Winter 2003

True friendship isn't seen with the eyes; it is felt with the heart when there is trust, understanding, secrets, loyalty, and sharing. . .

—Sonja Williams

"God’s message of hope and love without end is heard best in the voice of a friend."

To me, each friend is a great blessing! I cherish friends from long ago, enjoy new acquaintances who may become friends, and hold dear all those between old and new. I can hardly imagine my life without the support of friends during times of stress and without the joy of shared good times.

If I have enemies, I am blissfhlly unaware. If I have, I hope I have reacted as Abraham Lincoln when taken to task for his friendly attitude toward his enemies and asked, "Why do you try to make friends of them? You are a powerful man. You should try to destroy them." Lincoln gently replied, "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make them my friends?"

I treasure a friend with whom I can be myself and one who will be the same with me, a friend with whom I feel at ease and with whom I can chatter or with whom silence is comfortable. Dear friends bring out the best in us. A friend has been defined as "one whom we trust," and we know our confidences are secure with a true friend.

Research has shown health benefits of friendship. According to Shelley Taylor, a research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, "Social ties are the cheapest medicine we’ve got." In a September 2002 article in Reader’s Digest, "Friends, the Secret to a Longer Life," Katherine Griffin reports that people with strong social networks are shown to: boost their chances of surviving life-threatening illnesses; have stronger, more resilient immune systems; improve their mental health; and live longer than people without social support.

Often the best support in times of trouble is a friend who has experienced similar difficulties. A mother who has lost a child, a wife who has lost a husband, a person with a debilitating illness finds solace in the understanding of such a friend. The success of support groups of various kinds has proved the value of bringing together people with common concerns.

Friendships are characterized by mutual good will and affection and usually arise out of mutual interests and common alms. We have great examples of friendships in the Bible— David and Jonathon, Ruth and Naomi—and in history—Jefferson and Madison. We laughed a lot at the fictional antics of television’s Lucy and Ethel.

A few years ago I found a cross-stitch piece saying "Happiness is being married to your best friend." I had this cross-stitched and framed as a gift for Don, and it hangs beside the utility room sink where he washes up after coming in from work. Later I saw and bought the same saying on a very small sofa pillow. After more than fifty years, Don and I cherish the depth of our friendship. We are truly best friends.

In The Book of Virtues (page 269), I found a good expression of the demands of friendship: "for frankness, for self-revelation, for taking friends criticisms as seriously as their expressions of admiration and praise, for stand-by-me loyalty, and for assistance to the point of self sacrifice." The Book of Virtues describes varieties of friendship: "friends who stick together in adversity, friends who give more than they expect to receive, friends who incite each other to higher purposes."

When we as Christians think of friends, we cherish the thought that Jesus is our friend. We find comfort in hymns such as "There’s No Friend to Me Like Jesus" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." My sister Ava shared with me recently the comfort she finds in a verse of "I Am Thine, 0 Lord": "Oh, the pure delight of a single hour that before Thy throne I spend; when I kneel in prayer and with Thee, My God, I commune as friend with friend."

Don and I had the privilege to visit with old friends on December 23 when we attended the celebration of the 65th wedding anniversary of Christine Coleman and Lavester Edwards. "Miss" Christine was my first school teacher at Delay, and we talked about friends of that time. She mentioned she would especially like to hear about Janie Ruth Eskridge (now Maples), who was one of her first-grade students. I have many memories of Janie Ruth and her parents from the times when Jame and I visited and spent nights together back and forth. [Later through a mutual friend I located Janie Ruth and told her of Miss Christine’s interest in hearing from her.]

Charlie Reese in a column dated December 1,1997, wrote "Even when I’m physically alone I travel with a large company of people who reside forever in my heart." So it is with me as I remember old friends.

Age mellows and refines friendships. Friendships that have stood the test of time and change are priceless. We should keep these in a constant state of repair at the same time we are making new friends. I am reminded of the familiar poem (and of the little song grandson Chase sang in preschool): "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold."

In an issue of CareNotes I read the words of an 86-year-old who sald: "If I had not made many friends of all ages, I wouldn’t have any friends now. I would have outlived them all and been alone in the world." The author of the article, Dr. Wayne E. Oates, followed with these comments:

"If you have friends only in your own age group, you might tend to "pool," and thus reinforce all your fears of aging. If you have older friends, however, you can borrow from their wisdom about coping with getting older.... When you cultivate younger friends, their spirit of youth will renew your own their visions will inspire you."

I feel sympathy for those whose circumstances require relocation and leaving behind old friends. In recent years numerous older couples have chosen to move to Oxford to spend their retirement years. Sadly, in some families we have seen the death of a spouse leave a surviving spouse living alone in a strange new place. I know some of these people, and I admire how they have become active in the community and a church, forming new friendships and ties.

As every parent knows, the choice of good friends for a child is very critical. Good friends bring you up, bad friends bring you down. While parents cannot dictate friendships, they are well advised to help their children recognize injurious friendships and encourage good choices.

