Our regular readers know that Aunt Helen was the last of our self proclaimed LOLs (Little Old Ladies). All of them were remarkable. Aunt Helen (aka “Doc”) was remarkable in that, after becoming a nurse cadet then a nurse, she became a physician in a time when women were not very welcomed in that field. Her dream was to be a surgeon, but in the 1950’s that was not allowed for her. So she became an anesthesiologist so she could still be in the operating room. She worked the first open heart surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta.
After a long career she retired back to her home community and continued to provide loving care for family and neighbors for many years until her mind was taken by dementia. As remarkable as her career was she is most remembered for her love of God, her church, her family and all others.
The last several times we visited her in the care facility she said “I think I’m going home tomorrow.” We incorrectly thought she meant she was going back to her house. Now we know she meant her heavenly home and a joyous reunion with her family members who went before her.
We did get back on the road on November 16 as planned, driving to Gaffney, SC to get Fred’s annual inspection, fluid changes and recall work done. Of course we can’t go to Gaffney without a visit to Sunny’s Donuts. Yes, we have blueberry bars and cinnamon rolls in the freezer.
After receiving a clean bill of health on Fred, we drove about 2 hours away to Randy and Debra’s (Max’s brother and sister in law) house for a wonderful 3 days of Thanksgiving celebration. Such good family time! We made the drive back to Alabama on Friday, saw Aunt Helen on Saturday, took care of some estate business, worked around Aunt Helen’s house and picked up some groceries for the week. Then today drove to Laurel, MS to join the NOMADS fall disaster rebuild team. If you follow us, you will recall that we were in Laurel in the spring as well. We will continue to work on tornado damaged homes for the next three weeks. It is good to get back to work!
While we were in South Carolina Barry, Donna, Brandon, and Chris completed the work on the Christmas Star. Thank you so much for all your work. Love you guys!! The star now looks better than it’s looked in several years with new LED rope lights! In case you don’t know, the star hangs off the side of the mountain and part of the work must be done hanging off the mountain. So thankful for answered prayers for their safety. Also thanks to the people both far and near who have commented on the star and contributed to the expenses. It’s always a joy to hear the stories people share of their memories of seeing the star as they drive Hwy 75. The star is on – it’s Christmas time!! As you shop and prepare for Christmas, we encourage you to remember this is the time to prepare your hearts for the birth of our Savior.
This morning we went with some friends out to “the Star” and worked on totally “rebuilding” our community star. The Star is a huge star that hangs off a bluff on the side of our mountain that we light from Thanksgiving until the new year. It’s so large that pilots of airplanes on the flight path to land at the Birmingham International airport will sometimes point it out to passengers. The star was originally the project of Max’s parents Sunday School class at Lee’s Chapel UMC, over 50 years ago. The original layout was done by one of our power company engineers as the star is located under a high-power line that runs across our mountain. We sort of inherited the maintenance/lighting of the star a number of years ago and when we retired and aren’t in the community nearly as much, we sort of handed it off to Max’s cousin Donna and Barry who had been helping us for years. We have done many repairs over the years but, with Barry and Donna, decided that this was the year for a major rebuild. We met Donna and Barry and their son Brandon and friend Chris (who purchased our house) out at the bluff at 8:00 and began the work installing new anchors and cabling. There is a lot of hiking and climbing involved and previously it also required repelling. Since we aren’t so young any more with the new design installation we are hoping to avoid the need for repelling. We had to drill holes into the rock faces, install new tie offs for the star points and clear a lot of debris as well as install cables. By noon the drill and saw batteries needed recharging as did some of us, so hopefully some more work can be done over the next few days so the new star can shine this Christmas season. We are so thankful for our wonderful family and friends who are helping to continue a tradition that means so much to so many in our community.
When we last wrote, we had cancelled of our Natchez Trace adventure and returned to Blount County due to Aunt Jean’s death. The next two weeks were busy with handling things for Aunt Jean (Max’s Aunt,) and a trip to Gulf Shores for the Saturday funeral of Aunt Jean, (Anne’s Aunt). Yes, both our Aunt Jean’s died two days apart. We decided to stay in Gulf Shores until Monday to get a little R&R and enjoy the beauty of the area. And of course, being at the beach we also enjoyed royal red shrimp and red snapper.
We then returned to Blount County to check on Aunt Helen and make a quick turn around and headed to the Switch It Up Huddle, a gathering of some RV friends and Youtubers in Ellijay, Georgia, at the Talona Ridge RV Resort. For our RVing readers, Talona Ridge is a new park, not quite completed, that will actually be opening to the public in a few weeks. It will be beautiful when all the landscaping and facilities are completed. The staff are very welcoming and helpful. We will definitely visit there again. It was a beautiful weekend to be in the north Georgia mountains with all the fall colors. We made some great new friends, hiked to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, hiked the gorgeous Amicalola Falls (729 feet high) trail – over 600 stairs (mostly metal) in addition to the bridges and various pathways. We had some beautiful sunsets, great food and a wonderful worship service on Sunday. Thanks so very much to Shelia and Todd and all the Switch It Up Crew. We look forward to seeing the crew again soon.
We are now back in Alabama for about a week and then we will be setting out for our fall/winter travels. Probably won’t update until our travels resume, hopefully 11/19. In the mean time – everyone travel safely and we hope to see you out there on the road soon.