Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From Copeland to Pendergrass


My sweet granddad was admitted to the hospital this week with Pneumonia. This has caused a lot of reminiscing today and the last few days. His name is Taz Jonathan Copeland. Yes, Taz and my brother was his namesake because they lived with them the first two years of my brothers life. My dad was stationed in Germany.

First of all let me tell you a little of my family history. I was born in Benton, KY 1962 Laura Jean Sowell. My parents were Mary Brooks (Copeland) Sowell & Gene H Sowell. (We pronounced it So-Well) I had one brother who was 3 1/2 years older then me Taz Jonathan Sowell but went by Jon. Or he had several names one being (big Jon). He was 6'6 and I am 5'4" he truly got all of the height. We were super close because we moved every two years after I was 6. I was able to attend preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade at Benton Elementary. That is when my dad changed careers from a KY State Trooper to one of the first Medical Physicist in the country. He graduated from Murray State University in 1968 and that is when we moved to Lexington, KY for 4 years while he attended grad. school. After being there the first two years my parents built a new house which caused me to have to move schools two years after we arrived. I really enjoyed living in Lexington. I have a many good memories there. The stability of our home, great schools and this was where I was Baptized. I do not remember the exact date but I do remember it was at Southside or Goodwood (I get them & LA confused) Church of Christ with brother Howard Emerson (the preacher) that Baptized me. Well, when I was about to enter the 6th grade my dad took a job at a new Cancer Center in Baton Rouge, LA. This I can say was the worst two years of my life. Remember every time we moved my brother and I got closer. We were all we had each time we moved. We attended a church there that was a up and coming church trying to have a Youth Minister (A parent). I was always just too young to do stuff because I was in Jr. High but it was a very active church. This was where my brother graduated from High School the bicentennial year 1976. Unfortunately, this was the two years of my school years that I was bused to a all black school. I did not know what a after school activity was until we moved. The school had a fence around it and was shut down by 3:30p.m. everyday. I was miserable. I remember my one friend in schools name was Claudia and ironically she had scoliosis and had to wear a brace. She was so sweet and I often wonder what ever happened to her.

Anyway, our family not liking Louisiana and my dad could have gone anywhere with his education took a job in Knoxville, TN. This is where I call home because I was there longer then anywhere. I got to go to a brand new High School and enjoyed it a lot. This is also when our family unit starting falling apart. My dad decided to leave my mom two weeks before I left for college. He turned out to be an alcoholic as did my brother. My parents divorced in 1981 and it was a tough time in my life. My college years was completely shattered because my stability at home was gone. Or so I thought it was stability. Once out of the situation and in a great marriage I now know they never had a good one. They fought all the time. My grandparents never did get over their divorce. My granddad was an elder in his church in Benton and I do not think they (my grandparents) ever accepted this divorce. I remember it took my mom a very long time to even tell them they were separated. Anyway, on to my legacy. I have always given my grandparents most of the credit for why I ended up marrying a Christian. My grandmother asked me every time I ever mentioned having a date "Is he a member of the church?" I would always have to answer "no". Until I quit school in 1982 and moved back home to moms. I was going to ETSU in Johnson City, TN. I was just not mentally there and just needed to come back home and rethink things. I always wanted to be a nurse. Well, I moved home in September of 82 and met Kent Dec. 82. I was finally able to tell my grandmother (Mabel Copeland) that he was a member of the church. She was excited even though she didn't show it.

Well, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the Dec. before we got married in January. I know that my grandmother prayed Kent to me. He was the first and only Christian I ever dated.

After we married our first big loss was Kent's stepdad "Daddy Mac". He was married to Kent's mom and he was more of a dad to me then my dad had ever been. I truly loved him and miss him to this day. I had never been around a man that loved children like he did and could not wait for him to be my children's grandad. Unfortunately he never got that opportunity. He died of a massive heart attack in Dec. of 87. Jamie was born the next October. We had been married almost 5 years when our first precious one came along. Jamie is named after Daddy Mac (James McMackins). That was truly a hard loss for us. He and I had gotten extremely close that summer before he died because I got to go up to West TN about 5 days before Kent and he took me fishing and we had so much fun.

