“Oh please don’t go. Let me have you just one moment more …
Tell me that someday you’ll be returning and maybe, maybe I’ll believe.
It’s just enough to see a shooting star to know you’re never really gone.”

Dear ones, as I write this, my favorite cousin, my mother’s childhood friend and partner in crime, lies in a hospital bed surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She turned 90 last fall, and her brave heart still beats loudly in her tiny bird breast. She said she wanted to live as long as Billy Graham, and now that he is gone, she may go too.

Nona McClure Platillero has had a profound influence on my life, just as she has on the lives of so many others. She is a child of God and his most loyal servant here on Earth. I wish her godspeed on her journey home. I know Gmamma will be happy to see her …

Here’s a #FacebookFlashback in honor of Nona:

GEEZER UPDATE: Friends, I had the opportunity to spend some time with one of my favorite geezers on her birthday. Nona Platillero turned 88 on Friday, and she asked me to take her to visit her first cousin, my mother, aka Gmamma, at the Old Folks Home. Nona, incidentally, had been volunteering at a neighboring old folks home, as she does every day, because she is love incarnate.

A word about Nona. She is an angel in the flesh. In fact, when she enters a room, you might hear strains of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” or perhaps Pharrell’s “Happy” playing in the background. If you look closely, you will see the halo encircling her head atop her tiny elfin body. And there may even be little birds fluttering about her busily, Cinderella style.

Nona and Gmamma were reminiscing about their shared childhood and how “Uncle Doctor,” (my grandfather) cured all ills and shared an umm … “gruff” temperament with his daughter (Gmamma). Whereas, Uncle Billy (Gmamma’s brother) was sweet like Aunt Marguerite (my grandmother). Are you still with me?

Anyhow, here’s a telling anecdote Nona recounted with a twinkle in her eye:

Nona: “Hey Cuz, remember you and Billy both had wagons? Yours was green and Billy’s was red, remember?”

Gmamma nods silently.

Nona: “And you both wanted me to ride in your wagon. and I decided to ride with Billy …”

Gmamma eyes Nona warily.

Nona, laughing at her own story: “And I’ll never forget how mad you got, Cuz. You reached over and grabbed me by the hair and yanked!”

Gmamma: “I don’t remember that.”

So I offer up for you a vintage photo of the little cousins relaxing on the back porch. Nona is guileless and childlike, ankles crossed daintily, satin side bow in her auburn tresses. Gmamma is implausibly world weary, the picture of insouciance, tam jauntily atilt as she loosely holds “Big Baby Doll, also named “Nona.”

 

Cousin Nona and Gmamma relaxing on the porch at Temple Avenue, my mother’s childhood home, where McClung Tower now stands on UT’s campus