Saturday, January 05, 2008
I'm Glad I Know the Whatley's
When I was about 10 years old, which would have been many years ago, my family was visiting my grandmother in Ft. Myers Florida. Her long time friend was at her house one night while we were there and I mentioned something about the Whatley’s. I could not believe it when she asked, “Who are the Whatley’s?
I quickly exclaimed, “You mean you don’t know the Whatley’s?!”
As a 10 year old boy I thought everybody in the world knew the Whatley’s. As a 53 year old man, I still think everybody in the world who doesn’t know them have missed out.
My wife and I attended Dr. Ed Whatley’s 85th birthday party tonight. As a kicker, we also helped his daughter, Lynda, celebrate her 60th birthday. Dr. Whatley now lives in Rome, GA and Lynda lives in New Jersey. But both of them and their siblings and their families converged on Reynolds this weekend for the big event. And we were fortunate enough to be part of the celebration.
Dr. Ed Whatley was the oldest of the five sons of Dr. and Mrs. Clifford Whatley. All five sons are alive and well and it was much fun watching them enjoying the moment together tonight. Their ages range from 75 – 85. All retired now, the group includes a doctor, an architect, a pharmacist and two business entrepreneurs. Their success in life was at least one of the reasons their mother was chosen Georgia Mother of the Year over 40 years ago. They just don’t come any better than these brothers. And fortunate for me, they all have been a big part of my life all my life. (L-R, Leonard, Cliff, Ed, Bill and Julian).
A few of Lynda’s childhood friends also showed up for the party tonight. They had absolutely no trouble picking up where they left off over 40 years ago. I captured the very neat moment for these life-long friends. (L-R, Caroline Brady Tilley, Linda McRee Hale, Lynda Whatley Armona and Peggy Childree Herbert.)
What struck me tonight was on January 3 of last year (almost exactly a year ago) I wrote a blog here about Dr. Whatley and his wife Rosemary. Both were patients in the same hospital. He had suffered a stroke – she had suffered a broken hip. It was a dark time for this close knit family.
Rosemary passed away on August 11. Dr. Whatley has been fighting not only the loss of the love of his life but also the ravages of a stroke.
The home that has been somewhat lifeless in the past year came to life again tonight and I am glad I was there to witness it. There has been a heap of living in the Whatley house over the years and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in on a lot of it having grown up next door.
There was a heap of livin’ in that house again tonight. I saw a lot of smiles and even more conversation and laughter. I also saw a few tears.
2007 was a tough year for this family but 2008 has started with a bang. I have noticed that the great families always find a way to rise above the circumstances of life. This family is definitely one of the great ones.
I have a strong feeling Rosemary was watching the celebration tonight from a different vantage point. And I am positive she had a huge smile as she watched.
I was reminded again tonight that I am very glad I know the Whatley's.