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Happy Birthday to Lana — my very first roomate!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LANA!!!!!

The day is Christmas 1949. Lois Marion still’ wet behind the ears’, shy and demure, and Charles Henry, even though younger than his bride, considerably more mature as head of their young household were about to welcome their firstborn child. They had been together since the tender ages of fourteen and thirteen and married at nineteen and eighteen respectively.   The young couple was excited at the prospect of welcoming a new member into their household but both were extremely nervous at the prospect as well. After all, a child is a very big responsibility.

In the same little town, another young family, John and Lana Cole were also expecting and anxiously awaited the event as well.

Both women began their respective labors on Christmas Day while family and young husbands anxiously awaited the knowledge of the gender of their children.   Division Hospital, a small local hospital which also contained the requisite Emergency Room and hospital wards for the local community became the venue for the deliveries.

Lois Marion had attended her Grandmother Eva and Grandfather Sid’s yearly Christmas event with their exceptionally large extended family of twelve children. Lois Marion’s mother Lois Annie, eldest of the large brood, had borne a son by her second husband however had lost both husbands to tragedy, thus forcing her to raise her two children alone. Most of her younger siblings had married and were themselves parents of young children making most family gatherings lively, loud and active with many children.

This year during all the celebration, laughter and fun, Lois Marion began her labor but was not about to leave her beloved Grandmother’s home until the time was right. Eva, having fifteen children with twelve surviving to adulthood, knew the general routine of birth and was open to sharing her knowledge and experience with her eldest Granddaughter until time to travel to the hospital. She was exceptionally close with Lois Marion and prayed for the easiest of safe childbirth.

The family enjoyed the day even though the young wife was in labor but the time finally arrived when she would need to enter the hospital for the birth of their child.

The Cole couple, awaiting the arrival of their child and the Hines couple had known each other from the community and each anxiously awaited the births of their children.

Both women were admitted into the Labor and Delivery Rooms of the local hospital. The women were young and about to witness the most beautiful yet most frightening and certainly painful event a woman can experience. Through their acquaintance they would be bound in the birth experience for a lifetime. Their children, whatever gender they might be, would be tied as well.

Their labors were difficult at best, both women experiencing the most painful yet wondrous functions their bodies would ever endure yet the knowledge there would be a new individual produced with their spouses caused much wonder and joy as well.

The first lady to enter the Delivery Room was Lana who delivered daughter Lana, on Christmas Day and was lovingly welcomed into the new Cole family.

Lois Marion continued with her labor until her time to enter the hallowed halls of the Delivery Room.  Their family Doctor informed Charles Henry that his wife was not progressing quickly enough and was “holding back.” He informed the young father, “I need to give her a shot to stop the pain and allow her to finally deliver.” Lois Marion’s reply “BRING IT ON…” welcomed the cessation of the pain and allowed the birth to progress.  At 5:01 AM on December 26, their daughter, Dell Anne was welcomed into the Hines family.

Two little girls, Lana and Dell Anne began their lives in the same birth nursery, cared for by the same nurses and thus became each other’s very first “roommates” so many years ago!

As the children and mothers prepared to begin their respective lives anew, they separated one from the other and each began making their own histories as time passed.

In 1955, both little girls were eligible to attend the first grade and both were promptly enrolled into the local Elementary Schools. Their future paths would cross over the years many times over.

During high school the girls became friends and graduated together in 1967 along with many friends and acquaintances in their small town.

Lana moved to Gainesville after high school when she landed a job with the Telephone Company. Dell Anne likewise moved to the larger City to the South from their hometown and went to work for the University of Florida. During one fortunate day, the girls ran into each other and Dell Anne visited with Lana and her roommate in their new apartment.  The day was exciting and pleasant and life continued on for both.

From there, each girl lost track with the other and before they knew it, forty six…yes, I said FORTY SIX years passed before either girl saw the other.

A mutual friend and classmate friend, Paula Jean, invited a small gathering of ladies to her home for a lovely luncheon in December of 2014. Lana and her husband who had left the area years before were in town leaving Lana available for a meet and greet, as well as Peggy, Margie, Jeanette, Melanie and Dell Anne.

