My dear kids,
Another precious Vikette has gone to eternity. Marilyn Stiles Shoemaker passed away at 1:45 p.m. today, April 9. Her son's wedding was at 11a.m. in her living room near her bedside. I'm not sure if she knew exactly what was going on, but I know she wanted to see her dear son get married. Marilyn was so inspiring in the way that she handle twelve years of cancer plus losing her mom in such a hideous way and then her dad. I will miss her because she blessed my life so much, always smiling, gleaming with the aura of Christ. She would just laugh at her very short hair - if she had any at all. I last saw her Thursday, but she was unaware. I loved her so much just as I love ALL OF YOU!
Stay close forever. We need each other!
When her husband first called me, I called Camille to see what graduating class she was in. She thought it was '74. I called Debbie Syrinek Clark to see if she was in her class. Debbie said yes that she was and she said, "I'll go see her today." That was about three weeks ago. Debbie's visit meant soooooooooo much to her. She deeply appreciated that her "Captain" came to see her. Camille visited her several times and discovered a very unique way that all us will really be blessed and can "pass it on." Additionally this will help the family tremendously. More about this at the reunion. I weep now selfishly, but I know her suffering is over.
My love to you,
My email list is very limited. Please send to all my kids far and wide. Also, my other letter that a wrote a few days ago, please pass it on. Pray for Marilyn's family.
My dear ones,
The reunion was absolutely fabulous! I loved seeing all of you, and I deeply appreciate Leslee Roberts Malcom for the fabulous web site, that we enjoyed so much. Also, her very organized effort and planning made the reunion perfect. She was ably assisted by Shawna Riordan Dukes and those who tried to find missing girls, those that I labeled the "finders and seekers". When it was over, I regretted not being able to spend more time with each one individually. I WOULD LOVE TO DO THAT! Thank you Leslee, Shawna, Kay, all the "finders and seekers", and all the ones who decorated the tables. The props brought back tons and tons of memories.
A little secret here: Leslee did all this after moving out of a house near Washington D.C., driving three days to Austin with no permanent place to stay for the time she was here, then preparing to drive to Sarasota, Florida with no place to live there.........and this story goes on and on! She was homeless with four kids from June 1 until September 1. Finally, after many hours searching for a house, they moved in. Their "stuff" had been packed for three months. All this took tons of stamina and prayers.
I deeply appreciate the precious bracelet. It is beautiful and when someone comments on it, I have the opportunity to brag on you. Each charm is so meaningful and the accompanying notes were touching. I think Kay Burditt Gooch was the driving force behind this beautiful memory. Thank you.
I recently finished a book by Gloria Gaither in which she said, "I love the word presence." I thought about this. I love that word too because I yearn for close encounters with people I love. I love Wayne Arthur King's presence. I miss him greatly when he is not present. I love his nearness even though we may not say a word, but his presence in the same room means a lot to me. I have had some lonesome times when he is working and I am alone. I've had many years of "Mrs. King, Mrs. King, Mrs. King", so being alone is foreign to me. I guess I need to get a job. Sometimes I am present in church, but I'm not in God's presence. I want to be in His presence, but my feet are clay and I'm so human. I know I must, through prayer, Bible study, and meditation, nurture my relationship with God. All this to say: I am not a technology communicator. My daughter-in-law Jamie put me on facebook. There is not enough time in our house for me to leisurely use the computer; therefore, I am not adept and am very impatient if the computer cannot read my mind. Today there are 445 emails, mostly to WAK, on the computer. I am too impatient to sift through those, so I don't! Wayne has a job that requires a lot of computer communication. He is adept and tenacious. Not me. I want presence. I enjoy talking on the phone, but I love presence. I want to look into YOUR face, watch your expressions, laugh with you and sometimes cry with you. Please forgive me for not being very attentive to emails and facebook, which I don't even know how to operate, but anytime I can be in your presence I WILL TREASURE THAT TIME!
I planned to write this letter to you long ago, but I've had some health issues, nothing serious, but I was sick. Without taking you through the whole story, I will be concise by saying that I have an abnormal neck that affected the nerves in my arms causing limited movement. I had injections in my neck, and that wasn't a holiday, but not bad. The trouble was the medicine. I cannot tolerate medicines. I had a serious reaction that made me very sick. I wanted to lose ten pounds, but not in one week. I am on the mend. Forgive me for my tardiness with this letter.
I have discovered that many of you suffer with personal problems while imagining all the while that others had none, and their lives were a perfect story book and "happy ever after." I know of no one who has had a "happy ever after" life, including me. But this one thing I guarantee you: your friends in a close organization like Vikettes and Valkyries are eager to love you through the tough times. The director is also eager to love you through the hard times. Glades called me yesterday to inform me than she was going to the hospital today with another one of you who has major physical problems. One of the great blessings of my life was to be with Angie until her death and how many of you joined in with me to love on her even to death's door. When one of you hurts, we all hurt because we have experienced the agonies of life also. It saddens me when I learn that one of you has suffered and I didn't know. I was so happy to see many of you at the reunion who came for the first time and learned that we still are here for each other. I'm here! Remember:
"Because HE lives I (we) can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
Life is worth the living just because He lives."
