Tuesday, October 20, 2015


"Well," Meems said softly.  Just "well."

I called from Florida where Alan and I were attending a wedding to relay the news that one of her BFFs from Waco passed away.

The conversation began with idle chat.

Me:  "Hey!  What have you been up to today?"

Meems:  "Nothing.  We don't have exercise class on Saturday."

Me:  "Did you have a good breakfast?"

Meems:  "Yes."

Me:  "What did you have?"

Meems:  "I don't remember."

Me:  "I have some sad news.  Rachel passed away last night."

Meems:  "Well."

Me:  "She was such a great friend."

Meems:  "Well.  [pause]  She'd been sick."

I have no idea why W.E. is posing behind Meem's
TV which was pushed up against that wall.  "Here,
let's move the TV out and you stand BEHIND IT!"
Meems has a multitude of long time friends.  She's a lover of all people.  People tend to return the favor.  Three of her BFFs in Waco were Lee & W.E. Nelson, and Rachel. (Rachel's the lady in the middle of the middle picture.)  Together they celebrated birthdays, New Years Eves, St. Patrick's Days, Fourth of Julys, and any other days that Meems could find a reason to celebrate.  

Lee passed away several years ago.  W.E. soon followed.  Meems moved to Raider Ranch in Lubbock, and Rachel moved to a place in Austin to be near her daughter.

Faithfully, Meems (with the help of her Lubbock BFF, Leonard) called to check on Rachel once a week.  I would get the reports.  "Rachel is doing fine.  She said to tell you 'hi!'"  "Rachel has been sick lately."  "Rachel has congenital [sic] heart failure but said she's OK."  "We haven't been able to reach Rachel on the telephone this week."

I had to compose myself before I made the call to Meems.  I didn't really know Rachel that well because she and Meems became friends after I was married and had moved away.  But, I knew all that Rachel had done for my mother over the years.  

When Rachel cooked a birthday dinner, she made it a birthday feast.  "She had baked chicken, rice, carrots, peas, green beans, a green salad, cole slaw, cake and 2 kinds of ice cream!" Meems would brag.  If Meems had a runny nose, Rachel brought a meal and felt her forehead for fever.  Like Meems, Rachel loved extravagantly. 

I'm not sure how much Meems actually remembers about Rachel.  Her mind is in the process of simplification.  Breakfast.  Check.  Excercise.  Check.  Lunch.  Check.  Afternoon snack.  Check.  Dinner.  Check.  Church on Sunday.  Check.  A dwindling loop of memories plays during our time together.  "I'm SO glad I got that long term health care policy!"  "The preacher that married your daddy and me said I was the prettiest bride he'd ever seen!"  "I used to date a guy who played in a dance band with Tex Beneke."  She added the detail that he was a Filipino sometime this year.  I highly doubt that detail.  It's more likely that his name was Phil Ipino.

Meems is pretty matter of fact about life and death.  It is what it is.  Some people die too young.  Some people live a long, good life.  Either way.  The only time she fears death is when she learns that I'm heading to some beach destination.  "Don't get in the water!!!  Sharks EAT people!"  Either way.  

As a woman of faith, she knows beyond a shadow of a shadow of doubt that there is a New Jerusalem.  When she sees Lee, W.E., and Rachel there, her face will light up and she'll do that funny sideways clap she does - the one where her fingers point in a bit towards her elbows as she awkwardly smacks her palms together.

Rev. 21:1-2  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.  The first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  There was no more sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem.  It was coming down out of heaven from God.  It was made ready like a bride is made ready for her husband.

Thank you, Rachel, Lee, and W.E. for loving my mother like a sister.  She says that she's going to live to be 100 so that she can see her picture on the Smuckers Jar during the Today Show, so it will be a minute til you hear her clapping.  But, boy, will she be clapping!