‘Til we meet


If you’ve ever read the late Willie Morris’ My Dog Skip, or if you saw the movie, then you know a lot about what it was like to grow up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, or in any number of small towns across the South. And, it wasn’t much different in the 30’s and 40’s as it was in the 50’s and 60’s. Just the technology was different.

Aline was born in 1928 near Yazoo City, in the heart of the Mississippi delta. Some of her favorite memories were those of walking across the meadow to school, skipping along and holding hands with her little sister, Sarah.

Sarah and her daughter were able to come for a visit over the holidays. The love and laughter shared by the sisters during that visit seemed for a while to peel away the years. The smiles and memories of days gone by were as thick as the scent of honeysuckle on a moist summer morning in the Delta.

I never knew Aline’s husband. He passed away long before I married into the family. But, they raised three daughters and three sons who, all but one, were able to be by her bedside this morning in Pascagoula. I’m sure it would have been all six siblings, but for an April snowstorm in Kansas preventing timely travel arrangements for Marsha.

A couple of months ago, Aline was strong enough to travel back to her home in Pascagoula. Actually, it was to the FEMA trailer located behind her shell of a home which had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. She wanted to go home. Aline wanted to be in Pascagoula, even if it mean having to stay in a 28 ft. camper while reconstruction on her home proceeded. She wouldn’t have had it any other way. And, when her mind was made up about something, there really wasn’t any use in arguing about it. It was settled. Period.

I asked Janice this morning what she remembered best about her mom. She told me about Aline’s penchant for fishing and for cooking. Gumbo, you understand, just isn’t gumbo unless the roux is right. And the roux won’t be right unless you stir it constantly until it is a smooth and velvety brown. And Aline’s gumbo was always right. The only thing better was her fried chicken.

Christian, who is probably the the most natural fisherman I’ve ever known, told me that he couldn’t keep up with Aline when it came to catching bream and bass. It didn’t matter about the bait, the equipment, whether in a boat or off the dock, or sitting on an overturned five-gallon bucket, fishing off the banks using a cane pole and worms, Aline was going to catch the limit. But, as much fun as it was for her to go fishing, having a large family, it wasn’t just for fun that all those fish were caught. Family income was sometimes unpredictable, and the responsibilities of raising the family often fell on her shoulders. That family loyalty was evident this morning.

Pam and Todd spent a lot of time with Aline over the past year and a half since Katrina. They both took time from work to care for her in this very difficult time. I’ve said before that it is an almost impossible job, often frustrating, very demanding, and at times, thankless. Their contributions to Aline’s final months cannot be underestimated. But, as I mentioned this morning after Aline passed away, each one of the siblings had consistently made valuable contributions to their mother’s well-being. They were there for her, but each one wanted to do more. To each of you, I say, there was nothing more to do. When your mom completed her struggle this morning, she was at peace, and she is now in a better place.

Richard and Charles live in Lucedale. Pam lives in McComb. Janice and Marsha live in Atlanta. Todd lives in Pascagoula. There are thirteen grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and a number of neices and nephews, cousins and friends. And, as dear Aunt Irma told me at the Thanksgiving reunion at the Lafont Inn a few years ago, we don’t have in-laws in this family, because, we’re all family. All of us will miss her fiercely, until we meet again.

9 Responses

  1. God Bless Her and her family, and may God Rest Her Soul
    Gibran:

    You would know the secret of death.

    But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

    The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

    If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

    For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

    In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

    And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

    Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

    Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

    Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?

    Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

    For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

    And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

    Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

    And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

    For Aline, and all the sweet ol’country girls that have gone on before us.

  2. Nuke, I’m more sorry than I can say, and please give my condolences to your wife. I’m glad for her that she was able to be back home, if only for a little while, and got to see the spring.

  3. Thanks y’all. I sure appreciate that.

  4. Thank you for letting us know about this sweet lady, and the love she brought to so many.
    Just let me know when, and I’ll put out an additional patrol on the perimeter.
    Wish I could do more.

  5. ….additional patrol on the perimeter?

    /Did I miss a memo?

  6. It will be wonderful when we meet our loved ones again who have gone on from this world. Our condolences to your family, I’m sure you and your wife’s mother will be missed greatly. I think it is touching that you do not have in-laws, only family. May you find comfort in the Holy Spirit during your time of grief.

  7. I’m sorry for your loss Nuke. My condolences.

  8. I am a family friend of Janice and Daryl and I know that everyone is hurting at this time. It is so hard to lose someone that you love, but we know that God has a better place for her now and her pain and suffering has ended. We wish you all Blessings and know that our hearts and prayers are with you all. Peace be with you in your time of sorrow. God is there for comfort. God Bless, Jack and Connie Westbrook

  9. Thank you for your very kind words, Connie.

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