Epilogue For Deep in the Heart Revisited

I find it almost as difficult to leave Richards at age sixty as I did when I was thirteen. The family and friends of that small town live in vivid memories that come easier to me than what I had for lunch yesterday. Alas, I realized in writing these stories that I am now the age my grandparents were when I left Richards. And I know, for sure, that they were old. I never returned to live in Richards, but my dad was true to his word, and we visited there frequently after we moved away. When I got my first car in college, Richards was my number-one destination. And so, it has remained for the rest of my life. Now though, when I visit, my first stop is Fairview Cemetery, the beautiful resting place for almost all the family and friends in this book. The setting is a hill overlooking rolling pastures, with cattle grazing nearby. Each time I visit I hear the voices of my childhood and am grateful for that time and place and those loved ones. And often I hear, echoed across the years: “Sheila Rae, it’s getting late. You better come in before it gets too dark.”

 For my birthday in April this year, my friend Meghan gave me a reading with an oracle who felt I needed to return to my earlier writings, read them again, and try to determine whether they still say what I want to say. Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing was published in 2007 when I was sixty-one years old. Much has changed in the past sixteen years.

The book is a collection of stories about coming of age during the mid twentieth century in a small town called Richards located in rural Grimes county in southeast Texas – the stories of a young girl who could identify her feelings of being different without being able to name them, a little girl who loved her dysfunctional family that treasured its Texas heritage. My dad whom I adored was famous for declaring you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl when I moved three thousand miles away to Seattle as a young adult. A subsequent move to South Carolina several years later brought me closer to Texas but still a thousand miles from home.

While I have made my home in South Carolina for the past fifty years, I continued to cling to my Texas roots with a brief actual reconnection to them from 2010 – 2014 when my wife Teresa and I bought a home in Montgomery to help with my mother’s care. My mother had severe dementia, a condition that required placing her in a Memory Care Unit of an assisted living facility in Houston. Montgomery was eighteen miles south of Richards so in a very real sense I finally did go home again.

During that four-year sabbatical we purchased our own headstone in the Fairview Cemetery I mentioned in my Epilogue; I had it placed below my mother and father’s stone in our section of the cemetery that holds the dust and ashes of family and friends. I refused to leave deep in the heart of Texas with Fairview’s overlook of rolling pastures and cattle grazing nearby.

Sadly, Texas in 2023 is now the single villain capable of taking Texas out of me. The culture of gun violence within the state that provides opportunities for daily shootings, mass murders, bluebonnets replaced by the red blood flowing in the killing fields across the state, politicians who are dependent on revenues from gun shows, the unhumanitarian crisis at the border with Mexico as immigrants from around the globe seek asylum in America – all conspire to drown out the voices of my childhood described in this first memoir.  It’s getting later, and I’m afraid of the call to come in from the dark that once was a sweet melody but now has an ominous refrain.


For the children.

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.
This entry was posted in death, family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Epilogue For Deep in the Heart Revisited

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    A year and a half ago my niece, her husband, and my beloved grand nephew moved to San Antonio to try their fortune in a state with a lower cost of living than Pennsylvania. Every time I hear of a mass shooting I calm myself by remembering just how big Texas is. The chances of any of them being involved is slim, but someone’s family was. But I also console myself with the knowledge that both parents are as liberal as the day is long, and the grand nephew is as gentle as the bunnies he keeps as pets. They’re all young. They all vote or will in the future take up the mantle of civic duty instilled in both family lines. That’s all we have to stem the blood loss. Let it be enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know you had people who moved to San Antonio! They’re all young, you said. Well, hallelujah! And if they are your kin, I know they are the kind of folks we must have not only in Texas but also in every state.
      They are all we have. 100% truth.
      I’m counting on them to be enough. Amen.


  2. cindy knoke says:

    So moving and poignant Sheila. The last paragraph hits home painfully for all of us in ‘Guns are The Solution America.’ Seven countries have now put the USA on a travel warning list due to mass shootings of which there has been over 200 this year so far. Unbelievable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy, thank you so much for this comment. No, I didn’t know seven countries have put us on a travel warning list due to mass shootings. Unbelievable is what it is. Inconceivable.


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