Friday, June 27, 2008


If she could have lived life to it's fullest, we would be celebrating Sherry's 61st birthday today. But at the too young of an age of 23 years, Sherry was taken away from our family.

Sherry was the oldest of the Thompson children. She was born just a few short weeks before her parents celebrated their first wedding anniversary. And then, eleven months later "Bobby Gene" was born!

Her hair was jet black, and her Momma took such pride in her curls. She was a beautiful child! Sherry & I didn't meet until she was a teenager, but the first time I saw her, I was stricken with how pretty she was. I remember her deep, dark eyes, beautiful hair, bubbly laughter, and her way of living life to it's fullest. She was always on the move, always had somewhere to go, something to do.

She became engaged to a fine young man that her family knew & loved and wedding plans began to be made. But suddenly, for reasons she kept shut inside her, she broke that engagement. In a few short months she dated another young man that her family admired, became engaged to him, but soon called off that wedding.

She started dating again & somehow during that time became very ill, contracting hepatitis & ended up in the hospital. I remember going to visit her on a Sunday afternoon & being alarmed at how golden & frail she looked.

Shortly after that her family moved from Kansas to Indiana, leaving her behind, living with friends. Bob & I stayed in Kansas also & we tried to keep in touch with Sherry but we were all busy working and we didn't see her often. We knew she continued to date Calvin but were quite surprised to learn one weekend, they had gone away to another state and gotten married. That was in September, 1968.

The weeks & months flew by & we saw Sherry & Calvin often, visiting back and forth some on the weekends. He was a guy that could remember every joke he ever heard and he kept us in stitches when we were with them! We had a lot of fun times together. Sherry wasn't always feeling well when we were together. She was so excited when she became pregnant and then in a few short weeks called crying, saying she had lost the baby. In a few more months she was pregnant again but not feeling well, and later learned it was a tubal pregnancy & that baby was lost also.

And then the third time she became pregnant she had a beautiful, big bouncing baby boy! We were so excited that we were now "aunt & uncle" & tried to see them often. I wish during those years I would have taken more pictures. For some reason I didn't have a very good camera & have very few pictures of the baby.

4 Generations/ Mother, Grandmother Winiegar, Sherry & Baby Kevin

I remember keeping Baby one weekend while Sherry & Calvin went to the Missouri State Fair with his family. That was my first experience of keeping a 3 month old all by myself...& I quickly learned that Baby needed a lot of attention! Sherry got sick on their little vacation and we ended up keeping Baby an extra day. We took him home on Monday evening, in early September, & I was surprised once again how frail Sherry seemed.

The weeks flew by & autumn came. I'm sure we saw them some but time has erased some of those memories. One day our phone rang & it was a call from Indiana. Sherry, Calvin & Baby were at Mom & Dad's in Indiana. Sherry was sick & wanted to go home to Mom. They had been there over a week & we didn't even know it. Mom & Dad were very concerned. It was now mid-November, 1970.

Then another call on a Saturday afternoon saying that they were taking Sherry to the hospital. And then a call came on Monday that we needed to come to Indiana, and come now. Hurriedly we made the 8 hour trip, and ended up in the waiting room at IU Medical Center in Indianapolis. We couldn't believe that this was happening. Sherry was in ICU and not responsive.

One by one, Mother Thompson took us in to see Sherry. I'll never forget how she softly touched Sherry's forehead, told her how much she loved her, and that Jesus loved her too. I saw a tiny, tiny tear slip out of the corner of Sherry's eye. And that was the last time I saw her alive.

Later that night, we went back to Columbus to relieve Vickie & dear Pauline from their babysitting duties. In the night I heard the garage door open and felt my heart ache as Mom, Dad & Calvin walked in the door. Sherry was gone.

We mourned...but somehow we knew that she was safe in the arms of Jesus. You see, during the ambulance ride to Indianapolis, Mother was able to ride along and she prayed her heart out with Sherry. And Jesus took her in His arms & held her close until He decided He needed to take Sherry where she wouldn't have to be sick anymore.

Maybe these thoughts should be private. But somehow I needed to share them with at least my children and possibly with Kevin...Bob's youngest brother. You see...that precious 6 month old baby that lost his mother, was adopted by his grandparents & raised as their son. It's something we didn't' talk about when he as a little boy. It was something that was unspoken when we gathered around the table....but maybe it should have been talked about, maybe it would have helped him to understand all of his older brothers & sister a little better. Oh, he heard the story later on, but not when he was small.

Often I wonder what Sherry would look like as a woman in her sixties. I'm sure she would have been beautiful. But I can't imagine that raven hair turning silver or white. So Sherry will forever be a young, beautiful thing in our memories.

Have a Heavenly Happy Birthday, Sherry!


Karen Walden said...

Thanks for sharing your memories of my Aunt Sherry that I never got to meet. I have often wondered what life would have been like in our family if she had not passed away.
There are so many things that we didn't know about Sherry...the miscarriages for instance. I had never heard that!
What a sweet post about a beautiful person. Thanks for sharing and I am sure Kevin will enjoy reading about his wonderful Mommy.
Happy Birthday Sherry!!!

Denise said...

Very interesting. I didn't know much about Sherry at all. Kevin looks like his mother, especially that one picture you posted!

Nettie's Nook said...

Sheila what a beatuiful tribute to Sherry! I wasn't aware of the miscarriages either. She was definitely beautiful. I remember going to her viewing and remember thinking that she was the most beautiful woman that I had ever seen, I thought then that she looked like Snow White! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

Lady J said...

Sheila thank you for sharing about Sherry's life. What a beautiful tribute you gave her. May Kevin and others be comforted with your memories. Our family too had a situation that was never talked about but should have been. Earlier knowledge would have made some things in my young life more understandable. But that is how it was dealt with-silence. Maybe sometime I will share my story with you.

Carol said...

What an awesome tribute to Sherry! I know I wasn't very old, but I always thought she was SO beautiful! Wasn't I supposed to be in her wedding??
I also remember being SO excited to help you babysit that cute chubby little baby. I don't remember if you brought him to our house or if Mom and I took care of him some.
Where does time go???

Sheila said...

Carol...I think you were to be in her wedding! And I wore the dress that she had for her second engagement. (Remember that?)

Bob & I kept Kevin over the weekend & when Sherry was too sick to come get him on Sunday night, Mom kept him while I worked on Monday. I'm sure we had him over showing him off before that though....& I probably needed a little help too! Mom went with me when we took him home. You may have been in the car too...I don't remember. That was before the days of child car seats! :(

Carol said...

Yes, I do remember. Did I have a little yellow dress? I was so disappointed when the wedding did't happen, but I was SUPER happy later to help take care of the baby!! (I'm pretty sure I thought I was the world's youngest and most amazing child care provider).

Sherry Gates said...

What a beautiful tribute! I was in tears and I never knew her! She was very beautiful!

Dorcas said...

I knew about her through my brother & sister~in~law. I, too, was about in tears as I read your awesome tribute to Sherry! It is very touching!

Sheila said...

Well, I didn't really aim to make everybody cry! We don't talk about her often but I always remember Sherry's birthday. And once I started writing about just sort of spilled out! :(

Sherry wasn't the only young person lost in the Thompson family. You know that Brayton & Imogene's daughter was taken from them in a traffic accident. Another first cousin was killed (as I try to remember) by a car careening out of control & hitting her on a sidewalk. And another cousin died at a very young age after heart surgery. There has been a lot of tragedy in the family.

Sherry Gates said...

It is ok to make us cry! You are a very beautiful writer! I guess that is one of many things I never knew about you! You always have a way of making me feel like I am wherever you are blogging about!