Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas is a Time for Sadness--and Expressing Love

Sunday we learned that our neighbor G. A. White had lost his long struggle with cancer. Wednesday night we stood in line three hours as the line swirled and turned in and out of the rooms of the funeral home. It seemed most of the community was there wanting to pay their respects to this man and his family that so many loved. As we waited, we visited with those in front and behind us as well as those in the crowded lines parallel to our line. Yesterday we watched as his funeral cort├Ęge passed our house as the long train of vehicles attending the hearse traveled with him to their farm where he was buried.

Yesterday morning’s Southern Illinoisan carried the story of the terrible airplane crash 30 years ago when the University of Evansville basketball team, coach, and others were killed. Most of us recall very clearly the horror of that news. Twenty-nine people died. Recently 29 seconds of silence was held in remembrance in the Duff-Kingston Gymnasium at Eldorado named after the two players from Eldorado: Mike Duff and Kevin Kingston. Greg Smith, a player from West Frankfort, was also killed in that crash. Thirty years has not stopped the grief.

At noon, I received a message from a high school friend Lois Ferrell Doctor in California that our mutual friend Lynn Dillow Borde has died December 7th. I had sent various cards, silly notes, etc. ever since I learned Lynn was diagnosed with pre-leukemia, and I faced the fact that she would not make the trip back here that she had planned for in retirement. In fact, I had mailed a note on Monday feeling regretful that I had been negligent in recent weeks. After reading Lois’ note with the news she’d just received from Lynn’s daughter, I walked upstairs to fix Gerald’s lunch, and Lynn’s son Lance phoned telling me again of our loss.

In Spring 2002, Gerald and I visited in California at Lois and Tom‘s house. They took us to attend the SIUC softball games to watch our granddaughter Tara. We also took Lynn to dinner and had a wonderful visit in her apartment. That was the first time the three of us girl friends had been together as a trio since we said goodbye to each other in the fall of 1951 when Lois left for California. But we kept in touch, and Lois and Lynn lived close enough for occasional visits.

Tonight Katherine forwarded the column by Jimmy Dean in the Marion Daily Republican telling of the struggle for life that Gunner, the 7-year-old son of the Marshall County High School high school coach Gus Gillespie is making at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, TN. Jimmy Dean had been down to Murray to see his daughter Kara. He’d made the trip with friends including Rich Herrin. They’d stopped in the Draffenville, Kentucky, high school gym on the way down, and they’d met Gillespie as Ron Winemiller, a manager for Herrin’s at SIUC, was now assistant coach there.

Only later before they returned for the prestigious Hoopfest did they hear the bad news about Gillespie’s son. Jimmy Dean wrote how he learned 17 months ago how unimportant sports and everything else is when you are praying for a miracle for your child. Our region will always grieve for the terrible loss of Dean’s son.

Many people around the world are praying for miracles for their loved ones this Christmas season just as we are for Gerald’s brother Ken, who is in intensive care as he fights his battle for another remission of leukemia. He was better this morning, and we are hoping he is soon back in a regular room.

Jimmy Dean urges us to use this season to tell our children and loved ones how much they mean to us. A friend told me this morning about a young adult nephew who claims he doesn't believe in love--he meant any kind of love. To love and be loved are the greatest gifts we can have at Christmas or any other time. Let's not be stingy with these gifts.

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