Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fragile as a Butterfly’s Wings

My wife of 40 years died four days after my 70th birthday.  Maybe I am old enough so that I can almost stand it.  Almost.  Still, it is the worse thing that has ever happened to me, so far.  She had lung cancer. “Winstons taste good, like a cigarette should.”  Fifty years of them will kill you, not necessarily before your time but painfully, slowly, with mixed memories of a cigarette and a cup of coffee, or while studying for an exam, or after something pleasurable. An addiction from the devil. 

In hindsight, I missed my two best chances to die by surprise, no long-suffering before the inevitable, bitter end, for anyone, family or self.  I was in a meningitis coma for weeks eight years ago, two years ago,  a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.  In death, surprise is the way to go.

I learned how to write an obituary when I was barely 18 years old working for The Atlanta Jourrnal.  I did not know anything about death, had no first hand experience with it.   Every obituary begins with the who, what, when, where of basic journalism.  Add some biographical information.  Let the facts and circumstances speak for themselves.  Everybody dies.  As the real Hank Williams said, “you’ll never get out of this world alive.”

Annette Powell Cotter died Tuesday at home in Pine Lake, Ga.  She was 73. Born in Andalusia, Alabama, of a dynasty of lawyers, she graduated from Andalusia High School, attended Florida State University briefly, Huntingdon College longer, and then graduated from Georgia State University, where she also earned an M.A. in English.

She was the first editor of CREATIVE LOAFING.  As anyone knows who ever sat at her table, she was a skilled, talented, and creative chef.  

She was a poet and songwriter and lived for many years in Nashville, Tn., where she was a staff writer for Polygram Music.  Songs of hers were recorded by George Strait, Pam Tillis, Colin Raye, Linda Davis and other country artists.

She is survived by her husband, William Cotter; sister, Pat Cassidy; brother, Ab Powell; son, Chauncey Ward Hall, III; daughter, Heidi Carroll; niece, Charlotte Cassidy; grandchildren, Shannon Hall and Chance Hall; as well as beloved step-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family believes Annette would be pleased with contributions in her memory to any local shelter, support, and rescue of children and other defenseless animals.

In her final days, Annette experienced spasms, morphine hallucinations, conversations in which I could hear only one side.  She lifted her head off her arms long enough to say, “I thought I would run into your momma and daddy” (both long dead).  “I may have been in the wrong place.”

I said. “Look for Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.  That’s the right place.”  She actually laughed.


Cheyenne Palisades said...

She was one heck of a lady!

wdeft said...

Beautifully done and helpful to a family going through something similar. Thank you.

wdeft said...

Beautifully done and helpful to a family going through something similar. Thank you.

Cotter Pen said...

We have only one another for comfort.

Anonymous said...

Oh my dear,
Heartfelt condolences from us both.
We carry fond memories of our long and glorious luncheon. She was a delight.
Much aloha,
K.T. and Bill

Maia Grenell said...

So grateful you have this blog so I could read about Annette from you. Though I knew her only a short time I loved her. God bless you, Bill. - Maia (mom of Saia and Nooru)

Mary Francis said...

Bill, I never had so much fun writing a song or being with someone as I did with a net. I was just her biggest fan besides you I think. I was very distressed to hear about her passing. I know the cigarettes would get her. My mother died at age 76 from emphysema for the same reason. It was horrible to watch her gasp for every breath in her last days. They couldn't even give her oxygen because her lungs couldn't absorb it. I am so so very sorry to hear about your health issues which seem overwhelming to me, and I wish I could be there to give you some laughs or some comfort or something. I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts. I will let you know if the song gets recorded.


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