Sunday, September 28, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady#331
Nancy White Kelly

Some families have reunions the old-fashioned way. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins come together at a particular place at a certain date and time. My family did this a few years ago when an organization called Making Memories granted a personal wish of having the extended White family come together before my funeral instead of after it.

This was when my cancer prognosis was grim and most everyone thought I was in my last few weeks. That reunion, held at Brasstown Bald, was wonderful. I saw relatives I had not seen in years and may never see again…at least not in this world. Two attendees, a young sister-in-law and an aunt have since both died with cancer. At the time of my family reunion, neither of them even knew they had the disease.

Buddy has a cousin who originally had an idea for a family reunion four years ago. Sandra even bought new mattresses and a day-bed in anticipation of a full-blown gathering. Circumstances prevented the reunion. Sandra’s mother and dad became seriously ill. Her mother died. Sandra consequently became care-taker of her very sick father in addition to her husband who was also very ill.

Sandra is not one to give up on an idea. Instead of a big family gathering, she began what we now call a mail reunion. Almost weekly we get photographs and sometimes hilarious stories from childhood adventures.

Sandra’s husband and father passed away recently. The funerals were within weeks of each other. In spite of the sadness, she has continued the reunion. Buddy and I received an up-date from Sandra this past week demonstrating a remarkable sense of humor.

She wrote, “I am not in intensive care. I am not in the psychiatric ward. I am not in jail. Nothing has been repossessed all day. No bounty hunter is looking for me and no one has shot at me for two weeks.” (She lives in rural Alabama where hunters are sometimes careless.)

This cousin concluded with her observation of seasons. “At the present time it is hurricane season and football season. And, as if that were not enough, hunting season is on the way. If we can just make it to the 31st day of January, we will be out of all these pesky seasons.”

Sandra failed to mention the election season with all its grandiose promises. If America can survive until November 4th, we will have elected a new president as well as many other state and national politicians. Then perhaps those seemingly endless mail and television advertisements, as well as unsolicited campaign phone calls, will cease for a season. Perhaps we can get back to normal life.

Oops, I forgot. The holiday season is coming so we best get ready to stuff the turkey, string the Christmas lights and fill another calendar with yet another round of seasons.

Wise King Solomon nailed it right: “To everything there is a season…a time to live and a time to die…a time to laugh and a time to cry.”

I am dying to live for another season, but am desirous of adding life to my earthly years, not years to my life.
If Shakespeare were still with us, he would probably write, “Away with this gloom and doom. Away, away I say.”

The Living Lady says, “Let’s hear it for a smiling season.” It is the second best thing to do with your lips.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #330

Nancy White Kelly

This is my seventh plus year of writing this column. It was never intended to be an open-ended journal of my personal life. Somehow it has evolved into that. I have never been much of a chit-chatter. Even as a young mother, the subject of a dozen ways to fold a diaper didn’t appeal to me. Therefore, I avoided the Tupperware and Mary Kay parties.

There are still many details about my life that only God and I share. I like it that way. God is a good listener and doesn’t gossip. Frankly, it even amazes me that I write my thoughts so freely in this column. You readers are the reason. You egg me on.

As a result of my unexpected notoriety this past decade as a newspaper columnist and spasmodic national news personality, hardly a day goes by that I don’t get email. Some are new friends who need encouragement in their battle with cancer. Others are just curious. They inquire about the status of the movie or wonder how about my own progress is in the cancer war. Recent emails included inquiries about the coin shop, the Kelly menagerie of animals and, of course, dear Buddy. Everybody loves Buddy.

Rather than string readers along until a column touches a particular topic of interest, I will respond today to all of the above.

The movie! Oh, yes. You remember. Back earlier in the year a prominent and successful California producer contacted me about making a movie of my life. I was paid for the rights to the Journal of a Living Lady. From that point on, I have had no say so in what happens. That is the way the system works.

The wheels turn slowly in Hollywood as Mr. CouturiƩ has reminded me. I have tried to not to be a pest. The last email from him explained that those who are interested in fronting the money feel that it should be a documentary instead of a movie. The conclusion was that it should be balanced with at least one other who has survived unfathomable odds and who demonstrated wit and faith in adversity. The kicker was that the group thought that this person needed to be an African-American. Mr. CouturiƩ is looking for such an individual and that is where our last conversation ended. Let me know when you see a limousine on the way to Young Harris.

As for my cancer battle, we are in a wait and see stage. I am stable and extremely grateful for that label. As most of you are aware, I have been through two major cancer bouts, one in 1985 and another in 1998. The prognosis was poor and I spent months in hospice. Two years ago my kidneys shut down and I was on dialysis. Thankfully, that episode of my life is past history and, for now, my life is reasonably normal.

My tenure as temporary administrator of the MACA has happily concluded. The school is in good hands. Buddy and I are now able to concentrate more on our fledgling Ye Old Coin Shop which is within spittin’ distance of our home. Buddy installed a video camera which allows me to go back and forth without losing sight of him or arriving customers.

The best news is that I am back in the saddle again with the one passion that has been constant for most of my life. I started teaching Bible when I was twelve years old; except for a couple of respites, this has been a continuous activity for close to fifty years. Because of other responsibilities, I have been a student myself in the last several months. My batteries were re-charged with the good, old-timey teaching of Allan Driskell.

Early one morning a few weeks ago, I told Buddy that I would like to teach again and that I would like to teach in the unused, old church sanctuary. My style of teaching involves lots of visual aids and is more lecture style than small-group oriented.

That same day the Associate Minister of our church called and asked if he could come to our home and talk with Buddy and me. Following the customary small talk, his question to me was, “Would you consider teaching Bible in the old sanctuary?” Buddy and I look locked eyes and knowingly smiled. Neither of us believes in luck, so the answer was easy. With Buddy eagerly agreeing to co-partner, I accepted the assignment to teach from Genesis to Revelation.

Last week the new Sanctuary Class began with Don and Lynda Gardner assisting as facilitators. We had no idea who, if anybody, would show up. Former classes had been successful, but they were short-term and taught on a week night. Twenty-seven people showed up for the first class and, by the time you read this, another session will have concluded. The group is unusually eclectic. We have a young man in his teens and a great-grandmother who reads this column. There are singles and couples, new-comers to the community as well as old-timers.

The first lessons focused on the inspiration and origin of the Bible. I love teaching those who know little about the Bible and those who think they have heard it all. The truth of the matter is that the mysteries of the Bible are inexhaustible and there is always something more to learn. The class is open, so feel free to join us at 9:00 on Sunday mornings at McConnell Memorial Church in Hiawassee.

And, finally, about the animals. Currently we have a six-month-old, soon to be spayed, Chihuahua named Zero. Buddy’s shadow is a cat named Sam that we got from the Humane Society. Buddy helped me convert our gazebo into an outdoor aviary and I claim the twelve beautiful cockatiels. This aviary has become my personal sanctuary. There is just something about birds that give me a lift in spirit and I spend time with them daily while I study and meditate.

So now you have caught up with what I refer to as the Journal of the Living Lady non- metropolitan soap opera. It ain’t over until the … lady sings.