Friend leaves legacy

Everyone has at least one of them — a relative, friend, co-worker or acquaintance who’s as tough as nails and stouter than a steam roller. It’s the person you’re convinced can withstand and overcome anything. She or he is often your role model, your inspiration during difficult times.

The painful fact that this powerhouse of a person, like all of us, will one day succumb to the vast unknown called death is completely unthinkable. When it happens, we’re not prepared. All we can do is hold onto each other and find solace in the wonderful memories we’ve been gifted with. It happened to my co-workers and myself this week.

Delores “Dee” Aldridge worked in the Herald Democrat’s retail advertising department for almost 44 years before she retired last March. The determined woman could work circles around all of us gals and, truth be told, most the menfolk, too.

Her work day began while most of us were still snoring like freight trains and ended long after we were finishing up the dinner dishes and readying ourselves for bedtime. She powered through illnesses and other situations that often left most of us whining like whipped pups.

She’d often tell stories of her years growing up, the tough times, hard work and manual labor, but she never complained about that lifestyle. She embraced it and lamented the demise of the simpler times of her youth. She especially missed her beloved father and grandmother. She missed roaming the fields with her father who taught her to always be prepared … carry baling wire and some duct tape for quick repairs of equipment, tools and other necessities. She missed the encouragement of the grandmother who was far ahead of her time when stressing to Dee that a woman could be anything she wanted to be.

To my knowledge, Dee never really gave up and never gave in. She’d work until she found solid solutions to problems that occasionally arose. She took pride in her work and in her actions … not the arrogant attitude some people adopt, but just a deep sense of accomplishment for a job well done.

When Dee announced she was retiring last spring, it was something I and many others never thought we’d see her do. She proved us wrong. She had high hopes of doing more of the things she loved — spending time in her flower beds, reading, sewing, working at the trades days, visiting with family and friends. We shared her joy in getting that much-deserved time to do all those things while she was young enough to truly enjoy them … and she did for one year.

We can’t control fate if, indeed, there is such a thing. Many people believe that when it’s our time to go, we go, even though we may be the strongest person on earth. To that end, we all should strive to leave behind something to help those left to carry on … something positive and lasting, good memories to brighten the way. I know Dee sure did.

Happy birthday Tuesday to Mike Harkey, Steve Briscoe, Juanita Johnson, Betty Bell, William Niblet, Wanda Rolen, Barry Gaddis, Matthew Mutz, Izetta Franklin and twins, Ja’davi’n and Ja’von Johnsson, all of Sherman; Trey Jordan Lane, Martha Hall, Kalie Land, Margie Brasswell, David Bumpass, Dick Allen and twins, Katie and Caroline Gillespie, all of Denison; Elaine Stewart Williams of Fort Worth; Colby Matter of Longview; Brenda Fox and Patsy Swindell, both of Bonham; Kellan Murdock of Anchorage, Alaska; Phil Jones of Ravenna; Vance D. Jones of Knollwood; Mable Valentine, Judy Walling Fox and Joella Sneed.