I wanted to post an article that was in the Tuscaloosa newspaper on January 2nd. Some of you blog friends are Mom’s friends too, and some of you probably feel like her friend because you’ve read so much about her on here. Either way, this story touched me deep…I think she’s so special, but to hear somebody else–a sort of unbiased opinion–feel as beguiled by her as we all were, means a whole heck of a lot. There is something too about hearing new stories about her–something that I couldn’t have known unless she (or the other party involved) shared it, that makes her feel alive, just for a second. I don’t know this writer–Mark Hughes Cobb–but I would like to send him a huge hug for writing this and touching me so:

Some friends gathered around at a pub the other night. I started the ball rolling: Tell one good thing that happened to you in 2008, the implication being give us your best thing.

One claimed her marriage. One loved the 12-0 season and 36-0 victory over Auburn. One guy landed a new job. Another was proud the show she’d directed was a huge hit.

I said nothing. Even though it was my idea. One of the good bits that flashed through my mind would have embarrassed somebody else at the table, and the rest seemed like reruns of previous years: The Rude Mechanicals had another good season, the Holiday Singalong likewise.

My job took me to interesting places, such as the inside of Leonardo da Vinci’s codex.Aside from that, thoughts turned, not altogether surprisingly for these dark days of the year, to death. Each year at this time we run packages, as ads bulk us up and staffers go on vacation, of year-end wrapups about music, movies, politics, sports … and death. I know the Grim Reaper is sharpening his scythe for us all, but it always surprises me to reflect on how much we’ve lost in a mere 12 months.

This past year was particularly tough, partly because long-time idols of mine such as Paul Newman, George Carlin, Will Elder (one of the founding genius-idiots behind Mad magazine), Bo Diddley, Danny Federici (keyboardist for the E Street Band), Isaac Hayes, Levi Stubbs, Arthur C. Clarke and yes, even old Charlton Heston (I did, after all, name a band the Damn Dirty Apes, after one of Chuck’s most-quoted movie lines), shuffled off this mortal coil.I also felt twinges for Bettie Page, Odetta, Forrest J. Ackerman (his Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine racked up equal hidden-from-Mom-time with Mad), Heath Ledger, Jerry Wexler, Eddy Arnold (my dad’s favorite country crooner), Sydney Pollack, Harvey Korman, Cyd Charisse, Larry Harmon (Bozo the clown), Bernie Mac, Jerry Reed, Bill Melendez (producer and animator of the Charlie Brown TV specials), David Foster Wallace, Clive Barnes and raunchy Rudy Ray Moore.

But what was really in my head that night was a silly little love story.

Flashback time: First day of first grade, Heard Elementary School, Dothan. We had experimental mixed classrooms — first-graders side by side with second-graders, for example. Not sure why, but it’s a good thing we did. See, I took one look at Becky Sollie, with her wide blue eyes and devilish dimples, and painstakingly scribbled my first ‘I love you, do you love me? Circle yes or no’ note. She looked at me, smiled beatifically, then handed it to her second-grade friend to translate. (My big brother had given me a couple of years’ head start on reading and writing, and it didn’t occur to me she hadn’t had the same benefit; I was educated, but not very smart).We wound up being boyfriend and girlfriend for three years, through hand-holding and fights in line (with covetous boys), through playground games (I taught her kickball, or tried to, and she taught me basic gymnastics on the monkey bars, or tried to) and bad haircuts.

We endured everything but a change of schools (mine), and every time I ran into her over the years — the last time, I was 16 and back in town for a wedding; she had beguiling waist-length hair and even more dazzle — my heart practiced some of those gym flips she’d taught me. I last talked to her when I was a few years into this job, passing through the old hometown, catching up with folks on the phone. I told her I was a writer, and she laughed, sweetly. ‘Of course you are,’ she said. ‘All those notes!’

Yeah, even after I won her heart, first day of first grade, I kept up the correspondence. Wish I’d been as good at staying in touch in the years after third grade. Never even kissed her.Just a few weeks back, I heard that Becky Sollie Clark, mother of four girls, wife of Dothan veterinarian Ken Clark, had lost a long battle with cancer in 2007.So the best thing that happened to me in 2008 was the memory of a smile, with its adjoined reminder that it’s never too soon to say what you mean, to stay in touch, to write ‘I love you.’Happy New Year, y’all.

21 Responses to “Mom in the News”

  1. becky says:

    oh, abby…she is beautiful!!! (and i think this is the first time i ever knew we share a name! lucky me!) thank you for sharing that with us so that we can know her more. i am so glad he, unknowingly, made you smile.

  2. Lauren says:

    How incredibly touching. I’m crying at work now remembering the smiles of two very special people!

  3. Kellie Patton says:

    Oh Abby! We don’t get the newspaper here in T-town, but I sure wish I did! How neat – one thing I have learned -mainly from this blog world – is that it is a VERY SMALL WORLD – you just never know who knows you or who you might run into in the weirdest of places! Your mom left a legacy whereever she was – even in 2nd grade!

