Mary Lou

From what I am told about Aunt Mary Lou as a child is that she was a shy and introverted little girl and that she was terrified of going to the photographer.

The big box cameras of the day frightened her. I imagine it must have had something to do with the photographer having to dive under the black hood that must have got to her. She'd burst into tears at the sight of the contraption and then Grandpa would have his hands full trying to coax a smile out of her for the picture. Somewhere, there is a picture of a very young Mary Lou trying to smile gamely thru her tears which are coursing down her chubby little cheeks.

At any rate, a go-getter, Mary Lou was not. It was for this reason that Grandpa Lloyd, who also suffered from terminal shyness, decided that he would see to it that his second child, my Mother, would be, in his words, "first hog at the trough."

He needn't have worried. There was nothing shy or sans about Mother from minute one. She was a person that the world was going to hear from with or with out any coaching from the sidelines. Little Phyllis was the one that everyone talked about, she was the one that had the talent, had the nerve and the gusto.

Mary Lou tended to bob along in her younger sister's wake without much of a murmur. She got married, had two boys, lived her life in quiet, never making a speech or singing a solo or leading any club the way Phyllis did.

Mary Lou also wasn't known for lifting up prayers of glory like Grandpa Lloyd could do off the cuff or dispensing valuable straight forward advice. She couldn't hold a table of folks crying tears of helpless laughter like her Uncle Jess nor was she dashing here and there in tireless service to others as did her step-mother, Mother Marie.

Mary Lou simply was Mary Lou, that's all.

Twenty years ago there was a rather annoying little ditty from a movie called "Beaches" about a girl who was always in the shadows of her more outgoing friend, a "face without a name" but all along, the nameless girl was the "wind beneath my wings" who kept her vivacious friend aloft.

And so it was with Mary Lou. Just being her and just loving and supporting the star players of her own little family group had enabled them to soar like birds.

And on that rain swept Sunday evening in September, their wings failed them and down they came.

The rains came down and they huddled together, stunned and broken. By and by, the rain began to abate and a few brave birds would go out to try their wings again in a now unfamiliar sky stripped of all color.

Some would never fly again.

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