I started life as an only child. My parents gave me a baby brother named David when I was 21 months old and 16 months later they gave me another baby brother – Danny.
For the next 26 1/2 years I was the older sister to the dynamic duo my parents and I called “The Boys”. They were a force to be reckoned with and I was more often than not on the outside of their twosome looking in. When David joined the Navy and spent the next 6 years away from us Danny and I became close. He came to our house several times to watch play-off basketball games because I could afford the premium network they were on and him teaching me basketball is among some of my favorite times with my youngest brother. Twenty-eight years ago God saw fit to call him Home and I went back to having only David to “big sister”. David and I became very close in the year after Danny died. We planned the family reunion together than year since the dead guy had originally been in charge. David and his first wife rescued Terry & me and our kids when the RV we were using on vacation blew its mind/motor on the way home from Ouchita State Park in Arkansas. Terry and I sold him a car on the cheap when his first wife left him and he needed something to drive. I gave him recipes and taught him to cook which saved his children from a life of hot dogs and “all you can eat” buffets. It was at our lake house that David nearly dragged Claudia half to death in a para-sailing trip gone bad but, God had plans for them, and she came back for more. Over the years we camped together, we vacationed together, we took care of our parents together (he was the money man and I was the medical side), and we divided property and sold things after we had funeral-ed together. He called to tell me they were moving to Atlanta immediately after he’d told his kids and Daddy on the day he accepted the job offer and he called to tell me they were coming home once that plan was settled, too. David and I spent one of my lunch hours several weeks ago talking on the phone while he shared his Disney experience and advice with me as I began to plan for our trip this summer. I followed many of his suggestions including adding a day of rest in the middle of the week.
This week David and Claudia begin an adventure they have been planning for years. They are getting some training from a boat captain (or is it two captains?) on the use of the boat they bought in late winter.
In a few days they will be sailing away from Clearwater, Florida to a life of waterways and port stops and visits. Their first trip is going to be within the U.S. although David told me a while back they plan to winter in the Bahamas. Next year they plan to do the Great American Loop and David has eyes for circumventing the globe in a couple of years.
While I am so happy for them I have this fear of never seeing my first baby brother ever again or, at least, never again on this earth. On the other hand, I know I’ll see both my brothers and our parents in Heaven. David’s not a great one for texting and email so I’m not expecting to hear much from him either. It’s hard to think that one brother was taken and the other is simply leaving. I didn’t get a last hug from Danny but I did get a hug and an “I love you” from David a few weeks ago when I saw him last.
Just a few pictures of my brothers and me over the years.
one of our first photos as “3” Feb 1961
Summer Vacation 1962
Off to Six Flags 1963
Dinosaur Valley – Glen Rose Texas – before it was a State Park 1966
At the Fort Worth zoo in Spring 1968
December 23, 1977 – our last photo as 3
Family Trip to Yellowstone, July 1998
at a Rangers game May 16, 2015
My Aunt Karen was only 9 when I was born. She turned 10 while we were still in Germany. For years she has teased about going into mourning each January on my birthday and staying there until her birthday in May. Many of my childhood memories include Auntie K. When I was about 6 she came to our house on a snow day and built a snowman with David and me and then she took us to her (Muttie’s and DadDo’s) house and built another – much bigger one – there. The Pecandale Dr Snowman was HUGE. Karen started rolling the snow in the backyard and rolled the snow ball into the front so the front yard still looked fairly pristine. Mr. Snowman was the biggest, most perfect snowman I had ever seen and he was perfect sitting in the middle of that gorgeous snowy yard. Then Karen built a second snowman. By the time we were finished, and Muttie had helped with clothing, Mr. Snowman had an anatomically correct wife.
