MIKE MASTERSON: Thankful for Thelma

Glad I knew her

Posted: March 7, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Sweet, devoted, feisty and spirit-filled Thelma Reeves of Harrison last Friday was nearing the end of her purposeful stay in this world last Friday. I'm sorry most of you never had the chance to know her.

An advantage to writing a column lies in being able to share a personal opinion on just about anyone, event or issue I consider interesting or relevant.

I assure you that having experienced 95-year-old Thelma with her direct nature, sparkling eyes, tiny frame so disproportionate to her potent influence and that appropriate red hair was both.

Even as a 14-year-old, I found so much to admire about this lady after becoming friends with ninth-grade classmate Ken Reeves and his younger brother Bill. Back then, she and her husband, Jack, became forces of nature in their hometown with her displaying a genuine servant's heart and Jack's reign as the undisputed King of Bull Shoals.

I stopped in the Hillcrest Retirement Home last Friday to spend a few sacred minutes alone with Thelma, who clearly was very close to boarding her upward-bound train. Her breathing was shallow and labored. I'm certain she never knew I was beside her, or that I stroked her hair softly and placed a kiss on her forehead.

That didn't matter, though. I hadn't come to be seen or heard, but rather to offer a personal "thank you, sweet lady" for being a wonderful addition to my life and many others, so much so that I always considered myself her other son from another mother.

She had that inexplicable Thelma way over the years of drawing spirits close to her own, kinda like moths to a brilliant light. Thelma continually reflected that ability by heading committees and serving food at her church, helping others in every way, and canning vegetables from her beloved garden she eagerly shared with everyone (her green beans and tomatoes were second to none). Thelma became devoted to caring for her own aged and ailing mother until she passed away.

Several paragraphs can't begin to summarize everything good and honorable Thelma represented during her time among us. She was one of life's true givers. Those who basked in the warmth of her caring affections realize that truth all too well.

I suspect you may know this lady by another name in your own communities. The diamond-like spirit that fueled her fortunately still exists in others across Arkansas.

If our lives are measured (and we are remembered) not by what we do for ourselves but what we have done for others while sharing this brief state of consciousness, I'd honestly rank Thelma Reeves' success right alongside the likes of a Mother Teresa. And she raised the family she loved with all her heart the same way.

Thanks, sweet Thelma, from your "volunteer son" for also shedding your saintly glow on me over the past 57 years. (Thelma departed to reunite with her Jack within hours of my visit.)

Help our Buffalo

Arkansans seeking a way to support the struggle to keep our beloved Buffalo National River from the significant threat of contamination have two choices this month to join the growing crusade and enjoy some great entertainment.

A musical benefit and birthday bash honoring the Buffalo is set for 7 p.m. Sunday at George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes and the Louisiana Sunspots will lead the musical celebration.

Four days later, March 16, at 7 p.m. in the Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock, those in central Arkansas can enjoy songwriters and musicians entertaining in the second "Sing Out for the Buffalo."

Both events will help the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance continue its legal fight to preserve the quality of water flowing in the Buffalo, a rare jewel that attracts well over a million visitors each year.

George's on Fayetteville's Dickson Street is fast becoming an informal headquarters for Arkansans committed to protecting the country's first national river. This event is the alliance's way of celebrating the river's 45 years as a national river. A small group of friends and sponsors are underwriting the party to sharpen public focus on what a magnificent national treasure this river is for our relatively small state.

"We love our Buffalo and appreciate her for all she provides us," said Rick Hinterthuer, a birthday bash sponsor. "We also realize how many ordinary and extraordinary citizens stood tall and worked long hours to realize their vision for protecting her for future generations."

While life is filled with events and people we take for granted, the Buffalo National River isn't one of those for most Arkansans who appreciate its wonder and grandeur.

This seemingly endless legal fight to protect our national river from our own state's inabilities has been ongoing since the stream was designated as such. The Watershed Alliance slogan "Save the Buffalo ... Again!" could justifiably be changed to "... Again and Again!"

Those who can't join the fun on either evening can still help make a difference by sending a contribution to the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, P.O. Box 101, Jasper, Ark. 72641 (or at buffaloriveralliance.org). I mailed mine today.

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Mike Masterson's column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 03/07/2017