Updated: Mar 3
Give up the search
By merely paying attention.
The old Thomas was on that perpetual search. Always looking for everything that I never even knew I needed.
I never relaxed, I never just...was. Always on a schedule, or a mission, always thinking about what’s next.
The next goal, the next opportunity, the next aspiration, the next the next, and then the next. I’m not saying that that drive is a bad thing...Not at all...it’s what makes us human - The drive to be better, to do better, to make better.
But, is it all consuming? Especially when we forget to relax, enjoy life - and everything we have worked for...
pay attention to life as it’s happening. Stop, the search-if even for a few moments a week. And pay close attention to everything in your life, appreciate it. Enjoy it. Continue the search - after you’ve taken time to appreciate and reflect on everything around you.
The first recognition Trey and I got of this was March 23, 2010.
Mary Ann Lanier
Mary Ann - the fun loving, happy go lucky, life loving version of Tommy. This won’t mean anything to most of you...but, she is the Strock version of my aunt Anita. Spunky, vivacious, more than life.
I first fully met Mary Ann at Missy’s wedding to Seth at the big house. That’s just the first we were ever around one another. MaryAnn is one of those people you’ve known for 5 minutes - but it feels like 5 years. It was like we were the best of friends the second day we saw one another. She was in the middle of everything, helping, stirring it up, laughing.
She was that person you wanted to be near, the polar opposite of me. She had something to say...and whether you listened or not-she was saying it. Oh, and you knew you were getting some juicy stuff when she’d give you that look...looking at you over her glasses-and whispering(even though there was not a soul around)
Brilliant, sentimental, smart, independent, a true true southern woman. Classy, yet willing to get a bit trashy. She did what needed to be done.
MaryAnn was my one true window into who Johnny was. I actually did a mash up of Tommy and MaryAnn in my head to Picture Johnny. Southern lady all the way, hard working, does what’s needed for her family. But still serious, partly.
when I say a ‘Southern Lady’ I domt mean what most of you are thinking...Scarlett, and Gone with the Wind. A southern lady to me is a woman in general who ain’t gonna take no crap. Her family is everything. And she will do ANYTHING for them. Grew up working, continued working always. (For example Treys grandmother Johnny decided she needed herself a job. She put herself through Nursing School late in life...and became a nurse. I still have noted that she left Trey when he would go to visit her...’still at work, there’s some cake for you...’ random things.
Mary Ann was a short little thing, and had problems with her knees, or joints. She would go for injections to help everything stay functional...did she let that stop her? No. Did she complain about it? You bet your ass...but she did what she was supposed to do.
She came down to the barn to help me with flowers for the wedding. We were stripping, and blowing roses. She had a ball, doing what exactly? I do not know. She was a one woman side show, she had the best time. I had to go get greenery, so she was coming along.
I borrowed Tommy’s truck to fill it up with greenery. She couldn’t understand why I needed so much, or what we were doing exactly. Off to town we went.
We pulled in to the navy base, old and abandoned. ‘Where is the flower shop over here?’ She asked. I stopped, got out - got my clippers out, and she looked at me like -well alrighty then. We started cutting branches. Many questions about what to cut, what not to cut. Comments about how we were actually making the bushes look better, and she had never even thought about doing this. We were having a great time, and filling up the truck with magnolia, variegated and regular pittosporum.
And then out of nowhere...police sirens. MaryAnn threw all her cuttings in the air, and had her hands up....she had not done anything, she was innocent. (Ignore the $50 pair of clippers In her hand). She was outta there the second she realized the cops weren’t right there. She hustled her way right to the truck-cussing the whole way. I threw the last of my clippings in the truck as she got to the passenger door.
I peeked around the corner. She was trying to get into the cab, and it was too high.
I had to go help her up - which would have been easy...but she was in a panic, and wanted out of there. I basically had to pick he up and toss her in. She was howling in laughter. We laughed all the way off base. I realized I needed camellia foliage still. We headed to the house to get that. Not as exciting when it’s your own property.
That’s just one of many memories of Mary Ann. That and biscuits(for another time)
When Treys Grandfather Frank passed away(March 22, 2009) Mary Ann was at the funeral. I would not go near to view Frank, she asked why. Because I don’t want to remember people that way. She just said joviously ‘well at my funeral I’ll have to have them dress me as a clown so you can see me away’...
Almost exactly 1 year later, on March 23rd Mary Ann passed away out of nowhere.
It was a beautiful day, I had just gotten home from work. Trey was in Portland. Brenda called - I thought she was calling to ask me to come out for dinner again (I had just had her Red Rice for lunch for the first time Days before-after trey flew out) it was not a social call.
In a serious tone ‘hi it’s me(Brenda). We have to go to Savannah. Now. Can you close up everything at work tomorrow?’
‘Mary Ann has passed away. Can you call Trey and Missy? I can’t tell them right now.’
-and that was it. I was standing on the back porch. In total disbelief. I just stood there. How in the heck do I tell Trey snd Missy that? Holy heck.
I called Trey, who was in meetings all day, no answer. Three Times. I had decided I could tell Trey easier - and he could tell his sister. Nope. No answer.
Then I thought okay. I’ll call Missy’s husband Seth, and he could tell her so I didn’t have to. I did - he did - and missy called me back. What Happened? I did not know. I told her her parents were packing to leave so they’d call once they’re in the Road. Missy had a million questions I had no answers. And then Trey called me back.
‘You know I’m in meetings’. He hated when I would call and interrupt. I did it so often that he would just silence his phone.
I told him I was sorry. But it’s an emergency. I told him he needed to come home, and what flights I had found.
He said ‘Thomas I am not coming home. I just got here’
And that’s when I remembered I hadn’t told him. ‘Trey, your aunt Mary Ann passed away’
He said he was packing, and would call his mom. I said they were heading to Savannah.
Fear. This is when I first saw how fear affects and grips people. Not really fear I guess, more like a ridiculous slap in the face of reality...fear of getting older. Fear of life changing.
Mary Ann’s passing was a total shock to the system. In every possible way. I remember just walking around thinking ‘what?’
On the drive home from Savannah Trey said he wanted his parents out of the business. We had to do all the work, and pick up the slack-and work harder so that they could retire. He didn’t want to push them out. But, he was ready to Nudge.
So much changed that year. Trey started getting very serious about wanting them to be able to go and do whatever they wanted. Whenever they wanted.
One thing about Trey you will notice always repeats - he always put everything, EVERYTHING ahead of himself.
Anyone he cared about then,
He also got that from his Dad.