Driving Miss Lucy

spincyclesmallIt’s time to do another Spin Cycle. Finally. I know. This week the topic was “driving”. And, miraculously, I thought of something to say about it.

Now I have to admit, I’ve been real reluctant to write anything lately. I guess y’all could say I’m pouting. See, my new baby grand daughter, and her parents, my son and his girlfriend, are planning to move away to another state. And this news is just so …..crappy…..  that I’ve been in an awful mood about it.

But I do realize that folks move all the time, especially in this economy. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my own childhood. My parents decided to move from Wilmington, NC, my hometown, to Eau Gallie, Florida when I was only five and my brother was a newborn. Now I know how lost my grandmothers must have felt, since we were their only grandchildren at the time.

But the two of them were good friends, having met on the job before either of them even got married. Both of these fine women were telephone operators for Ma Bell in the 1930’s. They both eventually married my grandfathers and settled down on the same street to raise their children. Both families attended a small Baptist church on that same street. My parents were the epitome of “childhood sweethearts”. They met as youngsters in Sunday School.

Having their children and grandchildren move to Florida in 1963 meant just one thing for these two lifelong friends, who were by then both widows. Road trips! My mother’s mother, Miss Gladys, being known as a tomboy all her life, of course drove. My father’s mother, Miss Lucy, being one of the prissiest women the South ever turned out, of course rode. Oh, and she talked. If there is one thing Miss Lucy was good at, it was talkin’ yer ears off.

I’m pretty sure she had some stories that probably lasted the whole trip.

To say my brother and I  looked  forward to these visits would be an understatement. It was a car full of love ( two grandmothers at once!)  that pulled into our driveway a few times a year, just in time for supper. They would usually stay for a few days, bestow us with hugs and kisses and gifts and plenty of grandma stories, and then make the trip back.


The two ladies seated in this picture are my grandmamas. The one on the left, in the dark glasses, is Miss Lucy. The one on the right, clutching her purse, is Miss Gladys. I think this picture was made at Miss Lucy’s birthday, when she was about 89. When she passed away, a few years later, Gladys wrote the following poem, describing their road trips to Florida to see me and my brother.


You passed the door of mystery
The door we’ll face one day.
We breath and live in this world
And one day we’re taken away
To a place with streets of gold
No sickness or sorrow there
Just love and beauty I am told.
God’s love is everywhere.

I’ll always remember my co-pilot
Who talked and guided the way
On trips to see our children;
It always took a day.
On 17 was the way to go
No super highways then.
Some day this I know
You will be my co-pilot again.

With Love,
Gladys (5/19/03)

I’m certain of few things, y’all. One is, I was very close to my grandmothers, even though I was growing up over 700 miles away. And I’m determined to be close to my grand daughter, if it’s the last thing I do. Two, I know my grandmamas, grand ladies that they were, are together again right now. Gladys was able to join Lucy last October. They are up there somewhere right now. And, of course, Gladys has the wheel.



If I had a million bucks
Or thousands – just a few
I would never hesitate,
I’d divide it all with you.

If I won the Nobel Prize
And that I’ll never do
But, if it really came about
You’d be honored too.

If I had just one wish
And knew it would come true
I’d wish for health and happiness
And share it all with you.

Health and happiness – magic words.
Sometimes hard to find
Often when needing them,
They’re right there in our mind.

So many ifs in our lives
Only dreams, its true
But honest – if “ifs” happened
My thoughts would be of you.

Gladys Parker
Dec. 04



Although you are not going to be here today,  I made you collards. Your poem is proudly displayed on our mantle, you know, the one you wrote for us a few Christmases ago about a “little” dog, named Hannah. As we open our gifts this morning, our thoughts will be with you, and the many years we were lucky enough to have you in our lives. We will be remembering your sweet, smiling face and your words of encouragement.

Even though you didn’t make it to Christmas this year, you did get to remind us all of Christmas and make us all laugh when you joked about being “Rudolph the Red Eared Reindeer” while you were in the intensive care, and they had taped a glowing red oxygen monitor to your ear.

Some of us are not doing so good today, Grandma. I think Ryan and his girl need to be gently reminded again, of the advice you gave them the last time you saw them, “to just be good to each other”. If you have any pull in these things now, we could use a little help on this one.

I hope you are enjoying a big bowl of collards with Mama and Papa Green, all your brothers and my Uncle Billy. Please thank them all for me, for taking care of you until we can be together again. Loving you, every day, your grand daughter,




Christmas music is in the air
With songs and praise every where.
It fills our hearts with love and joy
For Mary’s child – a baby boy.

This child was born many years ago.
His name is Jesus and we know
The Story of His humble birth
And mission here on the earth.

Trees are blinking with tiny lights
And dusted with a bit of white.
Gifts wrapped up with fancy bows
What’s in the package? Nobody knows.

