Sixty years ago today - Dec. 13, 1953


Victor, Harriet, Bill, twins John & James Saufley -  A family portrait taken November, 1953.
Victor, Harriet, Bill, twins John & James Saufley - A family portrait taken November, 1953. | Source

A wisp of life
Brings forth a surge of living.
A silent gift
Inspires a life of giving.

A perfect gift
Compels eternity:
A life so lived
As to give
Life to life,
And that,

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

march.1954 - Written in memory of Harriet

Nellieanna - Morning of Dec. 13, 1953
Nellieanna - Morning of Dec. 13, 1953

I was in Houston, where I'd gone following my graduation from SMU in Dallas the previous June. I left Dallas on poor terms with Harriet and there had been no resolution, nor even any discussion. She did not wish to hear "why" or to forgive my rash action, which, to me, had been life-saving.

That Sunday, my roommate, Patty, and I were celebrating our "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree with our two Air Force cadet guests, her fiancé and the young man who, in the unsettled aftermath of the accident, would become my husband in 1954.

That day, nothing was further from our minds than tragedy, which I would learn about when a special bulletin broke into the early evening music program on the radio, as Patty and I were listening and preparing our clothes for the next day's work. The full names of the victims were announced. It was mentioned that one sister, (Nellieanna) was in Houston and had not been contacted. If anyone knew how to let me know, that was requested. Patty and I had just moved, had no phone and our new address had not yet reached our kinfolks via snail-mail.

It nearly undid me. Patty alerted the two cadets, who were quick to extend help, letting my family know I'd heard so they could send a private plane for me. Were it not for them managing to get me to the plane which would take me to Dallas the next morning, so I'd be there with the family and for the funeral, I do not know what I'd have done. It's all a blur. It was my first plane ride. I recall the kindness of the private pilot.

I didn't drive, neither Patty nor I had cars, family or close friends in Houston, and - most significantly, I was completely beyond lucid thought to plan in the immediate aftermath of learning about the incomprehensible accident. I'd been so sure that Harriet and I would mend our fences and be close again. It was not to be.

This song, "Stranger In Paradise" from the movie, Kismet, was current at the time. Its haunting melody and words permeated my black cloud semi-awake dreams all that night in that apartment. I always associate this song, in its ethereal ambience, with that experience, to this day. It is a slight relief from memories of suffocating black clouds descending around me the duration of that excruciating night and it seemed somehow a promise of hope for my loved ones.

Stranger In Paradise (sung by Tony Bennett)

This will be the first time I've ever shared any of the explicit newspaper coverage of that dreadful night's accident. There were coverages in several newspapers. These photos and summaries are from the Dallas Daily Times-Herald - Dec. 14, 1953.

The paper is old, delicate, and yellowed. Seems high time I scan it while I can. I've wanted to continue my hub "Harriet's Odyssey" but I must admit I didn't know how to continue it, knowing this was how it ended. Today seemed a signal to just show this, not as a morbid memory, but as truth, - one of the most significant affecting occurences of my entire life, which happened when I was 21, nearly 22.

I've referred to it briefly to friends in private conversations, in various comments on Hubpages, and on my own Webpage series, "The Attic". Now, I'm sharing it more fully with you on this 60th anniversary of the tragedy. Thank you for your love and understanding.

The newspaper's continued story of the montrous wreckage of their vehicle and the train.
The newspaper's continued story of the montrous wreckage of their vehicle and the train.

Many years later, while standing in line to get my car registration renewal, I fell into conversation with an individual from Royse City, who was there that evening of the accident, who gingerly described the horror and clamor of it when it occurred. He had never forgotten it, even 45 or so years later.

It had been dusk in early winter. The RR crossing was diagonal; there was no light indicating an approaching train, just the train's own whistle. Vic was hard of hearing. One can only imagine the noise in the car generated by three small boys after a weekend of running freely on the farm, as they were returning to the confines of the city. There would have been voices from Harriet and the maid, attempting to calm them down; perhaps Vic's own strong voice of censure had added to the cacophony inside their station wagon. It was surely an accident ready to happen, as they say.

It happened most tragically. Mercifully, it must have been instantaneous.

A markerRoyse City, Texas -
Royse City, TX, USA
[get directions]

Harriet and Vic had purchased a farm out beyond Royse City so their boys could know country life, as well as their life in the city. They'd also purchased a home on the east side of Dallas, to make the journey to the farm easier, and were just moving into it. They were spending weekends renovating a log cabin they'd had shipped from the Smoky Mountains to become their getaway dwelling there. They had their family maid along to help with the boys so Harriet and Vic could work on the project. I know beyond a doubt that if I'd stayed in Dallas, as Harriet had planned I would, I'd have been with them to help with the project or the boys. This has given the tragedy a very personal meaning, as one might imagine.

Not only had she not forgiven my leaving Dallas, but had I stayed, I would not be writing about this now, nor would any of the happenings of my last 60 years have happened. It's quite mind-blowing, even now.

Thank you, my friends, for allowing me to share some of the beautiful, bitter-sweet memories of a sister I loved dearly and still miss.


When I see a rose,

Or five,

I am reminded ~

There are those

Whose every glance and touch,

Whose very beings mean so much.

They were those

Who - even passing -

Still cast longer shadows

'Pon us who yet survive;

Those they were

Who, having passed,

Left larger, gaping,

Vacant spaces, -

Imprinted indelible traces, -

Upon the passing lives

They’d touched.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay


My own life had switched tracks dramatically, though that was far from my concern as it was happening. I'd simply been rescued with the same stroke in which my brave show of independence had been clipped and left dangling in shreds. All I could feel then was helpless loss of someone I loved who'd been my mentor and - sadly - my almost complete controller for several years.

In my frazzled state of mind, I returned to Houston and my job as a Bridal Consultant but was in no shape to perform it. In spite of my future husband's strong objections to my leaving Houston, I quit my job and returned to San Angelo to be with my parents, who were suffering a state of shock themselves, and where I went further into a state of semi-shock in the month or so to follow.

But then my future husband would reach out on my birthday, Feb. 2, sending roses, which offered me a glimmer of hope, though it was to be rather short-lived hope in the bigger scheme of things. But at that moment, I smelled the roses, raised my eyes from the gloom and embraced life again, little knowing that he would quickly begin assuming the control role while I was still too numb to notice effectively, much less to realize it was not motivated with the loving, though misguided, desire to help me as Harriet's had been.

Of course, this next chapter is not what this account concerns, though it's difficult to separate it completely. That my life had certainly run into its own poorly signaled upcoming tracks, was the immediate result of the chain of events begun that December Sunday, from which my own odyssey commenced, partly as its extended result.

Yet I wouldn't be who I am otherwise. Events fell into place in each one's wake and led on into the life I've led. One cannot - or need not - second-guess these matters, but it is beneficial to better understand them, and, perhaps, to share them from the perspective of having assimilated them oneself.

From life's

Messy mixture

Poetry rises

To the top

Or settles

To bottom.

Highest aspiration,

Lowest tribulation,

Expressing Into words.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay



On December 13, 1953, and for many months following, my bitter loss of Harriet and her family, with whom I'd lived part of my years at SMU, overshadowed all else, and continued to affect my life for many years to follow, needless to say. She had taught me many valuable things; and even though her designs for my life were not my own, her influence has enriched my own. Perhaps any appearance of grace I show can be partly traced to her influence. She certainly pulsated with it!

She was born in 1918 and became a product of the 1920s, in which a successful lady underplayed her intelligence and 'won' at the game by her charm and grace. She used her smarts to create a world around her of security and comfort, social approval and domesticity. I wasn't opposed so much as just unsuited to many of her ideas of who and how I would have to be to 'fit in'. I'd never considered fitting in especially important. I was more interested in BEING. She wouldn't have accepted what I meant and would have redoubled her efforts to rid me of such notions!

I'd thought I'd be ready to strike out on my own after graduation, but she'd already designed my next steps, in precise detail. Non-negotiable. So I simply fled without consulting her. Of course, she was angry. Of course she referred to me in a letter to our parents as "the most ungrateful child she ever knew"! She inferred they should disown me, in fact. She didn't want them to tell her about how well I was doing in Houston. She truly had no idea I was anything more than 'an ungrateful child' or that I knew what I was doing and had to do; and - sadly - now she never could know.

Who can say what destiny was in charge? Not I. Whatever it may have been, though, it took over. I continued to grow and find my way. As many of you have said, she would have been pleased, probably. Perhaps even she would have learned more and become more tolerant and accepting, accompanied by generous amounts of impressive aplomb and dignity, no doubt. She was born with those.

No doubt much of my poetic inspiration over the years stemmed from some of these experiences, though. I'm quite happy to say I'm at peace, and actually have never been not at peace or bitter, at least not for very long. Life is good. Thank you, Harriet, and all who have contributed to mine. I hope I've also contributed to yours.

Perhaps being assigned a role of an eternal child affords some perks! :-)

© 2013 Nellieanna Hay

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Comments 119 comments

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Oh, Nellieanna - This is such a tragic story, and that you learned of the disaster through a radio announcement rather than gently from someone who cared for you adds to the horror. No wonder you were in shock for quite some time afterward. I imagine many people would be emotionally and mentally numb for years following such a dreadful loss.

It is a testament to your inner strength that you made peace with the limbo of your relationship with Harriet. Had she lived, I do not doubt that she would have seen you grow and blossom into a redoubtable woman who had no need to rely on the wiles females used in those days to prevent their intelligence from harming the fragile egos of men. Fortunately, most people--both genders--finally learned that the strength, intelligence and competence of women does not threaten any man unless he lacks self-esteem.

The newspaper accounts and photos are heartbreaking and tell an horrific story. I quite understand why the person you met who witnessed the accident could never forget it. Who could?

Bless you, my dear, as you relive that long-ago day of tragedy on its anniversary. Many things you've written about Harriet show your love for her, in spite of the difference in your outlooks, and I know you miss her even now.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Nellieanna, thank you for sharing your story, as Jaye said, your sister would have been so proud of you, such a horrible tragedy to hear from the radio, and thank goodness you had such good friends to help you get back to your family. The newspaper cuttings are so heartbreaking, and somehow you survived to become the wonderful lady you are today, fate is a strange thing, as you said you could have been there with them. Your memories are what made you the person you are today, and I know you will never forget them, nell

pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 3 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

I am stunned and breathless with your very personal and detailed account of a horrible tragedy. Although you apparently were well on the way to making your own path in life, the circumstances on December 13th obviously shaped and molded you into the astute and articulate person you are today. I am so pleased I have connected with such a marvelous individual.

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

What a terrible tragedy to have befallen your sister and family, Nell. The newspaper clippings bring us to that day so many years ago. Such a loss, to me, is unimaginable, but I can also appreciate the numbing shock you must have felt for many months following the incident. It takes grace, courage and an independent yet compassionate spirit to move forward from such a loss. These are the same qualities we see in your writing, today.

This hub is a poignant tribute to Harriet in the ways you mentioned that she enriched and contributed to your life. Destiny, or fate, did take over; by rightly encouraging you in some way to insist on having and living your own life, you kept it. Harriet would be (is), no doubt, very proud of you, Nellieanna, and the love you so obviously have for her, still. Thank you for sharing this with us. Bless you, and hugs. :-)

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h-annie 3 years ago

Thank you, dear Aunt. I have not logged into Hubpages in months. I did not remember Aunt Harriet's birthday was today, at least not consciously. Strange how the universe works...

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

H-Annie, - name-sake of my Harriet - , it is not her birthday, darling niece, but the anniversary of the end of her life. Her birthday was Sept. 11, 1918. She'd be 95, had she lived. She wouldn't have loved being elderly.

You're absolutely right that it's strange how the universe works. I feel it's good that it does the work. We wouldn't be that great at running it! Thank you for the welcome visit. I think of you often!

By the way, the earlier hub I did about Harriet is Perhaps now I can get back onto writing the rest of her living story. I’ve dreaded dealing with this tribute to her last days, which would need to be included in any story of her life. Since it’s now been written, it will be good to tell more about the ‘in-between’ years of her brief, but fascinating, life.

klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 3 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Bless you...I will hold you in my prayers today.

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas

This is indeed a bittersweet story, Nellieanna. There really aren't words. . . Hugs and much love, though.

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I almost lost my brother in an accident. He was in the hospital for weeks. He almost lost his legs. But he healed up and I am so grateful that he did not die that day. I wish the same could have been for your family. I'm so sorry for your loss.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

So sorry for your loss many years ago no matter how long ago it was we never forget. Such a sad story a whole beautiful family gone in the blink of an eye. I know it must have been hard to share this story.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I will keep this short. Words are totally inadequate when trying to describe something of this magnitude. Thank you for sharing your sorrow with us; thank you for sharing your determination to overcome and your beautiful gift of poetry with us. Blessings always.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Oh, what a horrific loss sweetie, a whole family gone in an instance. I am so sorry you had to endure such a loss and hear of it on the radio. I cannot even begin to imagine such.

You were spared for a reason and your sister would be so proud of the beautiful woman you are and the life you have lived.

It is mind-blowing as you have written, to think about it. For a lot of us may never know that we are still here due to taking a different way home on a particular day or getting lost for some reason to avoid such fate.

I, for one, am so glad you are here to share your beautiful gift of poetry with us all.

Thank you for sharing.

