Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

I got home fairly early Friday afternoon from work. It was a busy week and I managed to get a root canal and put in ten hours at work on Thursday, so I was not going to do much stressing on Friday. My oldest daughter was home but getting ready to head back to college after a week's break. As we sat at the kitchen table talking, I grabbed the local paper from Sunday and Monday that I had not taken time to look at yet. My eye fell on the list of obituaries and I saw an old friend's name. I had been talking to other friends earlier and trying to make plans for Saturday. When I read the obituary and discovered that I had not missed the funeral as it was scheduled for Saturday, I knew what my plans were. I had to go say goodbye to an old friend.

She was almost exactly forty years older than me, but we were fast friends. I had moved to the area only a few years before knowing no one but people through my husband since he was from the area. Then my marriage ended quite suddenly and I found myself having to seek out another church for support. I was helping to clean up after a church dinner one Sunday when Wanda struck up a conversation with me and suggested I come over one Saturday to see her garden. Saturdays were the days when I was all alone as my children went to visit their father so I was eager to take her up on her offer. She was an avid gardener and, I soon found out, a woman of many, many talents as well. She had been estranged from her husband for a number of years. She finished raising her several children alone, went back to nursing school, had broken her back along the way, but was one feisty and busy lady. She purchased her fixer-upper home when she was in her 60s, having sold her other home to her son across the street. She completely remodeled the house, doing a lot of the work herself. She knew how to save a dime and had an awesome sense of style. She liked to go to yard sales, did stained glass, painted and had a dollhouse collection among other things. She taught me and my girls how to go blueberry picking (I had never gone before in my life) and then how to can those blueberries. Blueberries remain my all-time favorite fruit. I remember one time Wanda called me and said she knew where to get some squash that were just laying out in the field for the picking. Off we went, gleaning some great vegetables that cost nothing but our time.

I started getting used to running a household alone myself, having Wanda as a role model and soon learned to be afraid of nothing, for where there's a will there's a way. I went back to school myself and soon got very busy with that, work and the children. (I remember interviewing Wanda for a school project. I have a recording of that somewhere.) Wanda eventually downsized and moved in next door to her daughter for more support. She had diabetes and sometimes fretted about being alone. We had not been in touch in the last couple of years unfortunately. You think you have all the time in the world until you don't. Her daughter told me how she had recently fallen and broken her hip and was in the hospital. She made it through surgery with flying colors. They were getting ready to start getting her up and walking, when her health took a downturn and she passed away in the wee hours of last Sunday morning.

So this Saturday I went to visit her for the last time. The angel statue pictured above I had purchased from her yard sale when she moved, there's a stand in the kitchen that I purchased on one of our yard sale trips, and the dollhouse in the living room here reminds me of her. I will miss you, old friend. Thanks for all you did for me and others around you. I will see you on the other side.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sibling Saturday (on a Friday): My Brother and I

These are early photos of my brother and I. I was almost three when he was born. My mother tells the story of how she knew something was not quite right with him, but it wasn't until he was about three months old and we had moved to the west coast that the doctor told my mother that my brother had Down's Syndrome. The doctor also went on to tell her that he would likely never walk or talk and that he'd be better off in an institution. My mother said she was holding him in her arms at the time and looked down at him and just then he began to cry. My mother said she felt so sorry for her little baby and told the doctor she could never do that.

I remember my mom telling me when I was a bit older that he was not like other children and he would never marry. "I will marry him!" I exclaimed, and took up his cause from then on. I would not let anyone talk about him or laugh at him, I would be his protector. And I did for a long time. But I eventually got married and left home and him a long time ago. He lives with my sister now, but if anything changes, I will be there to take care of him again.

Growing up with a sibling with a disability has shaped me and made me who I am today. I would not change that for the world. When my sister's children were older, I remember them hearing the talk about how Uncle B.J. was different. Then they sat down to tell my sister's grandchildren about him as well. I am happy that he has helped at least three generations understand that it's okay to be different and many in our family feel comfortable being around those with special needs.

