We were in Atlanta, visiting my parents for Christmas, when we got a call telling us that the father of a dear high school friend, Lynn Ingram King, had passed away. We arrived at the funeral home and I sought out Lynn and her sweet mother and hugged their necks. I offered my condolences and we shared memories about their precious daddy and husband. Then I looked around the room and saw familiar faces in the faces of those around me, and the years seemed to fold back on themselves.
Had nearly thirty years passed since I'd seen some of these people? Really? It didn't seem possible...
My family (my husband, my parents, my brother and his wife) enjoying Christmas dinner
Our kids and my nephews "banished" to the Sunroom. :)
That evening, after leaving the funeral home, my parents and I went to see my Aunt Lynn (who's really my mother's cousin, but we call everyone Aunt in the South). I hadn't seen Aunt Lynn in almost two years and since then, she'd been diagnosed with cancer and had undergone chemotherapy, and the precious woman I saw that night was a shell of the woman I know and love.
Aunt Lynn named me. As the story goes, my mother was considering naming me Lori Beth (no offense out there to all the Lori Beths) and when mom ran that name by my Aunt Lynn, my Aunt Lynn frowned and said in that gravely, distinctively Southern voice of hers, "Low-rie Bey-eth!?"
Well, there went that idea.
She suggested Tamera instead, and mom added the Lynn in there for Aunt Lynn. So whenever I got in trouble growing up, I heard "Tamera Lynn!" instead of "Low-rie Bey-eth!"
So, for us, Christmas 2008 was a blur of precious family and friends, fun times and poignant times, smiles and tears, and many reminders of life's brevity, of how precious friendships are, and of how much I long for Home. More now than ever.
My family with my Aunt Lyda (who, incidentally, is the inspiration for the Aunt Lyda in From a Distance. (When growing up, I spent summers with my Aunt Lyda and Uncle Ben on their farm in Delrose, Tennessee. A real treat for a city gal.) We stopped by to see her on our way to Atlanta last week.
We returned to Nashville on Saturday and were preparing to attend a family wedding over New Year's in Arkansas, but...
Yesterday our son, home from college, awakened with "a sharp pain in his stomach." Long story short, he underwent an emergency appendectomy yesterday afternoon. He spent the night in the hospital and came home today, very sore but feeling better following the surgery (and with warm potato soup and corn muffins in his stapled tummy). However, now my husband is sick with a stomach bug, and my sweet father-in-law is in the hospital awaiting a heart procedure (love you, GDad!). When it rains, huh?
But you know, even with all that there's still so much to be thankful for. Truly. Because I know I'll see Mr. Ingram again in our forever Home. My Aunt Lynn and Aunt Lyda too, if I don't have the opportunity to see them again here. My hubby and my father-in-law are receiving the care they need, and we had doctors and nurses to care for our son during a medical emergency that would likely have killed him in the era in which I write (1870s).
In fact, I asked my son yesterday (after his pain was dulled by morphine, lest you think I'm completely heartless) to please describe everything he was feeling because it's going into my next book, Within My Heart. The hero's a "cutting edge" doctor. ;)
Wishing you all a healthy and Happy New Year!
Jack, briefly after opening his Christmas presents, which were promptly destroyed.