Hugs and much love,

Faith Reaper

Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Nellianna, how very difficult it must have been for you to reach the point where you could write about your sister with such loving tribute and open truths. Destiny is often misunderstood and ignored, yet you have followed your own path. You were not meant to leave Earth at the time your beloved sister and her family did. I see that in an indirect way, your sister saved your life so you could go forth with your destiny -- I also believe that you, too, can see that. The Universe does support us in many ways we are not always aware of. I believe that your sister knows and approves of you and your chosen path. The love between you is still there, always will be. Many blessings and much love to you, dear lady.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Jaye - thank you for being the first to grace my comments with your gracious ones.

Yes, it really is a tragic story in so many ways, especially the snuffing out of the young lives before they even had a chance to begin. Harriet was our parents’ firstborn and always the shimmering one. They were devastated beyond belief. It altered the dynamics of our entire family irreversibly. There are numerous outshoots of further effects and stories that could be told. Whenever I think of writing a family history, I never quite know where to begin. The time element is so widespread, for one thing, and there are so many locales involved. Harriet was born in Seattle, where Dad was in the Army and both parents sold home medical encyclopedias from farm to farm throughout the Pacific Northwest and into Canada. It’s like a completely ‘other’ world, but only one of many in 'our story'.

It was, indeed, an unfortunate circumstance that caused me to learn of Harriet's tragedy on the cold, impersonal radio, rather than in some other kinder manner, though there could be no really comforting way to enclose such news. That moment is as real and clear right now as it was at that very moment: - the disbelief and sweeping, stifling pangs like being stabbed in the heart. I mentioned ‘black clouds’, for when I tried to lie down and drop off to sleep later after learning of it, there were black clouds under my eyelids sweeping in from the perimeters over and over. If I slept, it was among them. I’ve never again experienced anything like it but they’re indelibly on my memory.

Yes this anniversary brings it to my attention anew. I’ve given it thought over the years, and am glad to say that it doesn’t get me down. I feel regret and sorrow but I’m fine. I simply have need to understand it because it was a most significant chapter in my life in many ways. I believe that I understand it as well as possible from this vantage point. I could go on and on, but perhaps I’ve said more than enough. Anyway, I should save some of it the innermost glimpses for the book!

But you’re right. Had she lived and experienced the changing mores of the times, and had she been able to know me as a grownup equal, she might have been glad at my strength and growth. She’d never hesitated to exert her own choices in personal decisions, which she followed through with vigor in spite of any contrary opinions.

Perhaps her ideas of women’s roles had already begun to evolve or perhaps they’d always contained her own reservations. She displayed no such perspective evolution to me or for my use, however.

I suppose it’s always up to a person to take those major steps on his or her own initiative when the time comes, regardless of the fallout. That was what I tried to do, and then to go forward from some devastating fallout. I'm fairly sure she'd have respected that.

Thank you for the positive feedback and loving, realistic encouragement. I cherish it.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Nell. I hope she’d have been able to be proud of me. It’s conjecture either way, so I prefer to think she would have been.

Yes, I’ll always be grateful that my friends at the time were there for me. You’re absolutely right. Our experiences are like the sculptor’s knife, whittling away the superfluous stone to reveal the masterpieces we are meant to be, even while still buried within the block of marble. We are both the sculptor and the statue buried in there.

One’s memories of each of the whittlings keep one on track till we're revealed in all our glory! :-)

Your encouragement is deeply appreciated. Hugs.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dennis, thank you. One can never know what other path one might have taken, had the dramatic occurrences not shifted them into what they have become. I do not regret this odd process, since I’m used to it and to me as I am and have become comfortable in this skin! I might have been someone I wouldn’t have really liked being, had it continued as it was before that Dec. 13th. This is the best outcome, because it is the only one!

I’m thankful for life and life is, after all, a changing sea upon which we must learn to float, paddle, sail, surf or whatever it takes to make the shore!

I so appreciate your kind, supportive remarks. Hugs.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Yes, Genna. Those clippings don’t allow it just to vanish into obscurity. There it is in black and ivory.

In fact, I opened up the paper to get the continuing story to scan and, as ever, was amazed at the changes in the world since then, and at the lifestyle clearly demonstrated in the pages, from the fashions and various other ads to what was newsworthy then: the story that half of Texas had access to TV, for example, and the pervading fear of Soviet aggression; a front page personal article of What Christmas Means To Me contributed by a reader. In a way, it was a simpler world, but in many ways, it was simply different, no less simple than now.

Yes - it allowed me to recover; but still, it took me a long, long time, following Harriet’s death and its aftermath, to again amass, recover and apply that first audacious, but tremulous effort at claiming my independence at graduation. I know, however, that something good and powerful congealed within me at that moment which would never be lost, even when obscured. It had to reemerge, in a more viable, less tremulous form, which happened nearly 20 years later. At that time, folks could hardly believe it, but they didn't know how long it had incubated.

I know that if she understood, she would be glad for me and proud of me, though my ways differ from hers. Perhaps that is what she would finally have most valued. I doubt she could have really respected me, had I been able or willing to be merely her rubber stamp. I visualize her growing, too, and becoming more all she could be. She would certainly have been a proud mother of those three precious boys. If Vic were alive he’d be 108!

I am someone who embraces what IS. It’s the ‘best’ because anything else is NOT.

Thank you, dear friend, for those encouraging words. I feel them deeply.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Shan, my dear friend, thank you. I sense your deep empathy, but remember, it’s simply history, truth and part of what has made me who I am. There are always bittersweet experiences among the others. This was one of the more bittersweet ones in mine. But strength grew out of it and depth was carved into it. Hugs.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Oh, Lela, I’m sorry you went through that fearsome experience of your brother’s accident in which he could have died. How happy an outcome that he recovered whole and alive. I'm glad.

Thank you for your wish that my loved ones could have also survived and for your empathy for my losses. It was not to be, obviously. That's life.

My parents died in the 1970s in their 80s. My brother died in an automobile crash in 1990 at age 68. My other sister died of more natural causes in 2012 at age 92. It’s sad to lose one’s family members. Now I’m the only surviving one of my natal family. It’s a strange new role.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Moonlake, thank you for that.

Yes, time has almost no presence in a person’s loss of loved ones. Years ago are like yesterday. The outcome is always that those surviving must continue and attempt to make the loved ones’ influence count. It is hard to share the story, yet I find that, at my own advanced age, it is probably well to share while I can, for my dear friends and family who weren’t there then to know.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Billy, thank you. I read between the lines and appreciate the heart in them. Sometimes one must simply unveil significant, momentous things which have been building blocks in one’s life. This was an entire wall in mine.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Faith. I didn’t and don’t want to stir sadness or gloom. Yes, it was indescribably sad and gloomy then and left its shadows, but it is now part of the real continuum of life, which is a positive, good thing.

One thing it reminds me to consider is that anyone one meets ‘has a story’ which might better explain and bring their lives into one’s focus. We never fully know the ‘universe’ we are facing when we face another human being. There are always many things which would blow one’s mind if one knew their backgrounds.

If one is spared - as we are constantly while we live! - we may not always know about our ‘near misses’. It is somewhat unnerving to know so exactly as I know that I might have also perished 60 years ago but for a rash judgment - or misjudgment, as Harriet though it was - 6 months earlier. I thought it was an important life decision. I didn’t dream how literally it was to be!

Thank you for those words. I’m glad I’m here to share and know you too!

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello, dear Phyllis. Thank you. It sometimes takes awhile to come to the point of looking at traumatic life experiences with both love and stark truth in proper balance. For me, this one hss grown from the initial disbelief and shock to be such an intrinsic part of who I am that I could tell it only as it is, if at all, - pretty much unselfconsciously. It isn’t the sort of everyday story one easily relates, though, for sure.

I agree that in whatever capacity she may be, she knows me now and accepts; perhaps - she even approves. There are so many, many endearing things about her from my birth till hr death, all of which I recall frequently and love deeply. Yes.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Genna - PS. One of the ads in that newspaper from Dec. 14, 1953 is a half-page ad featuring huge-scale B&W pix of a dad smoking a pipe and a son whispering in his ear, "Let's give Mom an electric range!" Sponser: Dallas Power and Light Company (which was the only electric company then but no longer exists by that name, but is TXU among a bunch of wanna-be's.)

Can you imagine a Black Friday rush to buy Mom an electric range in 2013? Maybe innocence has dwindled, after all.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

What a horrid tragedy, indeed. You are very brave to put it out here publicly, Nellieanna! This was a difficult read, as I wept with you; yet, you have emerged triumphant in your own confidence and as your own person.

I know full well that such things stay with us always; the sense of loss, the hole in our hearts is always there: we simply learn to keep on living in spite of the pain.

Voted up and beautiful, for you have painted a fine tribute, and I believe that is your closure, your resolution of the unfortunate split. I've no doubt your sister knows, and appreciates who you've become.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, MsLizzy. I don’t know how brave it is, to have waited 60 years to put it forth in all its raw bareness. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but it’s never been really communicated accurately, I think. Of course, people are kind and sympathize with losing so many at one time in such a major accident. I would if it were someone else's loss.

But that’s not the real whole story here, and perhaps it never can be in any personal loss. Effects of a loss are more complicated and personal than it’s easy to communicate. Somehow today (well now it’s yesterday) I felt a need to try to gather it up and tell it as accurately as possible without rehashing it, - on its own 60th anniversary. I hope to be around on its 70th, but perhaps this was the one in which it was meant to be shared.

Anyway, I put it together rather quickly and put it out rather foolhardily, perhaps. I didn’t really expect much response, but am completely awed and honored by the responses received, and now yours has topped them off.

I am a little vague about ‘closure’ though. Except at first, It’s never been an open, seeping wound, but more like an added appendage, so I don’t know if or whether closure is advisable or appropriate. Perhaps what was needed was to acknowledge this extra appendage and claim it as part of my being now.

Anyway, it feels OK and I’m glad I shared it. Of course, that split was a little like a sore that couldn’t quite heal. But somehow, I’ve felt that if it matters in the big picture, she did know and accepts. So that’s a very good outcome.

Thank you for that perception.

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WiccanSage 3 years ago

Wow... just wow. What an intense experience, such a tragedy. It's amazing how it happens... one little choice could have changed everything. I can imagine how painful this was to share this, and thank you for it was such a beautiful story, inspiring even if heart-wrenching. My prayers are with you and your lost loved ones this week.

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Ghaelach 3 years ago

December 14th 1953 I was a young child of 5 years. In those years TV wasn't around, well not in our house. Things that happened in the USA didn't reach Europe until years later if ever, unless the President was shot or the like had happened.

I can feel your feelings in your words and understand the fight you had with them. It doesn't get any better with time, at least I don't think so.

Take care and have a quiet, peaceful weekend.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

Nellieanna, there is nothing I can say that hasn't already been said with great emotion and support. This was a terrible tragedy to befall your sister and her family. The closest I can come to understand the feelings and emotions that you must have experienced on hearing the news was when my youngest son heard on the radio that his best friend and his sister had been murdered. They were also our next door neighbors and he had slept at their house the previous night.

This hub was a wonderful tribute to your sister Harriet, and I'm sure she would have been proud of you. There was obviously divine intervention involved in making you leave Dallas at the time, so you would not be part of the tragedy. It was just unfortunate that your leaving upset your sister and you didn't have time to make up.

You just encouraged me about sharing personal stories on Hub Pages, and you come up with this. Well, it certainly tests out all the emotions. Very touching, and thanks for sharing.

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marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

"My own life had switched tracks dramatically."

Oh dear Nellieanna,

I came back this morning and was able to read this personal journey without crying too hard. We indeed never know what life has in store and the way in which we will carry on in spite of it all...

You are so lovely, like an onion unraveling each beautiful layer to us. Thank you and hope you will have a very peaceful weekend.

Love, Maria

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bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Nellieanna, my heart bleeds for you and your lost sister, brother-in-law and their children. I can't even begin to imagine what was going through their heads as the train approached.

You have shown tremendous resilience and strength despite this tragic loss. In fact, it may be in part because of this loss that you were determined to live a long life with grace and meaning.

Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been very hard to do so.

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mckbirdbks 3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

There are a dozen cliches that I would normally fall back on here. But that would be just to conceal the saddness evoked by this tragic event in your life story. It is with gratitude that I applaud your rebellious spirit.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello, Sage. I peeked at your hub site, as I often do when someone I’d not yet met visits one of my hubs. It is fascinating, your site!

Thank you for visiting mine and for your kind, comforting words. One just never knows. One of my favorite writer/philosophers refers to it as “The Wisdom of Insecurity”. Life, by its dynamic nature, is inherently and necessarily insecure. Yet, even if one is braced for that, when its wake is so very intense, it may leave one gasping and disoriented. At least that was my experience when this one happened as it did, so long ago.

There is always the blossom which arises from it, though, as the lotus comes up from the murk. I long ago learned to anticipate the blossoms, which often come in the form of inspiration and renewed power to do what may have seemed beyond reach before the catastrophe proved one’s mettle and faith.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Ghaelach. I’ve just spent a pleasant several minutes browsing at your site and reading one of your hubs, to which I responded enthusiastically! So THANK YOU for spending time here and responding to this one of mine, which is not an easy one.

By the way - you say you were 5 years old when this happened. So was my little nephew, Bill, the oldest of the 3 little boys in the pictures, all of whom died that day in 1953. Just think. He would have been your contemporary today if he'd lived. His birthday was Oct. 9, 1948. Sort of spooky, isn't it?

