She's "Going Home"

Some of my first memories of sister-hood are playing in the hedge growth along side our home in Haskell, Texas. It was a long line of some sort of bushes that formed almost a fenced in like area. If I remember correctly we had gotten Ted, our brother, to “carve” out some hollow areas in the bushes and we two girls would go out and play house in the bushie rooms. We must have been fairly young because we moved from Haskell when I was about 7 or 8 years old.
Susan always had such a wit about her and we often were entertained by her antics. This sense of humor always made her fun to be around.
I remember taking dance lessons all thru elementary, junior high and high school. Susan was really good at jazz dance and one recital sticks out in my mind. She was in high school at the time and she wore a white strapless body styled suit that had white fur around the bodice. Her arms were very graceful and I thought she looked simply great in that particular dance attire.
She was always the one with the perfect hair and make-up in high school. She would spend a great deal of time fixing her hair which had a natural curl to it that I coveted since mine was board straight. She, on the other hand, didn’t like the curls. Back in those days we Texas girls always sported “big” hair – you know the saying “The higher the hair the closer to God.”
She was always musical and creative. In high school we were often entertained by her folk group (yes, this was during the hippie area of the late 60’s and early 70’s) “Seven Winds.” They were really good and entertained at various functions in the area.
I will always remember the college productions that she was a part of at Eastern New Mexico University. They annually put on a production called “Swannee” which was simply outstanding. From that production there was a group of kids selected to go overseas on a USO tour presenting programs at military bases. She not only did dance and singing numbers but she also was in a great many funny skits – we came to think of her as a “Carol Burnett” type clown – that personality really came thru.
At one point in time Susan became engaged to a young man named Steve. His best friend, Doug Black, came home for some “Rest and Relaxation” from fighting in Viet Nam and Susan began to get more familiar with
Doug. One day when my mother and I pulled up to our house after attending church services Susan’s car was home. Mother wondered out loud why she had made the 90 mile trip without letting us know that she was coming home. I quickly figured out what was going on and when we walked in the door she announced that she was breaking up with Steve and was in love with Doug. Her wedding shower at this point was only one week away so we were in a pickle. We had to hand-write and mail out notices to those invited to the shower that it would not take place as arranged. This was WAY before the days of email so we had to act in haste. Not too long after we were planning a wedding for Doug and Susan.
We were so excited about the birth of all 3 of Susan and Doug’s girls. My Andrea was already here and we were so thankful to have some cousins. Jennifer was a delightful little thing and we could never resist Debbie’s ringlet curls. We often referred to Amanda as “Dougette” because she was so much like her dad.
Susan was always so generous with her time, talents and resources. My kids have often been the recipients of her graciousness and all of us were treated to her unconditional love – many a time she could have been judgmental towards me but never was – she always made me feel special.
When Susan was diagnosed with cancer in the year 2000 we were all taken aback. I know she was deeply concerned but you wouldn’t have guessed it by her actions. She just took everything in stride. Only about two weeks or so prior to her mastectomy they came to Texas for a visit. During her time here we looked out in the back yard to find her jumping on the trampoline with my youngest son and my oldest granddaughter. They would have been about 6 and 5 years old – she was only about 50!
Mom and I went to Albuquerque for that first surgery and I mean to tell you she just flew thru that difficult time. Even when chemo started she never lost her sense of humor. When she lost all her hair that first time Andrea and I gathered up every funny hat that we could find and mailed them in a big box to her. She put each one on with a different attire, struck an appropriate pose, had the girls and Doug make photos of her in each one of the hats and then mailed those back to us. They have an abundance of photos of the family and many friends in different hats and wigs that were sported in support of Susan. One of my favorites has her in a hot pink wig that has been styled into two long braids that stick out “Peppie Long Stocking” style.
Susan continued to work as music minister at her church and was on the board for a national organization called Logos. She traveled through out the US helping put together religious educational programs at various churches.
At her own home church about 8 or 9 years ago the good folks there decided to put together a Praise and Worship group and begin another service which would be contemporary in nature. They had some really good singers, guitar players, and a wonderful pianist who sang like a bird. However there was no one who could play the drums. So at the age of 50-something Susan went out, purchased a complete drum kit, took lessons and then began to play with the group. She was quite comfortable behind those drums and could really keep a beat going. There aren’t many women who would take on such a task as she did.
When I was diagnosed with Cancer in 2008 she was right there all the time. At one of my surgeries the doctor decided to keep me in the hospital over-nite. I sent my husband home to stay with our boys and Susan quickly announced that she would stay in the hospital with me over-nite. I didn’t want her to push herself so I announced, “No, you need to go home – you have cancer.” She retorted “So do you – I’m staying!”
Just last Sunday Andrea and I and her two girls loaded up, stopped at the grocery store and drove to Susan’s house where we visited and cooked. It was a great visit. At one point in time I was helping Susan back to bed to rest for a while – she was becoming ever more weak and very sick, we all knew it was bad – when I got her to her bed I was getting her tucked in when she turned and said, “I hope this isn’t scaring you.” There she went again – always concerned about others even at this very sick state.
When supper was ready she crawled out of bed to have a bite and visit some more. She managed to walk into the living room where our sweet sister-in-law said, “Oh, Susan, that is such a cute robe. Is it new?” Susan immediately struck a “Super Model” pose – still clowning around and making us laugh.
Last nite after leaving the hospital I was driving along and listening to my son’s CD of Daughtry. The song “I’m Going Home” began playing. My thoughts were racing around on Susan and this awful disease. The words are “I’m going home to the place where I belong where your love has always been enough for me.” It concludes with “But these places and these faces are getting old – So I’m going home.” Yes, she’s going home to be closer to God – someone she has been close to through “Big Hair” days, college years, mother-hood and cancer. She has shown to all her grace and goodness and will now be in God’s gracious and good hands. We are more sad for our selfs than for her – we will be without this wonderful person but she will be seeing the glorious light of heaven and will “be going home.”

Journal Comments

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