"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