Monday, November 11, 2013

Sad Time

L-R: Sandy, moi, Mickie, Betty
In the midst of working to beat a deadline, I and my former high school classmates received sad news that our friend, Mickie, who's been dealing for many years with fibromyalgia, early onset Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, wasn't expected to live more than a couple of weeks.  Yesterday, we learned she passed away Saturday evening.

After the initial shock, in spite of knowing in advance, I decided to focus on the good memories we all shared, "throughout our imprisonment in CHS," as one friend wrote in my senior yearbook.

Mickie was always a beauty and just as lovely inside.  She would arrive at school looking like she'd stepped out of a fashion magazine.  She left looking exactly the same.  Her clothes were classic, and she always looked put-together, whether in cutoffs and a shirt, her cheerleader uniform, or pajamas at one one our many slumber parties.  Me?  I went to school looking okay.  Hair combed, a little makeup and appropriate clothing.  By the time I left, I looked like I'd spent the day wrestling a pack of dogs.  I truly envied her.

I arrived at CHS just into my seventh grade year, knowing only a few people.  By junior year, Mickie and I had become close friends.  She studied hard and made good grades and was in the top 10% of the class for two years.  She was involved in many school activities, including Annual (Yearbook) Staff, a cheerleader and member of the pep club, Basketball Homecoming attendant, Girls Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, and Kayettes, a service organization.  She became a lifeguard at the local swimming pool the summer before our senior year.

I can still hear her throaty laugh and remember one Saturday evening, during a big snow in the winter of our senior year, when she and Sandy stopped by to see if I could go with them "on an errand" to a larger town about 12 miles away.  The roads were slick and my mom refused to let me go with them.  What my mom didn't know, nor did their moms, they were going on a beer run.  Sandy, you see, had turned 18, and at that time 18-year-olds could legally buy it.  I've never cared much for beer.  The only way I could drink it was by adding tomato juice (Red Beer), and even then, it wasn't all that great.  An hour later, Mickie and Sandy returned to smuggle in a sack, which we promptly put in my opened bedroom window and closed the door.  I don't remember drinking any of that beer,with or without tomato juice, but I probably had a little of the Pink Catawba wine that we'd had at Halloween.  (But that's another story.)  A couple of hours went by, listening to the radio and sipping our drinks.  When Mr. Lonely, by Bobby Vinton, came on, Mickie began singing in a drunken voice, although she wasn't at all inebriated.  We taped it on small reel-to-reel tape recorder, and I wish I knew what happened to it.  We laughed and giggled the rest of the night.

Then there was the night when we hid two six-packs of beer in the bushes in front of Sandy's house. At about 2 a.m., we decided to take it down to the park, and we slipped out of the house, while Sandy's mother was sleeping.  Keep in mind, this was a small town of less than 2,000.  We walked to the park, undetected.  Under the shelter house, we each popped open a can, but the beer was warm and tasted (as usual for me) terrible.  We sat there a while, then decided to go back to Sandy's, leaving the beer--all of the beer--behind for anyone who found it.

There are more stories, none involving alcohol we didn't drink or even buy or have bought for us.  We dragged main for endless hours in Sandy's mom's Opel Kadette.  We laughed, cheered and sang on the pep club bus on our way to and from football and basketball games.  There were dances and slumber parties and after-school days, summer and more.

And then we went away to college, Mickie and I attending the same school.  I only stayed for a month.  College wasn't for me.  But Mickie stayed, and we saw each other less and less.  She married her high school sweetheart, another member of our class, and they had two children, a daughter and son.  They lived in our home town for many, many years, where she worked at the local mortuary.  She had a special way with those in mourning, a calm that eased the sorrow of others.  She was there when my dad died, and I was grateful to have her with me.  Later, her husband took a job in Oklahoma, but by then, her health had begun to deteriorate.

Mickie isn't the first classmate we've lost.  There have been seven others before her, in a class of 54 students, in addition to our beloved principal.  It was his son who told us the news of Mickie's passing.

I'll miss Mickie, as many who know her will, but I'm proud to have been her friend, and I'll always have the memories we shared.

Rest now, my friend, and know that we all love you.  Still.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.~ Old Irish Saying 

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