Teens Make Thurcie Smile Once Again

I usually know when I am scheduled to attend and review a program. But on one recent evening, the performance came to me as a delightful surprise. But let me first set the stage for this “review” by going back a bit in time.

For nearly ninety years, my dear elderly friend (and occasional poker “buddy”), Thurcie Beeson, had lived in the Montgomery County area, both in Conroe and, most recently, at Copperwood here in The Woodlands. Full of life, and full of fun, I always looked forward to her presence at the weekly card game I sometimes attend. She was great fun to chat with and loved a good joke. I found it most interesting when she would talk about the “old days” in Conroe. She fascinated me with tales of the early days of the Crighton Theatre and her fond memories of attending movies there as far back as the 1930’s. Thurcie had seen a lot, and perhaps her secret of long life was that she loved to eat bacon every day.

She was a sharp lady, and a very sharp poker player who “skunked” me with the better hand on many annoying occasions. But I loved her still, and always will. Our most recent game was earlier this summer at Copperwood. Occasionally I had the pleasure of hosting the game at my place. Her last recorded visit to my home was on March 12th of last year. I know that because while attending that game she signed my guest book. In that connection, I might add that this frail, thin octogenarian had flawless handwriting.

Earlier this summer many of us who knew Thurcie became concerned that she was failing. Her health was declining, and it was more difficult for her to concentrate at the card games. Then, suddenly, she found herself in a bed at our wonderful local hospital, Memorial Hermann – The Woodlands. That bed was to be her last. But not before a little show I will long remember.

I visited Thurcie twice during her short stay at the hospital. The first time was a very difficult night for her. She was very ill and disoriented, and doctors were still trying to adjust needed medications. Her devoted daughter, Betty Duran, was at her side along with a “very good friend” (Thurcie’s words, not mine), named Mattie Tabor. They did their best to make Thurcie comfortable.

On my next visit, a few days later, things were much better. She was still in critical condition, and probed with oxygen tubes. Betty gently adjusted the bed up and down as directed by her mom in the quest for a comfortable position. Meanwhile, Thurcie’s granddaughter, Claudia, softly moistened Thurcie’s parched lips with a tiny sponge. But the twinkle of the Thurcie I knew, though faint, was once again visible. We kissed and joked a bit, and she thanked me for a little crystal angel I had brought her. Her fading smile was as sweet as ever.

Then, suddenly, three very young ladies in their middle teens appeared at the door. I don’t know their names, but they were not there for personal recognition. They were part of that special team of hospital auxiliary volunteers. As they joined us in the room, one had a violin in hand, and a second wore an outlandish clown wig in all the colors of the rainbow. Just the sight of that wig and their fresh young faces brought smiles to us all, including Thurcie. The girls joked and chatted with us, and then asked Thurcie what song she would like to hear. She whispered, “You Are My Sunshine.” Ever so sweetly, the violin began to play as the other girls sang along. Thurcie’s eyes were bright again, one last time. As I gazed down at her, I held back the tears that wanted to fill the poignancy of the moment. When the song ended, Thurcie summoned the strength to tell the young performers, “You girls have made my day!” A sweet encore of “Amazing Grace” would follow. Thurcie would pass away just a few days later, but certainly we had all received amazing grace on that special night, from three young angels whose names I do not know.

(The Courier    8.26.04)

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.
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