Supporting Others a Good home-Remedy

By Suzy Barile

“Sorry, we’re getting ready to move,” I said, pointing out the “For Sale By Owner” sign by the sidewalk to the young Cary High football player who rang our doorbell on a hot Saturday afternoon and asked if I’d like to buy a coupon book to support the team.

But then he asked if I’d like to make a donation. “Let me see if I have any money,” I replied.

Patiently he waited. Waited as my dog continued to bark because she thinks anyone coming to the door – well, actually, anyone within her eye-and-ear shot -- wants to be her friend. Waited while I went upstairs to find my purse, all the while wondering what an appropriate donation was to replace the “no thanks” I’d already given to the $20 coupon book. Waited while years of fundraising events flashed through my memory.

So what if I was moving? Couldn’t I support the local high school football team? My own daughter had played soccer all four years at Enloe High.

What about the dozens of fundraisers Jen had participated in? There were red velvet holiday bows for the Cary Sister City’s youth trip to Le Touquet, France, and cookies sales for Girl Scouts, and T-shirts for church youth group, and tickets for “The Little Match Girl,” “The Music Man” and “Spring Dance Recital,” and the two quarters I sent weekly for pencils from the Lacy Elementary School store. She never did use them – they were too pretty to sharpen.

What about the fundraising I’d participated in over the years? Most especially were the Beanie Baby auction and yard sales and brick sales and Lazy Daze food booths to fund the Kids Together Playground. Ten years of raising money. I always hoped no one I asked to help would say “no.”

What about my mom, who was a substitute teacher during the late 1980s and early 1990s? She’d loved teaching, supported every student fundraiser, even annual yearbook sales. When she battled cancer, dozens of Cary High students sent her well-wishes, then came to her memorial service after she lost the fight.

What about all those years I’d worked at The Cary News, writing editorials and covering stories about making Cary a better place to live?

I couldn’t have been gone two minutes.

“I’ll take the coupons and give them to my sister,” I said, holding out a check.

The young man appeared puzzled, then saw the check was for $20. He handed me a coupon book, offered his thanks, and turned and walked away, clearly with no idea that his polite request for me to support the Cary High Imps football team had led to such a soul-searching journey.

“Have a good season,” I replied.

copyright 2010

Remembering Ronny Jones

NOTE: Though this was not read at Ronny's funeral at Harmony United Methodist Church, it was shared with the family.

By Suzy Barile

Many of you today are thinking, I suspect, exactly what I am: We wish our reason for being together would go away, that we would awaken from this bad dream. But try as we have, we have awakened to the same reality. Our wish has not come true. And so we are forced to face what seems the unthinkable – life without Ronny Jones.

I am a relative newcomer to the Jones family. My daughter and I – my entire family, in fact -- “married in,” as they say. Yet there was no trial period, no testing of the waters to make certain we fit. Shirley and Ronny Jones made certain of that – and not just with us, but with everyone they met. No one was a stranger after stepping inside the Jones home.

Ronny was my mother-in-law’s first cousin’s husband. My husband John called him “Uncle” Ronny. I did the same, and I did it often, especially when we began coming to Harmony on a regular basis while working on a plan to renovate John’s grandparents’ house, just down the road from Ronny and Shirley. I spent two summers here, often alone when John was working, and sometimes with family and friends visiting.

Being alone meant that when I found yellow jackets in the yard, I called on Uncle Ronny to take care of them. The afternoon I watered the yard after planting grass seed and depleted the well’s reservoir so it made an awful grinding noise, I called Uncle Ronny. When my sister and nephews came for a visit, and we were accidentally locked out of the house, we called Uncle Ronny. At this point, I must underscore the “we,” because those nephews – Jack and Joseph and Jesse – thought Ronny was their uncle, as well, and he never told them differently. They never hesitated to ride their bikes down the road to see if Uncle Ronny was there to visit for awhile or to have him fix a sticking bike fender or to ask for whatever it was they needed. “We’ll go get Uncle Ronny,” they would say when problems arose.

