Not even death can stop their music

Published 7:45 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Elizabeth “Teenie” Kerr died this past weekend in South Carolina. She was almost 98. Her son, Rick, and his wife, Deborah, are close friends of ours and live next door.

A strong woman with an iron will and huge presence left to join her husband in paradise. She will, hopefully, find my mother and play a round of bridge like they did one Saturday afternoon when they were both in their late 80’s. Teenie Kerr and Elizabeth Walker were born only a few months apart in 1919 and met to play their favorite game just one time when Teenie was here on a visit.

I was laying on the sofa Sunday night thinking about that beautiful spring day when I prepared lunch for mom, Teenie, and two other friends of mothers. They sat under the trees eating chicken salad, fruit and enjoying the breeze that stirred the flowers arranged on the table.

With Teenie’s death, I realized that all of those that were present that day are now gone. There would be no more special lunches, no more intricate bridge games, and I would never again hear the joyful cackling those special women produced.

As I was recalling every detail of that day, I longed to hear my parent’s laughter one more time. Daddy’s belly shook when he laughed and mama would sometimes bend over if she were laughing heartily.

As I lay on the sofa, my phone dinged with a message. It was from my niece, Emily. She had sent a video she had found of another spring day in 1999.

The video was taken at my old house in Roswell that sat on a hill with steps that led preciously up to its big rocking chair front porch.

It was April 9 and the day of my parents 60th wedding anniversary. We had planned a surprise party for them and invited many folks from the independent senior living facility where they had resided for two years.

I rented a small bus to bring their neighbors to my house where a feast awaited them. It took many strapping young men to escort them up to the porch and through the doors. Some with walkers and others with canes ambled in with glorious smiles on their faces as they saw the party atmosphere.

When my parents arrived, they were met with yells of “Surprise!” faces of grandchildren, family and old friends greeted them. My dad looked confused and then started belly laughing. Mom bent over and grabbed her knees. Laughter, hugs and joy filled the entire house.

The video showed the moments when the cake was cut and people gathered around the table to fill their plates and smell the roses that adorned the dining room. Cameras clicked and glasses clinked as the sounds of Guy Lombardo’s band swayed the room.

Old stories were brought to life as youth filled the hearts of those spry, senior folks on that spring day when the dogwoods were erupting and tulips graced the lawns.

As I continued to pour over every detail of the video, I saw my mother as I would like to always remember her. She was radiant and beautiful. At 80, she still had naturally dark hair with little gray and she could walk those stairs without a hand. She was amazing.

Dad was still laughing and could tell a joke or story that would make a room roar.

Seven months later, dad’s stories and laughter were silenced. He had given my mother 60 years of love.

When I first started watching the film unfold of that day in 1999, I got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I was so sad.

Then I realized God had just sent me a special gift. He had brought my parents right back to my living room! Their voices and laughter filled the air and joy sprang into my heart.

No longer did I see death, but rather living. No longer did I have a tear in my eye, but a smile on my face.

I realized daddy’s stories are still being told and that mom’s wise counsel and steady hands are still used to guide her family’s way.

Death is just a door we go through. I believe if I peeked through it today I might catch a glimpse of Teenie Kerr playing a round of bridge with mama and cackling with old friends.

I probably would spot daddy telling his funny stories to a room full of folks while Guy Lombardo and his band play on.

This is dedicated to the many that have left us from the greatest generation. May your love, your laughter, and your courage never be forgotten. May your music always play on.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former resident and writer who currently resides in Roswell. She can be reached at