The day was lovely, lively and full of laughter with many stories from old times in class, bringing one another up to speed on their respective lives and families and wallowing in the joy of new-found old acquaintances and relationships, this time as ‘somewhat advanced in age.’

Lana is the mother of two daughters and has become a talented artist; her creativity and talent with the paint brush were clear in pictures shared with the group.

Dell Anne, mother to a son and a daughter, in her elder years has taken up the pen and begun writing to share past life, events and history, evident in the stories contained within this website.

In past years, Paula Jean has become somewhat of a class spokeswoman for the class of 1967 and as such has shared news of events, classmates passing and illnesses and in 2013 at Christmas time Lana sweetly sent a birthday message to Dell Anne via email. (Unfortunately, the years had dulled the memory somewhat and Dell Anne sent a return birthday to Lana for December 31. WRONG date, Dell…)

During the luncheon date the little group of classmates learned lots of life stories from each other and Lana reminded Dell of the circumstances of their respective births. Dell Anne unfortunately (and she hates to admit it) had totally forgotten the instances of their respective entrances into the world!

In reality, Lana was actually Dell Anne’s very first roommate!

It is within this story she would like to set the record straight and send THE CORRECT DATE FOR BIRTHDAY WISHES to her roomie, Lana!

To Lana, our entrances into this world and into the small community of Lake City, I offer my humble apologies at my forgetting such a wondrous experience and hope you will accept my sincere birthday congratulations on 65 years of wonder. I’m praying for your continued success, happiness and health and I hope your life has been as good as mine has been girlfriend!

 I’ll follow in your footsteps tomorrow! Medicare…Here We Come!!!

 12/25/2014

My Sister the Red-Head on her Retirement Day

I have a dear friend; Betty Baker is her name.

My red-headed adopted sister, mere days older than me came from a totally different part of the country.  She and I do not share family bloodlines or parents however she has become my sister through a bond of strong friendship, work ethic and respect.  Her beautiful red hair and blue eyes would certainly make her stand out in my own dark eyed and dark haired traits; (well, it USED to be dark anyway….) but she could certainly stand in for a member of my own clan regardless of the coloring.

I met Betty fifteen years ago when hired by the Clerk of Court and over the years she and I have developed a close friendship which I treasure deeply.  In our talks over the years, our background though wildly different in many aspects, is strangely similar in many ways as well.  She is the youngest of a large family of siblings whereas I am the oldest of four.  Her childhood was within the same era as mine and we both remember fondly certain times, music, movies, toys and school days. We can freely reminisce with each other and it brings lots of wonderful memories to both of us.

She had brothers—I did not.  I had very close cousins who could be considered brothers over the years but that is where the similarity stops for us.  My ‘brothers’ went home eventually—hers remained underfoot…

She was a very hard working young girl; she and husband Paul married young and together produced their own clan which presently includes many children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren as well.  They raised their family in northern states but later in life came to our neck of the woods, North Central Florida, the Sunshine State.  (You can say what you want about the South but few retire and move north…)

I’m sure their introduction into our southern culture was somewhat of a shock as down here we do things a little differently at times with regards to mannerisms, cooking and most definitely our speech and colloquialisms.  I’m sure both Betty and Paul at times were left wondering what in the world we ‘Florida Crackers’ were speaking of but eventually they fell into rhythm within our world.  For sure the weather was a kicker for both of them as they learned of the humidity, the heat and the bugs prevalent here in the South.  I can only apologize for the discomfort; unfortunately I can do nothing to change the situation…Of course, from bits and scraps of joy over the years she HAS mentioned she doesn’t really miss the daily trudge in the white stuff so many ‘Snow Birds’ complain of.  No more shoveling sidewalks and driveways for her!

Our daily talks have always been pleasant and she and I have come to an understanding that only a familial connection (blood or not) can bring.  I feel very comfortable with her and she seems comfortable with me as well.  We have shared much over the years…much like two little whispering girls, one dark-eyed and tall, the other red-headed,  blue-eyed and short;  a vision of best friends but also ‘sisters’ all at the same time.

We have experienced much together here in our respective positions and have used each other at times to commiserate our misery or rejoice in our respective accomplishments as well.  I have certainly treasured that relationship and camaraderie.

