Survivors#039; Supper: A feast of the heart

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2007

The cool hallways of South Luverne Baptist Church greeted me as soon as I stepped inside Tuesday evening for the Survivors' Supper, a major part of the Crenshaw County Relay for Life events.

Banners filled with the signatures of those who had attended past survivors' suppers lined the walls of the fellowship hall. Many of the names belonged to those who are no longer with us.

However, I'm soon knocked out of my melancholy reverie by a bright smile and a big laugh from a very special lady I know, Mrs. Bennie Payne of Greenville. She's not just a cancer survivor, she's a shining example of someone who knows how to squeeze every good thing out of each and every moment of life and appreciate it all.

&#8220They'll just let you in anywhere, won't they?” I said to her before I hugged her. She laughed in her good-natured way like she always does.

The next thing I know, here comes Mr. Sammy Carr. I had seen him earlier in the day at the Luverne Kiwanis Club meeting.

&#8220You know where the free meals are,” he told me, laughing.

I told him he ought to be ashamed of himself, saying that to me. We both laughed and carried on like kinfolk.

Mrs. Pearl Carr, his wife, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1973; she was told she wouldn't live six months.

&#8220And here I am today,” she said with her pretty smile.

We got in line for the meal, and Mr. Sammy starts telling me about the time he had his picture made with former Gov. Guy Hunt.

&#8220Everyone kidded me about how they couldn't tell the difference between the two of us.”

He reaches out to set a plate containing caramel cake on a table, and then sticks his thumb in his mouth.

&#8220That's how you get an extra tasteŠ.You never did that?” he asks me, with a mischievous grin. &#8220No, you weren't sneaky like us boys.”

He has me laughing the whole time we're in line filling our plates.

I sat at the table with Mr. Hubert and Mrs. Betty Tomberlin. Mr. Hubert was diagnosed with bladder and prostate cancer in 2000 and had surgery in Feb. of 2001.

&#8220I didn't have to have chemo or anything,” he told me proudly.

Gail Bowden is also in attendance with her husband Calvin. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and had a mastectomy and later, reconstructive surgery. She's also been cancer-free since then, just like Mr. Hubert.

&#8220We're running a race,” Mr. Hubert says, and laughs.

&#8220Gail's a survivor because she has to put up with me,” her husband Calvin said with a grin. Everyone at the table laughs.

I can't believe the courage that I'm hearing. And it's all around me.

Mr. James and Mrs. Marie Morgan come up to hug my neck. Mr. James was diagnosed with colon cancer in Jan. of 2003, when he was 70 years old.

&#8220Up until then, I had never had anything but Aspirin,” he said.

Mr. James comes into The Luverne Journal office and Luverne Printing just about every day. If I didn't see him, there would be something missing out of my day.

I thought about Mrs. Ann Finlayson and how I missed seeing her at the restaurant.

&#8220I got a new dance over in Zion, and it's mine, it's mine, all mine,” Brittany King, a seventh grader at Luverne School, sang for the crowd.

I guess that's true for all of us.

Regina Grayson is managing editor of The Luverne Journal. She can be reached at 335-3541 or by email: