Sunday, January 4, 2009

In gratitude

Is it weird to say that I went to a really great funeral over the Christmas holidays? Well, I did. Mrs. Helen Fesmire, a woman I have known my whole life, passed away just before Christmas. Her funeral was the Saturday after. The funeral was just great. People spoke about Mrs. Fesmire's service to the community and the church, how she never got angry, always had kind words to say, and was always genuinely interested in listening to other people. Her son, Art, spoke to each of the kids and grandkids about the gifts of teaching, listening, love of music, etc. that each of them got from her. At the end of the funeral, the whole extended family ( I think there were about 300 lol) got up and turned around to the congregation and sang the blessing song that they sing before dinner. It was just really special.

Her family, including her 4 kids, attended the church I grew up in. When my Daddy was the youth and music director when I was very small, the Fesmire kids were in his choir. This family is part of my earliest memories. I can remember Art lifting me up on his shoulders and letting me touch the ceiling. I was the flower girl at Ike's wedding. I'm sure Mary Beth babysat me at least a time or two. Mrs. Fesmire was always very active in our church, and I'm sure that she taught me Sunday School or Bible School or something or another like that along the years.

When I was in high school, I babysat for Ike and Laurie's two girls, Amanda and Anna. I remember that Ike had one of the very first computers (a Texas Instruments one I believe) and I was fascinated. Amanda was in Scot's class at school. Laurie was the director where Scot went to preschool and kindergarten.

Mrs. Fesmire was also my high school guidance counselor. The Fesmires lived next-door to one of my close high school friends, and so I saw them occasionally out and about in their neighborhood as well. Mary Beth and I became close friends when she moved to Baton Rouge after we were all grown up.

Mr. & Mrs. Fesmire, Ike, Laurie, and Mary Beth were at my wedding.

So what's my point? Just that this is one of the reasons that I'm so thankful to have grown up in a small town. I'm thankful that my parents brought me up in a great church family and gave me that gift of a solid foundation.

Was I, in all actuality, close to the Fesmires? Not as such. We didn't hang out. We didn't go to each other's house for dinner. We didn't go on vacations together. But the Fesmires are part of my history. Part of the stable underpinnings of my upbringing. Part of my "village". I remember them at school plays, church choir events, football games. Mrs. Fesmire was always genuinely interested in how we were all doing. Always asked my parents about me, always checked in with me if she saw me at church.

She and Mr. Fesmire were married 62 years. They raised 4 kids that are all very cool, very kind people. I'm blessed to know them and hopefully will continue to benefit from the examples they set with their lives of kindness, generosity, and service.

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