In Dec. 6 IssueRussell County NewsBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
It was a hot summer night back in the late 1980s.
Music was blaring from a quaint, mobile home near Webbs Cross Road.
A card game was in full swing inside-accented by an occasional "whoop," "yelp," or burst of laughter.
Two figures were leaning against the rail on the back deck.
A female was attempting to console a male.
"I always come to these parties alone," the man(?) said, "and I always leave alone."
"Well," the female said, "you just haven't found the right one yet."
"WILL I?" the man(?) said.
"Yes, honey you will," the female said. "I PROMISE"
And when she flashed that famous grin of hers, he couldn't help but smile, too.
Some twenty years later, music is blaring from a home off John Street.
Children of all ages and sizes are running in and out of a quaint, brick home.
Laughter is all around, and the same male and female are once again on a back deck, but the conversation is different this time.
"You remember what I told you a long time ago?" the female said.
The male paused, scratched his thinning hair, and issued a puzzled look.
"I told you that you would find the right one someday," she said.
With a sweeping gesture, she pointed to the back yard where a beautiful, young woman was carrying one young child while chasing several others who were playing a game.
She threw back her head, laughed that contagious laugh of hers, and said...
"Did you ever think you'd marry my niece?"
There's a line in the Talking Heads song "Once in a Lifetime" that I thought of as I left the funeral home the other day.
To paraphrase: "And you may ask yourself...well, how did I get here?"
I've known Teresa Carnes Stephens for a long time.
No, I cannot tell you the first time we met, but I can tell you I was quite smitten with those rosy cheeks, shiny smile and constant, cheery disposition.
I feel I must warn you now that as I discuss her you may want to get a notebook to keep track of things because it may get confusing.
OK, here we go (and I can see her now, clapping her hands together, saying, "Tell them all about! They're never going to believe it!" Which, of course, would be followed by a fit of hysterical laughing).
Teresa used to be best friends with my FIRST wife.
They were friends back in the 70s.
Alot of times, after people graduate from high school, they sometimes lose touch. That's sorta what happened with them.
I got married the first time (better have a calculator handy) back in the late 1980s.
At that time, my first wife (who was a few years older than me) and her once-best friend, Teresa, hadn't really talked or seen each other that much.
My first wife and I always enjoyed reminiscing about our mutual acquaintance.
But after something like 11 months, 29 days and three hours of marriage, my first wife and I divorced.
In the aforementioned 1980s, I was a frequent attendee at the seemingly constant parties Teresa and others hosted.
It was during those times Teresa and I got to know each other to the point we shared our precious books and music with each other (Remember this because it will be important later).
I, myself, sorta lost track of Teresa when I eventually remarried...and divorced, and remarried...and divorced-which takes us up to about five years ago.
Long story short (Oh PLEASE the readers are saying) my current (or FOURTH) wife (who is oh, let's say quite a bit younger than me) get together.
She came over one night...and never left.
Hey, I'm not complaining.
There arrived a time when my soon-to-be-wife, Renee', began moving her "things" to my humble abode.
I was carrying a heavy box up the stairs for her one day when I asked her what in the #$%* she had in there.
"Books," she said.
Hey, a women after my own heart.
I asked her if I could look at the books and she tried to discourage me.
"Oh," she said, "you'd just think they are silly. It's nothing you'd like."
(This is where Teresa would jab you in the arm, laugh, and say, "Listen to this part!")
I opened the box and just stood there kinda dumb-founded.
"Wow!" I said. "This is the same kind of stuff I read!"
There was some Alfred Hitchcock books, a few occult books, and a Pink Floyd book particulary caught my attention.
"Man!" I said. "Where'd you get these? They're great. I even used to have a Pink Floyd book like this but I haven't seen it forever."
Then it hit me.
It couldn't be.
No freakin' way.
"I borrowed them off my Aunt Teresa," Renee' said.
"You wouldn't be talking about Teresa Carnes, would you?" I asked.
"Yeah!" Renee' said. "Isn't she just like the coolest person in the world?"
I stared down at these books I hadn't seen in several years and this weird wave of nostalgia washed over me.
"I do know Teresa," I said. "I sure do."
"Well, how?" Renee' asked.
I think we sat up all night talking about her, and how much she meant to us.
The first time we visited her as a couple she warmly greeted us with a hug, and I remember her saying "This is great!"
She was the first person to say something "positive" to us in comparison to the occasional odd glance, or plain-out "WHAT?!" we would get in public.
"You better take care of her," she told me.
"And you better take care of him," she told Renee'.
Teresa had that "maternal instinct" that so many people cherished.
She was a valued confidant, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen.
And I just can't imagine what the "ridge" is going to be like without her.
She and her husband Greg, (or "Clyde" as so many call him) had a true, "open door" policy at their home.
At one of their legendary, annual Easter Egg Hunts, I asked Teresa who some of the kids were in attendance.
"I don't even know!" she said with a laugh. "Doesn't matter...they're all welcome here."
Even if 20 kids were there, she would know if one ventured too close to the road, if one fell and scraped an arm or leg while playing, or even if a child's drink was empty and a refill was needed.
Teresa's home was a refuge for those who needed anything-no matter what time of day or night.
At her funeral last week, I heard some speak about her "Christ-like qualities."
I agree with that.
And you know what?
I'm looking forward to the day when I see her again-maybe on a back deck somewhere up in Heaven, and she says...
"You've found the right One."