In May 23 IssueRussell County NewsBy Debbie Bell, Columnist
For the last couple of months my best friend and I have spent a lot of time in his basement building the most beautiful Memorial Day floral arrangements. Actually, he is the architect while I mostly put the flowers on sticks with floral tape for him, or point out a hole where a flower or piece of greenery needs to go. He has put together the most magnificent, colorful arrangements I've ever seen anywhere.
We call this time in the basement “Therapy”. During this time in I have thought about the loved ones I have lost. With Memorial day coming up I want to pay tribute to these people who have influenced my life and meant so much to me.
My granny was not your typical grandmother. She was so hip and modern for that time. She always wore pants while most of her generation only wore dresses or skirts. My Granny loved nothing more than playing rummy all day or watching the UK Wildcats or Cincinnati Reds. She would laugh at my dirty jokes or off color stories. She loved and accepted me just the way I was. An avid animal lover, she would sing to the chickens as she gathered eggs every evening.
One of the things I miss the most about her is her cooking, a skill that seems to be disappearing with the passing of that generation. Her homemade biscuits and chocolate pies were well known in our community. She would save her leftovers all week and then throw everything into a pot and make a soup that was out of this world. Sometimes there would be no meat in it or very little else, but it was still fabulous.
Her chicken and dumplings were so good I was able to block the image of her wringing that poor chicken's neck while singing to it. They were like fluffy clouds floating in a sea of yellow sunshine. I have never tasted apple butter like hers. I know she used cinnamon oil that she got from a pharmacist.
Many times I would beg her to give me the exact recipe for some of those things but she would only say that it was a pinch of this or a pinch of that, so all of these secrets died with her.
My granny died 22 years ago of pancreatic cancer. She was courageous and never complained during her illness. Not wanting to be a burden to her family, she had her body donated to science. She even planned her memorial service, right down to the playing of her favorite song, The Yellow Rose of Texas.
She has been one of the most influential people in my life and I only hope that I can be half the grandmother that she was.
My dad died of lung cancer four years ago on my birthday. Legally he was my step father, but he was the only Dad I ever had. My mom ran a cafe when I was a small child. Patrons would come in, play the jukebox, and offer me a nickel if I would dance, say a dirty word or puff on a cigarette (when Mom wasn't looking). Lets just say as a precocious five year old, I was quite the budding entrepreneur!
Dad once said that he fell in love with me before he fell in love with my mom. He never made any difference between me and my siblings. He even told me that I was most special because he “chose” me. My dad was a coal miner most of his life and he was the hardest working man I've ever known. But he always made time for me, teaching me how to shoot 3 pointer, coaching me in my long jumping, and teaching me to drive.
My dad loved to go to yard sales with me but the only ones he wanted to stop at were the ones with tools, torn up appliances, and lawn mowers. Once he even bought a bad of mismatched shoes. I didn't ask him why, I was afraid to.
My mom was the disciplinarian in our family, but on occasion Dad would ground or spank us. As a rebellious teen I would look at him and say, “You can't tell me what to do, you're not my real father.” I have always wished I could take those hateful words back.
My dad's favorite place to go, especially after he fell ill, was on the very top of the mountain. He would load up his truck with pops and snacks and spend the entire day there. After his death ,y brother tool that beat up old pick-up to the top of the mountain and parked it. He filled Dad's plastic cup he always carried with soda, along with some moon pies.
Since he died I cannot hear the song, “Go Rest High on the Mountain”, without crying. I will regret until the day I die that I never told my dad that I loved him and how much I appreciated him. I tried but the words would stick in my throat. I always thought there would be time, but there wasn't. I know he knew, but it was something I really needed to say.
Adam Redmon was one of the most unique, intelligent, and compassionate people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. He was wise beyond his years. I first met Adam when he was 15 years old. He played my son in “The Beverly Hillbillies”. We were so different but we became the greatest of friends. We could talk for hours and often had opposite opinions, but we learned from one another and never did we utter a harsh word.
Never did I direct a play without Adam being in it. I always looked forward to seeing what kind of character and new accent he would come up with. He completely threw himself into every role he played.
Adam was well in his way to being a wonderful teacher. He established “The Shadow Scribes”, a group that wrote poetry and discussed literature. They're still going strong today, thanks to Adam.
He set an example for us to go by. Most of all he was a true friend and he cared. When something was going on in my life he would always call to check on me or be there when I needed a shoulder.
I'm not a very religious person but sometimes when I've had a bad day or I'm cleaning at the Star and I'm so tired I can't go on, I swear I can feel Adam all around me saying, “Yes you can Deb.”
I don't know why God took him home but I do know this, Adam Redmon lived more in his 25 years than most of us do in a lifetime. In life he encouraged me, cared for me and he still does.
How true this quote from Adam dated 8/16/07, “I think we are to make the most of the life we have. Life is too short to waste, and while we are on this earth, we should do our best to enjoy life's joy, peace and happiness, and to accept and deal with life's pain, turmoil, and sadness. It is up to us to make what we will in this world”.
If I have learned anything, it is to tell the people I care about that I love them and to cherish every second I have with them. You don't have to tell strangers on the street or clerks at the grocery store ot Wal-mart like my best friend Neal does.
Don't let the words get stuck in your throat because sometimes there is no tomorrow. Word of love can be as wonderful to say as they are to hear.
Till next time-