When I was in second grade, and she was a senior in high school, Aunt Karen came to my class to observe during Texas Public School’s Week. In those days parents, grandparents, and even aunts, came to school to watch their cherub in the classroom. Some teachers and grades and schools had set times for visitors and others just let guests in at any time. For my class the delegated time was just after lunch. This was also when The Boys were taking their naps so Mama couldn’t get there and Karen came in her stead. It’s probably also the first time I called my youngest aunt by the name Aunt Karen instead of Karen. Mrs.Coleman, my 2nd grade teacher, thought I was being disrespectful when I called my senior in high school aunt by only her first name even though in our world aunts and uncles were called by their first names and great-aunts and great-uncles were Aunt So and So and Uncle Such and Such. I had to learn to say Aunt Karen REAL quick to stay our of trouble with this particular teacher!
Aunt Karen did the same “come to school for Public School Week” x 3 the first year Mama was in college. Mama had class but Karen, also a UTA college student, was already out of class for the day. Aunt Karen came to the rescue! To prevent her Fuller niece and nephews from disappointment she arrived at Duff Elementary before lunch and sat in on Danny’s first grade class and David’s second grade class. I guess she went to lunch with one of The Boys because after lunch she came to see Mrs. McCarter’s 4th grade class name the planets in order.
I was 10 when Karen married Kenn Cornett. I was a candle lighter in her wedding. I got to help Mama and Aunt Ardie give Karen a shower at our house (I’m sure help from an over excited 10 year old was not much help). I had a dress that was a miniature of the bridesmaids dress. Yellow dress, white daisy lace on the bodice, little white and yellow thing in my hair. I thought I was pretty hot stuff. Sadly, the marriage was short lived and even though she married again I have always remembered that first wedding, her tall slender groom and my yellow dress with great fondness.
When I was young Karen was one of a handful of people Mama allowed to babysit for us. When Karen got to be a mom I babysat her oldest child, my cousin Mandy. Her youngest child is between my girls in age. My hands were too full with Katie and Kristie to babysit Justin although they were all great friends while they were growing up.
Auntie K married again in November 2009. To Kenn. Yes, to the man she married, and divorced, some 40 years previously. The daughter of a cousin who wasn’t even born back was their flower girl. It’s so exciting to see them together.
Karen has a great faith, an infectious laugh, her mother’s great skin and beauty and she has, without a doubt, The. Best. Hair. Ever!
Happy Birthday, to the aunt who thought I was her baby doll until I got old enough to be her friend.
I posted the following to Facebook on Monday night, April 15, 2012. Little did I realize that within 12 weeks I would lose both my favorite uncle and my daddy. It’s a bit ironic that this post talks about Daddy nearly as much as it talks about Uncle Hayden.
One of the mightiest men I know is only 5 foot 7. He’s a short, feisty, “can’t get any better than him” cowboy. He used to match my dad plateful for plateful at holiday meals. They were the Long and the Short of it with their full plates and 5 desserts each. He was a firefighter until he retired and he’s traded more horses and cars in his lifetime than most people could count.
He saved my brother’s life when David was about 9, he taught me (and my kids) to ride and when I was so mad at my dad that I could barely stand it he blessed me by agreeing to do something he didn’t want to do and then helped me release my anger and show me why neither of us should do the thing he’d agreed to.
I’ve known him since I was 8 months old and I’m gonna miss him when he’s gone.
Uncle Hayden is the husband of my mom’s next younger sister. Hayden is the same age as Mama (would be). They were classmates, friends and Sunday School and Church mates.
My Aunt Ardie used to say, “That Hayden Templeton (fill in the blank with “looked at me” “smiled at me” “asked me on a date”). Every comment started with, “THAT Hayden Templeton” like there was more than one of him. (Well, actually there are more than one of him because he has several namesakes but that’s a different story.) Ardie finally asked Mama about him and Mama said, “TELL HIM YES!”. The rest is (family) history. They were married the month we came home from Germany. Like my mom never called my dad Joe, instead calling him Jody, I don’t remember Ardie saying Hayden. She always says “Haydie”. with her illness she no longer speaks. I miss hearing her call him that and I bet he does, too.
