November 1, 2021

SHARING SPACES WITH HELEN

In this photo from 1968, I’m standing with newly graduated Bill and Jane and Jane’s mother Helen Buchi on the campus of David Lipscomb College. There are several story lines behind this single picture.  One is that Bill and Jane, who married a few months earlier, were selected for the top honors at Lipscomb—he as Bachelor (no more!) of Ugliness and she as Miss Lipscomb. Tom and I had graduated from the same college some years earlier, and neither of us reached those special honors.

This was the first Lipscomb graduation I had attended since my own—and I felt like a totally different person!  Exactly one week after Bill and Jane’s Nashville wedding, Heather was born in Starkville, Mississippi. That meant I didn’t get to attend the wedding.  One of Tom’s graduate students went with him to Nashville and his wife stayed with me in case something happened early.  As Dr. Brandon laughingly told me when I asked about going, “Not unless you want your baby born in Nashville!” What he chose NOT to mention was that he and his wife were going to Memphis for the weekend. Thankfully he was there on March 30th!

So here I stand, in a post-delivery outfit Mother made for me, and probably thinking about getting back to my sweet little two-month-old for the next feeding. 

We all loved Jane’s mom Helen!  She and Harold were much more fun-loving and casual than their friends the Connellys.  Their three children (Clark, Jane and Barbara) didn’t go all the way through Lipscomb from elementary school like the Connelly boys. They had (and enjoyed) a pool table in their living room!  They enjoyed traveling and took Bill along on a family trip to Japan and Thailand when he and Jane were engaged. 

In early 1970, they were just completing their dream house (next door to Vanderbilt coach C.M. Newton) when Harold was killed one rainy morning as he drove to a business appointment. Helen moved in alone, and often had college students (and others who needed a temporary refuge) living with her (years later, including granddaughter Marla).  We loved visiting as every room was filled with books, original art, and many fascinating items that caught her interest.  July 4th was a very special holiday for Helen and she hosted joyous celebrations of the day for her grandchildren and others. 

Always thoughtful, she frequently sent handwritten notes and would enclose newspaper articles of interest. She lived 23 years longer than her husband, all filled with generosity, curiosity, beauty and adventure (she went to Antarctica in later years!). Knowing I loved Beersheba Springs, she sometimes sent me newspaper clippings about its history.  She shared some photos of her enjoying the natural beauty of Beersheba in 1985. The photo below captures the essence of this lovely place and this lovely person.

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