Because of my age, my friend’s parents are in their late 80s or early 90s. Attending their funerals is bittersweet—happily they’re Home, though, no more tears, no more pain. Their funerals evoke something else, too, another day and age. While waiting to offer my condolences to family members, I enjoy watching the sideshow of vintage snaps from the lives of those promoted to Glory. Such was the case this morning while attending the visitation for Miss Shirley—Mrs. Shirley A. White. She’s been a member of Gulfport’s First Baptist Church for as long as I can remember and was, to say the least, the last of a quickly vanishing class of women…she was a lady!
I have fond remembrances of her haute couture fashions, her glittering jewelry, and her hats and furs. She was also a force with which to be reckoned. When a young salesman from New Orleans got testy with her in the mid-80s, during a Decorating Committee meeting about replacing the sanctuary’s stained glass, Miss Shirley dropped the moonlight and magnolias. With an arched eyebrow and a pointed index finger, she said, “Boy! Don’t you ever talk to me like that again. I’ll come off this pew and pop you upside your head.” Civility was quickly regained.
While watching the snaps of Miss Shirley’s early years, imagine my surprise when I saw one of her with her children at Gulfport’s small craft harbor. Instantly, my mind was flooded with memories of my dear mother. Dad took a snap of Mom and me at the harbor, too, in much the same area as the snap of Miss Shirley and her children. The Markham Hotel is prominent in Miss Shirley’s snap. It’s just visible in the upper righthand corner of the snap with Mom and me. Of course, Miss Shirley gets top marks for her hat and gloves. Unfortunately, Mom left hers in the car. When she went to get them, Dad insisted that the snap must be taken right then and there. “Jackie,” he said, “forget the hat and gloves.” Men…no sense of fashion. ()
As I’ve aged, my memories have become the glue that holds my life together. I’ve learned that life is comprised of both tears and smiles. I know that my tears will eventually dry, and my smiles may possibly fade. But hopefully, my memories will sustain me until the Good Master calls me Home.
Thankfully, Miss Shirley and my dear mother will evoke precious memories until that time comes.