I love to see how God weaves people in and out of our lives, across the country and back again. I’m so rich in the people I have known. In moving around I have left pieces of my heart all over the place- but amazingly my heart is still fully functional and overflowing enabling me to give more than I started with. God is so faithful to replenish what we give away in abundance. People are what make up the fabric of my life. The things I value, the memories I have, the things I’ve learned, the way I talk, the sense of humor I call mine- they are all little bits of the people from my life. My dad told me, “You go to school to everyone you meet.” That’s Oklahoman for saying, we can always learn something from everyone – whether the takeaway is positive or negative; everyone leaves some kind of mark on our lives.
Both the positive and negative impact us profoundly. I guess if you were to put me in a box I would go into the “Speaking Words of Encouragement” box. That’s always kind of been my thing, so to speak. When I’m asked to speak or write I usually work the topic in it at some point. I had parents who were great encouragers. The positive voices in my life telling me I could do it, keep going, never give up on your dreams, my parents helped shape me into the person I am today and I’m eternally grateful. I knew I was loved and accepted- I have never taken that for granted either. I am keenly aware of the precious souls who were robbed emotionally because a mom or dad couldn’t get over themselves to be strong enough to say, “I love you,” “You matter,” “I’m sorry I hurt you, please forgive me.” A common tale is a Daddy who didn’t express love or held the blessing just out of reach from his children- this is all it takes to break a man or woman, just that alone.
I feel life deeply and am a sensitive soul. I cringe when I see a mama yell at her baby in a store. I am astounded when I see a wife humiliate her husband or child in public, especially for a cheap laugh. My eyes tear up when I see a heartfelt moment or hear a song that transports me back to that place which meant so much in my life. I wish the people I have loved over my lifetime could know how often they run through my mind and the value they cast my way. I want them to know when they do come into my thoughts I pray they are living well. I wish I could tell them all thank you for investing in me, for putting up with me when I thought I knew it all, for loving me when I didn’t deserve to be loved, for forgiving me when I deeply needed forgiveness- thank you. I haven’t forgotten anyone of you…I smile when I think of the unique details of each person and our time shared that I will cherish in this life. You are part of my story and I truly love my story. I think of the times we laughed so hard we couldn’t breath, times we cried so hard we weren’t sure if we’d recover, I remember all the burdens shouldered as we journeyed, the pain we shared in simply growing up together. I absolutely love you each one for the part you played in my story.
My very best friend (outside of my husband, Bill) is Myrla Denise Fluker Pate. I heard tales of her the year before we met. We shared a youth pastor- he came from her church in Corsicana, Texas to our church in Bryan, Texas. When it came time for me to leave for college he told me again to be sure and find a girl named Myrla Fluker. He asked if I wanted him to write it down, I said “ Seriously? I think that name is burned into my brain for life.” Myrla Fluker? She was a bit famous on campus, mostly because of her name- people wanted to meet Myrla Fluker and they were always glad when they did. She was one of a kind in every way. My first semester at Baylor I did indeed meet this Myrla Fluker and my life was forever stamped with her unique imprint. We decided that night we were kindred spirits and became best friends instantly. That was fall of 1976- we have been best friends for 40 years.
Her birthday is today so I thought it would be my gift to write a blog dedicated to her. She after all, has embodied the person who has, been my inspiration for creativity, seen me through my darkest hours, my most embarrassing moments, my heartbreaks and breaker of hearts, my greatest life moments, she’s encouraged me, she’s lovingly scolded me, she’s covered for me, she’s made me laugh more than any one person. I watched her in frustration as she had tons more compassion for people who were different, but in that, she truly showed me how to love and have compassion for people unconditionally. She treated everybody as important and valued. She’s probably the kindest person I know. She’s the kind of friend that pushes you to try new food even though she knows she won’t win, the person you can call at a moment and ask for anything. She’s the kind of friend who will get up off her sick dorm room bed long enough to fix your hair in tedious pencil pin-curls for a special date, the person who would stay up all night to help you study for a test- while just occasionally “resting her eyes”, the kind of friend who would follow you on a whim across the country in your yellow VW to California on a dream of getting a job at the happiest place on earth, the kind of friend that would fly you overseas to take care of her babies when she needed help, the kind of friend who would come to Kentucky to help you get through your daughters wedding. She’s the kind of friend that helps lift you up when you’re down, and cheers for you when you’ve won.
We have been through a world of craziness. I introduced her to one of my other best friends who was also my first boyfriend. Eddie Pate from California in my 5th grade and she married him! My best friend married one of my best friends! I was her maid of honor and she was mine. I was there when her first child was born and she was there when my first child was born. When she and Eddie met Bill, it was as if we had all four already been best friends, so we let Bill join our bff club and that was in 1981- 35 years ago. It has been a crazy hilarious ride and I couldn’t have made it without Myrla. She is one of the funniest, most creative, gifted, quirkiest people I have ever known and I couldn’t be more thankful to have met her all those years ago. There truly is no one like my best friend Myrla- she’s unforgettable.
Myrla, you made me a better person than I would have been without you. Happy Birthday Myr- you have made this life an adventure with more to come!