Learning Love and Gratitude


She was my best friend,though older than me; and, I looked up to her because she treated me as her equal. Although we were both like only children, our lives were different. Her warmth. Genuine friendship was to follow me for decades, interchangeably, I would find, one Christmas day. She was also my cousin, Mary.

Our great-grandmother, Hope, taught us, both to pray and we truly loved her. However, she, as many other things in my childhood would begin to "vanish" without any explanation, except what would satisfy young children's painless curiosity.

Uncle Barney would toss the ball as my Bull Dog, names Boy ran after it. I was only two so it was such an exiting and memorable time for me. I played, daily out in the yard; and, enjoyed each moment with such great expectation, until Boy suddenly disappeared.

Death could not be understood in such a young childhood stage, I now know, so the easiest explanation Uncle Barney could offer was to say, a mean lady had had Boy placed in a crate and sent to a far away land. It was the beginning of my losing people I loved.

It was World War II, and Uncle Barney, my father figure while Daddy traveled for business, was my adoration. He was well known in the small town in Texas for his extraordinary voice.

Family dances were common in our vicinity, and he was an amazing dancer, as well, who would swing my mother's sister, Norma to the sounds of the Jitter Bug at the time,and, would then belt out Star Dust amazingly well. We were a musical, closely knitted family.

When he was drafted, what consoled us was that he would be only 150 miles away in San Antonio, Texas, with the USO, where he became a singer. He was shown in our local newspaper with Hedy Lamar, a movie star, with captions as she served him coffee: "More sugar, Barney?" But I did miss him so, after having lost my dog prior to his leaving us.

When he returned, things began to get normal again, until Mother became ill. She had to be hospitalized for a heart murmur. But after months of treatment, she returned home. Then, Daddy was in a terrible car accident that nearly took his life, but after much rehabilitation, he returned home, only to have to resume his heavy travel schedule. I was devastated, not knowing who would be next to become ill,be relocated or leave us.

Many years, later, my best friend, and cousin, Mary tracked me down after I had moved away to a larger town Daddy's businesses took us, We were both grown by then, and I was out of high school. She had married, but her marriage had been complex. After some time she returned to her home near Dallas with her parents' ancestral home. But she never complained nor spoke about her misfortune.

I visited her in my twenties, and by then she had lost both parents, but looked radiant. She was beautiful and reminded me of a princess in a fairy tale. She served a lavish dinner as only she could prepare, then I drove back home to Corpus Christi, Texas.

In time my husband, Bob and I began an antique business, and the holidays were so busy.

Something told me to call her. She said she wanted me to come see her. I said I would in the spring. She so graciously said, she would wait for me.

I anxiously asked my husband to take me to Macy's to buy her a gift for Christmas. I found a beautiful bright, furry; red robe. So, the next day, Bob mailed it to her. A few days, later I sent her a photo of us, as we hadn't seen each other in some time.

I called her two weeks later. She was in the hospital, and said she loved the robe and was wearing it.. I told her I would call her when she returned home, as she said, she was there only for a physical.I called her right before Christmas, anxious to tell her I would be coming to see her as soon as our business was completed. She, as Grandma was gone. She had been receiving chemotherapy for cancer, but never told me.

Since then, Daddy, Mother, Uncle Barney have left this world, and most recently my beloved, Bob. What I try to remember, is how amazingly loving God is to have given me so much in my life and not the inevitable, losing loved ones.

As we approach the holidays, I am trying to busy myself by sharing my time as much as I can to people who have become my friends, who once had no hope because of illness, losing loved ones, and some who have moved away. There is a reason for everything that happens to us, if we keep our faith, recall all that we have had and how far we can go with our Lord who keeps blessing us in the darkest of times.

I feel that love is learning to let go, and gratitude is an ever thanking emotion that keeps giving us renewed hope, strength, and courage to move on in a world filled with miracles, of we but keep believing just as when we had them, all, and life seemed imperishable!

Rose

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