I lost my best friend/other mother on Saturday, December 16, 2017. Portia was a true sassy southern lady. She was my first and best friend when I first moved to Texas more than 38 years ago. She watched my boys grow up and became another grandma to our grands. She was there for me after a couple of different accidents and endured the lengthy recoveries with me. She was family to all my family. She was talented beyond belief. She was my crocheter (which I hated doing), helped me sew, paint and create many things. We could spend time together without saying a word to each other or we could spend hours arguing about our views. We had so many fun times together and could always count on each other to be there. She protected me like a mother bear with a cub. She had lived with us, after her husband passed away, for the last 5 years. When she became ill, I promised her that I would keep her home as long as possible. We kept her here with us until the very end. She fought a good fight for 10 months but her body finally gave up. I thank God she is pain free now. This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you again someday. Until then, you will be right here with me in my heart. Love you!!
Here is the piece is ended up creating in memory of Portia. The double rim represents the closeness that her and Kim shared and the middle is of course a representation of her love for crocheting.
Our Dad, Joseph Larry Bass has always been, my brother’s and I biggest supporter and most incredible source of inspiration. Our father taught my brother and I many life lessons. Here are some things that we learned from him.
Lesson 1: Find the beauty in the things around you. Our Dad was a strong manly man yet he used the word “beautiful” to describe a beautiful tree, a beautiful flower, a beautiful poem, or a beautiful song. We grew up listening to him talk about the beauty in our world rather than the ugliness that we sometimes read about or see in the news. In the past few years, we have even seen tears in his eyes when he experienced something of beauty. It was not unusual for dad to grab one of us (especially my mom) and show us something beautiful he had found or seen like a beautiful red and white mushroom that looked as if it was from a fairy tale.
Lesson 2: Find your passion in life and pursue it. My dad’s ultimate passion was fishing and boating. My dad and his first cousin Bryant Hill developed an unbreakable bond as fishing and boating buddies.
Lesson 3- Work Hard! As early as we can remember our morning started with our Dad saying, “Wake up! We’ve got work to do!” Dad did not dread work, in fact he loved working around the house (inside and out) every day. If you drove by the house, you would see Dad bush hogging the pasture, working on a boat, weed eating, or working in his workshop or up at the barn. Some of you may not know that Dad built his house on his own 20 years ago when he was battling bladder cancer. Our family has many wonderful memories working along Dad as he built the house. Now we see our Dad in his beautiful handiwork throughout the house.
Lesson 4- Be kind to all and if someone needs help then lend a helping hand. Dad helped anyone that came to his door asking for help. He never questioned their character. At times we questioned the people that asked Dad for help, but he never hesitated. One time he said, “It is not my place to judge. They were brought to my door for a reason and I will help.” Dad loved people and getting to know them. He had a side business of selling boat parts on EBay. After a customer purchased an item he sent very sincere thank you notes and he maintained correspondence with them. He developed friendships with some of his customers. He corresponded regularly with a customer from France that actually lived in a castle, a man from Mexico sent him Mexican Candy, and a man in Washington State sent him smoked salmon. These were ordinary folks that just bought a small boat part from our Dad.
Lesson 5- Celebrate Life! Our Dad loved celebrations with his family and community. He loved planning family reunions with hayrides, bonfires, and fireworks. He would spend weeks preparing for these celebrations, everything from emailing folks to come to smoking beef and pork to make barbeque. His celebrations were not limited to just family members but anyone in Brushy Creek was welcomed. Holiday’s especially Christmas was magical because of our Dad. We would hook up the trailer to a tractor and we would climb in and he would take us to find a Christmas Tree. When we found one Dad would do a Christmas Tree Dance and we would all break out in laughter.
Lesson 6- He believed first Impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follows. So, whether they are in your career or social life, it's important to know how to create a good first impression. In addition to first impressions, dad frequently reminded us the importance of a firm handshake. Eric and I and his grandchildren at some point had to practice that firm handshake with him. As adolescents we would roll our eyes when he talked to us about first impressions and that firm handshake but when we became adults we realized the importance of this lesson.
Lesson 7: Have an opinion and enjoy discourse about your opinion. Our father could be opinionated; however, he was not close minded. You could have a differing opinion but just be ready to debate your opinion. Now we will tell you that he could outlast any of us and typically you just gave up because you were exhausted. He was an avid reader and his knowledge on topics was extensive. He stressed to us the importance of keeping up with current events and knowing what was going on in the world. He never missed a chance to vote. He was one of the most intelligent men that my brother and I know. In recent years, he took an interest in reading the bible and learning about biblical times. We all were amazed at his understanding of the bible and biblical history.
Lesson 8- Dad taught us to respect the men and women that fought for our freedom. Dad’s last assignment was post commander at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. Dad spent most of his working career on various Army Posts (Fort Rucker, Fort Sill in Oklahoma, and Fort Chaffee.) In 1994, Dad received the Department Of The Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award from General William W. Hartzog. The award read: Through his superb leadership ability, expert managerial skills, and unparalleled loyalty, Mr. Bass made immeasurable contributions to the accomplishment of the Garrison’s mission. His exceptional professional knowledge, proven judgment, common sense approach, and devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself, Fort Chaffee, and the Department of Army. Dad gave 100% because he recognized the importance of our armed forces and he was proud to be associated with the Department of Army.