True, TV was a rarity and when it was around, the screen was round, infinitesimal, jerky and black-and-white. But what a boon it was to actually see ‘moving pictures’ in the comfort of one’s own home, IF one were lucky enough to have one! It was awhile before I had one, though I’d been able to watch 1952 Presidential election stuff on one in my college ‘house’, when I moved from my sister’s home to on campus eventually.

I didn’t realize that Europe was ‘behind’ the US in such matters back then. Now I’m waiting somewhat impatiently for “Downton Abbey”, season 4 to be broadcast over here, though people in the UK are getting it already!

Well, the memories of those tragic times which I featured in this hub don’t dim, but the raw feelings do, quite a bit. One learns from the experiences associated with having one’s reaction and feelings at such an intensity at the time, and the anguish subsides over time. I’d be lying to say that the intensity of the memories faded, though.

But seeing far too many people who never ‘leg go’ of anguish and hurt, which is not healthy nor what I choose for myself, I have to rethink my own processes. So, in the processes of it all, one can find the footholds and supporting parts of it, in itself, with which to rebuild again. It's not some kind of blanket one pulls over it.

I’ve been in trying positions enough to have experience with them and to know that I can’t and do not prefer to be knocked down and to stay down. Some of that is a matter of choice, and the rest is a matter of letting the sunshine back in. I don’t believe in denying the negatives, and letting them run their course. I simply believe in being IN the moments and then letting them go when they have spent their reality, as much as possible. Possibly people just let them linger past their time too often.

Here’s a poem I wrote somewhat along those thoughts:

The value in some days

Is in their total

Lack of value.

Being only certain

Of uncertainty

Provides a certain

Freedom from


______© Nellieanna H. Hay


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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello, John, my friend. Thank you so very much for your visit and comments.

Yes, that experience of hearing on the radio of the murder of your son’s best friend and his sister would have been comparable to mine, hearing of my sister’s and her family’s deaths on the radio. The complicated relationship with my sister, however, was not broadcast though it added an sharp edge I can scarcely even describe fully and accurately.

But no doubt others have experienced either one aspect of it or the other, and possibly both aspects along the line. The real message, though, needn’t rely on parallel experiences, anyway, but in sharing a mutually human degree of anguish and remorse which can seem terribly isolated within one’s own experience when in progress.

It’s somewhat therapeutic to learn that one is not alone in such feelings and experiences, and - more importantly - that it is possible to survive them and even to thrive in their wake, with the help of patience, love, self-and-other-forgiveness and determination to rise up and stand tall once more. If others’ experiences didn’t display the intensity, one would be apt to dismiss them as inapplicable to one’s own, I guess. I’m not quite sure why exactly I chose to share many of the deepest details of this experience of mine which happened so long ago, but perhaps it's partly to authenticate it if it should be able to help any other to get through other kinds of deep trial & anguish. It was not a conscious goal, however.

I already know for myself how it was and what happened, so why tell about it, if not perhaps in the hope of encouraging someone or deepening someone’s own resolve and faith?

I must confess that I’ve never regretted keeping my own counsel and I’ve lived to regret ’spilling my guts’. So there may need for judicious moderation in this as well as in other areas of life!

I’ve been watching one of my favorite BBC series, “Upstairs, Downstairs” again, on DVD. I always glean something from watching it.

It’s set in the early 3 decades of the 20th century when being reserved and self-possessed was virtually the rule of thumb. It is obvious that people were trained never to expose their true feelings, especially those of vulnerability. That ‘stuffing’ seemed to lead to more and more personal inner turmoil and anguish, yet the penalties for breaking those rules of silence were too severe to be risked casually, & that, too, would lead to more inner turmoil, as well as external censure and even rejection. An occasional character who simply went along with honest feelings would end up in the gutter - or worse. Yet during those 3 decades, a gradual change and loosening of the restraints seemed to creep in. As often happens in such situations, however - it would lead to too extreme a swing to the opposite side, much as happened in the 1960s when the staid 1950s gave way to more freedom of thought and action and 'all hell broke loose'. Makes one think. sigh

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

My dear Maria. I’m delighted and honored to see you here! Sorry to stir your tears, though perhaps it is healthy to let them flow sometimes. Hope so in this case!

There truly is no way to anticipate the vicissitudes of life and destiny. Our only course is to live our present moments as well and wisely as possible and allow especially the future moments to present themselves as the present when they’ve become ours, and when we may be able to deal with them.

Surely the less baggage we drag into each present time, the better able we are to handle what it presents! Not an easy lesson in moderation and self-discipline to learn and apply, I find, with so many sets of luggage lying around cluttering up the closets!! ;-)

Yes, the metaphor of the onion peeling off the layers which may obscure the core of it is apt. Thank you for that lovely compliment. It’s encouraging to know that the layers aren’t all disastrous and some may have value within their time and spaces as they're peeling off and being discarded and replaced! Isn't that the essence of living, though?

I need to get some things underway now, or I'll be caught short when it’s too late to mail Christmas gifts, along with other business; but I seem to prefer to be in these moments more. Priorities can become all the more iffy as one ages, plus getting them all done at the same time becomes less facile, less urgent and less appealing. haha. So - yes - I am having a very peaceful weekend, indulging my ‘druthers yet another day or two. Hopefully, when I shift my attention to the tasks, I’ll be so fueled and ignited, I’ll be able to get it all done in record time. That is sort of my style. Last minute is a great incentive - and leaves less time for superfluous padding of the projects when there would be time for such! haha

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Shauna. I feel your empathy deeply.

I’ve wondered that very thing: - what they thought as the approaching train came toward them, except that I suspect that the diagonal angle of the road across the track which surely had half hidden the approaching train from Vic’s view, as they approached along at a shallow angle to the track and crossing, probably didn’t allow much time for view at the point of impact.

As I just added to the text of the hub, it was all virtually instantaneous; and from the looks of the wreckage, was so total, it left little time to think about it at all, and probably little awareness of the physical impact and pain. At least, I hope there was negligible awareness or pain. It was simply over in the twinkling of an eye, if that long.

The fast moving train cut the car in half and bounced the wreckage 115 feet in the air. Not much opportunity for the occupants to speculate or ruminate on what was happening and had happened. From the twisted pile of car wreckage, which hardly has any earmarks of a car, it couldn’t have been long before it was all just - still and dead, and so - without contemplation time to experience the reality & the pain. Just - over.

I’ve thought of it many times and have taken comfort in knowing they surely felt very little of it.

It’s gruesome to think of that but in another way, it surely spared them a lot of horrid awareness. I can’t say any of it is a relief to me, but it would be more of a burden to think they’d felt and suffered what was happening and had happened more than for a split second between impact and death. Their remains literally had to be rebuilt in order for the caskets to be left open. They barely resembled themselves, as I recall, though the recent photographs were surely used in the artistry. That itself was a difficult thing for me, seeing them like that and knowing what I saw wasn’t really ’them’ in more than the usual sense of viewing lifeless bodies. But it wasn’t up to me; still haunts me when I allow myself to re-visualize it. It was also my first experience with any deaths & funerals except as a toddler too young to really take it in. So its impact was a strong one on many levels.

For sure, this experience caused me to consciously value life more fully than any other experience I’ve ever had. It struck me as a kind of sacred trust, one’s life, - to be both enjoyed and invested as wisely as one can, and not to be squandered on futility, even including being too remorseful. So you’re right that the loss gave my life an abiding meaning and thread of reality and substance it might not otherwise have found, at least not for a long, long time.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Mike. Your thoughtful silence can express more than many of is can express with many words and gestures. I know and feel your empathy keenly and appreciate it from the depths of my heart.

By the way, my rebellious spirit had a long way to go to ‘get back on track’ after its brief brilliance and then being nearly snuffed out. It didn’t just get up and moving right away, and it met some steep obstacles along the way; but it never lost its trackmap and its route landmarks again after that.

Even when I was not consciously aware of my gutsy spirit sputtering and regrowing its best direction, it was doing so. It can almost be traced via my poetry over the years, like a 'connect the dots' canvas - if one is aware of what was happening subcutaneously!

I truly can attribute much of my gentle but indomitable ‘grit’ to that experience, difficult as it was and as temporarily derailing as it was then and on subsequent occasions! I never lost sight of what mattered and who I am thereafter, and that is saying a lot, in light of some of its tests and trials.

Thank you for those meaningful words, dear friend.

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SilverGenes 3 years ago

There are no words that can possibly convey what I feel as I read this, and no way I could ever understand the grief you met that day while listening to the radio with your friend. So much can change in an instant.

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tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

Amen, write the rest of Harriet's story in peace. This is every bit the tribute you hoped it would be. Heart wrenchingly beautiful.

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sligobay 3 years ago from east of the equator

Harriet's story leaves us all at a loss for words but not for deep empathy. Your parents must have been crushed to lose a daughter, son-in -law and three grandsons in a fickle flash of fate. Your own loss was no less great and overwhelming. Yesterday was Friday the thirteenth but I am not superstitious but your story makes clear that the accident occurred on a Sunday evening. Thank you for sharing your pain and sorrow with us. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy healthy and prosperous New Year. Hugs.

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Deborah Brooks 3 years ago from Brownsville,TX

My Dearest Nellieanna... How very very sad my friend... Losing a sister is bad enough but the way you lost her is awful.. I am at a loss of words.. nothing I can say.. but just knowing you.. here was differently a reason you had left the city.. God needed you for other things.. but its still so sad.. I am crying.. Dear One I wish i could hug you.. but I will send you hugs and much love.. you are simply a wonderful person.. God bless you my dear.


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Michael-Milec 3 years ago

Oh dear Nellieanna , Hi. . . . what meant to be a tragedy out of exceptionally valuable five colored precious stones a mosaic named Nellieanna had surfaced. How could you do that or where from your help has come ? Though the life is trying to leave us with more questions than answers , you've cowered them all. . .

" From life's ... Messy... Mixture..." Constantly rising POETRY of blessings... Strength, inspiration to look forward a new day at a moment of getting asleep :

" Highest aspiration. Lowest tribulation. "

. . .

Perhaps not being that close , but very closed facing " tribulation" my soul has cried " From where shall my help come?" Repeating the words one more experienced I just said "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains.. My help comes from the ..." H I g h e s t ... ( I believe yours too...)

Voting up, awesome, beautiful .

Have a happy, healthy and peaceful celebration of " a great joy. "

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AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a heart-rending and very moving hub, Nellieanna. It's a tragic story describing a very traumatic event. I'm so sorry that you had to experience this. I admire your courage in facing the event again as you told your story. Best wishes to you, Nellieanna.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Alexandra, thank you for reading and responding. I feel that you have conveyed your empathy and understanding quite simply and warmly, my dear. Words are unnecessary. I can assure you that writing it has been an enormous experience in itself, nearly beyond my own expectation, as I realize what an exchange it is when one engages others in one’s very real intense experience just by the telling it. In poetry, one refers to deep feelings, but they are exchanged somewhat padded. In prose, the facts of it are stark and undeniable, and as breathtakingly real as they were in the living them.

ps - I wrote this an waited to post it till I'd replied to several outstanding comments since posting my last reply. So I've just replied to Jerry's (Sligobay') comment and have experienced an even more amazing realization about having heard it on the radio. I'm trembling.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Tirelesstraveler, yes, you’ve sensed it. — I should be able to write the rest of her story comparatively easily now. I’m sure my readers will be able read that 'rest of the story' with greater understanding and comprehension now, as well, knowing what an almost iconic loss her life represents. There is something more far-reaching about having shared this than I could have even imagined. Thank you.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello, Jerry. I’m happy to see you. I know you truly understand loss of loved ones. Your kindness and deep empathy is felt. My dear parents were never quite the same again, I fear. Oh, yes - ‘crushed’ is a good word for it. It changed all of our lives in the family in countless ways.

I’m not superstitious either, but, yes, that year, as they say, Friday the thirteenth fell on a Sunday evening.

OMG! It just this moment occurs to me as I'm writing this reply to your comments, Jerry, (and directly as a result of your chance remark about the 13th having been on Sunday, rather than Friday that year) - what an amazing thing it was that, if it hadn’t been a Sunday and had been a workday, when I would not have been at home that evening, and by my radio to have been able to hear it myself on that broadcast, it is more than doubtful that I would have even known it happened till much later! That knocks me out. Oh my goodness. What an amazing chain of realizations this very night!

What an even grimmer thought that would have been than the way it was, just hearing about it on the radio, which is the only concept I've had about that part of it till now, - one that had never before occurred to me before this very instant! It is still sweeping through my consciousness that it was miraculous and more than coincidental.

Facts were that I simply didn’t know enough people in Houston who might have even heard the announcement and, even if they did hear it and realized who I was, how unlikely that they would have been able to reach me in time to tell me till later. Even the names of the victims wouldn’t have registered with anyone else in Houston enough to be noticed, except with me myself.

So, with all the factors that were involved, the minimal chance I’d have known of it is astronomically slim.

Wow. I’m literally sitting here shaking with goose-bumps at that brand-new realization of what a miracle it was that I did hear it myself. Surely a guardian angel placed me there by the radio, with turned it on to that precise station, at that precise moment when the announcement was made!! As painful and shocking as it was to hear it then, I can’t even think how horrible it would have been to not have even known!!

