Tidbits - May 26, 2022

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY



MOTHER
   I have discovered that a 71-year-old man is not too old or masculine to cry when his mama dies.
  I thought I had it under control. My mother has been going down for at least a month, and we knew the end was coming. We were prepared.
  God gave us a little reprieve. She was more alert and talkative on Mother’s Day. She looked better. Maybe, this isn’t it.
  Within days, however, she began to fade away and never came back.
  We were blessed that she didn’t suffer and she always knew us and even relatives and friends she hadn’t seen in years.
  The obituary Dibbie wrote pretty says it all. Mother passed down writing ability to all four of her children.
  As a high schooler, she had poems published in two national anthologies. She went to her mother’s Alma Mater Winthrop to study journalism, but that got sidetracked when she fell in love with a short, handsome WWII veteran named James Bettis “Shake” Shealy.
  They eloped in 1950 and in 1951, I was born. She was only 19.
  She was pregnant with Jamie in 1953, when her talented father Ralph Killingsworth died suddenly. He was only 50. Along with being an engineer with the Saluda County office of the S.C. High Department, he was a singer and musician, who produced and directed variety shows.
  She loved her father so.
  Jamie was born in December 1953 and in 1954 her mother, Elizabeth “Dibbie” Killingsworth decided to move to and get a job as a teacher in Rock Hill, where he youngest daughter, Kay, was a student at Winthrop.
  Shake and  Betty built the current house in which I live in 1952. It only had three rooms. Subsequent additions were predicated by a growing family. Eventually all four children had their own  bedrooms.
  Dibbie was born in 1955, and “surprise baby” Elizabeth came along in 1960.
  During the time her children were growing up, she only worked a couple of part-time jobs, one at  B.C. Moore’s, and another on Thursdays in the office of the Saluda County Stockyard. She loved both of those jobs, and made lifelong friends.
  She was one of the original members of the Pyracantha Garden Club, and was a den mother for her two Cub Scout sons.
  Isn’t funny how you  forget things other people remember? In the comments on my Facebook post about her death, Wayman Sweat, who’s been gone from Saluda for nearly 60-years wrote, “I remember how she took our Cub Scouts to be on Trooper Terry.”
  True. She also arranged for the Saluda scouts to be on “Mister Knozit,” too, so we were TV “stars” in Augusta and Columbia.
  For many years she was the MYF counselor at Emory and the Sub-District.
  Two days  before mother died, Debra Rowe Shealy of the SNC staff  brought her an Angel Bear that she had in her arms when she died.
  Like Wayman, Debra recalled something I had forgotten.
  Debra was not old enough for the MYF, but she came to a meeting with her mother Louise, who was helping Mother,
  That night we did a seance, which was the rage back then for Saluda teenagers. I’m sure I was the leader. Four of us would sit around the card table, and with no help of our own, of course,  the table legs rose off the ground and the table jumped
  While this was going on, nobody noticed Mother leave the social hall. She was wearing a white skirt, and when she got outside to the window she started making sounds and raised the white skirt, and thinking it was a ghost, all the kids scattered!
  For many years she was county Easter Seal Chairman. One responsibility of the chairman was to get people to stuff envelopes that were sent to every resident of Saluda County. Guess who were the “volunteers?” They were not peel off envelopes either.
  When her children got to be adults, she never stopped parenting.
  I started coaching Little League when I was 23-year-old and I’m afraid to say I “showed my butt.” I have a bad temper, and I would end up throwing my hat or scorebook when things or umpires didn’t go my way.
  I returned home from a game one night, and Mother immediately said, “I’m never going to one of your games again.”
  “Why?,” I asked.
  “Because you embarrass me by the way you act.”
  Whoa! Talk about an eye opener. I was embarrassing my mother.
  I tried to do better the next 11 years I coached. I slipped up sometimes, but I have never forgotten what she said. Today, I only lose my temper when I have no witnesses.
  With her children in school, Mother took a job as a full-time teachers’ aide, and worked in that capacity for 30-years. She loved every minute of it.
  The last 20-years of her life, she loved and enjoyed her children, grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. On Easter we had 42 gather at Trey and Allie’s house. She was the only one missing.
  She loved watching TV, and got used to my two TV set-up. She kept the muted satellite TV on the news for most of the day, and watched her soaps and recorded shows on the other.
  One year her four children went together and bought her a laptop for Christmas.
  “What am I going to do with that?,” she asked.
  It didn’t take her long to discover Solitaire and Mah-jongg. Then she moved on to email and Facebook
  I was in the 60’s when I discovered my mother couldn’t type. She was from the hunt and peck school.
  Of course, if you’re from the H&P school, it’s much easier to type everything ALL CAPS.
  She became famous for it. When we told her ALL CAPS was the same a shouting, she told us she didn’t care.
  Mitchell Spearman paid tribute to her in his comments in my Facebook post about her death by typing the message in ALL CAPS.
  I can write much more, and I will  since we have to get out two papers this week.
  I want to thank all of you who have remembered our family in this trying time. You all have been a blessing.