This morning as I sip on my chocolate donut coffee and peruse Facebook, I am very sad to hear about a friend from my past life (before marriage) who is very ill and is spending her last days with her loved ones.
Prior to this I had written about my first job and apartment in Huntsville, Alabama, and briefly shared a Christmas memory about my first Christmas away from home. I cut and pasted that memory and added some other memories. Please take a moment to read this today.
My very first grown-up job was with Girl Scouts of Northern Alabama, Inc. in Huntsville, Alabama. I was hired to be the Director of Programs. I am not sure why or how I got this job, as it was kind of a middle management position and I only had my camp experience to go on. So many other people would have done that job better than me, and as a young person in a new job, I had something to prove. (This could be another whole post on me being too big for my own britches. We learn so much as we grow up!)
The people I worked with there at GSNA were awesome. They showed me what it was like to work as a team and took me in. They taught me how to adult, taught me how to be a team player, gave me advice on my relationship with Brad, and were my family away from my family. Huntsville was a great place to live, except that it was in Alabama, and not in Tennessee. One such person who really took me in was Kaye.
The details are little muddled, but we ended up going to visit her volunteers in a very rural corner of Northern Alabama. She asked me to hang out, and offered to let me spend the night at her house, where I met 3 of her sweet kids–at that time I think the boys were in high school, and the youngest was in elementary school.
Kaye was a very transparent person. You never had to guess what she was thinking. She knew a lot of people and was a good friend to me.
I remember it was December, and I was going to be able to take a few days off to go home at Christmas, so I had already decided not to have a tree, as I wouldn’t be home anyway. Thankfully Kaye had taken me under her wing. Kaye was my partner in crime, who by the time she was 40 had seen a lot more of the world than me. She was the mother of 4 kids, and had been through a divorce, and had lost some very precious people in her life by the time we met. We spent a lot of time driving back and forth from Huntsville to Guntersville, where our camp was, and then to Cullman where she lived. The next day we got up and went to Moulton.
We met with some volunteers and then we drove. And drove. It was a long way from Huntsville to the farthest most points of our region. We were still driving through the sticks of Northern Alabama that afternoon, when she asked, “Hey, do you have a tree?” I told her I didn’t, because I wasn’t going to be there. “Everybody has to have a tree at Christmas. Let’s stop and get one.” I was wondering where in the world we were going to get one in the middle of no-where when she stopped her car on the side of the road. “Here’s a good place.” I was like “Um, isn’t this stealing? What if we get caught trespassing on someone’s property!” She said something like, “Shut up, we’re getting you a tree.” Before I could ask how we were going to chop it down she pulls a machete out from under her front seat!
Real quick-like she went a few steps into the woods and said, “Here’s a good one.” It was a cedar tree. She started whacking at it. “But, Kaye….” I decided I’d better shut up, since she had a machete. She chopped it down and threw it in her trunk in less than 5 minutes and we were on our way again.
We got a stand and I put it in my little apartment in my redneck neighborhood, and decorated it with all the ornaments I’d collected over the years that my mom had given me when I moved out. It ended up being pretty and made me feel a little more like home. I am so thankful that Kaye came along at just the right time.
Unfortunately when we got back to work late that afternoon, we both got reprimanded for not telling anyone where we were going. That was 1991, and there were no cell phones, so we weren’t connected to the office that day. And while I’m sure it was frustrating to be the management part of managing us, it was well worth the day spent with Kaye.
I have a lot more stories to share about Kaye. She taught me how to love life and have fun with friends. She was often impulsive, but also witty, and was always up for a laugh–even when you were on the verge of tears. I value those 18 months I spent on my own down in Huntsville, and those 18 months I spent learning how to adult. I also want to thank Kaye for what she did for me.
I pray for Kaye and her family.