I’m aghast! Oh my. I’m filled with renewed awareness. I can hardly believe I’ve never before have considered the enormous possibilities that I wouldn’t have heard that announcement myself. . . whew. Talk about mind-blowing. Talk about life-changing! I’ve been coasting till this moment in some sense.

How glad I am to have come to this realization among friends. Thank you for that.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Debbie - your comment comes on the heels of a vast NEW realization about the way I learned of it and the amazing timing in that. Please read my reply just above to Jerry (Sligobay). I’m sitting here still almost stunned at the realization of the nearly miracle it was that I did hear about it as I did!

And yes, that I’d left Dallas when I did is the somewhat guilty miracle I’ve known all along. There was a reason for that and, believe me, it is an awareness of large proportion, like being snatched from death to LIVE, and a responsibility to make that living count for something.

I so much appreciate your genuine empathy, dear Debbie. I could use that hug right now, especially in the light of the heretofore unrealized second miracle I now have realized, that I did hear it on the radio, rather than not have known about it till too late to be with my family in our shared grief and for the funeral. My head is spinning.

You’re a wonderful person yourself! Love you, gal. I'm so aware of how much you have 'on your plate' now, and that it is so generous of you to take time to come to my side and share this account of a significant event in my life. Hugs and thank you.

I must say that it is giving a whole new or refreshed meaning to Christmas for me. Gifts of love and caring are the most touching & reverberating of all.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Michael, your comments are bringing fresh tears to my eyes. I cannot express all I’m feeling right now,- the renewed awareness of how amazingly miraculous so many of the factors about it really are!

I feel your own feeling of realization, too, dear friend. The source of all human spirit is beyond comprehension, but it is self-evident, nonetheless. I feel gratitude to the universal power and that it indwells the measly human spirit.

Yours is a special light, I am sure, and I am privileged to see it. Hugs.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Alicia, thank you. I sense your very real outreach to feel with me this sad, but very meaningful experience, - though you’ve not known me well.

I regret having to experience it, too, but it happened, and, as we all must live through our individual real experiences, both the trials and the triumphs, this is a story that happens to encompass both trial and triumph. I guess it needed to be told and shared, difficult it was to write and surely must be to read.

Not easy; - but, then, I suppose it’s not supposed to be too easy or we wouldn’t fully appreciate what it means to have life - and the ever-looming risk of losing it. Mine has been long, very long and I hope to continue it quite awhile longer, and to have it count for something. Writing is, indeed, one way to make it count, isn't it?

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sligobay 3 years ago from east of the equator

On the wings of cherubs, your three nephews, came the heaven-sent news that you were rescued from the catastrophe. God is good, all the time. Few persons have borne the grief and personal loss as have you at such a young, yet conscious age. You were transformed into the wonderful woman which you have become. Few are blessed with a second epiphany from such a traumatic and life-changing event. God continues to bless you dearest Nellieanna. I am blessed with your friendship. Hugs.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Jerry - You are so dear. What a lovely comment and compliment. I treasure you as a friend, too! I’m joyous to read your words on this crisp, beautiful Sunday morning when I’m still happily emotional about the ‘second epiphany’; - and that is exactly the term I felt for it last night when I'd realized it! Now here, you’ve used the same term for it. Says something!

These events described in this hub were definitely life-changing, as you notice, though it was more a process than transformation at the time.

Lest anyone assume I was suddenly transformed from a weak, wandering nothing to a strong, established something, that was not the case. I wish for noone to be misled thinking otherwise, in the event they may be questing for themselves.

I was wobbly and unset, I began to get my balance and then I became wobbly and unset again for a considerable time longer! Those are the facts! :-)

Also a fact: I was never ‘nothing’ waiting to be made into ‘something’, though others seemed to assume I was at least an unwritten slate awaiting someone to write on it, which was surely based on my quiet disposition and cooperative attitude when they tried to 'help' me be 'something' according to their concepts. I admit that I wasn't sure enough of my own slate to assert it publicly. I just felt it & went about doing it unassumingly. So they can't be blamed, especially if they perceived what I did was not up to their standards & expectations, so must be in need of fixing. But I know that everyone needs to be assumed to BE who he/she is, rather than being assumed a blank page in need of being taken charge of to fix. People must be allowed to make their own mistakes from which to learn, as well.

But I always knew that I was already something ’in here’, but that I just hadn’t fully discovered what and how to exert it, so I hadn't fully emerged. Who has, at barely voting age - especially having been rather denied and overly protected?

So I cooperated with ‘good intentions’, but perhaps my best strength was in refusing to be conformed to the wrong stuff so I could allow the right stuff to continue growing. It was a silent quest in which writing was its voice.

I suspect many subdued people are 'in there' all along, shrinking for various reasons unique to each of them. Ultimately, one must discover the unique, abiding soul within oneself and permit it the full freedom to be and to become all it is meant to be. That’s the main message here.

I’m not given to quoting scripture, but this one - my all time favorite - explains well that it’ in avoiding conformity & allowing renewal of one’s mind which is the ‘transformation’ process. Romans 12:2 - “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What it means to me is resisting being conformed - especially to one’s oppressors’ ways; and renewing one’s own mind which is already there so that it can grow and flourish, is that message.

I certainly muddled along enough to know those hills and valleys and perhaps, to accomplish that, eventually and am still working on it, Jerry. What surely prompted me to have to keep working at it were the unavoidable tragedies plus consequences of my own rash and poor choices along the way.

I don’t recommend my courses of action to anyone, but whole-heartedly recommend each one finding oneself by resisting being conformed to the wrong stuff and holding out for the right stuff. It may be a ‘bumpy ride” at times - but the destination merits it!

Thank you again, dear, dear Jerry, - and my very best wishes for you and yours this holiday season. I am very aware of your good spirit extended to me. Now for a time for joy and for renewal, beloved friend.

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phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Oh dear, Nellieanna-

What a hard and terrible thing to be confronted with so early in one's life. I am so, so sorry. I cannot even begin to imagine your pain and suffering, the sense of loss. What strength it took to go on, to heal, and then be able to write about it as well. God bless and keep you. Take care my dear.

Much love and hugs,


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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, dear Theresa, for those kind words. It has ‘kept’ for decades without full writing. I guess it was needing to be written. Some important realizations have come from having written it, so it has values. It's an inexplicable, though, from any perspective.

Hope all is well with you. Hugs and love ~

kimmie 3 years ago

Dearest Nellianna,

Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life , a part ever so tragic but impacted and molded you into who you are today. Life is such a mystery as to why some are taken from us, leaving us with such a hole and not always knowing how to fill...I do believe Harriet had such a great love for you or she would not have cared so much. Your destiny was mapped out, therefore giving you wings to fly and the strength to move forward....Thank you for sharing this heartfelt are an amazing woman, writer, and friend.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Kimmie, dear friend - yes it is all a mystery, but it has the earmarks of its master-plan, if one can lift eyes from one’s subjective ‘universe’ to the vaster one. I’ve pondered that horrible accident many times over the years, once some of the shock subsided a bit, looking for sense in it. Of course, there seems little sense in those lives being snuffed out. That is not within my wisdom or perspective to fathom. But my peripheral place in it does become more clarified. Even a day or so ago, new ‘aha’ moments of realization have dawned on me. It all seems nearly according to my destiny, as you mention.

One thing of which I’m certain is that none of it was for punishment or any negative purpose. Life is simply uncertain at every moment of its existence. The chance lining up of factors can result it sparing it or taking it, even in embuing it with otherwise unheard-of meaning. One must always look for the positives in what happens, Perhaps most things that happen are ‘value-neutral’ in themselves, but they do assume the values we give them, either positive or not. I can’t find positive in their deaths, but I refuse to look for negatives. I can find a mixture in its effects on those of us who lived on, especially on myself, and from that mixture I can distill much positive. My life did evolve eventually into a quite positive direction, even more so than might ever have developed by just coasting along on the path I would otherwise have taken.

Perhaps the neutrality of things that ‘just happen’ is the wondrous part of this thing we have and call “Life”. It is surely the best filtering system ever devised for honest intent and character. So it is well.

Thank you so much for your heart-felt comments. I cannot begin to express my love and gratitude to each person who has come here, shared this excruciating experience with me in the retelling of it. I honestly don’t know what prompted me Friday morning when I got up, having no such intention to start gather the clippings and writing the account of it. I just seemed impelled. So perhaps there is still destiny at work in this experience, even after so many decades have passed and been lived. It’s quite a thought! It certainly makes me think - again; and it seems it has made others think, too. Hope it is all for good.

Love - Nellieanna

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MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

To receive such awful news via radio! And all of a sudden not a single opportunity left to mend any fences... And to think you would have been with them if....

Oh, my dear, Nellieanna... !!

I think I have mentioned before that the same thing happened to close relatives of my mother while she was a child, and the memory is still one of those irreparable wounds in her soul, able to stir her into the stage where one has no other choice but to realize that Birth/Death is a power without any sense of justice.

I am so sorry for being late with my condolences. Nelson Mandela's death on the 5th and all the special events until his funeral on the 15th kept me riveted to the TV.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dearest Martie. I’m so sad to know your mother’s childhood was shadowed by a similar experience in her close family. She was too young to respond any other way.

You know, difficult as it was for my family to look for any positives in what happened, we could take some comfort in the fact that none of the 5 of them was left alive to endure the loss of the others and to have to live the rest of life with, as you describe your mother’s, “irreparable wounds in the soul”. Tragic and horrendous as it was, they all went together instantly, as a family, as they’d lived ;- and that was just - how it was.

Those of us in the extended family living past it had enough anguish reconciling with the neutral power of Birth - Life - Death under which every single living soul lives, but nothing that could compare to any of the 5 of them had they been in the crash and somehow survived while the others perished.

We control but little of the when and how aspects of the relentless stages of birth-life-death, as they occur to ourselves; even less control of how they occur to others. But actually, that is something of a blessing and a relief. We are not responsible for those 'facts of life' that will happen. Once that reality is faced, it seems to free one up to focus on making each actual, viable moment one does have over which to preside, really count for something of our own making or at least arising out of our influence. That is where we can and should focus our attention and effort.

I didn’t write and publish this for sympathy, especially after all these many years though of course, it cannot help but stir it and touch upon heartstrings. They may justifiably play a dearth or something more hopeful. I hope it is hopeful.

I’ve asked myself why I felt such an impetus to write it that very day - last Friday - when I’d had no such intention till I got up. I think there are some reasons and some are becoming more clear.

One was something I realized a few comments ago about the horror of hearing about it on the cold, hard radio! All the years since, that has been the initial shock and one of the most painful personal memories about that experience for me.

But then - miraculously - something causal Jerry said about Friday the 13th, - and that the accident was on Sunday the 13th hit me like a flash of realization: — that it was the ONLY way I could possibly have known about it for who-knows-how-long! Think about it! oh my

I’d moved, had no phone, no one yet had the new address: the very reason a radio plea for my whereabout was issued! Those facts hovered over every other possibility that I might have been reached in time, and would have prevented it!

I knew virtually no one in Houston who might have heard the broadcast, and even if I had known someone and even if they had by chance registered the announcement - or even been tuned in to hear it - they still would not have known how or where to contact me other than at work, if that had even been possible. If it had happened on a work day - and the call for my whereabouts gone out, I wouldn’t have been tuned in to the radio, for sure. I worked 6 days a week till 6:00 except on Mondays when I worked till 9:00! Patty and I rode the bus to and from work, so that would have further cut down on a possible time I might have been home and might have been listening to the radio!

So it could have happened, the family could have gathered in Dallas in their grief, the funerals could have taken place, and I would have not even known what happened, till god knows when and how I’d finally learned of it! As devastating as it was to hear it all announced in my apartment from the radio, not finding out till much later would have surely done me in.

That I was home, that I did have the radio on, that I was paying enough attention to hear the announcement (I think I was ironing my clothes for the next day’s work nearby) — was simply a miracle, Martie. It really was. And I only happened to put that all into perspective a day or so ago after Jerry read this and happened to make a chance remark about the 13th being on Sunday!! Talk about incredible & highly significant coincidence!

That realization that it was the only possible way I could have learned of it in time to be with the family in our grief and at the funerals has truly uplifted me from viewing that radio as a gruesome torturer and heartless purveyor of anguish to seeing it as almost a guardian angel come to me to save me from an oblivion which would forever have haunted me had I been left in it that moment in time and for long after. So, as a result of this hub, I'm partly relieved one of the most painful details of that day 60 years ago! So if this hub did nothing else, it did that!

Nelson Mandela’s death truly highlight the beauty and triumph of an individual life in the big scheme of things, just by being a good person, steadfast in his principles and committed to sharing them! We all have similar opportunity, even if on a much smaller scale. It’s not a matter of measurement of how much good a life can do and how great a difference it can make. It is only a matter of doing the good & making the difference one finds to do and make while on this brief journey through life between birth and death. Those features are certain. Ours are up to us.

So thank you for feeling how it was for me and caring but don’t be sad for me. I was spared and given the opportunity to keep on keeping on till I could find my things to do and my differences to make in my small way. I can’t help but be grateful for life - my own and theirs up till they ended. It’s quite a realization.

Love you — hugs. - CM

Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

Sorry for your great loss. You are very brave and courageous to overcome grief and carry on with your life. It must have been very painful and really sad. The newspaper cuttings are heart breaking, why such things should happen I really do not know. Take care, sending all my prayers for you.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Vellur, thank you so much for your consolation and sympathy. As you perceive, yes - It was incredibly difficult then and its effects have been far-reaching. But one must move forward, no matter the trials and tribulations.

