Archives for : Lola


November 8, 2015, 10:32 AM, my cell phone rings. It’s my cousin Donald yet again.  My heart is heavy and I know the news he is probably going to report.  He tearfully recounts that his mother, Lola, my mother’s first cousin and the woman who helped raise me all those years ago has left our presence…

Lola is the cousin I spoke of recently on my personal website of her family’s great kindness in offering me the return of my little Grandmother’s cherished tiny table and chairs. I treasure their return. Lola was a care-taker of Grandmother’s beloved items and I thank her once again for the safe-keeping all these years.

Lola’s health has been in decline for some time now and she has been finally freed from her human bonds; those bonds which have tied all of my family together for so many years.

Lola was my mother’s first female cousin; their mothers were sisters and the family bond has been very close during all those years. Lola and Grady were the first to be married then Donald was born.  Mama and Daddy married early in January of 1949 and I found my way to join them late December.  From the first moment of my meeting their family, I have been bound with an unending love

Grady was a fun-loving and witty man and Lola always had such a lovely smile, a quick wit and a contagious laugh.   I always looked forward to spending time with them.

Donald and I were the terrible duo for so many years; he was one year, 3 months older and I was apparently devoted to him from our first meeting.  Those feelings have not left my soul, even though the chasm of our lives has now widened considerably. My memory takes me back to a time, far simpler than today or at least to my advanced years seems so…

Over the years of my childhood, there were many visits with Lola and each time I stayed overnight, she would cook various breakfast items to begin the mornings. We were all farm families and breakfast was a very important meal of the day. My Daddy insisted we were to start every day with grits and eggs and we looked forward to the breakfast offering each morning.   For so many years however, Lola had tried and tried to get me to enjoy and appreciate her offering of oatmeal, something which I never remembered even having in our home. I am sure in her daily routine of cooking she had developed a wonderful and tasty ‘recipe’ for oatmeal. However, no matter how hard I tried and no matter how she would sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, raisins or any other means of spicing up the dish…I just could NOT enjoy it! Memories of a certain ‘gag reflex’ come flooding back to my mind and I only hope I didn’t appear as a brat when I just couldn’t force it down my gullet!  I never would have hurt Lola’s feelings on purpose; hopefully she could see it just wasn’t ‘my cup of tea’ so to speak.

I remember a certain trip Mama took us on in a 1957 Ford station wagon. That thing in my child’s eyes appeared as big as a city block.  Daddy did not go with us; just Mama, my little sisters and me. I can remember a certain baby bed in the back of that old car but can’t remember if it was Nola or Kay within.  By this time in our families, Lola and Grady had welcomed Donald, Mitchell and Sharon and possibly Anita into their clan and Grady had relocated his family to Stuart, Florida for his power company career. Lola and Mama decided it would be a welcome little vacation so off we went in that big old tank of an automobile.  (What a brave woman my Mama was all those years ago, travelling with small children into a foreign land…!)

During our visit, we were treated to an afternoon on the beach. I can still see Lola and Mama sitting on the shoreline with the little ones but Donald and I were old enough to swim out into the waves; we were both strong swimmers.  I remember the two of us being hailed by our mothers from the shoreline “come on back in… you’re too far out…”   However, we were both bold and curious and somewhat ‘firm headed’ as my daddy would say and went further and further out, totally oblivious to the dangers of the sea.  It was when we began holding hands and jumping those waves now over our heads that I realized we could be in danger. Donald, of course, was a very curious little fellow and apparently had absolutely no fear in anything he did. I can still feel the joy in jumping those waves but felt protected while he was holding my hand.  Why I put so much faith into his abilities I don’t really know but I did feel safe while in his presence.  I can also remember the relief on Lola and Mama’s faces when we decided “maybe we’d better get in a little closer…maybe we ARE too far out.”  Lola’s stern ‘talking to’ was enough that I decided maybe that was a little too bold and reckless for kids our ages.  (I’m so sorry we put our Mamas through the fear!)  We heeded our Mamas’ stern lectures and the rest of the day was thoroughly enjoyed, nonetheless closer to the shoreline at the very least. When it was time to leave the beach, I’m sure Lola was very glad to have all her passengers safely on board.

I’m sure that trip to Lola’s home with all those young’uns was a good time but I can also imagine the relief when we all left her family home as well. (As Daddy used to say when we wanted to stay longer “visitors are like fish; at about day 3 they begin to stink…!”)

I hope I have sufficiently thanked Lola for all the wonderful years she allowed my presence with her family and her willingness to look after me as her own.   I was honored when she recently commented how much she enjoyed reading my books and stories.  She told me they took her back in her own life; and that my words allowed her to revisit those places with memories.  I am very thankful and honored to hear her lovely comments and can only hope I did her proud in those places I wrote of her family. I have loved her for my entire life and looked forward to each time I could witness her laughter and see the twinkle in her eye.  Those times will stay in my heart and soul for the rest of my life.

 To Donald, Mitchell, Sharon, Anita, and all their spouses, children and grandchildren, I offer my sincerest condolences on the loss of your mother but know you all are aware the greatest reunion of all is now being experienced and her smile is once again brilliant...

