About Those Robins

I have struggled for over a year as to whether address something here on the blog or not. I wrote yesterday about how thankful I am for my Round Robin friends. Frankly, I’ve been thankful for them for a long time before we began calling ourselves the Round Robins. That thankfulness, and my penchant for looking at two sides of an issue or situation is what makes this post so difficult to write.

I started the Round Robins by calling several of my oldest and dearest friends and asking them to join me in writing a round robin letter. A week later we were 7 friends writing a letter together and spending time together as time and distance allowed. We added an 8th friend 4 years later and now, 22 years later, we’re back down to 7 members. Sadly, due to what Vicki, correctly, termed “a difference in values” we have one less member in our Robins. 

I continue to pray for the no-longer-a-member daily just as I have for decades. I “see” and interact with her on Facebook and whatnot but the relationship that had previously been there is no longer. In fact, it has been gone for over a year. Vicki was right. Even though she is a Christian just like the rest of us, we have a huge difference in values from the things this former Round Robin values. Even so, I still don’t like that she is no longer part of our group. I invited her to join but I let the others convince me that just walking away was the best way to handle our separation, nay, our divorce. In some ways I think they were right but in other ways I am not sure we were. This ambivalence I feel tells me we didn’t handled the “divorce” as well as we could have/should have and that makes me sad, too. We didn’t handle it Biblically yet Biblical Values led to our unhappiness with her. We weren’t even honest enough to talk to her in person. Since the others weren’t going to I should have called her and spoken to her about the things that had upset us and why we felt the need to separate ourselves from her. 

If you are a praying person would you pray about this situation and whether or not I/we should do anything else in regards to the dispossessed 8th member. That’s another thing I am thankful for, praying friends.

A Month of Thanksgiving: Day 22

How long did you have with your grandparents? My dad’s dad died before my parents were married. There were 6 Fuller Grands at that point, the youngest having been born just a few weeks before Daddy Jess died of kidney disease. Daddy’s mom died of cancer when I was 7. My memories of Mother Bess are tainted by her illness. I don’t remember the laughing, fun grandmother my older cousins do. I remember the grandmother who was in pain and ill and seldom smiled or laughed. It would be over 4 decades before I lost another grandparent. My time spent with Muttie and DadDo over the years was precious. I am so glad we lived near them for part of my growing up years. I used to ride my bike to their house so I could spend time with Muttie. Terry’s paternal grandfather died when Terry was a baby. His paternal grandmother died when Chris was a baby and his maternal grandparents died in the early 90s. I lost my maternal grandparents within 16 months of each other while in my 40s. Our kids had 3 great-grandparents at birth and 2 of them for the first 2 decades of their lives.

Both my parents and Terry’s mom died within the 20 months between March 2011 and January 2012. Our children have only their Poppa left as far as grandparents go although now that Ray is remarried they have Trena, whom Colton calls Nana. Being in their 20s and 30s when they lost their Mama Max and Grandpa Joe means my children and their Fuller cousins have many wonderful memories of time spent with their various grandparents. The same can be said for my children and their Havins cousins who lost their or E Maw when the youngest grandchild was 16 and the oldest 38.

Today I am thankful for all the years Katie, Kristie and Chris got to have 4 grandparents and for the time spent with and memories made with their Mama Max, Grandpa Joe and E Maw.

September 30, 2006 at Katie’s and Brian’s wedding
photo credit Annabel Qualls

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Doing what he did best…Daddy cooking at a Fuller Reunion – catfish fry

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On the occasion of her 75th birthday, February 2007, Ruth was Queen of the World!

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A Month of Thanksgiving: Day 21 and Flashback Friday: Round Robins

I attended morning Kindergarten at Mrs. Houston’s A-B-C Kindergarten. I had lots of fun there, I learned lots of things there and I became friends  with people who would become life-long friends there. It was only as an adult I realized what a financial sacrifice my parents made to send me, and later my brothers, to private kindergarten since the public school didn’t have kindergarten back then. Among those I met at Mrs. Houston’s school was a little girl named Gayle. I didn’t know her well since she was in the afternoon class but the two groups got together a few times for end-of-the-year program rehearsal and the program and a joint reception and I thought she just looked like so much fun. A mutual friend Gayle and I had was a little boy named Chris. He taught me lots about using one’s imagination and pretending as we ran around playing Superman. 

I had several good friends when I was at Duff Elementary. During 5th grade I was very ill and missed enough school to end up on the home-bound program where I had a teacher come to the house. When I got back to school we’d had a new little girl move in to our school and grade. Quiet and thoughtful and, maybe a bit shy, Donna was on my radar because she was “new” but not enough on my radar to offer to include her with my friends and I in games on the playground. I had a new school for 6th grade and is was a miserable experience. Made me feel guilty about not getting to know Donna better the year before.

The thing that made 6th grade bearable was a new friend named Laura Beth. That’s the year I started memorizing long pieces of Scripture (John 15;1-17 was the first) and Laura Beth would help me work on them at recess. Laura Beth was tiny. I remember towering over her and I was “normal” height for an 11 year old girl. Eventually I began to call her Little Bit as well as Laura Beth. She was a late summer birthday so she was still only 10 when we started 6th grade. She was also just what I needed. A friend.