The newspaper coverage was really the only way to explain the enormity of it, if I was going to explain it at all. Mere words couldn’t do it. I was especially impelled to share them when I got up feeling I needed to share this now in its entirety - after all these 60 years. It was truly urgent for some reason.

No, there is no way to understand the why of such things. I think there probably is no “why”. This mortal life is just that - mortal - taking place amid constant possible mortal dangers and timings that can end it in an instant - or in a drawn-out death. There’s no way to say one is worse or better than the other. But eventually, we’ll all experience one or the other kind. It’s the natural end of every life lived. It’s that ‘life lived’ on which we must focus and on its quality and meaning.

But as humans, we feel it so personally when we see something so catastrophic as this accident which seems to have no sense to it. But the universe has no quarrel with us. It simply contains factors which our lives can easily encounter unsuccessfully such as this, with terribly sad results. That is no comfort at all, but it is a valuable reminder to treasure all of life’s moments, especially to avoid wasting them on negative things which can work further to endanger others or oneself. We do have those options.

A good life well lived is never lost. That’s important and comforting to remember. We really have no better choice than to bravely keep on with the life we have and make it count for good. The biggest tragedy must be when a life just fizzles without having really been lived, and that could happen if it’s not invested in living. Makes one think.

Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

Nellieanna yes you are so right, we must bravely keep on with life.You are a great example for us all to follow. Thank you for sharing your personal emotions and feelings with us.

sligobay profile image

sligobay 3 years ago from east of the equator

Hello Nellieanna. I am still following the comments on your brave Hub and know that you are close with Martie. The fact that the death and funeral of the humanitarian Nelson Mandella has now converged with the sixtieth anniversary of your loss seems fated. His strength is much like your strength in that you each assimilated your tragedy, refused to submit to the personal emotional pain and harnessed that strength to live a more meaningful and productive life. So many of our brethren are unable to surmount failure, tragedy and reversals in life. We simply give up. That which does not kill us somehow makes us stronger if we persevere. Nelson Mandella is the perfect symbol of human tenacity and an example of a life well-lived only as the result of an enduring hope, faith and resilience. His hope is your hope and your hope is my hope. Each of us is a cog in the wheel of the hope of humanity. Each of us can change the world for the better by our own actions and by inspiring the actions of others. Nelson Mandella did not act alone to secure equality and justice in our world but acted in unison with others. We are all connected if we choose to be. Thank you Nellieanna for sharing the beauty of your poetry and the strength and power of the written word. Your comments and our conversations are always engaging. May you receive all of the blessings of this holiday season of joy and renewal now and throughout your life. With much love, many hugs and enduring friendship. Gerry

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Oh, yes, you are right, Vellur. Living on bravely - and cheerfully, by never forgetting what a privilege it is to BE and have consciousness of being. It amazes me! I get the feeling of joy and gratitude from some of the smallest things. Was in a line this morning in which the lady being helped had the most adorable, funny little toddler girl.

The child was trying to communicate with the next person in line by adorable gestures, such as opening her arms out with palms up & out, in a gesture that seemed to say, ‘I know, it’s taking Momma a lot of time here. Sorry. ‘ She did such cute things, At one point she sort of toddled away from her mother, and I thought it was so great that her mother smiled at her and sort of waved ‘bye, bye’, rather than grabbing her and yanking her back near her, as moms sometimes would do. But the message of that mom to her daughter seemed to be validating the child’s ability to move on her own volition, with her mother’s support, as well as to remind the child that she might be moving further away more than she really ought to. Good psychology, both to avoid squelching her spirit of independence AND to give her reason to weigh its consequences! The child went back near her mother soon. She made the right decision herself. Good foundation for becoming a positive, responsible, strong woman. Just one little cameo of life in progress around me, as to anyone who notices them.

Thank you for checking back on the comment thread! Hugs.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Gerry. . . I’m blushing at having blatantly misspelled your name. I realize its spelling depends on the full name it represents. My cousin, Geraldine, was Gerry. A friend, Jerome, was Jerry. I surely guessed yours wrong. oops. And I don’t know how long I’ve been spelling it the wrong way. I’m glad to know now! Whew! Thank you!

Yes, Martie is very dear to me. She adopted me as her Cyber Mom way back and it’s been a solid connection, even at this distance of location and age. (I could probably be her grannie and sometimes we feel like sisters!)

How lovely that you’re following the comments here. Truly, they’ve become almost a feature of their own! But they belong here in comments with the hub & thread which stirs them. With each one, a bit of enlightenment comes to me & perhaps radiates a bit.

I cried when I heard Nelson Mandela had died. Like the rest of the world, we knew the time was approaching, but it felt a little like having a vital organ torn from my body.

His life was a beacon. What impressed me so about it was how he maintained his own nature and good character throughout so many years of mistreatment in which most would just decide to retaliate, give up or - worse, to set about repaying evil with evil; - - not Nelson Mandela.

He knew who he was and what his life was to mean and kept it intact so he could fulfill his mission, which he set about doing as soon as he was free, without pausing to badmouth his oppressors, virtually without a backward glance toward his oppression, except to forgive the abusers, include them in his hope for a better world, and to get on with his mission.

No doubt, in retrospect, he’d have hoped more of his goals would be carried out with his own good spirit. I’m appalled that there are even some who try to focus on facts that people died under his presidency & to try to cast blame on him. Change is almost always accompanied by resistance and if some who claimed to follow him missed his main point & substituted their own methods & philosophies of violence, it doesn’t negate that he changed bad conditions around him, uplifted people’s hearts and minds and set a higher standard of treatment of others into place by his own positive influence. That won’t be forgotten and his mission won’t be abandoned any time soon!

I feel a great kinship of spirit with him but know, from inside out, I’m not in his class! I do agree that each of us is a cog who can change the world around us by our own examples, and for most of us, that is a big enough challenge for a lifetime. It is one he simply mastered well! Perhaps the 27 years incubation did it! Most of us have lesser periods and intensities of incubation, and lesser spheres of important influence. If I ever think mine have been pretty significant, then I hear of the likes of Mandela’s!

But part of his whole message was encouraging each person to do what he/she could to exemplify the better, not the lesser things in their own sphere.

It isn’t a competition, comparison or contest, except perhaps with oneself to improve oneself, by choosing the better of one’s daily choices over the more measly. It’s too easy to put it off, thinking that ‘someday I’ll start behaving better and thinking more charitably’. But every thought one entertains plants its seeds, and every delay in launching a better habit simply implants and fuels the lesser habit and what it teaches, for better or worse, and ingrains itself as one’s true character.

I wrote this poem long ago.


Only patience can teach patience.

Only joy can teach joy.

Only hope can teach hope.

Only trust can teach trust.

Only openness can teach openness.

Only understanding can teach understanding.

Only insight can teach insight.

Only being can teach being.

Only love can teach love.

Only life can teach life.

The only things that facts can teach

Are facts.

Would that patience, joy, hope, trust,

Faith, understanding,

Being, love, and life

WERE facts and more than aspirations

For that, they must be taught

By active example

To children

Born into this world of facts.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

Jan. 1972

I remember Mother reading a book titled “As A Man Thinketh”, by James Allen, written in 1902. Its basis was: “As a man thinketh, so is he,” from Proverbs. (That Solomon did have a handle of some things.) I guess it’s like “stopping negativity at the pass” to just avoid dwelling on negatives while focusing, instead, on more positive ones. It’s not necessarily the popular approach, though. One is like a spoilsport to discern the difference at times. Even casual things which ‘everyone listens to and repeats’, like mean-spirited humor which we let capture our attention, then finds easy passage into our minds to grow insidiously into parts of our own beings and attitudes.

Propagandists & other advertisers well know and use this simple method to infiltrate and control people, so that the only place and way to block their unhealthy messages is at their entry with one’s own conscious choice. Even if laws were set against it, which is unlikely, those who use it to serve their own agendas would simply find other ways to use it to their advantages so long as they find unaware or uncaring individuals to buy into the clever ruses inadvertently. It’s become epidemic and as infectious as the flu virus, it seems more rampant, especially with the ease of distribution of ideas and whatever purposes they serve now. It’s imperative for individuals to become aware and alert. Too often we fritter so much valuable life on things that don’t matter or that matter in the wrong direction! It’s our own choice to exercise.

For Mandela to have used modern means to distribute better messages and missions, against all popular & ingrained opposite messages only illustrates the power an individual can exert, even in times in which silly or evil messages travel at the speed of light or sound around the globe. That many people are receptive to his message says a lot about hope!! Oh, yes! Individuals still hold the aces in the deck if we but know it! We can even find the great messages growing in our own beings if we look for them. Then we can water and nourish them into lights for others. Mandela exemplified that fact in successful action and follow-through.

I suspect that he wouldn’t like people to get bogged down in the grief of his passing, but would prefer we look at the light of his life and take heart from it. I want to!

wayne barrett profile image

wayne barrett 3 years ago from Clearwater Florida

Dear, Nellieanna. I apologize that it has taken me so long to read your article. I have been sick, traveling, know all the excuses. But I have read other mentions of this sad story from you in the past and I made sure I saved this until I had time to give it proper respect.

None of us can ever truly understand what another person is going through considering experiences in their lives. It's hard enough to comprehend even when we are the ones who have experienced them. I can only thank you for sharing your heart and your life, good and bad, with us.

I have often considered the 'what if's' of life, and wondered how much different things might be if certain events had been avoided, especially the bad ones. Interestingly enough, in almost all cases that I can think of, if I had changed one iota, there are a plethora of good things that have come about in my life that would never have have happened had I changed any of the bad ones.

There is a reason for everything that happens in this wonderful, mysterious life. But what it is...?

Thank you my friend for sharing this with me, and I hope you know that I care!

I hope you have a very wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. With all my love and sincerity, Wayne.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

Nellieanna: This is heartbreaking. I can't imagine a sadder story. Thank you for sharing this with us and all the drama between you and your sister. How sad but how wonderful you weren't with them on that tragic night. Life is a mystery.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Wayne, first let me say I’m sorry to hear you’ve been ill, and I certainly empathize with being busy. I recall you were planning to be with family up north for Thanksgiving, so I hope it was a pleasant visit, though being sick in the same timeframe would put a damper on it!

I appreciate your respect for this story and that you wanted to wait till you had a time window in which to read it with that in mind. Your kindness is valuable to me, and I reply to your comments with similar respect for your perspective. I do know you care.

Absolutely; - noone can ever fully, (not even very partially), perceive what another person’s experiences are or their effect on the person’s life at any given moment. Being keenly aware of that is what prompts me to maintain a policy of giving others a generous benefit of the doubt; sometimes giving one to my own self, because, as you say, - it is hard at times to comprehend our own experiences and the ways we’ve responded or reacted to them! I have pondered these events I describe in this hub rather deeply in order to sort through them & fathom them for my own understanding of them, and through that, to better understand others and to realize it’s not what's on the surface that truly defines a person, but many layers, mostly invisible, beneath it.

I don’t share this to lay the anguish and bewilderment at others’ doorsteps. For one thing, I believe I’ve worked them through for myself to the point that those responses have dissipated, though never from memory. I’m aware of others’ current or lingering situations of their own which can be heavy to bear. If my story can reassure them that we are not faced with greater burdens than we can bear and from which we can and must derive positive lessons and training of our hearts and minds, it should be shared. It is in extreme experiences that the mother-lode of what matters most may be found.

It’s a lot of introspection, which can weigh heavily for readers. I can’t presume that my example can or will translate to hope for anyone else, but it might. I do know that this story which had such an impact on my life probably needed to be set down with more than passing references, as I’ve done previously. Since I hadn’t really spelled it out before with the graphic newspaper story, it needed spelling out.

Last Friday as I was impelled to find and scan those clippings, I was focused on sharing the dreadful anniversary with my own progeny, and thought of posting it on FB, where many of them touch base. But it was obviously too much for that venue, so it occurred to me to make a hub which could be linked, as well as reaching my Hub ‘family’ of friends, some who’d gotten bits and pieces of the story before. So it evolved.

You ask rhetorically what the reason is for everything that happens, aware that there is no definitive answer. But perhaps the reasons are somehow buried within the happenings and simply work it out from within them, where they uniquely fit.

Here’s a little poem I wrote many years ago as I pondered that:

I learn

To question not

The wisdom

Of the heart.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

Thank you for your thoughtful and helpful comments, Wayne. I wish you a Happy Christmas and New Year, as well! Love and hugs.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Suzette, for those kind words. It was heartbreaking, and still is in many ways. Some things can never be set aright, and the bad feelings Harriet had toward me when she died are among them. Somehow, though, perhaps at her passing, she simply understood. Perhaps she hovered around me, trying to understand, even then. That has to be my hope and comfort, and it is.

I do know beyond a doubt that I was not meant to be with them on that awful night. Whatever led me to leave Dallas literally saved my life in more ways than I expected or could have possibly known. But somehow - that was how it turned out. One might attribute it to many explanations, but one cannot know. Suffice it to realize that more life for me was to be and has been. I'm grateful and it keeps me impelled to make it worthy.