My mother kept a copy of a poem about Heaven's Very Special Child in her china cabinet. I know that both she and my father mourned what could never be, but we do celebrate what is and what can be. Today is World Down Syndrome Day, chosen for the trisomy of the 21st chromosome. I chose to celebrate it by writing about my very special brother.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Identify Photographs

I sort of left you hanging with the last Sibling Saturday post:
but I didn't want to get too long-winded. Below is a scan of the photocopy I had made of the group photograph shown in that post and sent to Cousin Inez in Kentucky. Between her, me and another cousin or two, we came up with the names of almost everybody at the gathering. Part of the names show up in the newspaper clipping of the event, but some of the names and faces were a little tricky to identify.

1.    Terry (Charles Terry Woosley, wife of Elizabeth Watts, "Lizzie")
2.    Travis (F. Travis Diuguid, husband of Iva May Watts, "Ivy")
3.    Perkins (Earl Perkins Watts, son of C.B. & Amy Hardy Watts)
4.    Inez (nee Diuguid, daughter of Kate and Willie W. Diuguid)
5.    Shirley Wilson, Inez's first husband
6.    Aunt Ivy Diuguid (nee Watts)
7.    Kenneth Lee Watts (son of C.B. & Amy Hardy Watts)
8.    Annice (nee Underwood), wife of Willis Lindsey Watts, "Pete")
9.    Pete (Willis Lindsey Watts)
10.  Ivy (nee Poindexter) Watts, wife of Richard Alvin Watts
11. Donald Watts (son of Richard Alvin and Mary Ivy Poindexter Watts)
12.  Mrs. Wilson (probably Shirley's mother)
13.  Mrs. (Oscar) Lacy Malone (Odell Parker). Lacy (also called "Rip") was Hershel Lacy's nephew. When        his mother died, Hershel and his wife Ora raised him.
14.  Kate (nee Watts, wife of Willie W. Diuguid
15. Ora (nee Watts, wife of Hershel Lloyd Lacy)
16.  (Hershel) Glen Watts (son of Richard Alvin and Mary Ivy Poindexter Watts)
17.  Mary Ellen Woosley (daughter of Charles Terry and Elizabeth Watts Woosley)
18. Zeffie (nee Watts, wife of Bernice Lee Woosley
19. Elizabeth (nee Watts, wife of Charles Terry Woosley)
20. Amy (nee Hardy, wife of Cephas Bryant Watts)
21. (Richard) Alvin Watts
22. Bernice Woosley, husband of Zeffie Watts
23. Willie Diuguid, husband of Kate Watts
24.  C.B. (Cephas Bryant) Watts
25.  Mr. Hardy (father of Amy Hardy Watts)
26. Hershel Lloyd Lacy (husband of Ora Watts)

Out of these 26, only two are living today. Inez herself who held the party and helped me identify everyone and what the occasion was died just a few years after we corresponded about this. Had I not asked then, I may have never been able to identify this as more than a family gathering as I only recognize a few people. So as I'm sure I've said before, I leave you with the tip to identify your photographs while you still can.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sibling Saturday: A Birthday Celebration

Watts siblings - Hopkinsville, KY

These eight siblings include my grandfather, C.B. Watts, as number five from the left. There was one more sibling, the oldest, Norman Ellis Watts, not pictured. He moved out to Arizona many years prior to this and died out there in 1962. Willis Lindsey Watts, called Pete, is number two in the photograph. Three is Aunt Ora Lacy. Four Aunt Ivy Diuguid. Six is Aunt Zeffie Woosley. Seven is Aunt Lizzie Woosley. Eight is Aunt Kate Diugiud

Number one in this photo is Uncle Alvin Watts, though he mostly cut-off. The other photo of the group is blurry and I didn't scan it. You can see Uncle Alvin better in other pictures from the day. He is the one right in front of the post on the right in a white shirt and long tie below.

Watts gathering - Hopkinsville, KY
I can identify some of the people in this photograph, but not all. I find it funny that in this photograph and the one below, my father is blowing bubble gum for the camera. He was not quite ten at the time these were taken.

In an attempt to verify better who was who, I sent photocopies of the large group one to my dad's cousin, Inez (nee Diuguid) Wilson Aldridge in the late 1990s to early 2000. She is the one pictured here in the dark dress with her arm and elbow against the left post. She passed in September of 2005. She responded by sending the other photographs to me plus this newspaper clipping below that lists just about everyone there and the occasion for this March gathering.

Mrs. Shirley Wilson was cousin Inez (she married Shirley Wilson). It was her house on Butler Road in Hopkinsville where the photographs were taken.

I think it will take another post to identify and sort out everyone in the large group photo. Stay tuned.