"Ode to Aunt Carrene"

(Ode to Joy could be playing in the background)

      What can I tell you that you should know of my Aunt Carrene. We have always
      had a special connection. My middle name is Carrene.  Never having a
      daughter she loved having me as her name sake and always was saying so.
      She was able to acknowledge, appreciate and nurture the aspects of myself
      where I found joy. That joy was expressing myself in the arts.  She understood
      the power of being transformed by music, dance, painting and literature.  She
      understood how important the arts can be for healing, and uplifting one's
      spirits.  When I matured I grew to admire her courage, steadfastness,
      intelligence, strong morals, and her ability to seek renewal and nurturance
      throughout her life.

      The Joy of Dance

      Swan Lake and Aunt Carrene go together like biscuits and gravy.

      Perhaps, in some ways I believe she identified with the Swan Princess 
      Odette.  I do not know who first introduced Carrene to the ballet. Maybe it was
      an inspiring teacher during her schooling, at Girl's High,  or perhaps
      hearing a recording of Tchaikovsky's famed Pas de Deux. 

      I wish now I had thought to ask her.  I am quite certain she would have held
      court and made sure I knew every detail delighting in the memories and
      thrilled to pass on her knowledge.

      The Joy of Writing

      Carrene's writing talents distinguished her among her peers in school
      rewarding her with a trip out west where she met Clark Gable.  (A story she
      told over and over again ).

      My Mother (Johnnie Lou) encouraged her to write about times gone by and
      remembrances of the time spent with Grandma and Grandpa Cash and the
      many aunts, uncles and cousins in Cornelia, Ga. My Mom use to say,  "You 
      are just as good a writer as Celestine Sibley !"  (whose articles Carrene 
      loved to read, save and send to send to others).  This book never was written. 
      I guess it was not her calling. Instead, she took plenty of time to make sure
      she always sent special notes.  She remembered all family and many friends
      with a thoughtful and caring cards sometimes including with it a cartoon or
      article of interest from the Atlanta Journal.  My Mother saved them all.  Even after
      her stroke she remembered birthdays of family and special occasions.  When
      she could not pick out and sign the cards Ardyth (who Carrene came to
      think of as her own daughter) helped her stay in touch.

      The Joy of Knowledge

      Carrene had a thirst for knowledge.  The McNeil Lehrer Report and the game-
      show, Jeopardy, could not be missed ! In the past she and a close friend
      would watch together by phone enjoying a friendly challenge.  Intelligent and
      inquisitive I believe knowledge filled the voids in her life.  She found
      tremendous joy in sharing her knowledge, memories and news of the day,
      not in a boastful way but with the delight of a child having discovered
      something wonderful and most interesting. 

      The Joy of Silence

      I do not think Carrene found much joy in silence.

      The Joy of being Frugal

      As a small child she lived in the work camps where her Father,  John Alex
      helped build a dam for TVA and her Mother Louisa taught the worker's
      children.  Later when her parents separated for a time Carrene,  and her
      Mother and Sister depended upon the stern Victorian minded family in North
      Ga. This was the depression and the beginning of Carrene's years as a
      teen.  Soon My grandmother moved to Atlanta so that her children could be
      well-educated.  It was a struggle.  My Grandmother sold hot dogs to make
      money. Carrene started working when she could.  The anxiety of being without
      shaped her ways of dealing with money resulting in the hair splitting of
      pennies and not allowing herself the luxuries most of us take for granted. 

      The Joy of Family

      Carrene was not a stranger to hardship and disappointment.  When some of
      her goals eluded her and disappointment and sorrow replaced joy she found
      comfort in the love and support of family and friends.  In return she gave like
      wise.  My own Son Cash at an early age referred to Carrene as his best friend !
      Motherhood was Carrene's greatest joy and seeing her children develop into 
      strong, intelligent, moral men.  She never was at a loss for a story about
      her sons.  Her boys found like minded women and have had long loving
      marriages and joy of joys grandchildren and a great grandchild !  Every
      moment she could share, every picture or conversation with them meant
      everything to her.

      The Joy of the Church and Faith

      I remember being a child looking at one of my cousin's books on God.
      Any reference to God being masculine had been crossed out and replaced
      with something Carrene thought suitable as a replacement.  She often
      referred to synchronistic events as Presbyterian moments.  She grew
      enormously both spiritually ... 

      And emotionally.  She was nurtured and challenged by her relationships with
      her church family, sermons, retreats, missions and her role as an vital 
      member of this family in Christ. 
New June 7, 2008