Yes - life is a mystery, but it is an unrelenting teacher and taskmaster, too. It’s up to us to get the message, even if it is through a mist at times. So long as it improves us, it is good.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

I wish you an especially good Christmas and a Happy New Year. Yes, I bieve you were meant to live and I think anyone in your same circumstances would have done the same thing. You were young and just starting out in life-you had to live your own life. That your sister could not understand that saddens me. I am so glad you have gone on and lived your life. I would hope that is what your sister would want.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

I truly appreciate that, Suzette. I ponder these things, especially on the anniversary of the tragedy, but I find that focusing mostly on the good and uplifting things is most worthwhile and helps a person be better at circulating among the living, who are one’s main priority as one moves along life’s path.

I tend to think that Harriet would want a full and abundant life for me. I think she thought that was what she could somehow provide. It was really that I was so much younger and she had gone on into her own life as I was finding my bearings. She didn’t really know me as a person. She’d bought me cute Shirley Temple dresses when I was little, coached me to develop good posture in my early teens (and told me the ‘facts of life’ about the same time). To her, I surely seemed like a project which continued to need her expertise control and overseeing, even if it would undermine my own initiative. She was the eldest and was always independent and successful. She was just convinced that her ways were the best and right ways. . . . Damaging as it was to impose them on me, I’m sure she thought it was right; but it’s patently wrong. To mature as oneself, which one must be in order to function, one can’t be and remain as someone else’s project!

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Wow, Nellieanna, what a scenario. Be grateful that you weren't with them, that certainly would have been horrid. Honestly, though, it was bad enough what you had to endure. You are a rock.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thanks, Deb. I am grateful to have been spared, but for much more, too. Living a lifetime since then full of experiences, beloved people and growth has been and still is a privilege.

Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Nell there is nothing left to say after reading this. As you can imagine I am just stunned. A tragedy of this proportion just leaves behind so many aching hearts. I often wonder why? why? a family with small children but I know somewhere there might be an answer perhaps just something unforseen. I don't know but I do know that it doesn't make us give up on our faith. My thoughts with you and how it can still make you feel even after all these years. I know she has been right there with you all of the years through and smiling down from above at all of the good things in your life and when you think of her and her family. Hugs. Hope your Christmas is merry and bright, your loved ones with you in memory and heart and a wonderful and shiny New Year.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Rasma. Thank you so much for those heart-felt words, my friend. I feel their warmth and sincerity. Big hugs and love back!

You're right, there is nothing to be said which will change any part of one's own life or another's that’s already lived or any others' deaths already died. It's the hardest lesson of life, perhaps. But it is a lesson, and lessons have points and values. We can ponder that.

I have and I'm still not sure there are "reasons” for happenings, but I am very sure that, once they happen, they all create new paths and those paths inevitably bring new opportunities for different choices, and those choices can be either to improve or undo various things.

This tragedy hit me harder than any other of my life (and it was not the only one to befall). It knocked the wind out of my sails but not enough to make me give up faith, nor have any other rough places.

In fact it began clarifying and deepening it, by showing that 'deciding' on what that faith IS or MUST BE, is the antithesis of what FAITH is, yet people do try to decide and then worsen that by excluding others who haven’t decided on the same ‘hoped fors’ as themselves.

But faith really is ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’. Faith is not shown by deciding what those things are or must be and arguing over them; even less by regretting what is shown each moment of this life and being impatient for it to end if it’s not ideal, - but by accepting it as it becomes known, even if it makes no sense at the time. It always has choice to be for good if one If it’s really faith, it is optimistic and loving. That’s all it needs to be.

sligobay profile image

sligobay 3 years ago from east of the equator

Merry Christmas Nellieanna. Your biblical quote above brings much to mind. Romans 12:2 - “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Christmas services this year brought tears to my eyes. My financial poverty suits me better than wealth ever did. My nonconformity to the materialism of this world has freed me to value my spirituality though I still long for the security and status of wealth. I am glad for those who have it. I am reading "An Unfinished Life" about JFK and my thoughts were drawn to the loss of your own sister Harriet. Her story will never be written beyond these pages. Her potential greatness will remain unknown except on Heaven's pages. JFK's path was already written in history and his assassination in Dallas remains the subject of speculation 50 years after his death.

JFK was a nonconformist who challenged the military industrial complex, the Federal Reserve and secret societies which he warned about publicly. His assassination occurred on the November 22 anniversary of his great grandfather's death. The tragedies of the Kennedy family are common knowledge. Rose Kennedy survived to age 104 and experienced it all. Joe, Jr. died in the war. Jack and Bobby were assassinated. Kathleen died in an air crash. Her grandson, John, Jr. died in a private plane crash. His sister, Caroline, survives as the repository of so much family grief. Your personal grief is no less but loss and grief are shared by all of us and we are all much richer having shared yours. The Kennedy Tragedies are particularly tragic because of the human hand of assassins who have created so many unfinished lives and continue to do so in the name of national security as though that is sufficient justification. Life and death were once matters best left in the Hands of God. Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me. May all of the love and blessings of this holy season be with you and all of your readers and commentators. Much love with hugs.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

My dear Gerry ~ Merry Christmas to YOU! It’s a gorgeous day here. Very shortly, I’m to be treated to Christmas dinner by my stepson and his wife. I’m thinking of what this day should be ~ a reminder of the need for peace and good will on earth. I’ve had the TV on playing magnificent traditional Christmas music, which takes me back to my childhood when those old carols were all around, before the cute jingles about other themes became the mail fare one hears, if any.

One has to non-cconform to be an effective individual. Being a rubber-stamp of anyone or anything robs one of initiative to do what one can only do and be uniquely. Others and things are not extensions of the self. I’ve always considered that being me was my only real possession, god-given and a sacred trust. More than a few times, it's been literally all I really had.

Being me is my

Only strength.

If it is more fragile,

More vulnerable,

More blind at times,

Then it is also


More flexible

And perceptive,

Being less distorted.

If it were to be relinquished,

There’s nothing to defend,

Since its essence can be destroyed


From within.

And I have tried enough to know

That my essence


My strength,

My only real


______© Nellieanna H. Hay


Everything you say is true. My family’s private tragedy and loss is just that - private. Yet the much commonly known tragedies of the Kennedys were also just as private, where it matters. I have great admiration and compassion for Rose Kennedy. She surely wished again and again to be able to share her own longevity with her family who were not so blessed with it. Her courage and poise were exemplary. I agree that the overwhelming incidence of deaths by human hands among those of hers who perished at the hands of horrid assassins was and still is a blight against humanity and all we strive to be. I have to say, though, that life and death are ever in the hands of god, even to that of his son.

You’ve said it right: Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me. That is where it always begins here on Earth, - with each and every individual person. There are no committees, governments, groups who can initiate it. It MUST begin with each person.

All the best to you and yours, dear Gerry.

Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 3 years ago

Lovely photos.... Superb family portrait... Memories - so sad...

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Aga. Yes - it's true. But sad memories are better than no memories, I think! (especially in one's 80s!) Hugs.

Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

Nellieanna, what a beautiful tribute and a tragic story. You really poured your heart out in this hub. Thank you for sharing it.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Gail. I did want to make a fitting tribute, and yes, it was a terribly tragic moment and story. There's not much option but to pour out my heart about it all, if I'm to write about it. On that special 6-decades anniversary date, I was impelled to write about it. Looking back from today, Jan.3, 2014, I'm honestly not sure I could do it again, and probably never will!

Thank you for appreciating it. Hugs.

DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

I've been posting my Mother's Diary on our Family Blog - The KINNICK Project! I'm currently following 75 years ago, today... that will take us to my birth day, in a few months. Great fun. Have access to hometown newspaper stories to work with, as well! ;-)

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello, Dr. Bill. Thank you for visiting and for following and fanning me, too!

That must be so very interesting, reading your Mother's daily thoughts and facts and especially meaningful that you can follow it day-to-day, corresponding to the same dates right now, but from all those years ago.

Are the newspaper stories some which she collected, or are they the paper's actual archives? It sounds like you're able to extract important facts about your family from these sources. Is her family name, Kinnick?

By the way, my maternal grandmother was a Smith.

I read some of Mother's diary from 1912. (She was born in 1892.) She mentioned talking to the other girls at college, trying to arouse their awareness about rights issues, such as women's suffrage. Her college yearbook mentioned her interest in equality issues, as well. In her diary, she even mentioned liking a certain fellow, (my dad), who championed her interest in equality issues, - probably rare in his Mennonite family.

DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

We kept a lot of clippings from the hometown newspaper, but, it is now 100% available on-line from 1882! Every page of every week.

My Mom went with the preacher's son, in High School, then he moved away. It was interesting to see her and my Dad get together via a common interest in going dancing on weekends, even though he was three years ahead of her in school in the small town. This was the year after she graduated. What fun! ;-)

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

How amazing that all the newspapers are now readily available online! In my using, I'm constantly amazed how much information there is available, both from official records and others who are int he process of tracing relatives, whose lineages cross with mine!

Yes, it really is lots of fun to trace these events and memories!

DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

We were so blessed. Local folks put the money together to put The Coon Rapids Enterprise, online - 1,200 population for the last 150 years... ;-)

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

I'm impressed and happy for you and your family! Such a tribute!

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

I'm impressed and happy for you and your family! Such a tribute!

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Vincent Moore 3 years ago

The tragedies that befall families places a heavy burden on those left behind to mourn and be left with scenes that will never leave their souls. I lost a friend in a similar train accident, she did not hear or see the train coming as it crashed into her car, there was nothing left of her vehicle. I can't imagine the suddenness of it all. I am with you my dear, knowing you needed to express your thoughts on this timely anniversary of the tragic loss of a family so close to you.

Through it all as weak as you must have felt, your strength endured to carry you through to where you are now. A very strong woman who perseveres through life. It appears to me that both you and your sister were strong personalities, maybe quite opposites in many ways, yet still a bond of sisterhood prevailed. Thank you for sharing, letting it out, I know the family you lost is looking over you with total love and understanding. Hugs sweet Nellieanna.

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

My dear Vincent. Yes, if you’ve experienced the shock and enormity of such a tragic accident to someone you loved, you can well imagine and empathize with what my family and I felt, losing all 5 of our precious close kin. I guess you can ascertain that, for me, this was all magnified by the poor condition of my relationship with Harriet when it happened. As I said, it literally affected decisions that would change my life and, as i happened, the lives of my children and theirs.

Understanding it and working it through has helped me so much. It doesn’t excuse my poor judgments which followed in its wake, but to be able better to understand how and why they happened helps me put it all to rest more reasonably.

And, oh yes! It was obviously a real need to express it and share it with those with whom I’d shared some of those consequential events in my life. It’s hard to analyze how much or how little one actually needs to share what’s inside with one’s friends and compatriots, but I suspect everyone has a need to confide some of their own burdens. Perhaps it’s why many of us are writers! We have better opportunities to do that and here on Hubpages, there seems to be a special chance to do it. We can grow in exposure to one another through our hubs as well as our comments on our own hubs and those of our growing friendships. There is nothing I’ve seen that compares with that. I’ve always admired the old European tradition of the “salon’, where a group of people met regularly to discuss art, music, literature and, surely, their own views of those as well as various other topics that could crop up in that close, compatible, friendly atmosphere. I find a bit of that here and it’s what keeps me coming back.

Thank you for your lovely compliments of my strength and endurance. I can’t deny possessing those in abundance, but I know that the ‘realistic optimism’ of my heart has helped me even more in meeting life’s inevitable challenges and emerging with clarity and optimism going forward

However, sometimes I agree with my daughter, when she once said, “Please, Lord, I’ve had about as many character-building challenges as I need for one day!” ;-)

Love and hugs to you, my dear friend and poet! I do know they are all looking over me, along with my many others lost to this life.

LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 3 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Hi Nellieanna please to meet you, i had a school friend name nellieanna well i am so sorry to hear about that tragic incident about your sister and her family. It was really horrible from viewing the pictures above.

I can just image how it must have messed you up after getting such sad news. I lost my brother when he was five years old back in 2000 . I was only twelve and we were like peas and carrots so i still miss him dearly. Since i started writing poetry i always do one or two for him a year.

Your poem about poetry and expressing words etc is so true. Through my poems i have been able to unwind a lot of my emotions.

Thanks for sharing this personal real life story with us.

May God continue to bless and give you strength and courage and i do admire that you still write poems etc at your age.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello, Lady Fiddler -(Joanna, if I may be so bold). Thank you for visiting my hub and leaving your caring comments. I’m sad with you for the loss of your young brother. It’s especially sad when it’s such a young one. The eldest of my sister’s little sons was about that same age. The twins were younger.

Now I, who was the 'baby' of my family by many years, am the only one of us still living. It is a rather strange feeling, too.

You are rather young yourself. It’s so good that your life is filled with writing and poetry. You’re so right that it is an excellent way to express one’s feelings and responses to life’s experiences. I’ve thought of it as being a friend, confidante, mentor, supporter, and advisor. One is in close touch with one’s own wisdom in writing. At one time, and for several years, I wrote a letter to God every day, pouring out my concerns; - and then I answered them in His stead. I was always amazed how well I saw the solutions to the concerns in that way, almost as if I were literally inspired.

I don’t feel any limitations at my age, at least none that are age-connected. I’ve had poor eyesight since birth and only learned to drive at age 40, when it became imperative to drive. Now I prefer to do most of my driving in daytime, both for my own safety and that of others on the road! But, in fact, I feel even more inspired to do most everything and I find that doing things keeps them ‘working’.

I’ve been writing since very young. My first (preserved) poem was written at age 12. Actually it was destroyed at one time but I was able to remember most of it to recapture it:

Sometimes I feel so much untamed,

So free of doubt or fear,

I think I would have been well named,

Had I been called a deer.