By Christmas morn the secret is out.
Just what I wanted is the shout
And happy faces show girls and boys
All excited about their toys.

Its really a magic time of year
A time of compassion, love and cheer.
A time for remembering the Holy One
Jesus Christ – God’s beloved Son.

Gladys Parker
Nov. 2002



This poem was written by my grandmother, Gladys Parker. She passed away this year, on October 23, at the young age of 96. This will be my first Christmas without her. It still doesn’t seem possible to me that she is really gone.

A talented woman, and a great southern lady, she left behind a large collection of poetry. In this poem, she reminds us why we give gifts to one another, and urges us to remember why we should continue to celebrate Christmas.

The “hustle and bustle” of Christmas
Is floating in the air,
Christmas shoppers – shopping
Traffic everywhere.

The tree has been selected
And trimmed all in blue;
Affix the angel at the top
Yes, that will surely do!

Sing in perfect harmony
The song, “O Holy Night”,
While placing gifts with care
Around the tree of lights.

Now, remember the familiar scene
Of Mary, Joseph and the Infant King;
The wise men with gifts and treasures
At this humble place in Bethlehem.

The shepherds left their sheep
And came from hills above;
To worship their Savior
In adoration and love.

The giving of gifts is special
Let there be love and peace on earth;
As we go about this season
To celebrate His birth.





For all the times that you stood by me

For all the truth that you made me see

For all the joy you brought to my life

For all the wrong that you made right

For all the dreams that you made come true

For all the love that I found in you

I’ll be forever thankful

You’re the one who held me up – never let me fall

You’re the one who saw me through – through it all.

You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith cause you believed

I’m everything I am – because you loved me.

You gave me wings and made me fly

You touched my hand – I could touch the sky

I lost my faith – you gave it back to me

You said my star wasn’t out of reach

You stood by me and I stood tall

I had your love – I had it all!

I’m grateful for each day you gave me

Maybe I don’t know that much – but I know this much is true

I was blessed because I was loved by you!

You were always there for me

Your tender wings that carried me

Light in the dark – shinning your love into my life

You’ve been my inspiration – through the lies you were the truth

My world is a better place because of you.




A Tribute to a Tough Woman



My son, Klinton Henry, wrote this for a project in his Public Speaking class in college last year. When Grandmama passed last month, we found a copy of this among her things. I asked Klinton to read this at her graveside service.

If I were to tell you all of a woman who was working with three children, most people would think that’s tough. I would agree, it’s tough to find a good paying job today when you’re a working mother with three children. If I were to tell you about a woman who did the same thing during the great depression, tough would become an understatement. Today I’m giving tribute to a tough woman. A woman who not only raised three children as a working mother during the great depression, a time when working mothers were nearly unheard of, but has also lived through most of this past century. This woman was a tomboy, a painter, a poet. But to me this woman will always be my great grandmother, Gladys Parker, more lovingly referred to as my Grandma Park.

My Grandmother is one of the most deserving people I know of tribute. Since she lived to be 96 years old, she must have had something in her character that made her tough. She was born into the middle of 6 boys. One can only imagine how much they must’ve tortured her. I was only told brief stories of the things she did with her brothers. They teased her, taught her to shoot a gun and how to drive a car at the prime age of eleven.
Her life, at times, was hard, which made her tough and enriched her soul. My Grandmother got married during the great depression to my great grandfather (whom I’ve never met). He was a tugboat captain, and would leave to New York for long periods of time. He would end up passing away there in New York at age 47. That left my grandmother home by herself to raise the children AND to make a living. Years later her only son and my great uncle, Billy, died, taking a toll on the entire family. Since I have no children of my own, I can only imagine what kind of toll it took on my Grandmother.

I believe it’s these tough times that allowed her to bloom as an artist in her later years. After she retired from work, her three children were grown and married so she decided to learn how to paint. Several books later she was making beautiful works of art and many of her paintings adorn the walls of our home. Over the years she sold and gave away many of her paintings, so there’s no telling exactly how many paintings she’s actually made. Poetry was something else she took up during her retirement and in 2000 she had her poems published in a book called “Then and Now”. Her paintings and poems show the softer side of a very tough woman.

Up until her last day, Grandma was in excellent mental condition, she could recall these events as if they happened to her yesterday. She said it was the things that actually happened yesterday that she had trouble with. When she was 95 years old, I visited her in the hospital after she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. When it was time to leave, I gave my Grandma Park a hug. She told me she loved me and when I said I loved her too, she smiled and said “How in the world did I trick a hunk like you into saying you love an old woman like me?” Even being 95, even with congestive heart failure, she found a way to not only compliment her great grandson, but also found something to joke about. That, to me, is tough.