Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rylie “Poison Ivy” Norman Has A Birthday

Dateline July 15, 2017

My nephew, Tim, my brother, Dan’s, son, sent me a photo of his and Kristin’s little girl, Rylie, dressed as “Poison Ivy” at Hallowe’en, 2016. I couldn’t resist the impulse, so as a much-needed break from legal research and praying for good results at my final parole hearing in Tallahassee on July 19, I spent a couple of days with my colored pencils. This is the result.

I’m writing this on Saturday night, July 15,  before the Wednesday hearing, so by the time my handwritten message makes it through the prison mailroom, through the postal service, and to my wife, Libby’s, computer and onto the Internet, the hearing will be history.

Talking on the telephone an hour ago with my mother in Tampa, she told me that my brother, Dan, had gone to baby Rylie’s first birthday party this afternoon. My mother does a lot of praying for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I asked her to pray for freedom for me next Wednesday.

She said, “Son, I can’t go to your hearing, and I don’t have any money to help you with, but I pray day and night for the Lord to let you and Libby be together.”

We talked about relatives in Texas who have been out of touch, and Mama mentioned her first cousin, Letha (Smith) Miles, daughter of Aunt Stella, older sister of my grandfather, Floyd Walker, Sr., and Letha’s younger sister, Iva.

I miss Letha so much. I need to call her. She was my cousin and also best friend when we were teenagers. I spent every summer with them. One summer Letha and I got jobs at the “Candy Corner” store, but we got fired.”

My mother burst out laughing at the remembrance, as if it were yesterday. I’d never heard that story  ̶  my mother has a thousand I’ve never heard, and I’m always asking her about those times. Now I asked her why she and Letha got fired.

We went down to wave at the soldiers on the troop trains. We stayed too long and didn’t get back in time, so we got fired.”

My mother was born August 23, 1929. During WWII, she was between thirteen and sixteen, or so. I could visualize two young girls joining others waving goodbye to the troops, Texas boys heading off to battle in distant lands, and thought of the many who didn’t come home.

Baby Rylie Norman celebrated her first birthday. Her great-grandmother will celebrate her 88th in five weeks.

I thank God that my mother remains healthy and strong, and able to fill in blank spaces in our family history. I pray that Rylie will be telling stories to her children and grandchildren in the decades to come.


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