The In-Between Years

Through the good or lean years and for all the in-between years is a line from a Frank Sinatra classic All The Way.   As I lay 2012 to rest for a final countdown before the ball drops in Times Square in New York City tonight, I ask myself to rate the year as good, lean or in-between.   Understand this is a subjective, biased, prejudiced and totally personal evaluation.  It meets none of the standards for any Academy of Anything and as such, is not subject to review by a replay official.   I’m not sure if the year passed as quickly for you as it did for me, but I confess mine seemed to pass faster than a falling star so I hope you have a notated calendar to refresh your memories as mine does for me.

The first day of 2012 I was in Texas and spent New Year’s Day with my mother who lived in a personal care residence with two other older women and the two wonderful sisters who cared for all of them.  She was in the severe stage of her dementia and, although I had no way of knowing it on that day, she wouldn’t survive the year and neither would the other two women who shared the home and enjoyed my New Year’s visit.  I’ve always loved women of any age and these were some of the most entertaining ever.  It was a good start to the new year.




Miss Ann


Miss Virginia

Whenever I’m in Texas I always have great visits with my favorite Aunt Lucille who lives in Beaumont, one of my least favorite Texas towns.  My aunt will be ninety-three years old in 2013 and is an avid reader and crossword puzzle aficionado.  She lives now in an independent living apartment in a retirement community in Beaumont.  The nearness of neighbors and a standing dinner group of six women from her building in the late afternoon for dinner suit her social nature and need to be out and about.  Movies?  Politics?  TV shows?  Books?  Ask my aunt about any of these and she’s in her element with an attitude toward life that says Hey take your best shot at me, but I’m hangin’ in for as long as I can.  In 2012 I saw her more than a dozen times which was more than I’d visited her in one year…ever.  Each visit lifted my spirits and was just plain fun.


My favorite Aunt Lucille

The year confirmed my status as a bi-stateual with extended periods of time in Texas and South Carolina and keeping the roads hot from here to there and back.  My partner Teresa traveled with me whenever she could get away from her job and I managed to coerce other friends to make the trip when she couldn’t go with me and refused to let me drive by myself any more.  Even with my “new” eyes from a second cataract surgery in July, my truck bears the dents and dings of my parking misadventures and alas, let’s face it.  I have a GPS but occasionally disagree with it and then I find I am not there when I need me.  I am somewhere else.

Teresa and I did some fun trips during 2012.  At the end of February, which is our anniversary month, we drove to Valle Crucis, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a couple of days of work and play.  She worked.  I played.


Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone, North Carolina

Six months later in August we had a family vacation with our son Drew and his girlfriend Caroline.  We drove to the northeast to sightsee and spend time together and try to re-group from the losses earlier in the year.  Abraham Lincoln blessed us in Gettysburg and we traveled safely to the shores of Maine and along the coast in Rhode Island and saw beautiful scenery in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.  Boston was a hit for many reasons not the least of which was its good food.  We counted on Caroline to make sure we ate at the best restaurants according to her online guides.  Iphones were in, and Teresa and Drew had dueling GPSs that didn’t always want to go in the same direction.  So many gadgets…so much confusion.  So much merriment.


On my birthday in April I was at the funeral of the woman I knew as a second mother for over forty-five years.  She and my mom were as close as sisters and they were both heartbroken when I had to separate them four years ago because they could no longer take care of each other.  Willie Flora was eighty-two in March of this past year and my mom was eighty-five that same month.  Willie died on April 14th in Richmond, Texas and my mom died eleven days later in Willis.  It was sorrow upon sorrow.



In September my neighbor Heather and I had a shower for another neighbor, Becky, who created additional excitement by announcing that her water broke a couple of hours before the shower was to start.   High drama, but we moved the time up, she came and opened her gifts, had a piece of cake and was then whisked away by her husband Gary to the hospital where she gave birth to her third baby boy four hours later.  George is growing by leaps and bounds and should be a fine nuisance for his older brothers Oscar and Dwight.


Dwight plus Oscar plus cookie jar = Good Times


George in his New Baby phase

In November my third book was published and I was thrilled with how it looked when it came from the printer.  I loved the covers and had a sense of accomplishment as I placed it in my office next to my first two books.  I hope my cyberspace friends will want to read the final version since you’ve shared a number of the stories with me in the past year right here on this blog.  There is freedom in growing older and a sense of entitlement to Call It Like You See It — and even sweeter to see what you’re calling in print

Good year?  Lean year?  In-between year?  The votes have been tallied by an unreliable CPA (me) and I have to report the in-between has it.  Births and deaths mark our beginnings and our endings, but the middle is what keeps our attention.  I’ll lay 2012 down tonight and pick up 2013.  I can’t predict what will happen in the New Year, but I can predict I will struggle to stay awake to ring it in.

Teresa and I wish all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year!  Thanks for stopping by…

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
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5 Responses to The In-Between Years

  1. I can see why Texas calls to you. Your heart is in South Carolina, but your history (herstory?) is in Texas. Your in-between year sounds like what I call a bittersweet year…all those dinks and dents and all those jars filled with cookies.


  2. Dianne says:

    Enjoyed reading your memories, Sheila! Have a Happy New Year!
    My daughter is moving back to Texas with her family and arrives tomorrow afternoon with her kids for her house hunting trip. Tom left on Sunday driving with their Schnauzer for us to keep until they get settled. Tom has to start work on Wed. We are excited that they are returning after spending 4 1/2 years in CA!


    • Happy New Year Dianne! I’m so glad your daughter is moving back closer to you and bringing grandchildren with her…plus a Schnauzer, too!! Heading back to Texas tomorrow – I hope we can get together in 2013!!


  3. els van der Horst says:

    Dear Sheila and teresa, happy 2013. Read your article. Carl’s mother is in the first state of dementia and is getting worse every day, but she lives near by and Carl can visit her every day. We know, she is not goiing to make it this year, but she had 90 good years and the nurse are taking good care of her. When you lose your parents, you are suddenly not somebodys child anymore.
    Hope you and T have a healthy 2013. Love adn kisses from us.


    • Dear Els, yes losing your mother makes you a motherless child at any age, doesn’t it? Carl and I are lucky to have had our mothers for as long as we have and that makes the loss somehow more bearable – but doesn’t lessen it. Teresa and I will be thinking of you and Carl in these difficult days. We hope for a healthy 2013 for you both across the pond, too! T drove me to Texas and we got here very late last night…she will fly back to SC tomorrow. A very hard trip for her! Saskia is mad at me for leaving…:)


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