Charles Attaway died October 22 and was buried October 25. I wrote this post the following week and submitted it to women’s site. I haven’t heard back from them, and tomorrow is his wife’s birthday, so Penny, this one’s for you.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
My cousin Penny lost her husband last week. She’s my double first cousin to be exact. When we were growing up, that exactness was important to us. It was something we shared that made us different from all our friends. Our mothers were sisters, and our daddies were brothers, and that made us special. She had two brothers and two sisters, but I was an only child, except for my brother. She was as close to a sister as I had, and since she is less than five months older than I am, she was like a twin sister. We were in the same grade at school, we both had blond hair, and until we hit puberty, we were almost the same size, so we sometimes fooled people into believe we actually were twins. Then she shot up and I “filled out.” I stopped short, literally, at 5’3” and always had to struggle to maintain my Scarlett O’Hara waistline while she continued to grow until she reached 5’9”. She was self conscious about her height and told me to stand up straighter when we stood side by side while she slouched a bit. What she didn’t understand was that cute was the best I could hope for, but she grew into a graceful, elegant woman.
She married Charles when she was 24, and he was her best friend for the next 40 years. He was an up-and-coming attorney, and she was a great asset to him in every way. She once invited me to a fund raiser sponsored by the Young Lawyers’ Wives. It was a luncheon and fashion show, and she was one of the models. I gasped as she stopped at the end of the runway and struck an elegant pose that showed off the lines of the flowing pantsuit she wore. She had learned not to slouch.
She stood tall last week, too. The day of the funeral, as she stepped out her front door and saw the black limousine waiting to take her to the church, she almost broke down.
“Oh, it makes it all seem so real,” she said to her mother.
Her mother took her gently by the shoulders and turned her so she could look into her eyes.
“You can do this. You’re a soldier’s wife.”
Penny reached deeply inside herself, into that reserve of strength that women keep hidden, the strength that belies the idea that we are the weaker sex. She straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath.
“Yes, I am. I’m a Colonel’s wife.”
Yes, she is. And she is a daughter of the King. I’m sure both were proud of the grace and strength she showed as she said good-bye for now to the love of her life. I know I was.