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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Bountiful Fountain
by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
Most of the time, I sit before this computer week after week and wrack my feeble little brain to try and come up with something to entertain you, make you chuckle or give you some food for thought.

Over the past twenty years, there are a few weeks where I have had a hard time coming up with something witty and amusing. I can think of at least three periods when it was difficult to sit here and try to put on a game face when something very serious has happened.

I lost a close friend several years ago, the events of September 11, 2001, and this year another good friend of mine and his wife lost two of their daughters in one week. I couldnít find anything funny or amusing to write about during those periods. My heart hurt too much to try and be funny.

This week, my wifeís mother died. She was eighty eight years old, in good health and had her right mind. That in itself is truly a blessing.

On Wednesday night, she sat down in her chair and never woke up. What more can you ask for? We should all be this fortunate. Her name was James Lee Trahan, her husband was named Shirley. As you can imagine my wife had a hard time growing up with parents who had confusing first names, then my wife marries a man with a name like mine.

My mother in law left a son and daughter, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She will be missed by us all.

All of us will die someday. We donít know when or where, but for sure we will. What our family and friends will remember will be the impact we choose to leave on their lives. How good or how bad we are and how we act will determine what will be remembered.

When my mother died in 1998, I didnít grieve, because there simply wasnít anything to grieve over. She was difficult to say the least. It would be hard for me to say that I miss her, because I donít. Do I wish our relationship had been better? Of course, I do, all children, no matter how old they are want the approval of their parents. I canít tell you how many times I tried and tried to get along with my parents to no avail. Finally a very wise person told me something to think about. He explained that I should think of my parents as a water well in my back yard that has gone dry. I want refreshment from it. I want it to be filled with cool clear water, but it isnít. Itís bone dry. Now, through a gate is a water well that is full of the water I seek, but it belongs to my extended family and friends. Itís on their property, not mine. They tell me to help myself, come on over anytime and get all the water I need. They will take care of me.

This is where I get refreshed, from this well that isnít in my back yard.

But, you know the strange thing? Every time I head out to the well that belongs to my friends and extended familyÖ as I pass my own well I always look down. Iím always curious and hopeful that someday there will be water in there for me. Itís hard to explain why we do this, but we do. We are always seeking that parental approval that so many of us never got.

This week is different, my wife and I alternate between crying and laughing at the things we remember about her mother. She was always there for my wife and always there for me as well. As the initial shock of her death began to wear off, I started thinking about why her death hit me harder than the death of my own mother and I realized, itís because she became the mother I never had. She was part of that water well over in the other yard.

Then I realized that my well is full and available to my friends and other family members and they are welcome to come over anytime to get their share. It never dries up; it never runs out, it just keeps on flowing and providing nourishment for those who care to come.

And you know, that to me is the best memory we can leave after any of us are gone. That we were there and that we were a help in one way or another to all of those we come in contact with.

God bless you, James LeeÖ.you were a bountiful fountain in my life.
© Peary Perry
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
Letters From North America
- December 28 , 2005 column
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