Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sixty-Four





This is what 64 looks like.

When I was young, I thought 64 was very old. I find that the body ages, but the spirit does not. Inside, I am the same person. Fortunately, I am still married to the man I married at 19 and to him (or so he says) I look the same. Even though, so he also says, I have "appreciated" more than any investment he ever made (meaning the weight I complain about all the time). He's a good husband. Retired, now and enjoying it.

We have three wonderful children and five grandchildren so I get lots of sugar from those precious babies. Lily is our oldest at 11. Megan will be 4 soon, George 3, Sam almost 2 and Molly just turned 1, the day before what would have been my mother's 93 birthday.
Megan, George, Lily, Molly, Sam

These are reminders of the beautiful circle of life that we are all a part of. I have decided to "own" each stage of life. I look back and realize how blessed I have been and how at each stage I neglected to really appreciate those blessings.

My sister, brother and I were blessed with loving parents. Jean Gillis, Army nurse, met Dr. Elkanah George Burson at Augusta General Hospital after they had both served in WWII, Daddy in the Phillippines and mother on a hospital train going back and forth from Cherbourg to the Battle of the Bulge. Daddy, a Wilcox County, Alabama native, set up a medical practice (GP) in Dothan, Alabama.

Sharman (11) and Sylvia (5) at home on Easter

Jean and George Burson, Sylvia and Sharman


Some friends were almost family -- Patt and Kaaren.
Patt McLaughlin, Kaaren Taylor, Sylvia and Elkanah


















After years of being a fat little girl and suffering the cruel taunts of nasty boys and rejection of mean girls (one must be careful or one's image might be tarnished if one stood or sat beside a FLG),  I lost weight in the 9th grade. During the FLG (fat little girl) years, I read every book in my mother's library, grounding myself, I suppose, for being a writer. The pain and memory of those years never leave you. Although those lonely years were a torment to live through, I can now appreciate the experience because it made me a more compassionate person. Blessed as I have been, those years gave me empathy. I must admit to having been spoiled (yellow convertible GTO at 16, for example).

When I entered 10th grade and high school, I tried out for everything. I got parts in plays (became a Thespian), including the lead female role in the senior play (Hoosier Schoolmaster), learned Latin, French and Spanish, got cheerleader (to the shock and, I suspect, dismay of those more experienced cheerleaders), graduated as a Senior Scholar, 13th in my class (out of 350 something, I think). That was a real surprise. And I dated several fine, handsome young men and developed lasting friendships with some truly wonderful guys and girls.


I then went off to the University of Alabama where I pledged Delta Delta Delta sorority and made friends who have remained friends for the rest of my life. 
Tri Delt House at the University of Alabama. I am center on balcony.

Joe and Sharman just pinned. He was a Pi Kappa Phi.

I married my college sweetheart, Joel Ramsey, who grew up about three blocks away.
He practiced law with his father and he and I raised three children in the home where my husband grew up.


Brooke, Drew, Sharman and Cecily making Christmas cookies.





Our home.













I got an MSE in History, taught school, did a brief stint as a radio talk show host, became an obsessive genealogist, served on community boards, joined a garden club and genealogical societies, wrote books and created a general interest website (generally anything I'm interested in) Southern-Style.com, a Downhome Perspective on All Things Southern.

Family genealogy (the discovery that my fourth great grandmother was Native American) inspired a family saga beginning with Swimming with Serpents (2012) and followed by In Pursuit (2013) that were published by Mercer University Press. Because of these books and my wonderful publicist, Kathie Bennett, I have spoken at Book Festivals across the South and met authors I sincerely admire.



So, what's next? I have written three sort of "coming of age" (meaning THIS age) novels, with two formerly estranged sisters who come together with the deaths of their husbands and finagle their way onto the Dishing It Network (DIN) using the family plantation as their gimmick. The award winning "Partying on the Plantation" brings lots of excitement including love interests and a serial killer. These are sort of a Southern Sisters type series that still need a publisher but I am excited about them. They are titled "Creme de Cassis and Murder," "Mint Juleps and Murder," and "Mayans, Muscadines and Murder." 


At 64 I realize that life is both a mission and an adventure. Each experience adds up to make the beautiful tapestry of a single life. Each life touches another for a purpose. I have been blessed with many friends who add color and depth to this majestic gift of life with which God has so richly blessed me. Partly because of a lonely start, I guess, I treasure each one.

So this is 64. I earned the wrinkles that came with sunshine, laughter and the pain. I enjoyed each meal that brought these extra pounds and cherish each family member and friend who shared them with me. I loved every baby kiss, laugh and hug. I look forward to the adventures tomorrow may hold. Like my mother before me, I will open my arms to embrace each friend and loved one and share a laugh as often as I can. And above all, I promise to praise my Lord who has forgiven me for my grievous sins and shortcomings, who carries me through the hard times, and who opens my eyes to the blessings I so often take for granted.

Sixty-four.  What a glorious, spectacular, magnificent ride!




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