Friends – Part I 6/26/17

Sometimes you just have to pack a bag, get in your car, and go on a road trip by yourself.

I did that this weekend.

Ted babysat the dogs, and I headed for Georgia.  My original intent was to visit my very best friend in all the world – Helen McCorvey – and her husband Paul.  I did that, but I also got to spend time with cousin Wanda in Sylvester, spend two nights with wonderful friends Dawn and her husband Stevie – AND got to see tons of friends at the ri’vah (where we lived for many years before we moved to Florida).  It was a very special few days, and I arrived home Sunday afternoon with my heart overflowing with the joy of friendships that never change – regardless of how much time has passed since we’ve even been in the same state.

Helen was my Junior year English teacher at Worth County High School in Sylvester GA.  Paul taught me World History.  Neither had been long out of college.  It was Paul’s fourth year teaching and Helen’s second.  Paul made history as exciting as it could be for this girl who hates history, but the time I spent in Helen’s class changed my life forever.  She taught words and language and expression with a passion I’d never heard before.  She opened the world of writing to me and planted the seed that took years to germinate into a blog – but germinate it did, and I have Helen to thank for that.

But that’s not where the story ends.  In the late 80’s I was a single mom working in a bank when Helen was named Public Information Director for the Dougherty County School System in Albany GA.  I heard she was looking for a secretary and called her, even though we hadn’t spoken in almost 20 years.  I told her who I was, said I’d heard she needed a secretary and that I was interested in the job.  She said, “Can you type?”  I said, “Yes, I can.”  She said, “You’re hired.”

And so a relationship, which began in a high school English class, has now spanned over 50 years.  I worked for Helen until she retired, and what I learned from her over those years qualified me to take not her place (nobody could) – but her position in the school system, where I worked until my own retirement.

Working for Helen was like being in her class every day of the year.  She taught me more than I could have ever learned from anyone else (the mechanics of publications, writing, design and marketing), but instead of giving me grades on a report card, she gave me her friendship.  Over the years Ted and I, she and Paul, and another couple went on annual “after-Christmas” trips to the beach together.  We exchange gifts and cards on important occasions, and we love each other across the miles that separate us.

Helen hails from Charleston and is the consummate genteel Southern lady.  She still speaks with a Charleston drawl that I admit took me a while to understand back in the day.  The first time she asked me to look in a “draaaaw” for something, I scratched my head and said, “Ma’am?”  I finally figured out she was saying “drawer”.

Helen always dressed to perfection, with never a hair out of place and with makeup perfectly applied.  None of that has changed a lick. She was always prepared, always had projects ready ahead of deadline, would not accept anything but perfection in grammar and punctuation (I always worry about that since I know she reads this blog), and made it all look as easy and natural as breathing.

As a friend she is loyal, trustworthy, true, kind and loving.  She saw me through some of the roughest times of my life and never once judged the many mistakes I made.  She was the big sister I never had, and I love her to the moon and back.  I remain in awe that she feels the same way about me.

In a nutshell, Helen was my hero.  She still is.

When Helen retired, I gave her a little framed memento that read, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.  I hope mine is right next door to yours.”  Lord, I pray you work out a way to make that happen, even if I’m just in the shed out back.

Helen loves the outdoors and her beautiful yard shows it.  They live on a beautiful Pine Mountain ridge near Manchester and Warm Springs.

Helen and I during our days of working together. This was probably at a Teacher of the Year banquet. She has this framed and sitting near their fireplace. Lawd! Was I blonde or what!

Paul did the photography honors and snapped this Saturday afternoon as I was preparing to leave.

I’m still smiling about seeing this beautiful lady this weekend.  We went out to eat lunch at the Bulloch House in Warm Springs, and everyone in the place knew Helen and Paul. That didn’t surprise me at all.  They’re just good people.

Hope to see you again soon, Helen and Paul! Love you more.

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More on my time at Lake Blackshear this weekend in a couple of days!  It was so much fun!

 

 

 

Throw Back Tuesday – Have You Ever Had One of Those Days? 1/31/17

Personal Note:  For today’s Throw back Tuesday post, a goodie from May of 2009.  It was my first summer of blogging, and we were a few days from leaving for the island.  We were still in the process of decorating our condo, so we had much more stuff to carry than we could pack in the truck.

I love going back and reading these posts.  This one puts me right back at home in south Georgia, where we still have dear, dear friends we don’t get to see nearly enough.  Marianne and Cecil Lashley and Sally and Ed Feagin, this one is for y’all!