But we are not the only ones who would call on Ronny, and as when we called, he never hesitated to stop what he was doing to lend a hand. Many a veteran’s family gravitated to his warm smile as he traveled around Iredell County, representing the American Legion at veterans’ memorial services. He was on one committee or another at this church and served his hometown of Harmony in a variety of ways. He never lost touch with those he worked with, even after his retirement. Uncle Ronny loved his family and his friends and his neighbors as fervently as Jesus had commanded him to do – and he did it the right way: loving them as he did himself.

The selfishness of why we have gathered cannot be overlooked, either. We are here because we loved Ronny, because we appreciated that he did always drop whatever he was doing to help us or comfort us or offer us sage advice. And we are asking: Who will do that now?

For me and John, who will convince the company that is to dig our new well that it must be dug where Ronny doused for water? Who will show us how to plant our very first Harmony garden this summer? Who will talk basketball and football with me? Who will drop what he is doing when any of us calls?

And who will greet us as Ronny always did: “Hey, Jowhn. Hey, Suuuzy”? I’m certain he drawled your name as he did ours!

Yes, we all must now face the unthinkable – life without Ronny Jones. It is something not one of us, I am certain, wants to do.

Remembering Roy Turner

By Suzy Barile

Dr. Roy C. Turner came into my life the summer of 1975, immediately after my graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill. He was married to Elaine Eiselstein, my mother’s best friend since kindergarten, and while I had met him when I was younger, not until I accepted a reporter’s job at The Messenger in Madison, and became a regular in the Turner home, did I truly get to know this good man.

Though I’d been away from my family in Northern Virginia since heading to college, there’s something about setting out on one’s own that brings a bit of homesickness. No sooner were boxes unpacked in my small rental house on Sunset Avenue than I was invited to dinner in Eden once a week: "Make certain to bring your laundry," Dr. Turner added.

At 15 miles, the distance between Madison and Eden was not great, but I made the weekly trip via a route that took me along the country roads between Madison, Wentworth and Reidsville, as I restocked The Messenger’s newspaper racks in a dozen or so country stores. By the time I reached Eden, I was famished and ready for one of the hearty meals Roy and Elaine enjoyed cooking together. My laundry promptly went into the washer, and for the next couple of hours, I was one of the family.

Eden became familiar territory over the next 12 months. Being “adopted” as I was by the Turners, I took part in a variety of activities. I never played golf, as was Roy’s custom on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons after a busy optometrist's schedule, but I learned my way around downtown, occasionally did stories on residents of the former Leaksville, Draper, and Spray, and eagerly looked forward to the weekly get-together for food and friendship and, often, wise counsel.

It was Dr. Turner who discovered I needed glasses when every photo I took for The Messenger was out of focus. It was he who helped replace my 1967 VW with a 1973 Carolina blue one when the old one developed a carbon monoxide leak. And it was he who advised me in no uncertain terms that I needed to look for another job when it was clear to him, though not immediately to me, that my reporting position was coming to an end.

In June of 1976, I left Madison and headed to the Daily Dispatch in Henderson, NC. Other newspapers and towns and states followed before I settled in Raleigh, and for the next 30 years, my visits to Eden were limited to about once a year, or when I’d make the drive to get my eyes examined. But year in and year out, the connection remained. When I had a little girl, when I remarried, when my mother died, Roy and Elaine were there. And when December arrives, my family patiently awaits delivery of a large bin of popcorn – “love from the Turners,” says the tag. Christmas is here, says my family.

No holiday or special event or family gathering will ever be the same, for Roy Turner will not be there. But those who encountered him during his 50-plus years serving the residents of Eden will remember a man who said what he meant, believed what he said, and gave his all to whatever he committed to do. He laughed heartily and hugged mightily and loved completely. He was a good man.

(Copyright 2010)