My uncle is proof that not all cowboys are tall. He and Daddy were the Long and the Short of the cowboy world and gentlemen cowboys at that…never wearing their hats inside a building, opening doors for others, standing up when a woman or older person came into the room. I smile at memories of the two of them with over full dinner plates plus dessert plates at holiday meals when I was growing up. That little man could match Daddy forkful for forkful. Hayden was a firefighter until he retired and then was a fire marshal at UTA for several more years. I have shared before about the fire Hayden was fighting when my dad helped out by killing the electricity. It’s a wonder Hayden ever spoke to him again. Uncle Hayden is a horse trader by nature, runs a stable and horse boarding barn and, about 15 years ago, he added a petting zoo to his activities. He and my dad taught my brothers and I how to ride and Uncle Hayden taught my kids how to ride, too. Hayden saved David’s life when David was about 8 or 9. We were all camping together and were swimming. David got out a little too far and went under. Hayden got to him as he was going under that third time. Grabbed him under the water by his hair and pulled him up. The next summer we were camping at the same lake. Hayden looked at David’s buzz cut and told him he’d better not try to drown because there was no hair for him (Hayden) to grab.
He takes such good care of my aunt. He hired someone to be with her during the days while he’s out at the barn before my cousin moved in to help out but he was the evening and night shift every night. Ardie’s condition continues to deteriorate. After a stroke in October Hayden and my cousin could no longer keep her at home. She’s in a nursing home now. Hayden goes to see her nearly every day. Or did until his knee replacement 5 weeks ago. He’s getting around better so he’s getting to see her more often again.
My Uncle Hayden is what we here in Texas call “good people”. He is quite the ladies man…in a Cowboy Gentleman sort of way. Between his boarders (who call him Grandpa), his wife and daughter, his nieces and his granddaughters he has several lovely ladies in his life, all of whom adore him.
Ardie and Hayden in Hawaii for their 40th anniversary.
My uncle and his only daughter, my cousin Sandi.
My Uncle Hayden has male namesakes but his female namesake is the cutest namesake.
I said at the beginning of this post that he’s one of the mightiest men I know.
He’s a Mighty Fine Man, a Mighty Special Man, a Mighty Feisty Man, and a man of Mighty Faith.
Hayden is extremely ill as I type these words. I know God is healing him but I also know that healing completed will be in Heaven.
Game for just about anything, she was Room Mom to 3 different classes in 3 different grades for years, she hiked up mountains in Colorado and Wyoming even though she got mountain sickness, she was 3rd in her high school senior class because she didn’t want to be 1st or 2nd and, therefore, have to give a speech, she started college at 31- when her youngest child started first grade – finishing 4 years later with a near perfect GPA, she taught thousands of elementary and pre-school children, she loved liverwurst, was David Fuller’s “Call a Friend” lifeline, had an infectious laugh, a beautiful smile, she prayed both her stubborn sons into their walk with the Lord and she had a combined gentle spirit and Type A/Perfectionist determination.
A beautiful 18 year old bride in 1955.
She made “3 in 3 years” look easy. As the mother of “3 in 4 years” I know just exactly how “un-easy” it is.
This picture, of Mama, The Boys and me, was taken on the grounds of the Alamo during our vacation, that was actually a Road Trip Across Texas, in Summer 1962. We hit many of the state’s the highest points on that trip. We went to San Antonio, Huntsville and the Sam Houston Museum, Galveston, Houston where we saw the Colt .44s (now the Astros) play the Giants at a college field as the Astrodome was being built, and various points in and around each of those cities. I’m not sure what possessed them to take a road trip with 3 children ages 18 months to 4 years in a 1957 Chevy Bel Air with no air conditioning in July but, hey, Daddy was, by his own admission, crazy enough to do almost anything, and, as I said earlier, Mama was always up for an adventure, too.
She tended to altitude sickness but she still hiked and went to the mountains every summer for years. This particular hike was 18 miles one way and about 5 the other. Nothing like getting off the path going uphill. Notice the perfectly coiffed hair and makeup? She taught me a lady never leaves her bedroom without her face and hair ready for the day. Even on a camping trip. My girls were raised the same way but it didn’t take with them but yes, I do it, too.