Friendships require nurturing and we sometimes feel we are too busy to maintain them. In the Reader’s Digest article previously cited, the author includes these tips from sociologist Jan Yager, author of Friendship and When Friendship Hurts: (1) Stop feeling guilty that you can’t spend lots of time with old friends like you did years ago. Acknowledge that your lives have changed, and do whatever you can now to maintain the relationship. Use e-mail, instant messaging and other electronic devices to stay in touch when you have small bits of time. (2) Meet for coffee or an early-morning walk before you start your workday. (3) Schedule a regular "Friends Time Out," in which you set aside one week-night a month, for example, to catch up with your buddies. (4) Invite a friend to share everyday activities you normally do alone, like exercising, doing errands or going to your kid’s soccer game. (5) Try to be there for key events in your friend’s life—weddings, graduations, funerals. Your presence will make a difference.

In "The House by the Side of the Road," Sam Walter Foss uses the familiar image of a humble house where the weary traveler finds a welcome to remind us that we are here to help others along life’s journey. Friends are helpmates to each other. My favorite portion of the poem is this stanza:

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by— 
The men who are good, the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat 
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Much can be said about friendship—perhaps too much has been said herein. The best advice of all is: to have a friend, be a friend.


[Untitled at source]
Some things you keep. Like good teeth. Warm coats. Bald husbands. They’re good for you, reliable and practical and so sublime that to throw them away would make the garbage man a thief. So you hang on, because something old is sometimes better than something new, and what you know is often better than a stranger.

These are my thoughts, they make me sound old, old and tame, and dull at a time when everybody else is risky and racy and flashing all that’s new and improved in their lives. New careers, new thighs, new lips, new cars. The world is dizzy with trade-ins. I could keep track, but I don’t think I want to.

I grew up in—the fifties—with— practical parents—a mother, God bless her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it— and still does. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. They weren’t poor, my parents, they were just satisfied. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers and tee shirt and Mom in a housedress, lawnmower in his hand, dishtowel in hers.

It was a time for fixing things—a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things you keep. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that refixing, reheating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence.Throwing things away meant there'd always be more.

But then my father died, and on that clear autumn night, in the chill of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any "more." Sometimes what you care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return.

So, while you have it, it’s best to love it and care for it and fix it when it’s broken and heal it when it’s sick. That’s true for marriages and old cars and children with bad report cards and dogs with bad hips and aging parents. You keep them because they’re worth it, because you’re worth it.

Some things you keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate you grew up with, there’re just some things that make life important—people you know are special—and you KEEP them close!

— author unknown

I gingerly balanced my bag and briefcase and stumbled up to the curbside baggage agent at the Phoenix airport. It was 6:45 am., and all the baggage agents already had their hands full with too-busy and too-sleepy travelers trying to make their flights.

When I arrived at the front of the line, I was greeted by the biggest smile this side of heaven. My baggage agent was Mr. Happy. He enthusiastically checked me in and engaged me in charming, friendly banter. And that smile never left his face.

It quickly became apparent that I had drawn a legend. All of his fellow agents were joking with him about his great mood. It was easy to surmise that this fellow acts with the same enthusiasm, friendliness and excite-ment about his job every single day. One of his fellow baggage agents was trying to be surly, but he couldn’t be when my baggage guy was around. This guy raised the spirits of the entire crew.

I bounced to my gate after that encounter. I was friendly and enthusiastic to the airport security people and they were friendly right back. That, in and of itself, may be front-page news on both counts.
I wore my great mood on my sleeve all the way down to my gate when I walked up to a fast-food stand to order a breakfast sandwich. I greeted the mature man behind the counter with an enthusiastic "How are you today?"

He looked at me as if I were crazy and said, "I’m here. What do you want?" Everything about the man was depressing. His shoulders were stooped. His unhappiness with his work and his life were practically in neon. As he made my sandwich, another worker rang my order up on the cash register. It was apparent she was cowed by her co-worker’s negative attitude. The sandwich maker was bringing everybody around him down.

I even found my own attitude deflating. I had been Mr. Sunshine from the front of the airport down to the gate, but I could feel this guy’s negative vibes grind me down.

The baggage agent and the sandwich maker have made basic decisions about how they are going to do their jobs. The baggage agent is going to laugh and smile and infect others with his good mood. The sandwich maker is going to inflict his sour mood on every customer he meets.

I’d love to say I’m always the baggage agent, but there are days I’m more like the sandwich maker. And which one I choose to be affects other people because both types are "mood carriers." Their moods can affect how I deal with other people I meet that day.

When I do seminars, I routinely run into participants who are convinced things cannot get any worse. Their foul moods are palpable; they are often upset that I don’t agree with them that the world is a horrible place and we’re all doomed.

Recently when I met a woman like that, I challenged her directly I said we have two choices in this world. We can throw our shoulders straight back, walk with authoritative purpose, wear a smile and carry a positive comment for everyone. Or we can carry the weight of all our burdens on our shoulders and walk with our heads down and with a snarl on our lips.

