Allow me to give credit to a friend I lost to death a few months ago. Recently, I looked through books I hadn't read for several years. Surprising how gems pop out in unexpected places like on my mantel with an assortment of pretty-covered books with a duck head bookend on each side.
My friend, Mrs. R. R. (Lou) Gatlin excelled at poetry. With every holiday, special occasion or sometimes tributes to people in her life, Lou furnished our church or her writing group with a poem to commemorate. She won many awards even at one time being honored in Washington D.C. by the president.
Lou was a home-grown Wichita Falls, Texas lady. The church she attended for years was Southside Assembly of God which, when rebuilt after the 1979 Wichita Falls tornado became Evangel Temple. In 1981, she published a book of her poems entitled aptly, since it was two years after the big storm, "Take Cover," with a picture of a small tornado on the front.
I moved to Wichita Falls in 1981. At that time, the storm held a top place in thought and conversation. At the first hint of a tornado warning, no one ventured from their home. The storm had leveled many neighborhoods in the southwest part of the city. Several people were killed. Lou wrote a tribute to a lady in her church which was killed. One poem simply told the story of "The Big Tornado of Wichita Falls."
"Take Cover"is divided into four sections. The first highlighted the history of Ms. Gatlin's church and memories of that time such as dedication day and Easter,1979.
The second section showed her patroitism. We loved hearing her newest poem every fourth of July. She called the third section Fragments of Life including her Rose of Gold for her fiftieth wedding anniversary. Lastly, she wrote poems about her childhood and family like The Lost Toy and Grandma's Room.
I pull out this old book and reread the pages one by one. I waltz down memory lane with my friend. I recall the things she treasured in life. The writer in me dwells on how our written word can touch people even after we no longer can. At my own mother's funeral, a preacher read a poem I had written to her on Mother's Day. Our written words live on.
May I write with new resolve to make every word count, to ask God what He'd have me say, and perhaps to work harder at the craft to make my stories more entertaining and emotionally charged for my reader's enjoyment, for years to come, like my friend, Lou Gatlin.