Nov 1, 2014 by


Stick with me on this one—it’s gonna take a while.  The story begins last Tuesday when Sharon, Carol and I finally got together to go to the GONE WITH THE WIND exhibit at the Ransom Center in Austin.  The main reason for doing this was to celebrate Sharon’s birthday.  Of course, that means libations and lunch.  Well, we fiddle fart around and it takes a long time to decide where to go.  Too many choices.  Is this place open for lunch?  Is it that place close to the museum?  At one point we decide on Fonda San Miguel which is kinda hard to find and off the beaten path.  We’re slowly driving around streets that we think is in the proximity of the restaurant and happen (remember this) upon a cemetery entrance that Sharon told us her Daddy is buried.   We comment how pretty the grounds are, ask about her Mother who still lives in Houston and we get back to our mission of finding a place for lunch.  We find Fonda San Miguel but guess what, it’s not open for weekday lunch.  We then call to see if ODD DUCK is open, which is where we wanted to go in the first place but were told it was not and that’s the only reason we wound up on the other side of town where the cemetery was.  We drive to south Lamar and have a a fun lunch with pretty memorable libations, watch Sharon open her presents, get in the car and drive to the Ransom which is on the UT campus.  Finally, we are at the hallowed ground where Rhett and Scarlett’s memorabilia is.  Right smack dab in the front are wonderful books on the making of the classic movie.  Sharon picks the biggest, fattest IMG_0450one up and leafs through it and caresses (not exaggerating) it and says she’d love to have it.  She mentions her mother had sent a check to her and this would be like a birthday present from her mom because they both LOVE the movie.  Good idea.  She’ll come back and get it when we leave.  So we begin pouring over the many behind the scenes tidbits and somewhere along the line Sharon gets a phone call from her brother asking when the last time she had talked to her mother because he can’t get her to answer the phone.  We keep strolling through payrolls, actors and actresses who were considered for roles and Sharon and her brother decided to call the mom’s neighbor to go over and check.   The neighbor calls back and says she did not answer and 2 daily newspapers were in the drive.  By this time, we are watching some of the screen tests archives and Sharon is calling the life alert people who say they can only respond when the person pushes the button.  We are now looking at the green dress made from Scarlett’s mother’s velvet drapes.  The one Scarlett wears when she visits Rhett in the Yankee jail.  You know the one made even more famous when Carol Burnet did the iconic comedy routine.  That green dress.  At this point, Sharon and her brother are calling the Houston police and we decide we should leave.  We walk briskly past the gorgeous red Jezebel dress and I quickly glance at the Gutenberg bible as we exit the building.  We walk back passing the oh so young college kids and are glad the car has not been towed (parking is horrible around the campus) and take the fastest way out of Austin, via Buckeye Trail, and head home.  Somewhere between Poodies and the bridge over what used to be an inlet of Lake Travis, Sharon got the call – her mom had died, peacefully in her home, sitting at her table….  It was a long ride home.  What can one say?  Would it help to tell her about my mom’s long good bye with her horrible Alzeihmers?  I think about the Bucket List movie where Jack Nicholson, after having surgery and going through chemo, stands in front of a mirror and says “Somewhere, some lucky guy’s having a heart attack”.  Anyway, we get to Sharon’s house where her husband is there, waiting to console his bride.  Fast forward to a few days later and there we are at the same cemetery that we “accidentally” had just driven by a few days earlier and (literally) a life time ago.  The Austin Memorial Park Cemetery was as lovely and peaceful on the inside of the gates as it had looked from the street less than a week before.  It had beautiful oak trees that shaded all those who had been laid to rest.  I knew I was at the right spot when I saw the big green funeral home tent.  I parked the car and watched my friend, Sharon, perform her duty and obligation of a being the host in charge.  She graciously introduced me to the family members and I watched how laughter and tears co-mingled in one conversation after the other.  The minister gave a short speech aimed at making the family and friends feel comforted. When the appropriate time to leave came, I floundered to find the right words to say.  What did come  to mind is how wonderful this mother must have been to be so missed and deeply mourned….  So that’s what it meant when we read, a long time ago, that parting is such sweet sorrow.  Bittersweet.  So very, very bittersweet…… Well, here’s to you Bee Dubyah.  You did a great job.  You’ve got a loving family to prove it.  And here’s to my dear friend, Sharon……. Your Mother taught you well.

IN MEMORIAM, BILLIE WOOD 1/22/28-1/21/14


PS—I think I’ll go back and get the book that Sharon saw at the GWTW exhibit.  I hope she still has that check that her mother sent.  It’ll make a great bookmark for that one last birthday present.

PSS—I did get the book and gave it to Sharon.  And here is the serendipitous icing on the cake.  When Sharon opened it, here were the words in the dedication:                                                                                                              “THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO MY MOTHER WHO SHARES MY LOVE OF THE MOVIES”.




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