Friday, April 03, 2009

Long Ago Friends

Sher called me this morning early so I knew something was amiss or had happened. With all the moving plans and chores she had to do I didn't know... So I was very saddened when she told me her long-time friend Diane Paulk's mother Billie Hall had died yesterday. Diane called Sher early this morning. Billie was just 74 and had contracted a fatal skin disease (necrotizing fascitis). She'd been in ICU since March 9.

They live in the Threets Crossroads (Cloverdale, AL) area, where we lived about 46 or so years ago. Sher and Diane met in first grade at the little country six-grade school we attended and have been friends ever since. The friends I made there I lost contact with and I know my closest friend died several years ago, but I didn't know that until after the fact. Since we'll be in Iuka this weekend, Sher wanted us to go to the funeral. Diane and her Aunt Carolyn came to Mama's visitation and it meant so very much to us - we had a history among us at Threets/Cloverdale going way back, some memories not so good, but others of childhood friendship, walking dusty roads and across green fields, playing house and wading in sandy-bottomed creeks. They were our greatest friends, represented stability and normalcy in our often chaotic lives, and took the time to reach across the span of years to be with us. Mama and Billie were friends; I don't remember how close, but there was friendship because of their young daughters.

Carolyn (Carely Faye), Diane's aunt, was a good friend of mine, and it was good to see her when they came to Mama's visitation.Sher asked me to order an azalea, and I did. I called the funeral home to be sure of the location of the service. I found Billie's obituary in the Times Daily Florence newspaper and emailed Sher. I called Amy to let her know of our plans and said she is welcome to go with us and she said she will. I Googled the location of Threets and I could just about pinpoint where we lived! Who would have thought all those years ago, we could see the treetops around where we used to live?

Of course, hearing about Billie and the bond we've shared over the years, visiting Diane sporadically, but keeping in touch - there are just some friendships that never end - you just take up right where you left off - brought back sharp memories of what we experienced with Mama. It's so hard to lose your mother. So many times I've wanted to call and just talk, or ask something, or send Mama pictures or poems, like I used to; or hear her say, "What do ya'll want to eat?" Like this weekend. And Diane and her family will experience the same things.

It will be a pretty hurried weekend - it was going to be anyway - but we must go. We couldn't not go. The funeral is at 3:00 tomorrow, and we should be back in Iuka from the service by 5:00 at the latest. The quickest way for us to go is up the Natchez Trace, and it's about a 45-minute drive. Paul's brother David is going to have supper for us; he'd already planned that and it is such a pleasure to be with him and Sandra and his girls if they're home this weekend. Hopefully, Sunday afternoon we can eat out with Mike and his family, see Steve before he goes to Texas to his son Andy's. Once again, we will gather and then spread out, going our own ways, living life, pausing to remember other times, other dear ones.

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