At Thanksgiving time, thoughts turn to friendships. They come like gentle waves kissing parched beaches, each of them welcome.
It is a season to value friendships, particularly when death takes a friend away.
Such are my memories — sweet as the aroma of holiday foods — of Ann Garms, who died recently at age 95.
Life was not a gallop for her. Instead, she maintained a steady gait, focused on an exceedingly small universe.
It included Brownwood First Baptist Church, Howard Payne University, line dancing, “pink lady” hospital volunteer work and frequent phone conversations with Cleta Garms, her Andrews, Texas, sister-in-law. She never flew on a plane and rarely left Brown County.
Many would conclude that her life was simple and monotonous. And they would be wrong.
We first met soon after I finished college in the early ’60s. She prepared the papers for my car purchase at Weatherby Motor Company, where she worked for 35 years.
I noticed her quick smile then, and easily recognized her upon my return as HPU president in 1985. I knew she was a friend of the university, and often delivered bags of popcorn to her home, where she always provided a gracious reception. She invariably placed the gift in her little pantry. (Some 27 tons of corn and 40 years ago, popcorn became my “calling card.”)
Ann enjoyed university events, although was never an HPU student. Her only formal education was at an Abilene business college.
However, she was “Ph.D. wise” — no, more than that. Her life was well-ordered with much wisdom. This widow of 34 years was fulfilled, optimistic and active throughout life.
She ate sensibly, exercised and rarely needed medication. The only medicine she had in her home was aspirin. Ann was hospitalized just twice in her life, both times briefly.
She happily set her own pace in a hurrying world and was easily the most frugal person I’ve ever known. But, I can count on one hand’s fingers individuals whom I believe equal her generosity.