I had a whole other column topic in mind for today – which is a silly thing to tell you now, especially considering how much it doesn’t matter. But a funny thing happened on the way to getting the words into the document, the document submitted for publication.
I had to stop and give my granddaughter a ride to work. That’s not the funny part. In fact, you might as well know, it’s going to take a while for us to get to the funny part. So, OK. The girl went to bed late (or early, you might say – about the time some of us were waking up), then didn’t want to wake up when she needed to; and she was sunburned from watching her friends play seven-on-seven all day the day before. Plus, there were just a whole lot of other things (like sleep) she would rather do than go be a hostess at a popular restaurant.
Was I sympathetic? Not so you’d notice. Did I get blamed for the rotten mess it all was? Well, yes. But that’s kind of par, and if I know anything, I know how quickly it can all turn. It’s not really personal, anyway. All will be forgotten by bed time, when one of us has sense enough to go to sleep. And the other? Well, she’s still making her way around the learning curve. She will get there.
We’re strapping on our seatbelts at 16 minutes before noon, and it’s every bit of a 15-minute commute to Cork & Pig. By her logic, we can get there if I speed. By my experience, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” We will obey all traffic rules and laws, and plan to get there without incident.
It seemed odd to me there was a line of cars on Bell waiting to turn right onto Paint Rock Road. Then I realized, the light was green, and no one was moving on the straight-away either. We waited. One, two, three light rotations. We did not move.
“What is the problem?” She fairly hissed.
“Well,” I replied calmly, “we’re waiting on a funeral procession.” Something I’d only just figured out.
Of course I did not know who had died, but I was impressed by the long procession of friends and family. I’m an old Texas country girl. I hear from my big-city friends, people don’t stop for funeral processions anymore. They don’t have time. Well, I’ve been in a procession when cars have pulled to the side of the road to let us pass. I appreciate the gesture, and return the respect if the chance ever arises.
“Think about it,” I said, afraid that it wasn’t a good time to infuse logic and patience into our self-designed rush, “whoever’s being taken to the cemetery to be buried doesn’t get another chance to be late, or get mad and frustrated; to wish all the things you’re wishing were different about your life, right now.
“Maybe,” I said, knowing I was really getting on thin ice with my lesson, “this is a God-thing. A reminder of our good things here, now, in this life.”
The digital on my car dashboard is set three minutes fast. It was just turning to “12:00” when she got out of the car and slammed the door. But she jerked it back open immediately and said, “Bye, Grandma. I love you.”
“And I love you,” I said.
Today is the 52nd anniversary of the great flood that all but washed my hometown of Sanderson, Texas, away. Twenty-six people drowned, most of them children, who were literally pulled from their parents’ grasp in the flood’s fury.
It had rained and rained the day before, but most of us went to bed that night just amazed that so much rain would fall in our little desert town. No one could have dreamed we’d wake up to such a horror, and no matter what, we would be scarred by the disaster wrought by the flood.
We, who called Sanderson home, take seriously our charge to remember. June 11, 1965, is a day forever etched with what might have been.
It’s a lesson I’m not sure I ever will fully grasp – that in an instant and too often without warning – life can change, and change forever. It’s easy to preach and say we should cherish every moment. It’s easier to forget when we’re interrupted with life’s hassles and predicaments, that there’s a great big “It will be OK” beyond them.
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.