“I thank you for your part in my journey.” ~ Unknown
When we celebrated Thanksgiving at Natural Bridge, we saw many people from Morgan County, and two of my all time favorite people were among them; Russell and Billie Jean Collinsworth. They figure into some of my earliest memories. They both grew up with my mother. Billie Jean’s mother, Garnetta Wright, and my Mamaw Adams were best friends. “Remember me fondly and think of me often,” were the last words Garnetta said to me as we were leaving church one Sunday. She died suddenly of a stroke about a year later. I distinctly remember when Billie Jean was pregnant with their daughter, Karen. I was four or five. Their oldest son, Rusty, now tells his son, Ryan, that there’s a picture of me and him on a pony when we were little. I was two, and Rusty was seven. You’ve never seen a boy with a bigger smile than Rusty on that pony. You’ve heard me talk about their middle son, Mark. We used to do everything together, me and him. We played baseball, rode bikes, slid down muddy hills and creek banks, walked in nasty creek water and caught crawdads with badminton racquets. He was always Robin to my Batman because I was older and, until high school, taller. Mark was a good boy. He was kind, especially to me. He was mischievous. That was part of his charm. He laughed like Billie Jean, and he looked a lot like her, too. Parents aren’t supposed to outlive their children. Russell and Billie Jean are good people. I can’t imagine my life without them. Some family aren’t blood relatives. They just need good souls. Russell and Billie Jean have got them for sure.