Header:  Kem and Ed Green, friends and blog readers from Iowa, are enjoying their first winter stay on the island this week.  They arrived on Sunday (no ferry on Sundays), so they flew over from St. Ignace.  Kem is sending lots of photos from their trip, and I’ll be sharing those in next Sunday’s blog.  And there will be a Throw Back Thursday blog on Feb. 2!

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First published May 14, 2009:  Yesterday we took all our boxes to the UPS store in Americus to ship.  We had five boxes, one rubber-banded together set of 7 golf clubs, and 4 pictures we had framed for the condo. We were going to have UPS package the golf clubs and pictures because we had cut a 50% off UPS packaging coupon out of the Sunday paper magazine section.

IMG_0074The young man who worked in the UPS store put one of the boxes on the scales and told us the box would be on the island on Friday,  and shipping would be $38.23.  I said, “We really don’t want it to be there Friday – we won’t be there by then.  We’d like it to get there Tuesday of next week.”  “Oh,” said young UPS man,  “then you can send it ‘guaranteed’, and that same box will cost $78.42.”  To which I replied sweetly, “Young UPS man, please explain how it can be twice as much to ship this box to arrive 4 days later?”  Bradley (I had looked at his name tag by then) said, “It’s because it’s GUARANTEED to be there on Tuesday.”  I said (still sweetly), “We don’t care if it is guaranteed, we just want it to not get there before we do.”  Bradley said, “Ma’am (it always ticks me off when a cute young man calls me ma’am), that’s the only other way it can go.  Either it costs $38.23 and gets there Friday, or it’s $78.42 and guaranteed to get there the following Tuesday.”

At this point my husband Ted, having lived with me for 20 years and recognizing the warning signs, stepped in.  Now Ted is the most tactful person who ever lived.  I mean if he were President, there would be peace throughout the world.  He says, “Bradley, why don’t you just package the golf clubs and the pictures for us, and we will take all of it to the post office to mail.”  Bradley said, “Sir that is an EXCELLENT way to ensure you won’t get them for at least two weeks.”  I said, “Which is exactly what we want, Bradley.”

We load all EIGHT boxes back into the truck (packaging had only cost $33.22 with the coupon), run by a hardware store and get a couple of house keys made, go to Wal-Mart, and head back to the lake, planning to stop at the post office close to home and mail the boxes.  We are about 2/3 of the way home when I notice the truck is slowing down.  I say, “Honey, why are we stopping?”  Ted says, “I have no idea, I’m not touching the brakes.”  We coast down a hill with no power and pull off on the side of the road.  Ted tries to crank the truck – nothing.  Ted looks under the hood – nothing out of the ordinary.  Ted calls AAA and is told it will be 45 minutes before the tow truck gets there to take us BACK to Americus to the dealership.

IMG_0086Here’s what happened over the next 3 hours:  We called Sally to come pick ME up to go get my car from the house so I could go get Ted in Americus if they had to keep the truck.  Sally, following Ted’s directions I might add, couldn’t find us.  When she didn’t show up, we called Cecil who passed Sally going in the other direction.  I called Sally, who told me she had been looking for us for an hour.  I told her never to listen to directions from Ted again.  The tow truck arrived, we unloaded our boxes into Cecil’s truck (who had no trouble finding us going by MY directions), and Ted and tow man started back to Americus with the truck.  Cecil said, ” Since the boxes are in the back, why don’t we stop at the post office and get them mailed?”  Wonderful!

The Cobb post office is a wonderful facility.  The building is a modular home sitting practically on top of a railroad track and is a total of maybe 200 square feet.  Inside is the nicest postmistress in the world.  Cecil and I walk in with 8 boxes.  She puts the first box on the scale and says,  “This box can be on the island on Friday for $13.26.”  Can you see where this is going?  I say, “Don’t want it there Friday, want it there Tuesday of next week.”  Nice postmistress says, “Well, for $11.46, it will be there in 10 days to 2 weeks.”  I grin really big and say, “That’s perfect.”  While the boxes are being labeled, Ted calls and says, “The truck will have to stay overnight, you need to come get me.”  I say, “I’m in the process of paying the $125.78 it costs to get eight boxes to the island in two weeks, and I still haven’t gone home to pick up my car.”  Ted doesn’t laugh.  Cecil volunteers to take me back to Americus to pick up Ted instead of taking me home to my car.  I say, “OK, but can we stop by that Mexican restaurant on the way into Americus and get a couple of shots of tequila?”  I’m just KIDDING!!!!!!  We pick up Ted, Cecil takes us home, and our one hour trip to ship boxes is finally over 5 hours later.

springatlakeThe redeeming part of this story is the truck did not wait to break down on Saturday when we were in Kentucky or Tennessee or Ohio on Interstate 75, with two dogs on board and no friends anywhere within 700 miles.  God is so good.