By Ralphine Major

Walking up the sidewalk to the back door of the house was like stepping into the pages of a farm life magazine.  It was a walk our father had made many times.  So often, he gave the same answer when mother asked where he had been.  “Bill and Georgia’s,” he would say as if she should know.  On this day I could hear birds singing, feel a chill in the air, and see a hint of the sun.  It was a beautiful spring day—perfect for a party.

The party was a celebration of Georgia Loy Wright’s 91st birthday!  Family and friends gathered in the home where she lived with her late husband, W. P. (Bill) Wright; raised three sons; and welcomed three daughters-in-law, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren with another on the way, and two special caregivers.  We shared greetings.  “Ralph always brought me strawberries,” she said about our father.  After a few seconds of silence, Georgia said, “It’s a  bittersweet day.”  I knew exactly what she meant.  The whole community had been devastated by news of All-American and former Carson-Newman basketball standout and long-time Knox County School Principal Tommy Everette’s death.  Everette was Bill and Georgia’s nephew by marriage.  (My tribute to Tommy will come in a future column.)  There was a cloud of sadness hovering over the celebration.  At 91, no one knows better than this beloved lady that life is made up of both heartache and happiness.  That is why it is so important to cherish each day.

Reaching 91 years is certainly reason to celebrate.  At least Georgia’s family thinks so.  The traditional light refreshments turned into a full-course lunch with festive balloons and banners decorating the dining room.  Grandson Travis cooked a big pan of mouth-watering barbeque; and a cheeseball, baked beans, fruit and vegetable trays, punch and tea filled out the menu.  On a table loaded with delicious desserts, I could not resist one of Becky Calfee’s (The Amazing Hen House, Focus, 1-12-15) giant chocolate cupcakes with caramel drizzled over the vanilla icing!

“Thank you for writing,” Georgia told me as she held my hand.  “I read your stories every week in the Focus.”  The 91-year-old honoree with kind eyes and a sweet smile made my day.

My family and I walked out the back door and down the sidewalk to the car.  We had been amng a family that had shown so much love to one they love so dearly.  Outdoors, signs of new life surrounded us—the first growth of green grass after winter’s snow, yellow Easter flowers in bloom, and once barren trees glimmering with green.  It was a perfect time to celebrate life and rejoice at the promise of eternal life that the Easter season brings.  In the words of Jesus:  “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.“  John 10:10 (KJV)