Oh Cindy Lou:
It’s amazing how quickly the news spread about your homegoing two days ago. I was walking aimlessly around Tom Thumb yesterday and saw these flowers—the bright yellow so reminded me of you because it’s the color of joy. Here’s a picture:
I didn’t buy them for you because, you know, neither one of us could keep a plant alive, could we?
Right now I’m grinning as I think of how embarrassed you’d be by the accolades our mutual friends are posting about you on social media. All true, of course. But since you notoriously never used your own social media, Chet and Rebekah would have to read it to you– as usual!
Debbie beat us all to the punch. She said you were her and Nathan’s hero (absolutely). Diana said you were like Jesus with skin on (read my mind). Susan commented that you were always so loving and consistent in your spiritual walk– and did so many things in the shadows that only the person you were blessing knew about it (that’s a fact, Jack). “Truly an angel and the sweetest person I ever knew” was Bridgett’s description. And Odena added that you were always so full of joy here, but knew your joy is even fuller THERE. Just like the yellow flowers, but brighter.
Whoops—I see you blushing, just as you always tended to do when receiving a compliment. I know you want me to stop, but too bad. It’s my letter.
Jaylynn said she loved you “like a sister” and Bonnie said you were a real prayer warrior. “Good, kind, and loving” was Sarah’s sentiment. To Emma you were a treasure. In Lilly’s words, you “lived your life as a worshipper and a kind example of a Christ follower.” Troy called you an immovable woman of faith and was thankful to have had you as a friend.
And then there’s your sweet Becca. She tells us she has a lot of beautiful things to say about you, but right now she’s shattered—and just wants her Momma. No doubt you’d be so proud of how she’s handling all this adulting stuff. You trained her well.
In the 22 years I knew you, and the 14 that we worked side by side in the Town Hall Activities Department, we got to know each other well. Really well. One of my first memories of you was when you were laid up in a hospital bed from some God-awful situation with your liver 20 years ago. I went to see you, but you wouldn’t discuss what was wrong. Instead, you insisted you wanted to continue to coordinate our church missions’ banquet coming up within days. Here you were, sick and in pain. You were in the hospital. Yet you were determined to follow through, even from your hospital bed! Some would call that stubbornness. Maybe. But whatever it was you brought it with you three years later when you came to work at Town Hall Estates.
Just yesterday over lunch Donna told me you were one of the few souls on earth that would continue to believe in the people that others had given up on (bulls eye), and where you had RIVERS of godly qualities most people have only THIMBLE-fuls. That got me to thinking, my friend.
You may have had only a thimbleful of physical energy somedays, but you had a river of determination in your wake—whether it was walking the halls with the hydration cart or doing room visits with the residents you lovingly championed so very well. Maybe a thimbleful of physical eyesight was all you could muster some days, even with your magnifying glass. But you could still SEE others so clearly through eyes of discernment and compassion. Your feet failed you at times, but from them oozed a river of the gospel of peace. Never did I hear you complain about your personal discomfort. It was hard seeing you struggle, but God gave you grace.
Your empathy was off the charts, girlfriend. How were you so patient? How were you so kind? How in the world were you EVERYBODY’S biggest cheerleader? Rather than run from the uncomfortable pain we witnessed daily in the nursing home, you ran TO it, ready to listen and console. When I think of you, I think of Micah 6:8 in The Message: “Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.” That was you in a nutshell, Cindy!
How many times did we talk? Pray? Cry? Help carry one another’s burdens through disappointing times of life, but applaud many joys as well? Thank you for your gentle heart, your timely apples-of-gold-in-settings-of-silver words, and your thoughtful actions of encouragement to me—as well as to Natalie when she joined us.
Speaking of which, how many times did we laugh? We were quite the team, weren’t we? The Town Hall Trio, the Three Musketeers (or Three Caballeros if it was Cinco de Mayo)!
Thank you for your love of Tootsie Rolls, Baylor University and Waco, Daniel’s chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes, and the occasional Snickers’ bar. Thank you for years of your “Shout to the Lord” cell phone ring that only Becca could probably help you change. And thank you for your uniquely modest and consistent use of “lower and/or upper foundational garments” that made us laugh because we called it underwear.
Thank you for using your skills for detail with such EXCELLENCE in your paperwork and filing, even though you played those Floyd Cramer piano CDs you loved but that Natalie and I couldn’t stand. (Which reminds me. Thank you for going to Plaza Theater with me that one time to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers before I realized how much you disliked musical theater.) Thank you for your love of all things Duck Dynasty and sharing the excitement you felt when others got to visit Monroe, LA. Thank you for always taking FOREVER to sign a birthday card because it had to be just right. But, especially, thank you for the precious memory of you screwing up the words to “Bad Moon Rising” because it was NEVER “there’s a bathroom on the right!”
Did I ever tell you how much I loved calling you Cindy Lou Who, Cindy “Ro-Bear” Carpenter? Whatever the holiday or occasion, you would wear the hat, don the costume, put on the beads and/or strike the pose. I smile when I think of what a good sport you were and have the pictures to prove it! And while you did a fairly good dress-up imitation of Phil Robertson, to this day I still assert you are the AUTHENTIC central Texas female that the character of Peggy Hill from King of the Hill fame was based upon (if you know, you know). Change my mind!
We had a lot of fun, didn’t we, even though it was our job to have fun? The three of us didn’t have just a manager/employee relationship. We had the rarest of things—true friendship that we carried with us beyond the office trenches. Like, how often can an entire department attend a women’s night together in Glen Rose because of our shared faith? Remember one of the first times the three of us got together for dinner after I had left Town Hall? We went to Sammy’s in Burleson to eat Italian, then went to Natalie’s house to see her kitchen remodel, but ended up talking until 3 in the morning. See, that’s the kind of friendship that will gratefully last us into eternity!
Cindy, I was looking back at the next to last text message we all shared. Do you recall the picture of the Engelbert Humperdinck record album I sent you from that Oklahoma antique store in June?
(SIDE NOTE: It would be a fair bet that most people have no idea how much of a Baby Boomer, giddy crush you had on EH (Quando, Quando, Quando). Didn’t you and your friend Martha have plans to go see him in concert once but had to cancel? Too bad. It would have made your year. And I will neither confirm or deny that I may be listening to him on Apple Music right now in your memory.)
Your reply was pure Cindy Lou: “He’s got to be one of the best singers in the world. I just don’t know if he ever got credit for it. And so easy to look at!”
Were you aware of this, Chet? I do hope, in spite of her infatuation, she saved the Last Waltz for You.
I honestly have only one regret so far, also found in one of our last texts. In April we were talking about how you and Natalie needed to come up and see my new house in Bedford. You said, “Let’s make a plan when Natalie gets back from California.” I wrote back, ”Sounds good!” Unfortunately, that was one plan we never made.
I miss you already, my friend, as you are no longer just a text or call away. But I know, for all the love and dedication you had for Chet, Becca, and your grandbabies, your heart has been set on pilgrimage for a while now. So many loved ones were there to greet you, weren’t they? As a worshipper, I know you are at the feet of Jesus right now. No more pain, no more frustrating limitations, and no more sorrow. Just pure love, peace, and joy.
I think I’m a bit jealous. Although we are only six months a part in age, you beat me at birth. Then you beat me at being a grandmother. Now you have beat me to heaven! But I’ll see you when I get there, Cindy Lou Who. Winner, winner chicken fried steak dinner!
Love and hugs,