  4. Abby Euten says:

    Oh, Abby! That was so touching and completely amazing…I can only imagine how special that was for you to read. What a sweet, sweet blessing!

  5. Danielle says:

    What a great story! She is beautiful.

  6. Jason and Laura Brantley says:

    what a great article and I know was such a sweet surprise for you to read. thanks for sharing.

  7. melissa richie says:

    what a beautiful picture, abby, and I had no idea that her oldest daughter looked so much like her. gorgeous.

    thanks for sharing this article!

  8. Jenny says:


    Adam’s dad emailed him that 2 days ago, and Adam brought the computer in the bedroom and said..read this. Thinking it was odd, I read the story, and too was completely touched. It is so special to see the lives she touched throughout her WHOLE life. how special!

  9. Heather H says:

    you look JUST like your mom! you are both so beautiful.

    i cannot believe that story! did you know that it was going to be written? was it a total shock?? that is like a movie … he loved her for so long –

    what a neat testimony to a wonderful woman.

  10. The Williams Family says:

    Abby, she was a wonderful person. We all miss her great big smile and every time my mother and I drive by your house we always look to make sure theres a light on and make sure your dad’s ok.

  11. Lindsey says:

    what a sweet story. thank you for sharing. i only had the privilege of hearing your mom speak once at a church function, but it’s obvious she was a blessing to all she came in contact with. and you do look just like her…

    thanks for the congrats. i thought that’s what you were sharing with us all when you introduced Locks!

  12. ashr7406 says:

    How wonderful is that? I love what he said about it never being too soon to say what you mean, to stay in touch, or to say I love you! This really touched me 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  13. Jennifer Todd says:

    What a wonderful blessing this article is to your mom's memory. If you get a chance, please email me at jenhtodd@yahoo.com so I can share some things with you.
    Thanks & God Bless,
    Jennifer Todd

  14. Jennifer Todd says:

    What a wonderful blessing this article is to your mom's memory. If you get a chance, please email me at jenhtodd@yahoo.com so I can share some things with you.
    Thanks & God Bless,
    Jennifer Todd

  15. Nai Nai says:

    How sweet!!! And your mom is so beautiful with her long hair. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  16. andi says:

    Our lives are fresher for having had Becky. We got a glimpse of eternity through her, sweet Abby. I know you miss her painfully. I love you! You look just like her: beautiful.

  17. lindseykennedy says:

    Oh my gosh. I have been meaning to tell you this story on your blog since this happened, but this was me at the Pub with Mark H. Cobb!His band played at our wedding and he is a friend of ours. He started telling me this story and when he mentioned her name, It didnt hit me b/c I’m used to “Clark”. However, it then hit me that Sollie was her maiden name and we just talked forever about her and how it was such a small world.

    I am going to forward your blog to him so he can recieve your thanks! Great story!

  18. Mark Hughes Cobb says:

    Hi Abby. It’s Mark, the love-struck first-grader. I’m so glad you liked my little column, and that it wasn’t embarrassing or disrespectful to you and your family.

    I heard a song this morning as I was driving in to work and it made me think of Becky again (tell you why in a second). Then I logged on to the computer and Lindsey had sent me the link to your blog. I’m flattered to be here.

    The song: Back so many years ago — you were probably still a baby — when I last talked to your mom on the phone, we laughed about this song by the Moody Blues, “Your Wildest Dreams.”

    The first lines are “Once upon a time/once when you were mine,” but maybe because it started with the fairytale opening “once upon a time,” I thought it said “once when you were NINE” and your mom had made the exact same mistake. Don’t know why this was so funny to us, but probably because we had last known each other when we were nine.

    So when I heard it on oldies (argh) radio this morning, of course I sang along, “once when you were nine” and there she was again.

  19. Hillary @ The Dunham Diaries says:

    That is so beautiful and touching. What a precious blessing to be a part of that memory.

  20. LaurieSu says:

    Hi Abby…I’ve never met you but just ran across your post about your mom. I graduated from high school with Becky and I can tell you that she was just as beautiful inside as that beautiful golden hair and those unforgettable blue eyes made her on the outside. While we were never close friends, she was always quick with a smile and a friendly hello. I last saw her about a decade ago — I was in Dothan having just lost my dad in a car accident and ran into Becky and, although my parents had kept me informed about her struggles with cancer and I wanted to ask how she was doing, she was more concerned about how I was doing after my father’s death. Just wanted to take an opportunity to let you hear from yet another person whose life she touched. She always was an angel and is certainly one now! Laurie

  21. Focipresley says:

    Abby, I recently came across your blog. This morning I was reading through your posts (you are so lovely!) and came to this one. WOW. I thought the picture of your mother was YOU. You look so much like her. Beautiful. This story is so touching Abby. Memories are so precious. We must hold them near and dear.

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