Coping with the loss of a loved one at Christmas

Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune Louise Scott, left, and Oletha Parson at their last Christmas together two years ago.


Losing a family member is a sad and mournful experience for those who remain in this life. Their loss is felt deeply whenever they pass. When someone you love dies in December the person lost leaves an extra-large hole in the hearts of all who loved them.

My cousin Louise Scott died on Sunday after a brief, but courageous battle with cancer. She and her sister Oletha Parson were the big sisters I never had. Oletha left us two years ago the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Their mother, Clara Banks, and my mother, QuoVada Hill, were sisters and we all lived here in Madera.

My cousins, 10 and 12 years older than I, Louise and Oletha, were our adult supervision. They babysat my brothers and me. Louise focused on me while her athletic sister played ball with my brothers and kept them in line.

Playing beauty parlor with Louise was my favorite childhood game. In an era of Jackie Kennedy and the bouffant hairdo, Louise spent hours taming my unruly locks. She would tease, backcomb and arrange my hair while wielding a can of Aqua-Net hairspray to get the desired effect.

Although half a century has passed since she last did my hair, the smell of Aqua-Net always takes me back to those two little girls playing hair-do, one with long curly hair and the other with a comb and a can of hairspray.

While in high school Louise stayed with us quite often to avoid arguing with her parents about the boy who became her husband for the rest of her life. Jim and Louise celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary in June.

It probably comes as no big surprise that I was an inquisitive child and chattered endlessly. My mother said I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. Louise asked Mom what she should tell me when I asked her intimate female questions. My mother believed if I was old enough to ask the question, I was old enough to hear the answer. I learned many things quite young.

She adored my parents and enjoyed her time with us. Helping with housework and chores, we ran errands and grocery shopped, driving my daddy’s car.

Of course as soon as we left home we went right to Jim’s house. He would spend the day with us riding around and taking me for ice cream at the Showlane Restaurant next to the Madera Theater. Bribed with ice cream and admonished to leave Jim out of any reports on our adventures enabled us to keep their rendezvous under-wraps.

As a teenager Louise loved to drive. While her friends were drinking she stayed sober so she could drive. She was the designated driver decades before the term entered the pop culture vocabulary.

Since their 1963 marriage, Jim and Louise have been inseparable. I have never known a closer couple. She worked in the accounting offices of the manufacturing plants he managed. They moved across country with their son Ryan.

Following their retirement they returned to Madera to be near her sister and see Oletha and her family through their own bouts of life ending illnesses.

Louise defined the trait feisty. Her great sense of humor and the way she spoke her mind endeared her to family and friends alike. You always knew where you stood with Louise. She loved those family members and friends, and would tell them what she felt even if the truth wasn’t always pleasant.

Her funeral services at Jay Chapel are visitation, 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, and funeral at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Be careful on the roads this Christmas weekend and stay sober. Those flashing lights in the rearview aren’t a holiday tree, and that won’t be Santa Claus with the silver bracelets. That ticket in his hand won’t be to a New Year’s Eve party.

Have a blessed Christmas.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.