Hiking to Upper Twelve Mile Lake, Colorado 1973
This photo is from August 1987 with her Grands. That little one in her lap? He was her favorite. To her dying day they shared a special relationship. For several months he even worked at the retirement center she lived in for several years so he could see her every day. The others? ALL of them her next favorite grandchild. I think they were all good with their spot on her heart because they knew she loved them deeply and forever.
Her name was Winifred Maxine but only my dad dared to call her “Winnie” from time to time. It never failed to “get a rise” out of her and he would laugh and laugh and so would The Boys and me. Family and close friends called her Max, co-workers called her Maxine, her students called her Meez Fuller, and Terry began calling her Mama Max when we first began dating. Terry’s name for her eventually became her “Grandmother Name”. David and Danny called her Mom. To me, she was, and will always be, Mama.
Mama Loved Patio Dresses. Her Girl Grands call them Moo-Moos. Mama pointed out on several occasions they are NOT Muumuus. They were Patio Dresses. She’s wearing a favorite Patio Dress in this photo, her Last driver’s License photo. She quit driving when she moved to Arlington Plaza Retirement Community. In fact, she sold me her car and our girls or Terry drove it for the next 10 years. We sold it after buying my beloved Apple Annie nearly 2 years ago. She detested driving so it was a good thing. I took her to doctor’s appointments and beauty shop appointments or family functions and that time in my car gave us time together. By the way, I sent Katie to pick out clothes to bury Mama in. She picked out the most expensive beautiful embroidered ornate Patio Dress I’ve ever seen. Accompanied with her hair done, her make up in place (and a spot of lipstick on her front tooth…thank you, Katie), and beloved purple/orchid Crocs on her feet, the outfit was pure Maxine Fuller. I know she would have loved it although my Aunt Karen was initially appalled.
Sometime in the early part of this century, while living in Azle to be near Muttie after my grandfather’s stroke, Mama began to have the first brushes with the dementia, TIAs and Alzheimer’s which ultimately took first her mind and then eventually her life. I first noticed her inability to do things she’d once done well on Thanksgiving Day in 2003 when I realized she, a former secretary and teacher, had forgotten how to type and that she no longer remembered how to roll out pie crust. Some of my close friends began to notice problems in mid-2006 and David joined the party in December 2007 while Terry and I were on our first cruise. We lost her a good while before she actually died. She said my name only once in her last 30 months of life but she knew exactly what she was doing when she said it. An ICU nurse asked her if she had a daughter and she said yes. The nurse then asked what her daughter’s name was and Mama replied, “Kathy”. The nurse called me to tell me because she knew I would want to know. She was right, I did. That was in July 2010. I never heard her say my name again and I only heard her speak once or maybe twice after that particular ICU/hospital visit.
She died less than a month before her birthday so we celebrated her 74th birthday without her. It seems very strange to think she would be 78 today. That number seems old but Mama, herself, never seemed old to me. I miss her but, in truth, I missed her for at least two or three years even while she was still alive. Those last several years, especially after the multiple seizures on May 6-7, 2008, she wasn’t really “her”. Daddy said it best the day he told me, “Max is the most intelligent person I ever knew and it’s just a shame her mind has let her brain down.”. I loved then, and still love now, that he saw her brain and mind as two separate entities. Frankly, it made her last 3 years easier for me as I held onto his words.
I miss you, Mama, but I’m glad you are with God and that your mind that is no longer letting down your brain. Praise God I know we’ll be together again someday.
Happy Birthday, Mama.
Originally published on June 27, 2010, I heard someone discussing a fear of the water recently and remembered this post. Don’t let your fear control you, face your fears and then take control of them.