I looked at the woman straight on and said, "We’ve got a choice and I think life is only worth living if we go the first route." She shrugged. I don’t think she bought my argument, but others in the audience clearly agreed with my point.

Our moods affect customers, co-workers and bosses. We can carry infectious hope and happiness or we can bring an entire workplace to its collective knees with a sour mood.

The baggage agent knows how to bring his spirituallty to work. Unfortunately, the sandwich maker doesn’t.

Think about a person who reminds you of the baggage agent. Think about someone who reminds you of the sandwich maker. Which one are you most attracted to and why? Which one were you most like last week?

— Tim MeGuire
The Commercial Appeal
January 25, 2003

In our continuing effort to provide the best possible service and facilities for families and friends at Wailer Funeral Home, the following improvements have been completed or are planned for the near future.

new parking lot with 54 parking places has been completed. The lot, which is accessible from the original lot, is located on the west side of the Funeral Home. It is well lighted and includes a handicap ramp. We are pleased to provide this additional convenience for visitors to the Funeral Home.

Construction of a covered drive (portico) is underway to provide easier access to the Funeral Home for those who require assistance entering and exiting their vehicles and to give shelter for all visitors in times of inclement weather. When this renovation is complete, additional inside expansion and renovation will begin on enlargement of the restroom area and creation of a designated play area for children. Other inside improvements are planned. Every effort will be made during these construction projects to maintain an attractive, appropriate atmosphere for funeral services.

Color photographs of all floral arrangements delivered to the Funeral Home are now being made. As each arrangement is received, a digital photograph is taken. One of the two cards which come with the arrangement is numbered and cards are collected in an envelope; the other card is left on the arrangement. After the funeral service, the photographs are downloaded from the camera into the computer, printed on a numbered grid, labeled with the name of the deceased, and given to the family. The family can look at the numbered pictures and compare them with the corresponding numbered flower cards from the flower envelope. Many times families have told us they wish they could remember how each arrangement looked, thus making the floral tributes more memorable and thank-you notes more personal. The pictures will now make this possible and will serve as a permanent record of the flowers that were received. No extra charge is made for this new service.

March 24-26 Beth and Bob Rosson will again attend the annual National Funeral Directors’ Association Advocacy Sununit in Washington, D.C. The Summit allows funeral directors to interact and confer directly with members of Congress pertaining to issues related to funeral service. Prior to their meetings with lawmakers, delegates are informed about current issues of importance to funeral service. Private meetings are arranged with our Mississippi Representatives and Senators. The funeral home industry is closely regulated, and the nation’s lawmakers are currently considering major federal legislation. This Summit provides an important opportunity for funeral directors to keep informed and to make their recommendations personally to our lawmakers.

Congratulations to Dana and Larry Woodward on the birth of a boy, Joshua Ethan Woodward, on January 23, 2003! Larry, a new employee introduced in the last issue of Seasons, and Dana also have a daughter Lauren. Our best wishes to the Woodwards at this happy time!

We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from November 12, 2002, through February 2, 2003.

Mrs. Bessie Lee Oakes November 12, 2002
Mr. Homer Ray McDonough November 17, 2002
Mr. Larry W. "LW." Thomas November 18, 2002
Mr. Donald L. Carley, Jr November 24, 2002
Mr. Amos Newton Jennings November 25, 2002
Mr. Rudolph A. "Pete" Cizmar, Jr November 26, 2002
Mrs. Sandra Smith Davis December 2, 2002
Mr. Henry Leamon Smith December 2, 2002
Mr. Albert Louis Boyer, Jr December 14, 2002
Dr. Ralph Friedman December 14, 2002
Mr. Lee Bowen Brown December 14, 2002
Mrs. Venera Cooper "Cris" McCain December 15, 2002
Mr. Theron. Augustus Livingston December 18, 2002
Mr. Kelly Wayne McCord December 25, 2002
Mr. Cordis William Foster December 28, 2002
Mrs. Clarice Davis Reid December 28, 2002
Mr. Marvis Montgomery January 1, 2003
Mrs. Mary Jane Tate Howell January 5, 2003
Mrs. Mary Frances Jackson January 7, 2003
Mrs. Mary Pearl Givens Beck January 8, 2003
Mrs. Frances Moore Cartledge January 12, 2003
Mrs. Ninnabel Neilson Haney January 13, 2003
Mr. Luther Eugene "Gene" Wood January 16, 2003
Mr. Wayne Hamilton January 17, 2003
Mr. Ira Lynn Weaver January 19, 2003
Mrs. Mary Moore Bolen January 29, 2003
Mr. Alvin Lee "Red" Oliver January 31, 2003
Mr. Thomas King Swayze January 31, 2003
Mrs. Ruby Horne Bumgardner February 1, 2003
Mr. Zachariah M. McElroy, Jr February 2, 2003

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