Thursday, June 19, 2014

for Jacqueline III

Good morning, sweet Jacqueline!

For Throwback Thursday on Facebook I wanted to honor your mother.  I located another picture I had of her that I believe was taken in 9th grade.  I took the liberty of downloading a recent picture of you from your Facebook profile and merging the two, and this is the result:

Joyce's smile.  It looks pretty on you!  
I also wanted to share a representation of your mother's thoughtfulness, a photograph taken at the baby shower she gave me in 1987.

The theme for Thom's nursery was teddy bears with pale greens and soft yellows.  The teddy bear cake greatly resembled the teddy bears on the bedding and curtains.  I did not know she had that planned and I was very tickled with the results.  

We were rocking the '80s hair at the shower!  In the first picture above, you can't see it, but the back of your mother's hair was quite long, almost to her waistline.  

It might sound like an odd detail to recall, but I thought your mother had such pretty arms. They were toned and tan and she always looked good in sleeveless blouses. This picture, of course, reminded me of that.  When I first met her, she had the zaniest collection of T-shirts.  One that always made me laugh was red and depicted a late 19th century looking portrait of a gentleman and "Your Father's Mustache" was screen printed on it.  It was a T-shirt from a restaurant named so, nothing I'd seen in South Georgia.

Wow, you can find anything on the Internet--picture this on a red T-shirt.  I don't recall if her shirt was from New Orleans, but the rest I remember.  


In the early days of our friendship, she spoke often of "Stasia" a dear friend from Charleston, I believe.  Possibly Tennessee.  Stasia (short for Anastasia) and she bonded in the midst of both their parents' divorcing, an emotional hardship they shared in common.  If Joyce were living now, there is no doubt whatsoever she would have found Stasia on Facebook and arranged a reunion with her.  She spoke of making tents indoors with her using bed linens, sitting in there, sharing their lives, eating snacks, and laughing like crazy.  This time frame would have been before 8th grade, as we met when she was in 9th, and she had spent the previous year in the county school system here.

It's kind of wild to wonder about someone you never met as I do Stasia.  I can imagine you feel this way about your mother, too.  Of course you met her, but you were so young when she passed, I don't know what memories, if any, you have of her.  Perhaps there are videos of her?  I hope so.  And I hope her laughter is recorded on them.  She laughed a lot.  It was good she saw the humor in life and relished it.

After her mastectomy, I went to stay with her when your daddy had to go back to work.  I did the usual things that needed to be done, light housekeeping, laundry, folding some of your little clothes, a meal, all that, and then we both climbed into the big bed in the room off of the kitchen in your house.  Martha Stewart was on television.  We were propped on pillows, the TV was on the wall which backs to the kitchen.  She suddenly started laughing.  Maybe it was to keep from crying, but I started laughing, too.

It was all so absurd.  We'd shared so many laughs in the past, young and carefree, well maybe except for trying to stay out of trouble, or more truthfully, trying not to get caught, but here we were, she in a very real life or death battle.  Laughing.  At the time, we were tremendously hopeful, almost convinced, she'd win...or at least pretending to be so.  

About twenty years before, maybe a little more, we'd shared a very similar laugh.  We'd snuck into the drive thru movie with some boys.  We had to sneak because she was too young for the rating on the movie.  I'd covered her up on the floorboard of the back seat using a black blanket, the boys were in the front.  We got away with it and for some reason we remained seated the way we came in, boys in front, girls in back.  

It was a naughty movie.    

The guys up front were mesmerized.  We were genuinely embarrassed at some of the scenes and slid down many times in the seat, laughing until tears came. We were fairly innocent then, but not after that movie!  As I type this, I'm wondering if she would mind me telling you about this.  Since I have, I'll give a strong recommendation that you don't do what we did.  Drive-thru movies are rare these days and you don't drive yet, so maybe she will be OK with this revelation.  

But back to the post-surgery laughs, it was as if we'd read each others' minds. It really was funny that we'd shared some wild and crazy times together, then here we were sharing such a serious moment.  Maybe it was because we were watching Martha Stewart on TV.  We both gave it our all in what we did as far as homekeeping, mothering, all that, but neither of us was a natural Martha Stewart.

Your mother still had drain tubes attached to her body and she showed me the incision where her breast had been.  She was wearing shorty pajamas and big fluffy slippers.  She was stylish even when fighting for her life.  We were silent, solemn, then she broke the heavy moment with her intentions for the future.  She wanted to have her other breast removed, then have reconstruction.  At that time, preventive mastectomy and reconstruction was still relatively in its infancy, but she'd done her homework.  Internet availability was still fairly new as far as in homes, and she found out things she didn't want to know.  She said to me once, "I want to die of something else.  I don't want to die of this."  

In hindsight, I believe, on the day she was diagnosed, she knew.  I went with her to the doctor's office and she had a terrified look on her face, was quiet for the most part.  She was wearing a pink Winnie-the-Pooh T-shirt.  She didn't wear a lot of pink, she more often wore bold, vibrant colors.  Ironic it was to see her in a shirt with a picture of a sweet storybook character who would often use the word "dreadful."  

I'd been in the waiting room a couple or so years earlier when a previous lump was deemed benign.  I felt confident it would be good news.  Somehow, I believe we both knew the news on the second one was not going to be good.  It was indeed dreadful.  There were tears, disbelief.  She spoke first of her concern for her children.  More tears, hugs, smeared mascara.  Surreal, but oh so real.  

I don't want to end on this note.  It is certainly not my intention to bum you out, just bits and pieces to fill in blanks for you since we already know the sad outcome to the rest of this story.  Have I divulged too much too soon?  But I believe you are old enough and quite mature enough to know these things.  

When your mother was your age, she shared deep wounds in her life with me.  Here I am sharing a deep wound in my life with you, and immediately feeling guilty for considering myself deeply wounded when it was she who died and you who were left without your mother.  

She was quite bold with the Lord, questioning Him as to "why?"  

Why remains unanswered, but she left so much life to continue!  Your life, Joseph's life!  Your mother was interested in, intrigued by everything in this life.  She was smart and engaged in living fully.  She was in band, cross country running, took Algebra II in high school, strongly considered military service, went off to Tennessee to school, came back and finished here, went into law enforcement, a tough field for a woman, then the polar opposite tenderness of motherhood.  

I think of little things, like is her badge still around?  We laughed the day she showed me that as well!  We were able to laugh at the silly and during the serious.  How precious it is you two share the same beautiful smile.  It is so good to see her smile again!