____© Nellieanna H. Hay

(Written about 1944 – age 12)

LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 3 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Oh Nellieanna thank you for sharing part of your life story with me. WAW only you surviving in your immediate family, well God has given you long life upon the land which he giveth to you. I am happy that you are still active and can find yourself peace and joy in your writings . Well hubbers are your family to you know and God is your best friend.

Thanks for sharing!

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

Yes, LadyFiddler, I am, indeed, blessed to have abundant life and ability to live it fully, even though my parents and siblings and all my kin from those generations are all gone, except I. When they were all alive, for many many years of my first marriage, I lived thousands of miles from them, so that was a hindrance. Now, as Life would have it, my own next-generation (a son and daughter), and 2 more next-generations (7 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren) of progeny, live the irony, in that they're all thousands of miles away from where I came home to my original family, and are up where I lived during my first marriage. But love overcomes distance and we have close contact online, as well as some precious visits. I've no regrets. God is generous.

Yes, Hubbers are my family, too. In many ways, we have more in common even than blood-kin! The common love of writing and sharing life experiences through it is such a strong bond, isn't it? And distance is NO factor at all! I have hub-family all over the world! It's something very precious and special!

Bryan Clay 2 years ago

Was surfing under uncle Vic's name to see what I could come up with either undr WW2 or SMU football. I am Vic Saufley's only living nephew I think...just one year older than little Bill would have been...we used to play together. I have the same picture you have of the family plus others. My mother was LouDelle Smith Stanley, uncle Vic's younger half sister. I named my oldest son Victor Clay after uncle Vic. I am on Facebook and have a e/m address that begins with my first and last name in small case letters followed by the numeral 47, then the ampersand followed by yahoo then dot com. I would like to compare notes if you feel led to do so.

old albion profile image

old albion 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Nellianna. I found your hub so informative and heartfelt. There is little that can be added to all the other contributors above. I am sure you would give anything to put right the difficulty with your darling sister. However it was not to be. Thank you for sharing.

Voted up and following.


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Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Bryan Clay, I’m unable to describe how your comment affected me. It was like hearing a real voice from the distant past I thought closed forever. Thank you for communicating who you are and your connection with the Saufley family. I would very much like to compare notes about them and to know you. Surely each of us has some different facts and memories unknown to the other.

If you played with little Bill, you surely knew Harriet, too. Our other two siblings are no longer living. I’m the only living member of our natal family. Each of us had children, so there are about 7 nieces and nephews, and many in the next generation, grown and with children of their own. It’s hard to believe that almost none of them knew Harriet or her family. Many of these kin are on FB, which is one of my main reasons to be there.

I vaguely remember Vic mentioning LouDelle, but I didn’t know her. Now I’m pleased to know her son! I look forward to more exchange with you. I will contact you on FB and at your email. I’m eager to meet you.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello,Graham. Oh, yes, how I’ve wished over the years for that opportunity. She had been in my life all my life and always took an interest in me. But as you say, resolving our problem was not to be. It still stabs me to remember. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

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brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Nellieanna What a tragedy! It is so seldom a whole family is taken from us, and so difficult to understand. Your fiance sounds so supportive, along with your family and faith. I enjoy the stories of your past and know writing this one must have been difficult, but putting it in writing transfers it from your brain to paper, often creating a cleansing effect. Thank you for sharing allowing me to express condolences. Blessings. Audrey

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Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS Author

Oh, Audrey, it was inexpressibly tragic. Will soon be 61 years; it honestly never truly fades. So many emotions surged then & were overwhelming. Those have modified from that much intensity, but they're still present. Our precious parents were devastated. She was their firstborn and was so beloved. I was their last child. The 14 years difference in us gave her a kind of authority over me, which was not much fun, but I constantly recall the many things she did FOR my lifelong benefits. Would loved to have been able to show her the proof of that. Alas. That was not to be.

Marie Flint profile image

Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

Nellieanna, thank you for sharing this deep and intimate part of your life. How tragic--no signal at the tracks? I'll bet there's one now, if the train is still running!

I almost envy you in a way because I had absolutely no one encouraging me to do anything with my life, and I certainly needed guidance. If advice or encouragement runs contrary to one's core values, however, that advice becomes seemingly pushy or controlling. This latter case seems to be what was happening for you.

The only consolation I see is that the deaths must have been instantaneous, due to the appearance of the car in the aftermath. Also, time heals all wounds.

I believe Harriet sees you from time to time, has forgiven you, and is even proud of what you have done with your life.

They say everything happens for a reason. This hub is undoubtedly a catharsis for you.

Voted Beautiful. Blessings!

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 2 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hi, Marie. I deeply appreciate your kind and very thoughtful comments. Thank you for coming and reading the hub.

I’m sorry that your own experience was opposite, though we each have had to live what we were dealt. Mine was actually a mixture of too much and too little guidance and attention, determined by the given and evolving circumstances, really. I’m glad that I have been able to fully understand the dynamics of it all and how it all fits together.

In a way it was mine to do a lot of the forgiving because her ‘help’ truly had evolved into an intended total control from then on, which was bound to deny me the most basic right to ‘be’, beyond pushy & controlling. I’d accepted it as an undergraduate, but hadn’t anticipated that it was not intended to stop!

But I do understand it. It involved her own nature, even her generation’s outlook. She truly thought she was benefitting me by taking charge of my life. I also understand my urgent need to escape it and begin my own adult life. I’d accepted her guidance too docilely up till when I knew I needed to ‘fly’ or forever be caged. It really was at that point, and was my own doing to the extent of having allowed it to grow into the vice-grip it was. I’m just sorry I didn’t believe I could reason with her and assert myself in a more mature way, whether or not she ‘allowed’ me to. There were quite valid reasons I didn’t believe I could, and given those realities which I believed, I couldn’t have - then. And then was when I had to. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done, - simply to get up and get away and find my own way. No way to know that her life would be ended so soon, so we'd never be able to work it out.

Yes, I know she would and does understand from where she is and she is surely proud of me, as I’d hoped to make her be at the time by proving I’d learned well and that I had it ‘in me’. She could have been happy that I wanted to use my wings then, too, had she not been so determined to be in control of my entire life and convinced in her own mind that she had to be. I’m not imagining that. She made it crystal clear; and it was her values and choices she envisioned for me. From her perspective, what could be better? She was doing me a service, in her view. She really didn’t think I had it in me to make my own choices, on my own. She misjudged me - didn’t know me at all and was unable to simply acknowledge the value of some of our differences. In fact, she had only contempt for what was not ‘her way’, and, though we shared a lot of interests and many values, we were two very separate people whose major values differed. But I do forgive that she couldn’t see it and couldn't help that she couldn't. It was simply who she was, and I do acceot our differences. For me to have accepted hers for myself, though, would have made me a fake. I wasn't even good at trying to fake it then.

Mother told the story about when Harriet and my next-eldest sister were teens, 2 years apart, Harriet would tell Ruth, "Go make two lemonades and I'll give you one." And Ruth would do it, though Ruth was not a passive type.

Yes, wounds that don’t kill a person do heal. I did come very close to being with them that moment of impact and wouldn’t be here to sort it out or to share it if I had bent to her control. My greatest ache is for the others it affected. Our parents were devastated. She was their first-born fair-haired-girl. They loved us all but she was very special. So our family was changed. My life was very much rerouted, and suffered some major derailing. But we all survived and grew. I can’t fathom any other life but the one that IS and claiming it is the real victory.

I am sure everything does happen for a reason. The fact that it happens IS a reason. What does happen is what IS, and that creates its own reason and reality. There is no mileage or value in ‘what-ifs’. One must work with the materials and tools one is dealt. That’s not just a platitude. It’s the reality. It’s valuable to be able to trace one’s course through even its mazes, and to understand how one has evolved and grown.

Yes, I did need to write this hub. I needed to honor my beloved sister and also to express the reality of how it was, though I’ve no doubt I will write more, in my memoirs, probably. I am very blessed to have had such an interesting and gratifying life, filled with amazing people. I’m sad that she and her beautiful family weren’t given more of theirs to live. She was a beautiful person who could light up a room by entering it and I love her.

rdsparrowriter profile image

rdsparrowriter 22 months ago

I'm very sorry to hear about what you had to go through. It is very sad and it's good that you share your wounds of love. I'm sure that your sister is very proud of what you have become and that you were able to still remember and cherish many memories of her which inspires you to write. God bless you!!

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Nellieanna 22 months ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a lovely comment.

It was incredibly sad and life-altering. In some ways it's like just yesterday, though it will be 62 years ago his year.

Michael-Milec profile image

Michael-Milec 22 months ago

Dear Nellieanna, interaction on one of the mot impressive and genuine Hub article of your " Sixty years..." evoke desire to read it again. So much truth and wisdom in it I want and need to know more- reminded by:

"Only life can teach life.

The only things that facts can teach

Are facts."

So many priceless experiences we happen to know from the life of the others, make us stronger as we are marching toward the last victory, which will be celebrated with those who gone before us.

Voting awesome, both the article and comments.

God bless and protect you, always.


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Nellieanna 22 months ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Michael. I'm honored by your comments. Those words you mention are from a poem I wrote many years ago. You might appreciate the rest of it:


. . .

Only patience can teach patience.

Only joy can teach joy.

Only hope can teach hope.

Only trust can teach trust.

. . . .

Only openness can teach openness.

Only understanding can teach understanding.

Only insight can teach insight.

Only being can teach being.

. . . .

Only love can teach love.

Only life can teach life.

The only things that facts can teach

Are facts.

. . . .

Would that patience, joy, hope, trust,

Faith, understanding,

Being, love, and life

WERE facts and more than aspirations

. . . .

For that, they must be taught

By active example

To children

Born into this world of facts.

. . . .

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

Jan. 1972

Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

Gina Welds-Hulse 6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

There are no words, Nellieanna! Such a tragic story, yet you managed to see glimpses of hope, of wisdom, of knowledge and of light, and of love.

Life truly is short, so we should love the people in our lives.

Much love!

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 months ago from TEXAS Author

Dear Gina. Thank you for your caring response. You're such a dear and wise person.

Indeed, it is a tragic story. My reason for deciding to share it is/was that it may help others with tragedies they've experienced or even with those they've not yet experienced, though I would not want anyone to have to. It's rare, though, to live a full life without encountering some of them.

One lives through such soul-disturbing things and learns to let go of the negatives, to latch onto the positives. Yet the realities of it and the place in one's heart left unfilled simply remains, unless one suffers amnesia. One needs to know the facts in order to really understand oneself and others.

It is hardest when the person or persons were so young and hadn't begun to live their individual lives. I lived with the family part of my days at SMU and helped Harriet with things. I think of little Bill, James and John and realize that they'd be senior citizens now, with lives lived behind them, older than my own children who are grandparents now, and one who has grandchildren old enough to make her a great-grandma, and me, a great-great grandma! It's amazing how that works!

I've been contacted online by a gentleman who was Vic's nephew and used to play with the boys when they were all little kids. It sort of helps fill in some of the blanks to know him as a living older man, as they'd be now, - but not actually. Those precious little boys are still engraved on my memory of them.

Vic was considerably older than Harriet, but she would have been 98 this September. I see her as beautiful and glamorous as she was at 35 as she was when I saw her last. She was sophisticated and grew up just knowing and practicing the proprieties in the 1920s and 30s. This is a hub I wrote about her early life. It pictures her as the person before I was born and in my early years. She always gave me things and tried to supervise me, sometime, but not always, successfully. haha. But I have so many great memories of her cute ways, how we’d laugh together and how she’d look at us both in a mirror to point out our likenesses. You may be tired of hearing about these things but here this one is:

I was more a free spirit, so we always had some differences. But she was trying to help me, in her way, and she introduced me to and taught me things I probably would not have sought out on my own, all valuable to me.

Mostly, there was a lot of love we shared. I would have liked it better if the distance at the time had not been going on as it did, but it was probably inevitable then, all things considered. I wish I'd been brave enough to just tell her I couldn't continue, but if I'd been that brave, I'd probably not have gone along with it all that time! I also know that her nature could not see it my way and just accept it or she probably would not have imposed her standards on me as she did. I'd just accepted it during the undergraduate time and figured it was to prepare me to take my own reins when I graduated! But . . .

I also know that it would have been resolved in time because there was such real love in it. I had no animosity and tried to resolve the matter at the time, but she wasn't ready to. She didn't even want to know how well I was doing under my own steam, she told our parents in letters she wrote them during those 6 months expressing her extreme dismay with me. She called me 'the most ungrateful child she'd ever known' and encouraged them to disown me. (I only read these things in her letters found in their things after they died, years later.) So, yes, it was one of those things that would take time and love to resolve. We had the love but it turned out, not the time. It's a fact that we cannot always avoid needing to make some decisions which may be caught in the narrow sliver of our door of time.

You are absolutely right that we must love the people in our lives because both theirs & ours are tenuous. That is the nature of life on Earth & it has its duration for each of us, which we usually do not know in advance. In fact, that is surely a blessing built in to it.

Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

Gina Welds-Hulse 6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

I can empathize with you. There are things I wish I could have told my mother before she passed, but I was happy with the conversations we did have. I wanted her to know that I did not hate her for giving me to her mother to raise, and I hope she got that message. She was always so hesitant to speak about why she did it, but in the end I know it was for the best.

