Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Let the Living Begin

Wow…has it been a year?  Yes…it has.
Mind you, while I’ve been absent from “Causal Thoughts,” my writing juices have been flowing over at “Black is the New Pink.”  I realized that all of my “Causal Thoughts” postings were becoming centered on my brother Jeff and his death from melanoma cancer.  So, rather than bog down the sometimes humorous slant here, I decided to devote an entire blog site to his memory, which inevitably led to writing about melanoma and skin cancer.  It was a good decision, and I plan to keep that blog going, but I’ve decided it’s time to return to my more casual thoughts.
However, my thought tonight is hardly casual.  My Aunt Irma died yesterday.  She was just over 93 years old and lived a good long life.  Honestly, I never really knew her.  I vaguely remember seeing her over 16 years ago when my mom and dad drove her south to see my late Uncle Bernard in Myrtle Beach.  They stopped by my townhouse in Durham and stayed for a short while.  Other than that, I have very little recollection of Aunt Irma.
She left three children…Steve, with whom I’ve had some contact on Facebook; Vicki, with minimal contact on Facebook; and Carole, who I think is closest to my age but with whom I’ve totally lost touch.
I called Dad and told him of Irma’s passing.  Unfortunately, I had to leave a voice mail.  But eventually we did talk “live.”  Our conversation was light, but there was one moment of tenderness or sadness when he stated, “well, there’s only three of us left now.”  He was talking about him and his siblings.
Dad had five brothers and one sister.  Grenfall (aka, “Sweat”) was the oldest born in 1911 and died in 1990.  I remember that Mom and Dad were visiting me when they got the news.  Irma was the next oldest, born in 1911.  Next was Earl, Jr. (aka, “Bubbles”).  He was born in 1921 and died during the Vietnam War in 1968 when I was almost 6 years old.
Bernard was next in line and the first of the Estep Uncles that I knew better.  He lived in Nitro and Cross Lanes when I grew up in St. Albans, so we would visit he and his wife (Geri first, then Pat) and kids a few times a year.  He was born in 1923 and died in August of 2003.  Kenneth was even closer to me, although never really “close” close like some Uncles can be.  I was just never the kind of person to be close like that.  But our family and his family would get together about once per month.  He was born in 1926 and still lives with his long time wife Gertie in Nitro, WV.  Robert was born in 1928 and still lives in Missouri near St. Louis.  I’ve seen Uncle Bobby a few times over the years and recall a couple long trips to St. Louis to visit his family.  My dad, Keith is the youngest…born in 1934.
I’m sharing this mostly as a blog for my kids to read later in life.  As they (and you) most likely know, my dad wrote a book about him growing up in Nitro, West Virginia during the depression and World War II.  Both of my kids have a signed copy of his book and they’ll both hopefully read it someday.  I have one as well, but I have something a bit more valuable to me.  Dad “published” his first draft in a three-ring binder, and included photos, drawings and unpublished tidbits.  To read these more “raw” thoughts is incredible and invaluable to learn about oneself.  I have to admit I’ve not read all of Dad’s published book but I have read about all of this pre-published work.  Within this piece, he shares a brief passage about Irma:
Irma Lee Estep Sandifer
Irma married Carlton Sandifer, a construction supervisor from Lynchburg, Virginia who was in Nitro building a rayon manufacturing plant for American Viscose Corporation.  They had two daughters who reside in Virginia and one son who lives in West Virginia.  Irma is known for her short stature, pleasant personality, and giggly sense of humor.
Writing this blog isn’t about Irma…or about Dad.  It’s about family…and sharing one’s experiences in life.  I recently posted that this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for life's experiences...past, present and future. And for the lives of others that have graciously affected my own.  I hope to start writing in this blog again, along with BITNP, as a means to document my life to the world, but mostly to my kids.
Let the living begin.

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