Dora Mae Wells heard her 16 year old granddaughter's boyfriend (me) on the radio only once. Mistakenly assuming that I, the son of a preacher, was going to do a religious show--the only kind she ever listened to--she heard me spinning records and reading news, weather, and live commercials. She endured my jokes and my barely disguised on-air messages to Sherry. Finally, impatient to hear the gospel, she looked around at the rest of the family in the sitting room and said, "Well, when's he gonna sang?"
But I was just a deejay and there would be no singing from me that day in the fall of 1966 nor ever. She figured out that I was not going to become a preacher (drat the luck!) but she was happy that her granddaughter was happy with me.
A few weeks later, shortly before Christmas, 1966, Dora Mae's large family gathered around her deathbed in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, to hear her last words. But she wasn't talking. She was just singing a little ditty, the same three words over and over. Someone shushed the others so they could make out the words and as they listened carefully, Dora Mae sang in the rhythm of a schoolyard tease, though softly and with love, "Sherry's gettin' mar-ried. Sherry's gettin' mar-ried. Sherry's gettin' mar-ried." She left this world with those words on her lips.
Now we're older than Dora Mae was when she died and we'll spend our Christmas Eve tonight in a candlelit room with dozens of angel what-nots, statuettes, carvings and pictures. (Sherry desperately believes in angels.) And in the flicker of the candles as those porcelain angels (and maybe some real ones) listen, we'll reminisce about our Christmases together--especially that first one when her grandmother sang us her blessings with her final breath.
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