Well, August 1 1991 my brother (Taz Jonathan) decided to take his own life over a stupid girl. I will forever know he pulled the trigger but what led up to it is something she will have to live with. No, I have never had anymore contact with her since he died. Besides my wonderful husband I truly lost my best friend on this day. My poor grandmother and mom never got over it. They both cried everyday. I pray everyday that I will never outlive my children because I just do not think I could be as strong as they were. My mom was truly a tough women and really had a hard life and still kept on going.

Well, in Dec. 1996 my precious grandmother Mabel Copeland (Papaws bride of 1 week shy of 63 years) died of a heart attack. She hated doctors and hospitals so much that morning she was feeling bad my Papaw told her he was calling an ambulance and she said "you do and I am putting you in it". Needless to say it was too late once she got to the hospital. That was a shock and my Papaw has been talking ever since then about wanting to be with her. He loved her so much and tells everybody that she converted him and straightened him out. Then he became a great servant and Elder in the church.

Well in Feb of 97 I received a call that my dad (Gene Sowell) had died. Needless to say we had not talked in two years. Mainly because of his alcoholism and his self centerdness. It was hard for me because I always thought he would call me if he ever got sick and want to renew the relationship. I never got over the fact that not for me but to get to know his two precious granddaughters. Well, he had had heart bypass surgery sometime before that and had to have a trach put in. After graduating from Nursing School I pieced it together that he had an esophageal varicies which basically the alcohol eats away at your esophagus and you can eventually have a bleed and not recover and that is what happened. So once again I have lost another family member.

Kent in the meantime lost his two grandparents (Claude & Mable Wilson) 4 months within each other and they were married I believe 65 years.

Our sweet May was named after both of our Grandmoms we just cut the ble off. They were both named Mable.

So then came the time when my mom moved here. I loved my mom but she really drove me crazy in some ways. Boy do I wish I could have her here to drive me crazy now. She lived here for 3 years before becoming sick and having surgery because of her crohn's and died after 9 weeks in Huntsville Hospital from a staff infection. She was a lot tougher then I ever will be. Burying a child and fighting so hard in the hospital.

Well, needless to say my papaw is all I have left besides my immediate family and my two Aunts (moms sisters). On one hand I am sad because I truly am loosing all of my family but on the other hand if and when his time comes I cannot be sad because he is so ready to be with his bride once again. I just thought I would share my family history and remind anybody that is reading this to enjoy your family and be Thankful for them this Thanksgiving.

6 comments:

Oreomom said...

Such a sweet story. You are blessed to understand and be at peace with your past. Thanks for sharing. Love you!

Stacy said...

That's a sweet family story, and I'm glad you took the time to write it down! You are an amazing woman and I admire you and your family! Everyone has their own story, and I'm glad to know a little bit of yours!!

I hope your grandfather feels better soon and can come out of the hospital.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Laura said...

Thank you guys I am blessed with a great husband who as gotten me through all of this. I think it will be hard for Papaw to go home this time. Thank you for your sweet comments.

Holly said...

Thanks for sharing your story I feel like we have shared so much of your pass with you. Everything you have written brought back memories. Have a great holiday with your family. Love you!

Sunny said...

Laura, I loved reading over your family's history. I think that what we have all been through shapes us into who were are today. I feel so blessed to have known your mother. She was such an amazing woman, as you are. Thank you for your example and the life that you lead. You and your grandfather are in my thoughts and prayers. Love you!

Alisha said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us and reminding us to treasure every moment with the family we have around us. Corey's family has experienced so much loss in the last couple of years that it has reminded us to take every opportunity to spend time with family. You and Kent are such a special couple. God has blessed you with such a wonderful family.