday and celebrating the day we met." But next year never came.

Hugh Barry Beall, the thief who stole my heart

Monday, March 10, 2014

A bowl of little green turtles

Below is an excerpt from an article on, an interview with poet Mark Doty. He explains so knowingly how we humans persevere, even after tragedy hits and slaps us down again and again. 

Read the article, but first read this:
“I was walking on Broadway one day in SoHo and came upon an Asian woman who was sitting on the sidewalk selling, of all things, tiny green turtles. She had them contained in a big white enamel bowl, and the little things were climbing over each other trying to get out, then sliding back down into the bowl again once they made it a ways up toward the rim. They were so beautiful—brilliantly green—and seemed so absurdly fragile; how could anything that tiny make it in New York City? 

That’s how poems usually start for me: I begin with a description of some little thing that’s moved or interested me, and then, if I’m lucky, the process of writing teaches me why whatever it is matters. The turtles were such a potent image of ourselves: our incredible human persistence despite our frailty. We want to connect, to love, to move forward—we will climb up the sides of that bowl no matter what!”   
            ---poet, Mark Doty 

As poets, we want to learn and to teach what we see as important about little moments that move us. A good poem will do that.

Have you read any good poems today?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Death doesn't play fair - It takes the young who never had time to live

We are blessed who have had a normal life and our experiences with death have gone according to plan.
My mother and father raised seven children. None of their children died before their parents. Things worked out chronologically as they should.
My mother died at the age of 80, my father passed away two years later. She died quite suddenly after a walk. My father died from complications of pneumonia.

They lived to see all of their kids grown and married with successful lives. They were proud of their children and proud of themselves because all seven children completed high school and four of them obtained college degrees.

Recently a young local woman, only 25 year old, and a newlywed, lost her brief battle with cancer. She knew from the day of diagnosis that she was fighting  an incurable disease. But Jessie did not take that diagnosis and sit down to die.

I first met Jessie Garrett through her newspaper columns with the Clay County Progress. I followed her blog and eventually followed her rough journey on Facebook. In her last posts she asked for prayers that the clinical trials she was a part of might have the answers for her. But later her doctors told her to go home and prepare for the end of her life. I wept. So many admired this upbeat, never-give-up, inspiring woman and we wonder again, why do the good die young?

As I think about her parents and siblings, I give thanks that all of my brothers and sisters grew to adulthood, married and, those who wanted them, had children. Although I am still grieving  the deaths of my brothers, I appreciate the fact that I had them for so long. Two were in their seventies and one in his eighties.

None of them died out of order. None of them died as young men. How hard it must be to lose a child, to outlive your children is not the way it should be, but Jessie's folks have buried their bright, fun-loving and compassionate daughter.
I hope she knew how much her courage affected all who read her columns and posts online. My husband had just been diagnosed with lymphoma when I read Jessie's column in the local paper. I followed her religiously as we were going through much of what she did. She and I exchanged a few emails. The many tests, the chemo, the radiation, the fear, the ups and downs, and all the many emotions she expressed so well in her writing were happening to Barry.

He read her articles and remembered things she said. Atavan was terrific for those going through cancer Jessie said. Barry found that to be true as his pain worsened and his fear of more pain filled him with anxiety.
From the beginning she knew her Cancer was considered incurable. Barry was told by his oncologist that his cancer could be put into remission, and he would have to treat it for the rest of his life, but gave us no hint that he would be dead in one year.

Jessie outlived Barry although their struggle paralleled for one year. Barry had many people praying for him and he believed those prayers would pull him through.
Perhaps Jessie thought the same things. She had many, many followers who prayed for her.
Although my life has been wonderful, and I had a great man for 45 years, I am also grateful for my living sisters and one brother and my sisters and brothers- in- law.
Jessie met and married an unusual man who gave her all he could in the short time they had together. My heart goes out to him and to Jessie's family. I know their hearts must be broken and I offer them my sympathy, my best wishes and hope they will find peace in time..