Sometimes we don't really get the chance for amends, but we must live with the love that was shared, and the lessons that were taught. You were blessed to have her as a sister. I can tell from your words, and I know that even after all these years she still holds a special place in your heart that time can never diminish.

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Nellieanna 6 months ago from TEXAS Author

Yes, you said it perfectly, Gina.

We don't have to know all the background and details in order to feel empathy and acceptance for others and what they do, which, taken at face value, might not be understandable from just our own perspective. We may try to fill in the gaps, but ultimately, we must give benefit of doubt in many instances.

I'm sure your mother did it for the best and it turned out well. Was the country where you came this U.S. then, or the other way around?

Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

Gina Welds-Hulse 6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

You're right. My mother did it for the best. Of that I am sure. I was born in Grand Cayman, Nellieanna, and taken to Jamaica when I was two years old, where I spent 10 years. I came to the U.S. for college many years later.

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Nellieanna 6 months ago from TEXAS Author

Gina, your positive, loving attitude was and is one of your best attributes. I admire it.

As for our places, by contrast, my sojourn is humdrum. Yours is a much more interesting history! I have never visited any of the Caribbean islands. Jamaica holds a fascination for me, though.

My parents came to Texas from Indiana and Illinois, by way of Seattle and Canada. They came to Texas in about 1920, where they lived the rest of their lives. I’ve lived in various areas and cities of Texas, where I’ve spent the majority of my life, though I have also lived in Kentucky, Indiana, and Arizona for various lengths of time between 1957 and 1973, the longest being in Indiana, before retuning to Texas, where I’ve been since 1973.

I’ve visited in California, Mississippi, New York and several New England states and had a brief cross-over into Canada and several sojourns over into Mexico since I was a child in a border town. Had a month-long visit to England and took a day-trip over to France. But I guess that’s about it for my places and travels, other than marvelous flight-of-fancy travels in various places requiring no packing or other planning or tedious details.

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Gina Welds-Hulse 6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

Thank you, Nellieanna! That's so sweet to say. I do try to be positive and have a positive outlook on everything, even tragedy,

Yes, I have traveled to as far as Taiwan doing missionary/volunteer work....many moons ago now, it seems. My travels and volunteer work also took me to Guatemala and Mexico where I stayed for a year. I've been to the middle east, but just for a very short stint, and to various places in Europe.

On one occasion I got "stuck" in Hong Kong when I missed flight. I was put up in the newest hotel in the penthouse suite, and enjoyed an amazing day in Hong Kong. How "terrible" that I missed my flight. LOL

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Nellieanna 6 months ago from TEXAS Author

These travels and adventures are truly awesome, Gina! I'd have loved to have been a little stowaway in your luggage, seeing them all and soaking up the various places' 'feels' and flavors, and perhaps sharing in your missionary/volunteer work!

That was, indeed 'terrible' that you missed that flight out of Hong Kong and had to endure that stay there! haha.

I once compiled an 'affirmation' scrapbook, in which I literally cut my own pictures out of photos and superimposed them as participating in various things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see. One was in Hong Kong!

Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

Gina Welds-Hulse 6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

Oh, Nellieanna, Hong Kong was amazing. I would definitely love to go back for an extended time, but I promised my youngest son that I would take him to China since his great-grandparents were full blooded Chinese. His paternal grandmother still lives, but his dad and grandpa have passed on, so it is really tugging at his heart to visit where his dad's family is from. We decided to take on the task of learning Chinese this least the spoken part.

I have a friend who is travelling all over Europe and I feel the same way.....that I could be a little stowaway in her luggage. She's been to several countries I haven't, and vice-versa.

Traveling is such an eye-opener. You cannot visit a country without being changed in some way...hopefully for the better.

I really want to visit Peru....Machu Picchu to be exact...but with my lung issues, it would take a lot of preparation. I have not given up on it, but I am aware now of the task it takes to get there.

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Nellieanna 6 months ago from TEXAS Author

Oh, yes, Gina. Studying the language enough to speak it in China sounds like good preparation for a visit. It’s especially good to learn a language at the conversational level, as I well know. I studied Spanish all through school and excelled at the vocabulary and grammar, but when it came to speaking it, I was frozen, even when communicating with Mexican people who worked at the ranch and their children with whom I played. We seemed to have unspoken kids' language as we played. But I joke and say, “Well, I knew English but didn’t speak it either,” because I was ignored when I tried to interject my thoughts into conversations among my very knowledgeable, articulate grown family around the dinner table. I soaked it up listening but decided to keep my input to myself. On the other hand, my Dad, who spoke only German at home till he started to school but easily picked up English, quickly picked up the vernacular Spanish from his Mexican workers and could have been mistaken for a native. I recall correcting his grammar. haha. Bless his kind heart, he tolerated it.

Chinese looks like a monumental task to learn but well worth the effort. I can imagine how eager your son is to visit where his dad and his grandparents lived and were citizens and to be able to communicate and articulate.

WWII introduced many Americans to other countries. My brother was in the Philippines; my brother-in-law was in North Africa and Italy. My George served in the Navy on LST ships in the South Pacific for several of the major turning-point battles and he had opportunity when the war was ending to sail and patrol up the Yangtze and to go ashore. He acquired some lovely paintings, embroidered silk artworks, even some pewter opium pipes. But when he was offered the assignment to stay in the Navy and continue that patrol for the protection of China, he chose to come home, much as China appealed to him.

A lovely, poignant poem he wrote when he was over there on his ship:

It looked the same

Up there in the blue,

Painting the clouds

A silvery hue.

But when it lit

The still lagoon,

I knew it was not

A Texas moon.

Then for a moment it seemed,

When the morn was new

And the flower kissed

With glistening dew, -

The same, but now

The illusion is gone,

And I know it was not

A Texas dawn.

It looked the same,

All green and lush

And covered with

Mesquite-like brush;

But now that it’s damp

With fresh-fallen rain,

I know it is not

A Texas plain.

Perhaps just as red

And graceful a bloom;

Perhaps just as sweet

And fragrant perfume.

But I feel the soil

In which it grows

And I know it is not

A Texas rose.

Perhaps it was Mars,

The God of War,

Who put these here,

Just hoping for

Me to come by

And view them here,

Then laugh while I shed

A homesick tear.

But I think it the God

Of those who pray

Who set them here,

That I might this day

Forget the war;

Forget the foam

That lies between me

And my Texas home.

__Ensign George L. Hay II, 1944

I made a series of webpages about his Navy experience:

My stepson is a world traveler all over Europe and this continent. (another stowaway temptation!) A couple of years ago he went to Machu Picchu for a fairly extended visit. It was probably one of, if not THE most memorable trips he’s made. I hope your health does allow you to make that trip. George, Jr. would admit it does require enormous stamina and health. He went with his son-in-law rather than his wife and he got no argument from her.

YES! I fully agree that visiting another country changes one in ways. Our extended visit to England became part of who I am. It was not a typical tourist visit. We were invited by online friends from GB whom we’d met in Orlando on their holiday there to come visit them for as long as we wished, which we did i 1998. She and I had another online friend from near London who took all four of us to his exclusive men’s club for lunch and then escorted us around some major London sites. During the month there, staying in their home, they drove us all around the countryside to charming out-of-the-way places, as well as taking us on special tours of London sites, since the husband was a retired London bobby and police-dog trainer, having easy entry where regular tourists were either unable to go or waiting in lines to see. I was new to digital photography and took many pix, which she downloaded to CDs for me every night after our day’s activities. I have intended to make a hub or a webpage about it, but haven't done it, other than posting a few individual pictures. So lastingly memorable and part of my heart.

Thank you for sharing this interesting information about your amazing experiences and life, Gina!

Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

Gina Welds-Hulse 6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

I must visit those hubs you posted. Thanks for sharing it.

On the topic of Spanish, I studied the laguage all through Middle school and High school, but did not master it until I threw myself into Mexico, where I lived for a year. When I left, I was fluent. When I got to college, I decided it was a piece of cake to get a minor in Spanish, so I did. Today, I really have to work to retain it as I do not communicate with it often, but i do try to watch Spanish novelas which help to keep the knowledge at least.

That poem is a piece of treasure. Thank you for sharing so much of your family and you with me.

England has been tugging at my heart for the last couple of years. I may have to pack up and move next year, like I told Manatita. You can only ignore the tug for so long. lol

I do hope I am able to make the trip to Peru, and I am taking every step to make sure that I am healthy.

I have been to England a few times. The first time it rained for 3 weeks. I finally saw the sun the day I was leaving, but it was still an amazing trip.

I've enjoyed our exchanges, Nellieanna. I'm so glad we connected.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 months ago from TEXAS Author

Ah,Gina. You learned to speak Spanish the best way! My sister, Ruth, was a teacher and Spanish was one of the subjects she taught over her career. She studied it in school, of course, but she spent several summers living with a family in a remote village in Mexico. I’m sure she was challenged to retain it back home near Corsicana, Texas, but her personality was so dramatic, it was not unusual for her to just launch into speaking in Spanish, no matter what. I’ve missed her dramatic entrances in my door, thrusting a rose from her garden into my hand and asking me if I knew a quote from some obscure writer or book which she didn't expect me to know or claim to know, while she proceeded on into the house where her essence demanded all the oxygen. She was 2 years younger than Harriet and surely had to survive in her shadow. I loved her very much. She was the last of my other natal family to depart when she died in 2012 at 92.

Though I’m not at all tempted to live there, England was a glorious visit for George and me. It was from mid-April to mid-May, 1998. I thought I was covered for the weather with a little part-wool suit, but often had to add my all-weather coat. On one occasion, we forayed from Essex where we were based, into Kent, en route to Dover. We stopped to visit a country fair going on in a grassy meadow where it had rained the night before. With all the people milling about and visiting the many tents of craftspeople displaying their gorgeous wares, the ground became muddy and very wet. I finally had to proceed to the exit outside the tents and wait for the others to investigate inside, where it was almost like wading! My feet were soaked and felt half-frozen.

But otherwise, it was good weather for all the trip. One of my favorite places was Maldon, a harbor town on up the Thames in Essex. So charming with colorful barges docked and a quaint pub with very low ceiling and doorway where we enjoyed a pint after our strolling. We got to watch an outdoor game of bowls in progress and enjoyed seeing children frolicking barefooted in the grass, enjoying the Spring. One highlight was a gentleman seated on the dock making knotted string-art objects like sailors used to make for pendants to wear and give their girlfriends. He was selling them as he made them, but he gave me one, which I thought an amazing gesture! I still treasure it. The intricate knots were at one time thought to have magical properties and give protection for the wearer from enemies and elements.

Yes, I hope you can make it to Peru. Your well-being comes first, of course.

I very much value and enjoy our exchanges, too, Gina. I’m delighted that we connected.

Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

Gina Welds-Hulse 6 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

I love that you still have the knotted object, Nellieanna. I still have a tiny clay pot that was given to me by a little girl in Mexico. It holds a special place in my heart, always taking me back to the ciudad, the smells emanating from the tortilla factory every morning, and of course the little irl who gave it to me. I wonder what she would look like today, almost 30 years later.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 months ago from TEXAS Author

Yes yes! Those physical mementos full of special memories are such treasures. Even the ones only preserved in one’s memory capture a time, place, and often a person or persons.

That little girl who gave you the clay pot would be all grown up, possibly with children of her own and/or a career she loves. It’s mind boggling to remember and all the senses related to those reminders,- the aromas, colors, textures. I love hearing abut your life experiences.

The tortilla factory! Ah. I can relate. My youth in Del Rio, Texas, just a mile from the International Bridge over to Villa Acuña (now grown to Cuidad Acuña ) has many memories, such as the tamale street vendor in my neighborhood (no ice cream vendor there). I’d ask for some nickels to run out and buy several tamales, always piping hot and wrapped in newspaper printed in Spanish. They were outstanding, better than any tamales I've had since then.

Was the tiny clay pot which the little girl gave you, of doll-house size? I have doll dishes from over in Acuña, where we frequently shopped, even more often during the war when we could buy some things that were rationed or unavailable in the States,- sugar, leather goods such as huaraches, silk and various other items or materials of which American sources were being used for our troops and/or to build equipment for them. The doll dishes were clay and were brightly colored. So special. I even have fond memories of my Dad giving me gifts from Acuña.

During my brief time in Houston after graduation, working as a Bridal Consultant, some of our brides were from Monterrey, Mexico, I remember one especially. Her entire family accompanied her and was there with advice and encouragment for her bridal gown and accessory selection.

They’d seen a display lace fan she wanted to buy for her bouquet to rest on, but it was not for sale. So I was commissioned to make her one, which I did on my own time on Sunday and very much enjoyed doing it. I started with an ordinary fan, removed its covering, antiqued its framework and replaced the base covering with silk illusion, then added lovely imported lace, which had to be custom fitted to the curve of the fan, which I did by cutting & hand-appliquéing the lace into that shape on the illusion. (There was another memory associated with that project, involving the man who would become my first husband. He was unreasonably furious that I devoted my attention to making the fan rather than to him, though it was the only time I had to do it and I'd not invited him over. He'd just tagged along from the Air Force base with my roommate's fiancé. Ah, the clues we sometimes minimize!)

But, much more pleasantly, I especially remember that bride's precious little sister, Josephina, who just loved me and followed me around the Bridal Department. That was 63 years ago so she’d surely be a senior citizen now! But she remains a darling child in my memory. Your little girl experience brought it to mind just now.

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