A Legacy of Love
A guest blog post from Don...
My Mom's sister, Genevieve, and her beloved Husband, Parker, married in 1955... they moved to Houston, Texas in 1959 and bought a house in a beautiful place called Garden Villas. They had 4 children (my cousins... Lucy, Bill, Eleanor, and Carl). In 1968, my Dad, Mom, brother and I were far away, living in Guam, while my Dad was flying the skies over Vietnam... word came that Uncle Parker had died unexpectedly on June 15th, 1968.
In an age when most women, finding themselves widowed with 4 children, would be encouraged by their friends to find another husband, Genevieve had other priorities. Aunt Gene was a strong woman... she raised her kids well, was deeply involved in her community and church, traveled all over the world (hiking the Grand Canyon numerous times, chasing whales and birding around the globe), was an avid reader and student of history and science, made many lifelong friends, and lived a good life. For the next 40 years, she lived in the same house in Garden Villas. In fact, she never changed the phone listing... to this day, it remains "Parker White".
A couple of years ago, I attended Aunt Gene's 80th Birthday celebration in Houston. Sadly, and largely by my own fault, I had been mostly out of touch with her for many years. When I suprised her by showing up at her birthday party, she was excited to see me and showered me with love and kindness. The next day, she would begin chemotherapy in hopes of driving back the cancer that had invaded her body.
Since that time, I began visiting her and my cousins, in Houston, fairly regularly. Never once did Aunt Gene ask where I had been all those years or why I didn't stay in touch with her... never once did she express anything but unconditional love for me. She loved my wife and daughter like the family that they were to her. My time with her helped me rediscover a legacy of unconditional love in my family.
In 2008, Hurricane Ike drove right through Houston... it nearly knocked Aunt Gene's house off it's foundation... it uprooted and toppled a beautiful, massive oak tree that had been there for over 100 years and had shaded her backyard since the very first day she lived there. As it did so, Aunt Gene was living out her last days... the loss of that majestic oak was a metaphor for the end of her life... she was just as strong and beautiful.
Genevieve always considered herself "Mrs. Parker White". Her undying love was not strange or obsessive... it was real and true and deep. In naming our son Marc Parker Sullivan, we hope to honor Uncle Parker and Aunt Genevieve's memory... and leave for our kids that same legacy of love.