Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Tribute to My Very Best Friend, Theda Echols Young

My wonderful friend Theda passed away on Jan 3, 2011.  She was 44 years old.  Her parents are elderly and both alive.  She had two older brothers.

Theda and I became best friends in 1995.  She was a little sister that I never had.  I say she was my little sister but she ended up taking care of me more than me her.  My sister Wanda said that whenever Theda was with me during surgery they (other sister Shirley) didn't have to worry because they knew they would get information and that I would be well taken care of. Theda never said a bad word about anyone, she always saw the good in people.

I remember our first trip.  It was our first cruise for both of us.  We were hooked and we went on many more trips after that.  We went many places together like San Francisco, Destin, Key West, Mexico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, St Thomas, St Kitts, St Lucia, GA, MS, just to name a few, because we were very compatible room mates and great friends. 

There were four of us who were YaYa's.  We all had nicknames.  Lotus was Becky, Missi was Giggles, Theda was Law Dawg and I was the Queen.  Theda kept all of us straight because she was the one who kept her head on straight in every situation.  We made a great foursome.

We all met through work but our friendships were much deeper than that.  We even adopted a guy, Roy my nephew and his nickname was WahWah so it ended up being 3 YaYa's and a Wah Wah.  That's when we went to Cancun for the week and Giggles couldn't go along.

Theda loved my family.  She was such a great teacher with everyone who came to her park but especially with Taylor, my granddaughter.  She added that extra something for her.   My son, Jonathan, used to tell me that he never worried when I was with Theda.  He knew I was in good hands.

Theda loved working for TN State Parks.  She worked part-time for years and then finally was hired full-time.  She was a Ranger which meant she had to go to the Law Enforcement Academy and then was stationed at the Bicentennial Captiol Mall in downtown Nashville.  She took great pride in the opening of the "Mall" and then the subsequent tours she would provide and then the leadership when she became the Asst Park Manager.  The Mall flourished.

She later got the opportunity to manage a park of her own.  Johnsonville State Historic Area in New Johnsonville TN.  Some of you readers have read about my ventures at the JSHA.  She was thrilled that she was getting a new Visitor's Center.  She had such pride in her profession and she was smart and had more knowledge about such a variety of subjects.  She was a trained classical pianist, she played the violin.  She knew about the Civil War, birds, flowers, trees, you name it and she could tell you information on a particular topic.  She was definitely the one you would want in a trivia game.  I tried to get her to go on a game show but she never would.   She wasn't a bragadocious type person in anyway.  Wow, and they say opposites attract.

This past Christmas Theda and I got in a big discussion about religion.  I didn't want to assume I knew where she stood in her faith like I had in another instance with a friend.  We assured each other that we both know the Lord as our personal savior.  We held hands and prayed for our friend.  She said she was sure of her salvation & knew where she was going when she died.  Little did either of us know that she would be there this soon.

When I called our friend Ann to tell her what had happened she said that a song came on her radio what was something to the effect of "Mama's teaching her angel to sing."  I believe that my Mama was waiting on Theda to come join the angels.

Several of our other good friends have gone on before Theda so I'm sure that the Angel Ranger Corps of Eddie, Rick, Larry, Dean-O and Mike were there to see her too.

Thanks to everyone who sent their condolences through email and face book.  All of you who knew her were blessed and if you didn't know her, you missed a great opportunity to know someone who was a kind and gentle soul. 

It's been a few weeks out and I finished with the house, uniforms and family things and am now with my family who is helping me get through a terrible period.  Everyone says it will get easier and I'm sure with time it will but I just don't see how it will.

Theda was Mama T to Sedona.  I had given Sedona to Theda a few weeks before Christmas as most of you read.  She was now Mama to Sedona and I was Mama Carolyn because Mama C was so close to Mama T, couldn't confuse her you know.    Sedona and I called Theda every evening to make sure she was tucked in safely after locking the gate at the park.  Some days Sedona wanted to talk to Mama T and here is an example of her carrying on a conversation with her.  Sedona is doing okay in spite of what she has gone through.  Sedona was at Theda's side when her body was found and she wasn't going to let anyone get close to her.  The detective took a loop and was going to put her in the shelter but Andy (Theda's maintenance man) took Sedona home with him until I could get up there to get her.

Seems like this tribute has been rambling but it has been theraputic for me to put words down on how I feel.  Theda was my rock and I am going to miss her.

I'll always love you Theda.



Margie and Roger said...

Carolyn, I know that must have been very difficult to put together, but it is a beautiful tribute to Theda. You have some wonderful memories of fun times spent together and I hope that will help you get through the days ahead. I have no problem understanding how you were able to part with Sedona and let her live with Theda - they definitely loved each other. What an amazing video. See ya' soon.

Sharon said...

Carolyn, I didn't really get a chance to talk to Theda the one time I met her and now I know what a great loss that was. I sure wish I could have spent time with her. As far as getting easier with the death of a loved, don't think it gets easier, just different, and I don't know how to explain it. My heart cries for you, my friend. You did a great job on Theda's tribute, no friend could ask for more. Take care of you now, I'm sure that's all Theda would ask of you. Hugs....

Jeff & Barbie said...

Carolyn, What a moving tribute to Theda. It is obvious how special she was. You'll hold on to your special memories of Theda for sure. Take care of yourself and lean on your family & friends to get you through this difficult time.

Beckles said...

Margie and Sharon have both expressed some of my own thoughts and feelings on reading this beautiful tribute. It's difficult for me to express what I really want to say as the words aren't coming out. To keep it simple and not write a book (like I've been known to!), I am so glad to be part of this circle of friends.....Giggles, Law Dawg, and Queen....and Wah on occasions! Much love for all. Miss our Ya Ya and always will. Glad you're back home again. Love you.

Sue and Doug said...

so sorry for your loss of your special friend!..what a lovely tribute!..gone but not forgotten.

dayspring39 said...

Carolyn as you know there is nothing like a true friend... I trust you will always cherish those precious memories... your friend,
Kathleen (from Woman's RV)

Anonymous said...

Carolyn, my heart goes out to you. Loosing a best friend is a hard thing. The tribute was wonderful. I remember you talking about Theda. She lives on in the lives she touched. K'Lynn and I are doing great and still love living in the travel trailer. We have are looking to get a big order from NOAA. If we do we may upgrade to a larger 5th wheel. Business has been good. We are staying busy with the business and we are both studing Indian Medicine along with a fee other things. A couple of guys and myself started a new bsuiness venture called Camp 1800. We teach sustainable life skills. We had a few classes last year and we are gearing up for the spring.
Well got to go just wanted to touch base.
Have fun and we will talk to you later. Dewayne & K'Lynn Hall