When Wayne made the slide show of the 2009 reunion that you saw at the 2010 reunion (I can't do without him and he loves you all so much), I asked him to use the music "Old Friends".
"Old friends-----after all of these years, just
Old friends------through the laughter and tears.
Old friends------what a find! What a priceless treasure!
Old friends------like a rare piece of gold.
Old friends------make it great to grow old.
'Til then, through it all I will hold to old friends."
My precious HALL OF FAMERS, you are so dear to me and I love you dearly. Stay old friends forever.
Mrs. King being interviewed by Carolyn Jackson after returning from Los Angeles, California and obtaining the National Championship title.
My dear kids that I dearly love,
Maybe this greeting needs some explanation: I have two children and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of kids. "One of my kids" is a phrase that I use very often. Some people think I'm talking about my children; I explain, "I have two precious children but hundreds of kids that I have taught." Friends call me Gayla, but when I hear, "Mizzzz King", I'm thrilled because chances are it is one of you that I haven't seen in some time.
I have meant to write this to you for a long time. I procrastinated because the time had to be just right for me for many reasons. So..............2009 started with ecstasy and by summer it was agony. Donald Wayne and Jamie had a new baby girl on Jan. 8, 2009. Jamie was on bed rest for four months, so we moved our motor home next to their house (they have 5 acres on a family compound of about 150 acres) in order for us to take care of the other two little ones, ages six and seven, while she was on bed rest. During this time we came home for short intervals. When we were finally home we entered the agony part.
When God brought Angie back into my life after 33 years, I knew it was for a reason. She came into my life in such a bizarre way, that I knew it was God's plan. I cannot tell you this whole story, but after her deteriorating health for about 31/2 years and an intense struggle to get help for an uninsured, penniless person we ( my dear precious husband who loves all of you as much as I do, and some of you who heard of her need and our need) finally got Angie accepted into the hospital at 9pm on July 9. I arrived at the hospital very early next morning, and they had already moved her to an area for more intensive care, and a few hour later they move her to the actual intensive care unit. She was failing fast. All this time we thought she needed to have a new knee and some bones realigned. Afterall, she was working up to about five weeks prior. Experts immediately diagnosed her with Lou Gehrig's disease. They also told her that she was in the VERY terminal stages, and that she had had the disease for at least 3 years. They were astonished that she had worked on her feet so recently. Very sad time. With big tears in those beautiful eyes, she would write on a pad because talking at this stage was impossible and breathing was very difficult, "Mrs. King, maybe they're wrong." All I could say was, "Maybe they are." Many, many tears. What does one say when she says over and over, "I don't want to die."
God was so good during this sad time. She died one week after the diagnosis. You were there for her in your presence, your prayers and your messages of love. I could not have survived without the help of the ones intimate with the situation. I will not name any for fear of leaving out some whose presence, help and advice was so valuable. Angie's struggled ended and I am not the same person. Such Intimacy to sadness and loneliness makes one do some serious thinking.
I am so excited about the June reunion. It's going to be BIG. I'm still so grateful to Jill Williamson Lormand who worked so hard to contact all she could and make the reunion happen last year. IT WAS WONDERFUL! I want you to do this for many more years. We're getting older and I have seen many times the immeasureable value of friends. Your teacher is really old. I can tell you all about regeneration, age defying, night repair and turnaround creams. They do not regenerate, defy, repair or turnaround. As far as I know I am healthy for my age, but very fluffy. But when I'm gone I still want you to "reach out and touch" each other. I want you to still have reunions even if your children have to take you. Refresh your minds often with I Corinthians 13. It is not natural to me for children to die before their parents nor before their drill team director. Last week we lost another, Pam Mead.
I am not a computer person. Wayne has a heavy duty computer job with ARTA; therefore, the computer may not be available to me when I am available. Jamie insisted on opening facebook so that she could send pictures. Well, now I have to take facebook lessons. I'll learn and we'll really communicate, but I don't want to sit in front of the computer all day! I confess; I love face to face conversation!
I have so many other things I want to say to you, but this is long enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving to your teacher some wonderful, precious memories. Thank you to all of you who are working hard to spread the word about the June reunion. "God be with you till we meet again" and "reach out and touch".
I love you,
Gayla King (Mizzz King)
It is so important for each of you to spread the word about the reunion via email. Search for those that we've somehow lost. Send this email far and wide, really far and really wide. EVERYONE! So many did not hear last year. I hope you can find them, and I'll search also.