FEELING THE LOSS A YEAR LATER

BY NORMAN M. COVERT

A favorite picture taken in 1957 by brother Harry in the living room of our house on McLawhorne Drive, then Warwick City, Va.

 The first time I saw Fayetta Maureen Covert Stansbury she was lifted out of my Grandfather’s 1954 Buick Roadmaster. Mother carried her up the sidewalk to our house on 33rd Street in Newport News, Va. She was swaddled in pink blankets and her soon-to-be blond hair belied her age of four-plus days. Her dark mischievous eyes captured me right off.

They closed one year ago today at Regional Hospital Center, Melbourne, FL. Can it be?

Everyone commented that she certainly could have been the inspiration for lyrics of the recording, “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane” by the Ames Brothers. It became No. 1 on the “Hit Parade” Nov. 20, 1954, three days before her birth.

 “If you’re in the neighborhood, stranger, you’re welcome to drop in and see
The naughty lady of Shady Lane,
so delightful to hold
The naughty lady of Shady Lane.
So delectable, quite respectable.
And she’s only nine days old”
—[©Sid Tepper, Roy Bennett]

 She was my special charge. On nice weather days I came home from school and made sure all was well as she napped in the carriage on the porch. I called her “Queenie,” which became Fayzie and ultimately FayZ.

I endured mother’s wrath for driving the stroller up the sidewalk, emulating dirt track racers I loved at the local speedway. As a young teen, she enjoyed getting away with me on jaunts, especially in my 1965 Pontiac GTO. She liked going fast and holding on to the grip. So did I.

Fay at the Newport News World War I Victory Arch on one of our "getaways." I took the picture with a Roy Rogers Brownie 612mm camera.

 She grew up while I was in the U. S. Army in Germany from 1967-1969.

 The last time I saw baby sister was on my porch in March 2009. We had enjoyed a dinner that evening of grilled salmon, with lasagna as a concession to the low-fat Sockeye. She talked about her devoted husband Tim Stansbury. He was at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Ga., hawking coffee to golfers and gallery alike with his brothers. We got full updates on her daughter Erin S. Greaves and her husband  Julian, who is a Miami Beach chef; and of course the grandsons. She loved being Grandma.

Easter 1961 Fay in front with (From left) Sister Rachel, Dad Harry M. Covert Sr., and Mother Mary E. (Betsy) Goodson Covert.

Fay was about to head back to Florida after a short visit here. I was having another of my troubling cardiac interludes and she asked about them, showing some trepidation. Saying goodbye, we hugged, kissed each other and had a couple quiet words, both sensing we would not see each other again. Who could predict that an aggressive brain tumor found in December would take her away.

 We had talked on her birthday in November.  She complained about her arm and hand, thinking it was a pinched nerve. I encouraged her to see a doctor and not let it go further, but Erin and Tim were already “on it.”  She did see the doctor and the results from her November surgery took her to Duke University’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center in January.

 My February birthday saw us snowed in by the virtual blizzard here in Maryland, more than 30 inches of snow was on the ground.

Erin and Fay hamming it up, more like sisters than mother/daughter.

 She emailed me at 9:57 p. m. on Feb. 10, 2010: “Hey, hope you had a great Birthday. I bet you’ll never forget this one. Hope you guys are staying warm. Love that snow??????????  Crazy. Love FayZ”

 Her emails were punctuated by her optimism that all would be well and she was pulling for Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts to win the Super Bowl – they didn’t.

My wife Loretta and I thought it might be an encouraging gift for Fay to have one of the special prayer shawls knitted by the ladies of our church here in Frederick. The ladies had given me one, which I keep it on the foot of the bed as a reminder of God’s love and care. How much better if Loretta knitted it!

FayZ looking cool at the beach. She loved Florida and being near her Erin, Julian and the boys.

 On February 24th she wrote: “Hey Norm and Loretta, Thank you so much for the prayer shawl. The colors are so pretty and you did a good job, Loretta. I know Norman can’t knit. Ha. I am feeling great and my…treatment is going smooth…lucky that my meds are easier on me than other patients have to endure.
Hope all is well and love to all. FayZ”

 That was the last email from Fay, the rest came from Erin. Fay went into hospice care that morning June 3, 2010 and the end came quietly in late evening. God had his own plan. —©Norman M. Covert 2011

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You may write Norman Covert at nmcovert@thecovertletter.com