She and I share a joy in all things sentimental; she treasures possessions left from her ancestors and I do the same.  My recent writing and publishing accomplishments have been shared and she has been a wonderful supporter.  I have felt totally open to sharing my life with her and she has openly shared with me.

Recently my red-headed sister made a monumental decision while she was out on surgical leave.  She decided to retire early from her career and I am presently missing her presence and her smile immensely.  A simple wave to each other in daily passing and the occasional sharing of funny faces, just like may have happened in our respective youths, are sorely missed.

Please forgive a little side-trip at this time in my story but I must take just a moment to share a tidbit of information in my own background which will presently become clear in my story.  Please come along for the ride… 

My father lost my paternal Grandmother Ola Dell, for whom I was named, when he was only six years old.  Her death was directly attributed to complications during childbirth with my father’s youngest sister Nita.  They were children of the Great Depression and their family was as a southern colloquialism, dirt poor their entire childhoods.

There are only three items left after her death that were personally owned by my Grandmother Ola Dell and they are as special to me today as if they were silver and gold.

We own one portrait of her within the original frame circa 1926, a lock of her hair and one small beautifully etched light green glass butter dish.  The portrait has hung in my father’s home as far back as I can remember and will remain until the day my Mother leaves this earth.  At that time, it will grace MY walls until I no longer breathe.  I hope that my children will continue the honor after I’m gone.

I have treasured the butter dish in particular my entire life and imagined witnessing Ola Dell using it as a treasured household item.  Every woman throughout our history has a special treasure which they cherish; this dish is something which my father related she DID treasure.

I am now in my mid-??’s and honored to say my mother has promised to leave that butter dish to me, Ola Dell’s namesake.  It is only one piece, no lid nor serving tray but it is treasured nonetheless and a beautiful little piece.

As news came of Betty’s unexpected departure from employment within the Clerk’s Office, I volunteered my services to deliver personal desk items to her home since she was still recuperating from recent hand surgery.  I knew she had not been released from her physician as of yet and felt it would be easier for me to deliver it than it was for Betty and Paul to drive the thirty miles to retrieve it.

Last Saturday I was pleased to be able to drive her belongings to her home and ‘sit a spell’ with my red-headed sister once again.

Upon my arrival, both Betty and Paul as usual were gracious hosts and I enjoyed a comfortable visit with them.  During our conversation, however, Betty abruptly excused herself and went to the rear of her home to retrieve something of importance.  When she came back into the living room she had the most beautiful light green glass three piece ‘set’ in her hand and asked if I would take it.

My initial reaction was of complete and utter shock, pleasantly surprised that she would so generously offer this beautiful treasure to me but even more so when I realized it was the ‘missing’ top, bottom and tray to my own treasured butter set which has given me a lifetime of dreams of my own Grandmother!  

My eyes began to sting and I could not contain the tears as my memory immediately went back to our own treasured dish presently residing in my mother’s home!  In my mind’s eye, the dish I had gingerly touched but never held in my own child’s hand then later in life dusted, cleaned and arranged in my mother’s ‘what-not-shelf’ over the years now had the matching top and bottom plate AND the tray, complements of my own red-headed sister and treasured friend!

I could not believe my good fortune!  She related it had belonged to a great aunt and was of a very old age.  In studying the piece it most assuredly came from the same early 1900-1920s era as my Grandmother Ola Dell’s treasure.  I have always dreamed Ola Dell’s set may have been a favorite wedding gift from someone special but cannot attribute any historical proof of such.  The markings and etchings appear to be if not exact, a very similar design at best and will match beautifully as a complete set.

I honestly cannot remember if I ever related my fascination with my Grandmother’s treasure to Betty and if I did, her memory has remained sharp as she desired to share her lovely antique with me.  If I had never shared with her however, I have to believe our close relationship these last fifteen years have made us even more ‘in tune’ with each other than I imagined!

Even though I never met Grandmother Ola Dell, my family stories and my imaginings of her time in our family and on earth are of great comfort and importance to me.

Because of her kindness and generosity in her wonderful gift, that great comfort will likewise always be associated and treasured with my own dear friend Betty, my red-headed sister forever…

Happy I can now relate that my now four piece light green glass ‘set’ (butter dish with two bottoms and a tray) will reside within my own ‘what-not-shelf’ (My mother has now decided to relinquish hers to me early) and will remain a memory of my red-headed sister, her kindness and sharing of our wonderful times together and my sweet Grandmother as well.

