Rob & I went to a funeral today in my hometown of Woodruff. One of my neighbors who was so much a part of my life growing up passed away. After my daddy died when I was 14, I don’t know what Mama & I would have done without our wonderful neighbors, Ruskin & Barbara Nell. No matter what was needed, all we had to do was call them on the phone or knock on their back door and ask. Never a problem; always with a smile. As I sat in the sanctuary of my home church, I thought about all of the people in the church who had been so important to me. I looked around the sanctuary and remembered where some people always sat and knew that those seats were now empty. I remembered where my SS classes and training union classes were. I loved sword drills. I loved GA’s. Ruskin & Barbara Nell’s only child, Roger, was my crown bearer when I completed my steps in GA’s and was crowned Queen. It seems like we were always at church; if the doors were open, we were there and so were they. Listening to Roger reflect on his mom’s life, I couldn’t help but smile and sometimes laugh. She was so special, so humble and so loved. She always had a smile on her face. I remember her laugh. I remember that whenever I would go to their house there would always be cookies in the kitchen and, of course, I would always eat one. I remember the times in the summer when she would buy watermelon and invite us to come help her eat it because she wouldn’t be able to eat it all. We would sit at the picnic table inside the fence where Roger played and eat watermelon and talk. I remember thinking that she was so smart. At some point she began asking me to roll her hair and I have no idea why. I had no idea what I was doing but she would call me, usually from over the fence, and ask me to come on over. She would lean over the kitchen sink, wash her hair and then would sit at the kitchen table while I rolled her hair. We had good conversations during those times. She cared about me and Mama and we cared about her. She was a special person and a wonderful neighbor. I had not seen her since 1999 when Mama died. A few years ago she called me on the phone. I answered the phone and she said, “hey Kathy, do you know who this is? It’s Barbara Nell”. Out of the blue she called and we talked for a few minutes. I promised to come see her but I never lived up to my promise and I regret that. She was so special to me but I didn’t take time to visit her. I should have; I know that now.
After the funeral Rob took me to the only home I had ever known until we got married. Daddy and 2 of my uncles built that house in 1953, the year I was born. It was a 4 room house with 1 bathroom, 1 closet and a space heater in the living room. I loved that house. It is vacant now so we got out of the car and walked around. I looked in the windows and nothing looked the same. We had a big back yard that now was so overgrown I couldn’t even see the neighbor’s houses. I stood in the backyard and cried. The house was still there but my home wasn’t. It now lives in my memories. I stood in the front yard, looked towards their house and I thanked God for Ruskin, Barbara Nell and Roger. I have no doubt that Mama & Barbara Nell are busy talking, picking up right where they left off. In fact, I think I just heard angelic laughter.
Barbara Nell, I loved you and I hope you somehow knew that. ❤️