Seems to me that my high school graduating class gets closer with each passing year. We are almost like brothers and sisters, and when one of our parents dies, we all grieve.
That was the case this week when my chums, from Memphis to Gulfport, dropped what they were doing and headed home to rally around our friend, Beth, who lost her mother at the age of 91. Miss Wilma was the epitome of a Southern Lady who was loved by everyone lucky enough to know her. She is pictured in the lead photo at her 90th birthday party. Is it my imagination or does she look younger than some of her “chillun?”
She considered each of us her own, and many an evening was spent in her kitchen where impromptu “hen parties” were conducted… with Miss Wilma in the middle of it all. The guys often dropped by and were always welcome.
From left Tommy Bryan, Phil Dickerson, Gene Carothers, Jimmy Henley, Bob Marshall, Barbara Bryan, Billy Damron, Ruthie Weather, Norma Atkins and All Sage were among early arrivals for the celebration of Miss Wilma’s life. (Susie Marshall is hiding behind Hence.)
At right, Bill Damron, Olivia Catledge Portera, Marie Portera and Norma Clark Atkins gathered for lunch following the funeral service. We shared some never revealed stupid stories of our youth and our laugh lines got deeper by the minute!
We all had stories and memories about Miss Wilma, but my favorite was reported by our classmate, Phil. “Miss Wilma would call my mother on the phone and together they would sing hymns over the phone,” he recalled. None of us could imagine doing such a thing today, unless we could tweet or text the song.
I just sat and listened to more than five separate conversations going on among my classmates around the dinner table. Especially amusing was a discourse between Phil and Gene bragging about their cholesterol levels, while Al and Tinker chatted about the heartbreak of knee pain on their long distance runs.
I discussed the dangers of getting out of a recliner after a three hour nap and BobMarshall talked about the day in third grade that he broke Jim Ellis’ nose with a baseball bat. In some kind of weird way I think that made Jim’s voice perfect for calling games for MSU football, basketball and baseball..