Family ties are special blessing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Families are a vital part of our society – a part which seems, more and more everyday, to be lost.

And it’s no wonder.

All you seem to hear about or read about are the bad family situations — the crack-addicted baby born to the crack-addicted mother and the gang-member, gun-wielding, abusive father.

And that’s not usually the beginning of the problems. Most of the time, these two parents are products of their own bad family situations.

You hear so much of the bad. It’s difficult to remember there are good and decent families out there.

But this past week I was reminded and comforted by that fact.

My mother’s stepmother, Betty Howell (my grandmother – we called her GrandBetty), passed away last Wednesday following a long illness.

It was a difficult time for my family – for my grandfather, my mother and her four sisters and brother, especially.

You see, about 40 years ago, Granddaddy lost his wife, Hazel, to cancer. She was my mother’s mom.

Grandbetty, who Granddaddy married several years later, also fought cancer, a disease that would eventually take her life.

During this difficult time, I heard my mother say no one should have to go through this twice. But they did, and they did it together.

Three of my aunts still live in Butler County, one in Greenville, one in McKenzie and one in Georgiana.

One aunt lives in Panama City Beach, Fla., and my uncle lives in Nashville, Tenn.

My parents live in Alabaster.

But it was evident Thursday and Friday that the miles and years that have been put between them have, in no way, separated the family.

They are as tight as ever, and they were there to comfort my Granddaddy and each other when it was needed most.

Looking back at the first 31 years of my life, there are so many things I have learned from my mother.

She’s taught me to always think of others before I focus on myself. She’s taught me to reach out to those who need help.

She’s taught me to always do a good job on whatever I have to do. She’s taught me how to make a great chocolate chip pie and how to successfully work a crossword puzzle.

But there are two things I’ve learned from my mother that will stay with me forever. They are the two tenets by which I try to live.

She taught me there’s nothing more important than God, and she, by word and deed, has taught me that family is the most special blessing God has given us.

Family – ours numbers quite a few. One granddaddy; five daughters; one son; five sons-in-law; seven granddaughters; five grandsons; two grandsons-in-law; two granddaughters-in-law (three in September); four great-granddaughters; and one great-grandson.

Family, so far apart and yet so close. Ever-changing yet always very, very special.

Candace Parker is the news editor at the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at