Sympathy Saturday – Grandma and Lil’ Buddy

Today’s Sympathy Saturday I would like to pay respect to my grandmother and my little brother who both passed away in December.

My grandmother Sheila Rose Thomas passed away Dec 7. 2001. She had been struggling with cancer for a little over a year and her suffering finally ended on that day. I remember where I was when I heard the news. I was a senior in high school and I was working at Taco Bell. It was right after lunch when my mother called the store.

01If there was one thing that my grandmother taught me it was to excel. In fact it was the first word she taught me. “Always E-X-C-E-L in everything you do, Jennifer.” I can still hear those words. My grandmother was an excellent horseman. She bought Asia (the horse pictured) when she was around 35 or so. She trained her and then competed in horse jumping. We still have all the ribbons and trophies she won. Up until recently I still had her hat and whip. I more than likely got my love of horses from her.

I remember this horse even though I was only a few years old when my grandmother had to sell her. I remember that when I was placed on top of her she would never go faster than a walk. No matter how much I kicked or yelled. She was a huge girl and I had no fear of her because she was as gentle as a mouse.

02When I think about my grandmother now besides horses the other thing that comes to my mind is baking. She was an amazing baker. Whenever someone had a birthday or wedding we always knew that grandma would make our cake.

Years later when I started to cook for myself she taught me several of the “family specials” before getting sick. After she passed I was blessed with her cookbook. I still haven’t made my way through all of the recipes in it. I enjoy reading all of the little changes and notes she left on the ones she cut out of magazines.

03In 1992 when I was 8 years old my grandmother became a born again Christian  This would be important for our family because until then we had never attended church very often. Although I didn’t seen her much over the next nine years before she passed away she was able to instill the values or morals that I need to navigate thorough this troubled world.

The picture up above was the last one I have of her before she got sick. The dog in the bottom was her beloved Zach and the best dog this family has ever owned.

Although I still get sad when I think of her I know that one day I will see her again and I can only hope that she’s smiling down on me now.

Rest in Peace Grandma (1945-2001)

My younger brother Benjamin Wayne Barnes was only 16 when he passed away. On December 5, 2008 he decided that he didn’t want to be here anymore. There is a stink about suicide and how a family is treated when someone commits it. Somehow people think that the family should have seen the signs. Or worse that they did something to provoke it. The truth of the matter, in my family’s case anyway, we never saw it coming. We thought he was a happy kid involved in church and advancing wonderfully in school. And of everyone in my family that has passed away this is the one I still can’t get my head around.

But I don’t want to talk about the way he died. I was to celebrate his life today.


 I remember my brother as a kid that loved to explore. When he was younger he loved being outside and getting dirty like most boys. One of his favorite things was to go to the beach and play in the wet sand. By the time he was 8 he had already had 15+ stitches from all the adventures he used to have.

At Christmas he would watching the Santa on the Reindeer (picture to the left) for hours. Once we started opening presents he would open one look at it then set it aside for the next one. He was a lot like me when I was a kid. My sister was different however. She would want to open the box of each present before going to the next.

When he got older and discovered the computer it became his passion. He love playing video games and decided that was the career he wanted to have. Ben was lucky that when he was in the 8th grade he was tested and chosen to be apart of an advanced high school program. When he graduated high school he would have lots of college credits and many of certificates he would need for his degree. Once graduated he could go straight to being a Sophomore in college.

05Ben had is whole life planned at the age of 14. He was going to be a video game designer  He was going to live in Japan and have a little Japanese wife. He would have lots of dogs and have a great life. Unlike most of my family he was actually on his way to achieving his dreams.

My brother’s life may have been short lived but I have no shortage of memories of him. We were so much alike, I think that’s why we didn’t get along very well in the later years.

To me he will always be that smiling kid with dirty sticky fingers.

Rest in Peace Buddy (1992-2008)


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