Friday, December 30, 2011

The Lives They Loved

Recently, The New York Times invited readers to send in a photo that illustrates a story of someone close to them who died this year.  Here's the story that resulted:

What a cool feature.  It’s so hard to choose just one photo and just one story though, but here’s one that I’d like to add to the list:

This is a photo of my dad, William Lee Bullard, and my grandmother, Nellie Hine Bullard, both of whom died in 2011.  In the photo, they are standing in the library of the church that my grandmother attended for over 50 years.

My grandmother was a voracious reader.  She lived most of her life in a small town in Alabama, and I remember as a child hearing her say that, although she might not ever have to means or the opportunity to do much traveling, she planned to expand her horizons through reading.  To honor her work as a volunteer as the church librarian for decades, the library was dedicated to her and named after her a few years ago.

After her funeral, my family and I went back to her church where church members had prepared a fantastic meal for us.  I didn’t know most of the people in the dining hall that day, but I felt a connection to them based on the mutual love and respect they all had for my grandmother and many for my dad as well.  After the meal, we went upstairs to the library, and I opened several of the books on the shelves.  Behind each of the front covers was a pocket holding a library card on which Grandmom had written her name on the first line as she checked each one out to read over time.   Sticking out of the top of some of the books was a small piece of paper, and when I opened the books to investigate I saw that the papers were sticky notes from my dad’s office that he had given to Grandmom as part of her librarian supplies.  She’d used the sticky notes as bookmarks and had noted the date on each.  I love this picture because it makes me think about how supportive my dad was of the interests of his mother and of everyone else he knew and about her passion for service and for education, things that were both so exemplary of the people that they were.

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