On this celebration of Betty’s retirement day, December 18, 2014, I salute our friendship, thank her for the memories and my special gift and vow to keep in touch!

Happy Retirement Ms. Betty and it’s sure been a pleasure and an honor to know ya!!!

December 14, 2014 – Nita

December 14, 2014…it’s been one whole year since you left our presence and received your newest home. One year ago today, Robert Dale called me and told me my precious Aunt Nita had given up her human form and went to be with God.

Today, on this first anniversary I received yet another call from him and we lovingly remembered your smile, the music of your laughter and the memory of a loving aunt and mother; just Robert Dale and me…

Nita, I begin this memorial today with a short story of a funny instance you related to me over the years and hope anyone reading it will experience just a little giggle at the imaginings of an old woman and know she dearly loved you and our times together.

When you married and went away for a while when Robert’s father was in military service, there is a hole in my memory but I clearly remember when you came back to us and brought Robert as a tiny infant. This was the beginning of such a lifelong love with you and your son, I’m not sure you or possibly anyone else will ever fully understand.

You told the story of one night when I was not feeling too well, I gave you a gift you never could forget (unfortunately)…

I can see the bunk beds which we shared in the little bedroom on Fifth Street and I can remember climbing up the ladder to go to bed but I also remember hearing you telling stories of our time together in that little bedroom. After my own mother would tuck me in with a sweet kiss, you would give me a little kiss, a “good night Dell” and a “sleep tight, don’t let the bugs bite.”

It seems we were both in our respective bunks, me around the age of 5 on the top and you on the bottom bed. I assume the beginning of the evening was uneventful there is no way of knowing now after all these years. However apparently sometime in the middle of the night I began feeling sick and suffered with a hot and feverish malady I can only imagine either the flu or a simple upset stomach. Who knows what childhood gremlin had control of me that night.

 I remember you telling me later in our lives (you were laughing at the time so I guess you got over the horror!) that I was crying and moaning quietly and thrashing in my sleep. Obviously something was going on with me but you had no way of knowing what was the problem.

 You leaned out from the bottom bunk to ask me if I was okay and were probably getting about ready to get out of bed to check on me. “Dell Anne, what’s wrong? Are you okay? Do you want me to get your Mama”? I can imagine you saying.

Probably at that point I was not really ‘saying’ that much but nature began to take over…

At the same time you were peeking out from the bottom bunk upwards to where I lay, apparently I was peeking OVER the top bunk.  It was at this unfortunate instant that I unfortunately hurled the entire contents of my stomach and apparently my toenails as well right into your face!  (I have never been very successful in keeping a ‘ladylike’ repose when this unfortunate relieving of one’s stomach contents arises and therefore could not control the actions.  I have since that time unfortunately had this exact same thing done to ME by my own children so can only attest to the discomfort you experienced. Yes, it’s truly grotesque!)

I can remember seeing you re-telling that story to me over my lifetime and I can also remember the queasiness you sometimes experienced when you relived the memory! Yuk…I’m so sorry. If I could rewind that incident I would.  However, we both know history is history . . . is history . . . and so on and so forth. At any rate, I’m so very sorry!

I have relived so many funny stories with you, Robert Dale, Lisa and Sandy as well and one of the funniest I can remember is when Robert was taking you to the numerous meals out you so loved. The two of you told the story so well and it’s one of the funniest memories I have of you and him together.  Unfortunately it’s totally at YOUR expense!

You related that later in your life and when you were a resident of the nursing home, his numerous outings were to take you to your favorite eateries.  I know he always tried to make sure you were fed well since there was a time in your life you dearly loved to partake of good food! I’m so proud though that even during those years when you REALLY enjoyed your food your body seemed to metabolize your enjoyment quite well since you never seemed to WEAR it especially. You were always trim and petite your entire life.

At this time in life your short term memory was becoming fuzzy and between Robert, Lisa, Sandy and Larry, they teased you unmercifully when you would forget yesterday’s happenings. It was amazing that you could not remember what you ate for breakfast that morning but could remember an instance from fifty years hence. You could reveal every instance from your childhood, all those happenings from MY childhood and your own children’s as well!

