01/27/2023

December 18, 2022: A Tribute to The Beloved Woman Who Shared My Name

Two years this week, I told you a final goodbye. In some respects, you were not the woman I knew and loved that left me. The highly organized mind contained within an extremely kind and giving person had been drained of its memory and there were debilitating health issues those last couple of years. But they cannot erase the good memories.

I often ask myself what I would say to you today if by some miracle I could have a moment with you? First, I would remind you that our life together was one heckuva journey, spanning some seven decades. These two kids from East Point. Me, editor of the high school paper, looking for a date to the Sweetheart Ball. Then asking one of my good friends, that being you at the time, to go with me. You said yes. Only one date. Only one time. And the rest, as they say, is history.

You were much smarter than was I. A member the National Honor Society and a Senior Superlative. I was neither. And yet I went off to college and you didn’t because in those days, career expectations for women were low. Most became secretaries and housewives as did you. Because of your love of medicine, you would have made a great doctor. But it was not to be.

You were a wonderful mother. You raised our two children and stayed home to do so while I pursued my career. I loved my parents dearly but my dad worked at night and my mother during the day. Coming home to a cold empty house after a bad day at school was something I did not want the kids to experience and thanks to you, they never did.

You were my biggest supporter. As I climbed – and sometimes clawed – my way up the corporate ladder, you were with me every step of the way. But you were not the typical smarmy corporate wife, trying to impress the boss. You were just you. And that was more than enough.

You were genuine. What people saw with you is what they got. There was no phoniness. You treated the most important people you met the same as you did those who had little influence, be it the U.S. Senator who brought you a homemade poundcake at Christmas or the person checking you out at the grocery store. They were all the same in your eyes.

You were kind. I always marveled at how at any store we happened to be in, you took the time to look at the employee’s name tag and addressed them by their name if you needed their assistance. Every Christmas, you would take empty wine bottles and fill them with Christmas lights and give them to many of those same employees as a way of thanking them for their help and assistance through the year. Little things mean a lot and your kindness meant a lot to them.

You were efficient. You ran the house like a Swiss watch while I focused on my job responsibilities. We were a good team. I knew with absolute certainly what external factors could impact my company’s share price on any given day. But I had no clue as to what a quart of milk cost or our monthly power bill or how to handle insurance forms. You did and you made it look easy. Looking back, I realize what you knew was a lot more complicated than what I knew.

You were not to be denied. At a time when many of your contemporaries were suffering midlife crises, you took the opportunity to go to college and pursue your goal of becoming a registered nurse. It was not easy. You had been out of school for a long time but you persevered, got your degree and had a rewarding career as an occupational nurse at Delta Air Lines. Not only that, but you had the foresight to introduce our son to your young lab partner who is now our beloved daughter-in-law.

This will be my third Christmas without you. Given my pedal-to-the-metal lifestyle and your gentle laid back personality, I never thought for one moment I would outlive you, but things don’t always go as planned. But one thing is for sure. You made this a better world for a lot of people, including me, by your presence. You were the wings beneath my wings. And thank you for the journey.