Seventh grade found me crossing Bowen Road each day from our house at 1600 to Bailey Jr High. It was a much more enjoyable experience than 6th grade  and Laura Beth and I found many more friends. Some friends were met through Laura Beth’s band class and some were met in my classes and by the end of 8th grade I was part of a fairly cohesive “Group”. I can’t tell you when or how I met Caty but it was in 7th grade. I guess it was in the courtyard after lunch. Likewise I can’t tell you the day we decided to be “best friends” but before long it was a fact of life and everyone knew we knew, from our parents to our classmates, knew Caty Beale and Kathy Fuller were best friends.

I know, for a fact, the Joe Bailey Jr High courtyard, after-lunch, is when/where I met Chris and Gayle and Donna. It was only later that I realized they were the Chris and Gayle and Donna of past years. Funny how God works things out. 

Gayle and Laura Beth were in band and they brought others, some male and some female to the courtyard friendship group. Steve and Tony, always said as a unit, and Debbie come to mind. Anita (another whom I’d known from the Duff years) was not a band kid but, like me, knew band kids and she was part of our group, too. Chris’ friend Gary became one of us, too. Chris’ mom died this week. Another parent of a friend funeral is in my future. The only thing I don’t like about aging is that our parents are doing at an alarming pass and we’ve lost so many.

 We added Nancy in 9th grade when I got to know her as we waited for the Bailey doors to open and the morning bell to ring each day.

Gayle and Caty were in Scouts together, Caty and Laura Beth began going to church with me and Gayle and Chris went to church together at First Presbyterian and they, like me, had church friends as well as school friends. I heard lots about these friends and by the end of 9th grade had met two of them, Vicki and her best friend Michele. Our circles of friends just kept overlapping.

During the summer before we started high school Gayle hosted a slumber party. That’s when she introduced  me to her church friend who would be coming to Arlington High School with us. Sherry was funny, smart and cute as could be and I knew, given the chance, we could be great friends. The chance arrived quicker than I could have ever imagined when Caty and I saw Sherry a few days later at AHS registration. We immediately signed up for classes together and we introduced her to some of my church friends who signed up for other classes with her. We had a few other additions to our group during high school, many because of band, choir and church friendships. We football gamed, schooled, slumber partied, boy-girl partied and worked our way through high school together. As members of our Crowd began driving “1600″ needed a revolving door to keep up with the comings and goings of my friends and me.

We had a core group of about a dozen friends – male and female – and we had another dozen or so friends who weren’t necessarily part of the core group but were definitely part of our Crowd.

Caty moved to California at the end of our sophomore year. Nancy moved to Utah that same year. We lost touch with her after a few years but we reconnected again a few years ago thanks to Facebook.

Caty and I kept in touch by US mail and the occasional long distance phone call. I reported back to the others whenever Caty and I talked. Several of the group went away to college. Gayle was the only one who never “really” came home from college. She got married and moved to Georgia immediately following college graduation. Over the years we all got married and the moving began in earnest. Michele’s husband took a job in North Carolina in about 1987, Sherry and her husband moved to Indiana around the same time and, by that time, Laura Beth and her husband had already moved to another part of our state. In January 1988, although Donna and Vicki were as near as Ft Worth, I was the only one left in Arlington and the long distance bills at the HavinsNest showed it.

On Sunday, January 24, 1988 I made 6 phone calls. One each to Caty, Sherry, Gayle, Michele, Laura and Vicki. Following those phone calls I sat down and wrote a letter to the group of them. I am so glad I made those calls and wrote that first letter. That was the beginning of our Round Robin Letter. Although we’ve had lunches, dinners, gab fests, slumber parties and 2 reunions it is our Letter that has kept us in touch with one another. We added Donna to the Round Robin Letter in 1992.

Four of 8 in July 2002.

Five of 8 celebrating at Vicki’s wedding reception…6 months after the wedding.

At Katie’s wedding in 2006

In June 2012 my prayers were answered when, for the first time in 35 years, we all 8 got together at the same time as we had our Round Robin Reunion Weekend in Bastrop.

That weekend drew us even closer to one another and the weekend wouldn’t have happened without The Letter having been a part of our lives for the past 25 years. Even in the days of the internet, social media and email our Letter is important to each of us. When one of  the groups talks to another “Who has the Letter?” is always part of the conversation. We each look forward to getting it, reading it, looking at the pictures others have sent along with it and replying to it.

Caty is the sister my parents didn’t give me. She loved my parents as much as I loved hers. We mourned their passings together. She came here the day after Danny died to be with me  and she helped me survive that horrible week, his funeral, and burial. We Robins have been in each other’s weddings, given advice to one another about our babies, lived through the loss of Donna’s youngest child, prayed about the divorces of couples, cheered remarriages, seen our kids begin to get married and now Gayle and I are grandmothers. My kids adore their godmother Caty and the other Robins are their beloved ‘aunties” as well. Laura played her oboe at Mama’s funeral (she makes that stick do great things!), Vicki read the obituary for each of my parents as well as saying a few words of her own about them. I sat with Laura Beth 2 years ago while her Mark was having cancer surgery and she came to sit with me several times last year when I had cellulitis and was housebound. Gayle moved back to Texas several years ago and since then we’ve begun having meetings of the Tarrant County Chapter of the Round Robins every couple of months. I can’t express how much these ladies mean to me and how much I love them.

I am thankful for friends made as long ago as kindergarten and as recently as this year but I am especially thankful for the special friends whom I call the Round Robins and our Round Robin Letter.

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