I’m not scared of water but I detest getting my face wet because I don’t like the way water/wet feels on my nose. My parents thought I was scared of the water when I was a small child because I screamed when I got my face wet. Once I got old enough to understand the difference I realized it is a sensory issue rather than a fear. I’ve had my fair share of (non screaming except in laughter) dunkings in pools and swimming with my face in the water, and lots of days at Wet’n’Wild, and after it sold out, Hurricane Harbor, etc. But, if I didn’t have to wash my face…I wouldn’t. That’s how much I hate getting my face wet. We camped at lakes when the kids were young, we have a lake house, a boat, spas at both houses and we visit places with beaches; water activities and swim suits (now THERE’S something that is really scary) are a way of life. My hatred for water in my face kept me from learning to water ski. I did allow my face to get wet as I was being dragged around the lake in our inner tube thingy but I was sure grabbing for a towel the second I got back into the boat!
Back before there was a Dinosaur Valley State Park or even talk of a protected area, Daddy heard about the tracks and fossils. We went one Saturday or Sunday to check it out, I think I was 9 so The Boys would have been 6 and 7. The Boys and I were walking in the water and our parents were walking on the bank when Danny went under and didn’t come back up. Leave it to Danny to fall into a dinosaur track. Daddy reacted quick and well and jumped into the Paluxy River with all his clothes, including his watch and billfold, to rescue his youngest offspring.
My Uncle Hayden saved David from drowning when Dave was about 10. We were on a camping trip at Lake o’ the Pines in East Texas. Uncle Hayden was a fireman and worked 24 hour on/48 hour off shifts. He and Aunt Ardie and Brian and Brent would either drive to the lake caravan style with us and leave early or join us trip-in-progress. Some trips he was able to switch shifts so he’d have 4 days off in a row instead of just the two which made for twice the fun. I always had Karen Ruth accompany me on vacation so I’d have a companion and I’d go on their vacations so she’d have company. Those trips were the origins of the Cousin Time we have now, 40 some odd years later. Usually our parents sat on the bank to watch us swim but every now and again they would join us in the water. This was one of those times. David got out too far on his air mattress and then fell in. He was doing down for the third time when Uncle Hayden got to him. Hayden was able to grab David’s hair and pull him up. The next year David had a crew cut and Uncle Hayden told him to be extra careful as there was no hand hold this year.
Danny severely burned his arm when he was 13. He was putting out a fire. The fire was my robe and I was wearing at the time so he was trying to save me. When he realized he was on fire, too, he started running. David had to tackle him to do Stop, Drop and Roll.
My brothers were climbing fools. David climbed so far up a tree one time he was paralyzed by fear when he looked down. Good thing Daddy worked for the electric company. A bucket truck saved David from spending the rest of his life in a tree. Another time they were caught climbing on the roof and jumping off onto a piece of 4 inch thick foam rubber. It was my mom who had to save them from harm that time…by sending them to bed early.
I guess what I’m saying is we lived from one accident to the next in our household growing up. Crazy stuff happened to us so often that we never thought anything about it and it was never something that we came to fear. Everything was treated causally by adults which I think made them seem less scary to us kids and now they are the stories we laugh at when we get together. A friend of mine is terribly scared of the water. She’s the person I mentioned in an earlier post that made me start thinking about what God thinks about His fearful children.
Even though I don’t like getting my face wet I swim and play in the water and enjoy sitting in the spa. I played in pools with the kids in my group when I was a day camp counselor in the 70s and in lakes and pools with my family and my friends in the 60s and 70s and 80s, with our kids in the 80s and 90s and I am sure I will do so in the future with Colton. I can’t imagine not spending time in or near the water or being too scared of water to want to get into a boat to play or fish or even to go on a huge ship for a cruise.
Fear(s) and funky sensory issues, such as fear of the dark or heights or water or even just not liking to have one’s face wet, and how we handle them are very personal. I missed out on learning to water ski and I regret it now that I’m older.
My friend has missed out on so many things like sliding down the slide at Burger’s Lake or treading water in the deep end near the small diving board waiting for a 5 year old to garner the courage to jump and then rejoicing with her when she does. She’s so tied up in her fear that she won’t even consider the idea of getting on a boat, big or small. We won’t be cruising with her family. I guess no one told her what my dad taught us; unless we control our fears they control us.