I’ve just come home from an incredible weekend. There are so many thoughts going through my tired mind. I apologize in advance for any disconnectedness, and for what may be a lengthy post. My heart is full and overflowing. 🙂
I loved my Aunt Jonnie. She was married to Carroll, one of Mama’s brothers, and was an absolute joy to be around. For many years she battled Alzheimer’s, and on Tuesday of last week she passed away. I remember how, as a child, she always made me feel so special, as if I was her favorite. She was always funny, always the “life of the party.” She was a wonderful artist. I didn’t get to see her but once (maybe twice) a year while I was growing up, but I remember always looking forward to when her family would visit.
Jonnie and me, August 2010
Last year, when Danny and I took a vacation to Savannah and Charleston, we stopped in Summerville and visited with Jonnie and Carroll and their two daughters Cheryl and Chanda. It was a wonderful time of reunion and reminiscing. Jonnie told me, “don’t talk about anything that happened more than 30 minutes ago, ’cause I won’t remember it.” We looked at pictures of my kids on my laptop, and she oohed and aahed over each one. She said of Andy, “I think I’d like him.” She made me feel just as special as she did when I was a little girl. I am so thankful now that Danny and I made that visit!
Mama, Barbara, Carroll, Wayland, Pop and Mom
I went down to middle Georgia on Thursday, and on Friday Mama and I traveled over to Moncks Corner to be with the family. A little bit of background — Mama, Uncle Carroll, and Aunt Barbara are the three remaining members of their immediate family. (Their brother Wayland passed away in 2000.)
Barbara, Carroll, Mama
Here’s a picture from a few years back. 🙂 I love comparing this one to the one that was taken last Saturday after the funeral.
Barbara, Mama, Jonnie
Friday was a long day, both physically and emotionally. Mama and I talked some, and rode in silence some. I know she must have had a million thoughts going through her mind. She and Jonnie were the same age, married the same year, had six of their combined nine children at corresponding times, and used to spend hours during visits just talking about things. Jonnie was Mama’s sister-in-law, but I think she was really more like a sister.
We got to Moncks Corner, checked into the hotel, and headed for Carroll’s house. The next few hours were spent reuniting with Carroll and Barbara, as well as with my cousins Cheryl, Chuck, Chanda, Chip, Chad, and Lee. What a wonderful time it was!
Chip and me
My cousin Chip and I are the same age (okay, okay, Chip, I know you’re a month and 9 days younger . . . but who’s counting?), and we used to ‘pal around’ when our families visited each other during our childhood. It was so great to be able to spend extra time with him during the three days we were there. Mama and Barbara were able to have some ‘alone’ time with Carroll.
Chuck, Meg, Mama, Chanda, Cheryl, Chad, Carroll, me, Chip
Barbara, Carroll, and Mama
On Saturday we added my sister Meg and her husband Bob to the mix. The funeral was Saturday afternoon, and there was more family time Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Mama and I left MC on Sunday, returned to Forsyth, GA, and I came back to Anderson on Monday. What a trip!
I know that we all view things differently when we are processing them through our own filter of personal relationships and family experiences. And I’ve already rambled a lot. But allow me just a couple of random observations:
Family is awesome. I spent some time in my boy-crazy teenage years giving my parents trouble. I spent more time as an adult rejecting my immediate family, and caused hurt to my parents that no child should inflict. I’m still guilty of forgetting to call home/go home as often as I should. But this weekend was a reminder of how precious and how valuable family is. Those hours that I spent with relatives who carry the Watts genes gave me memories that I will treasure for a long, long time. Family was hurting, and family came to help.
Carroll and Mama talking things over
Secondly, I just have to say that my Mama is incredible. I know it was a hard trip for her, both emotionally and physically, but she was a trooper. I can only hope that when I am eighty-one (oops, sorry, Mama), I’ll be able to attack life like she does. I may not always show it, but I love you, my Mama! 🙂