Lesson 9: Spend time with Children! Our dad loved watching and interacting with children. He liked to sit back and watch them explore their world, watch them play, and watch them interacting with each other. Our Dad adored his three grandsons. He had the amazing ability to enjoy and tap into each of their unique interests. He also loved telling silly family stories to the boys. His favorite story to tell them was about the Red Eyed Yellow Bellied Ya Ya Snatcher that lived in the Deep Dark Dank Forest of Alabama.
Lesson 10- The most important lesson that Dad taught us was to live life to the fullest! Our Dad got up every morning ready to tackle the day. Our Dad had many serious health issues but in his whole life we never heard him complain that he felt bad or couldn’t do something that somebody asked him to do. He thanked God every day for giving him another day to do the things he loved and be with the people he loved and he did those things no matter how bad he may have felt or what adversity he may have had to overcome that day. So tomorrow when you wake up, remember to thank God that you are given one more day to do the things you love and remember that Larry Bass would be saying “Wake up! There is work to be done today!”
Eric and Kim Bass
After talking more to Kim about her dad she spoke of how much he loved the sea, and how they selected a casket with sea gulls because it represented the sea and flight. With that, this is the piece I created in his memory.
Our darling, G, was born April 8, 2017, sleeping. That’s a nice way of saying he’s not with us. Our family of six will always have an empty seat, so to speak. The night I had to deliver him I sobbed and sobbed for what may seem silly or insignificant to many. I had forgotten his special narwhal blanket at home in another town and had no way to get it. A dear friend offered to drive it up to us. It was the blanket we had intended to bring him home in, although by this time while in labor and delivery, we knew that wasn’t a possibility. For some reason I needed that blanket. I felt guilty for forgetting it. I felt like it would change something if I could just hold it. I fell to pieces for forgetting it. It was his and he needed to be wrapped in it. I needed it. Well, a friend brought food to my husband and also the narwhal blanket. I twisted and turned it through my fingers and grasped at it as I waited on the inevitable. I held my son and the blanket didn’t do much to change anything that night. And yet it made an everlasting impact on my heart because it was his. And it was important. So many times, the smallest kindnesses can stay with us forever. I will always remember the night my friend drove 45 minutes to bring us food and our son’s blanket. He never got to wear his narwhal diaper, or sleep with his blanket, or hug his plush... but when I see narwhals, I know he’s mine and I am his. I am a mom of four. I just carry one of my kids in my heart. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness is important to us now, since we have become 1 in 4.
And here is the piece I ended up creating for Crystal in memory of her son Griphon
My brother Steve Pierce born on Christmas Day 1963. He was our Christmas present that year and he was the best ever.
There were seven children with the addition of another brother born 2 years later. Needless to say they were best buddies through out life. Steve always took care of Jesse. The eight of us worked together, played together and cared for each other. We are as close or closer than most families because we learned to rely on each other at a very early age and that has continued throughout our lives.
We grew up in the country and hunting and fishing were a way of life for us. Until he got too sick he hunted and fished as much as he could. He ended up buying the old home place where he spent endless hours of clearing land making food plots, making a garden and just spending time there. He even built a cabin and if it was deer, turkey, or squirrel season, you would find him and a group of his buddies, including family guys, at the cabin hunting and cooking the bounty.
Cooking turkey and dressing was his contribution to our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. He did it like our mother did for all those years and in doing so honored our memories of her.
Family was the most important thing to Steve. He and Deneice had 2 children, Andrea and Josh both very attractive and smart and they were reared to be productive citizens of the country. They are polite and a real testament to their parents. They married Eric and Melissa who produced a total of 5 grandchildren. Wyatt, Delaney, Avery, Matt, and Riley were the light in his eyes. They are all smart, very well behaved and involved in sports and many other activities. They will proudly carry on the legacy of Steve. He loved his family!
He lived his adult life with a work ethic passed down by his father who always said that whatever you did you did it to the best of your ability. He worked in a cane factory manufacturing walking sticks, hiking sticks, cattle prods, etc. The factory was owned by his brother in law and Steve worked for 39 years there, never missing a day of work until his first diagnosis of cancer. He was a wonderful example of a hard working man.
He was a country man, a loving husband, father, Papa, brother, son, grandson, nephew and friend. He was the best. He loved life and left the world a better place.
Many people knew our dad as a hard worker, a great brother, and friend. And he was. We also want everyone to leave here knowing he was the best dad two kids could ever ask for. Our house was full of a thousand beautiful memories. We could tell you so many stories about how good he was and how happy he made us, and that would still not do him justice. He was a really good teacher and very patient. He was always able to give give advice and comfort in a calming fashion. I'll forever believe he was one of the smartest people I've ever known. We could go to him with a question about anything and he almost always came through. There are too many facets of him to cover in any one day, and anyone who knew him well at all would never argue with that. We will forever cherish the extra time spent with him the last few years because of trips to the doctor and chemo visits. They allowed us to do something that we didn't think was possible...become closer to him and to love him even more.
Dad left behind five young grandchildren, whom he loved more than they'll ever realize. They made his life so sweet. We are so sorry the little ones have to finish growing up without him, but will continue to pass on the lessons we were taught. Dad always, always did what was right. So we'll teach the kids that when they come to a time in life when hard choices are faced, to decide between what is easy and what is right, Papa would tell you to always do what is right. If they live life in the way Papa lived his, you will be just fine. He always told us to go out and make him proud. And so, they can go out and make him proud.
—Andrea Pierce Thompson and Josh Pierce
And here is the bowl I ended up creating for Steve...