Until we meet once more, Lola, I will say once again “I love you” and thank you for all the years of joy, comfort and protection you have given me. Your journey has been difficult at times but my heart tells me you have now received the peace and comfort we all seek.  Your earthly countenance might be gone from our presence but your spirit will live in our hearts forever.  Rest in Peace Lola…

Dell Anne Hines Afzal

The Phone Call …

The time is 9:12 AM on September 1, 2015 and my cell phone is ringing. The caller’s number is familiar to me although a call from my cousin Donald is not a frequent occasion.  Life many times gets in our way and our communication has been somewhat infrequent over the years. When I receive his calls I value the time we can enjoy each other’s company and am thankful we can still touch base periodically. We have much family history between us; we are both firstborn children of first cousins Lola and Marion. Our lives together remain a wondrous history of comedy, family fun times together, childhood hijinks, accomplishments and sadness as well. It’s funny how life brings such vivid memories and sentiment of days gone by even when we become old…

The circumstances of his call are very dear to my heart and warn of an impending fact of life which will surely impact all of us at one time or another. The purpose of his call will soon become clear but first I must set the stage and the scene of a time and a place gone by…many, many years ago.

My Grandmother, Lois Annie was twice widowed in her lifetime, each instance with young children to carry on her legacy. In 1945 she was once again widowed when my step grandfather was lost in France to World War II and she began anew to rebuild a shattered existence. She worked for a lumber company in those early years and the loss required her to recognize she would yet again become the sole provider for her two children Marion and Clarence Jr. It was during that tenure with the lumber company that she forged a life-long friendship with the men who worked alongside her. She was the only female employee of the company and as such was the bookkeeper, correspondent, materials clerk, inventory manager, sales clerk and any other such positions in which she could serve. She was an extremely intelligent woman and the men of the company all took great pains to assure she received as much help as possible. She was truly blessed that these men and their wives took such wonderful care to support her during her time of extreme need.

Before her husband had unfortunately been lost to war in 1945 they had purchased a plot of land in their hometown and upon his return vowed to build their own home. No more renting or sharecropping for this young family…or so they thought.

When the news came that Clarence Sr. would never return, she set about to make that dream of a home a reality. With the help of her coworkers and friends, she built a lovely little home on Hillsboro Street, a modest two bedroom, one bath home all her own. Because of her knowledge in the lumber business and her determination to make a safe harbor for her children, she researched all the latest building supplies and built an extremely sturdy bungalow. After completion of the home she began her quest to complete the interior furnishings as well. She found a used refrigerator, stove and a couch from one of the homes in their hometown, cleaned them to her pristine standards and was very proud to own something of her very own.  That the items were ‘used’ was of no consequence; she was proud nonetheless.  When it came time to search for a dining table for her small family, nothing seemed to fit the tiny nook and her limited budget affected no new purchase, especially one ‘custom built.’  She would save her hard-earned money and find just the right set at the proper time.  She was thankful and blessed however when one of her friends from work hand-built a lovely little table and four chairs set to exactly fit the very small breakfast room in the tiny bungalow. She treasured the workmanship, the generosity from her friend and the kindness it represented and it remained in her home in the original place for over fifty years.  I sat in those chairs and shared meals my entire life when I was honored to spend ‘sleep overs’ with her or just to visit in my later years…

When the time came near the end of her life that it became necessary for her to move in with my mother and father, her sister Edna purchased the house on Hillsboro and vowed to keep it “in the family.”  Lois Annie was very pleased and blessed it would continue serving her loved ones.  Edna set about making her new home all her own but found a different use for the layout of the home, thus eliminating the need for the simple but lovingly treasured little table and chairs. When the time came for the move and repurpose of the tiny dining set, Edna’s daughter Lola wanted to assure the table stayed within the family so used it in her own home for the next succession of years. My mother Marion felt blessed her cousin Lola felt so strongly that the set should stay in the family.  It meant something to her…memories…many, many memories.  My Grandmother was greatly loved by more than just her children and grandchildren.

I share this bit of history to show that a treasure–a simple inanimate object from a loving, kind and generous heart to someone regardless of how long ago that gift was given to explain just why the phone call this morning from my cousin Donald affected me so deeply and so strongly. Our mothers are now both in their mid-eighties; each with their own set of health issues and maladies but clearly connected, albeit not as often as they would like.  My memories of Lola and her family are extremely strong and loving and I do have to say I loved all those visits in their home over the years.

Donald’s news is that it is necessary for Lola to live in assisted living and her home is to be sold. I took the news with much regret and sadness although knowing that her health has been in decline. There comes a time when we have to see to the necessary arrangements to help our parents in their later years and it is sad but a very important and necessary part of life.

As he began to explain the second reason for his call today, he began by relating just how this treasured little table and chairs came to be in his own mother’s residence for so long. I knew the story and listened intently to what he was building up to.

He continued by saying “Mama’s home is going to be sold and I was trying to figure out what to do with the table and chairs. I know what it meant to your Grandmother and to Mama…then I KNEW I HAD IT! It HAS to go to Dell Anne…IF she wants it.” While he relayed his reason for the call, my heart absolutely filled with emotion, both with the pain and fear of the possibility of losing a beloved member of my family circle but also with the knowledge that this family in their time of difficult family decisions would acknowledge and remember MY history of the sentimental value attached to one small and simple item.

OF COURSE, I want it and would be honored to have it returned to my family!

My tears fell like rain, I choked up and could only squeak out a weak and un-memorable thank you but when we quickly ended our telephone conversation, I placed my head on my desk and wept a lifetime of tears, for those years gone by, all the loved ones we have lost and for the loving thoughtfulness of my cousin Donald. He kept me in his heart by offering to return something from my beautiful little Grandmother—a little piece of my history.

My thanks to Donald for returning this treasure and I hope this thank you will prove my affection for him and know the dining set will be loved and appreciated. This simple little hand-made beauty represents so much in my Grandmother’s life and makes me happy—my cup runneth over…truly!