You were such a great sport during these times, your laughter still rings in my soul and I loved to hear your giggles!  (Not to mention Robert’s outright belly laughs!)

One afternoon Robert drove you to your favorite restaurant there in Franklin where you were to share a meal on your weekly Saturday outing from the nursing home. I know there was lots of laughter in that car and lots of giggling since I also KNOW Robert. He wears a perpetual giggle near the surface at any given moment!

He related delivering you to the front door of the restaurant as he felt you were ambulatory enough to take care of the ladies room yourself  while he parked the car.

Upon his entrance into the restaurant he patiently waited by the ladies room and when you emerged, he took your arm and began herding you toward the entrance of the building.

You were willing to go with him but had a slight question in your mind at the time…

“Robert…did we eat?”

(Early in their lives Robert, Lisa and Sandy gave their mother the name ‘Mother Goose’ and it has remained for all three their entire lives.)

With a solemn and somewhat concerned expression on his face he replied to you “Well, Goose, of course we ate…you ate steak and potatoes, corn and rolls. Goose, you even ate MY pie when I was talking to the waiter there…   You embarrassed me to death!  I couldn’t believe you cleaned your plate AND mine! My heavens, you can’t tell me you’re still hungry, can you?” (All the time he was trying to convince you that you both had actually eaten your meal, he was ushering you back to the entrance of the restaurant!)

You allowed him to escort you out but were still unconvinced your belly was full!  “But Robert, are you SURE I ate? I mean, I still FEEL hungry…” you lamented.

By that time, the jig was up and Robert began giggling uncontrollably. But at the same token by that time you KNEW he was yet again teasing you! “Oh Robert…you stop that and let’s get in there and order our dinner!” you demanded.

At this point in your relating the story of course Robert is now in fits of laughter and giggles and has to relate ALL the food you put away (of course expounding on the excess!)

I can see your smile, see your beautiful eyes crinkling at the corners and hear the tinkle of your laughter at his exuberance. “Oh Robert…you are just SO silly!”

The two of you finally enjoyed your meal and this time your belly WAS full and it was again time to go.

Robert escorted you to the entrance, told you to wait for a minute while he retrieved his car and you patiently waited.

Apparently Robert was not quite finished with the game-playing though and when his car arrived, as he grinned at you from the driver’s seat, you were reaching for the passenger door handle.

Unfortunately at this point in his mischief he decided not to allow you to get close enough to actually grab hold of the car door so each time you got closer, he would inch the car forward just a couple of inches…

 “Robert Dale…you stop that right now!”

Of course this only set him on a further course of irritation and for the second time and just before you reached the door, he again inched forward just a few inches.

“Now I’m getting angry Robert, STOP that!” You loudly demanded. I’m sure by the the second time you were getting louder and louder and surely others in the restaurant entrance must have been noticing his antics. (Not to mention your ire as well!)

By the third time he inched just out of your reach of the door handle he related you screamed out in your loudest and best ‘Mommy voice’ “Robert Dale Smith… you better stop that or I’m going to have to beat your tail!”  Imagine that…that tiny little ole woman dragging out all 6 foot 2 inches of his frame from that running car and spanking his butt…!  The vision is priceless and of course he STILL could run faster than you!

I can only imagine his ‘hootin and hollering’ by this time (as is his normal behavior in times of mischief) but I can also remember YOUR laughter as well so I am thoroughly convinced that by the time you and he related that story to me, you were well and truly OVER YOUR ANGER!nitapix

I am remembering these stories today; there are so many more to tell of our times together but on this day, the first anniversary of our loss of your presence, I just wanted to honor my time with you and let others know I’m missing you.

However I can also say I am honored and pleased to say my time with you for the last 64 years of my life have truly brought me joy, pleasure, laughter and love and those many memories are my greatest treasures.

Sweet rest Aunt Nita, and I’m sure you are enjoying one heck of a wonderful reunion with my Daddy, Charles Henry, your sisters, Maude and Stella, Grandmother Ola Dell and Granddaddy William Henry. I miss you tremendously but will always love you…

Your loving Niece, Dell