The loss of my stepfather

Ronnie and Opal wedding, 1985.

My father died when I was little, and my mother remarried Ronnie Campbell. Ronnie was born on March 17, 1954, St. Patrick’s Day, and he died June 7, 2009. He was 55. Unlike my father’s death from cancer, Ronnie’s death was an accident and completely unexpected.

 

Ronnie and Opal, yearbook staff, early 1970s.

Mom had known Ronnie since elementary school. He had been one of her best friends. I remember their wedding. My stepsister and I got to be flower girls, which was a great excuse to be princesses for the evening in our white dresses and ballet slippers. After that, my mom and I moved into Ronnie’s house to live with him. What I remember most about that house is the green carpet in the bedroom I used. I was only four, so it’s funny what things stick out in my mind.
Continue reading “The loss of my stepfather”

All I know about my dad

Baby Doug.

My dad, Douglas Wayne Easterling, was born on January 23, 1953, the youngest of four children and the third boy for Howard and Pearl Easterling of Glen Rose, Arkansas. He would have been 64 this month. I am writing this post strictly from my own recollection of events and stories I’ve been told. Because of this, everything contained in this post may not be entirely accurate. (Note: I have worked on this post on and off for the past four weeks in preparation for posting today because I knew it would be emotionally draining and would take some time to write.)

Dad died of brain cancer on July 13, 1985, at 32 years old. He was diagnosed with cancer when I was a baby and went into remission for a while after treatment. Then, when I was a young girl—about three—it came back with a vengeance and killed him. There is absolutely nothing nice I can write about cancer. There are reasons why bumper stickers exist that read “Cancer Sucks” and “F%&# Cancer.” It does not discriminate on who it hits. I had turned four about a month before he died, which is how old my daughter is now. I’ve always thought that his first remission experience was God’s way of letting me remember him, though I won’t understand in my lifetime why he had to die so young. I’ve lived longer than my dad did and this year, he will have been gone longer than he lived. Continue reading “All I know about my dad”

Beside Myself

“Beside Myself” Free Verse Poetry, Poetry Workshop, 2002

I’m amazed I didn’t cry
That night when I parked beside the lake
To talk to God.
I needed Him to listen to me
Because you would leave in eight hours.

I knew that fifty-two weeks
Would pass before I could see you or
Kiss you again.
Until you’re home, I’ll close my eyes and
Imagine you walking beside me.

It’s been forty-four weeks since
You left for overseas adventure.
Tell me, baby,
Am I still the only woman who
You can talk to for six hours straight?

More than I need the courage
I prayed for long ago, I need to
Hear your laughter.
It’s hard living without your soft brow
And your scratchy sculptor’s hand in mine.

-Brandi Easterling Collins