Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Sister Flies Away

 Photo from left, nephew Casey Axson, niece Catharine Clopper, my departed sister Marcia, niece Megan Axson, my mom Betsy Blalock, me, SIL Debbie and my brother Mark Blalock

On March 18, 1950, a baby girl was born to Betsy and Talmadge Blalock. Beautiful brown sleepy eyes, her life seemed to me to be one that either missed the path not taken or took that overgrown trail. But now it is clear it is that high road, the one that rises above us and disappears beyond our reach.

Today is Sunday, January 17, 2010. We were to have some friends over for dinner and I was cleaning the cat's litter boxes when I heard my cell ring. Oh, I'll call them when I get done I thought. Then is heard it ring again and I immediately thought...what has happened....

First message is from my mom, hysterical. Second is from my nephew, Casey.

My only sister is dead.

How is it you can live for 56 years and death takes all that time, bundles it up into the tiniest point, and poof it is gone just like that? My sister's life, millions if not billions of events of life, now gone into the dust of stars.

I wrote this on Facebook, to family and friends who responded to my step-daughter Becca's and my wife Jennifer's updates today:

I'd like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers for the passing of my sister Marcia B. Axson. She was a talented artist, teacher, lover of English literature, and knew more movie trivia than Wikipedia. She never met an animal she didn't love and would do without to help them. She passed from this place quickly, and I hope if there is a life or existence beyond this one, know your lost pets are in the best of care.


Here is the body of an email from Marcia shortly after I told her I was going to have the amputation of my right foot:

February 16, 2009

How could I possibly be sad when you have the chance to run again? I am with you 100% and I know everything will work out. I love you and am here no matter what you need. I am going to print the article (Tom White) when I get back to school. My printer is eternally out of ink. Tell Jennifer to let me know if she needs anything as well. You are a very brave man. I'm sure David is celebrating for you. too! God bless you, my incredible brother.

Your sister, Marcia


Later the same day:  

February 16, 2009
I have always known that you never quit. I think it must be a family trait. We are all given burdens or difficulties in life and how we respond to them cultivates us into who we are. great line from Steel Magnolias..."That which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger." Amen to that. We have such a supportive family. Daddy would be so PROUD. I love you! Keep me posted on all developments. I am here for you.

Your soon to be thinner sister,


My sister fought weight loss and was addicted to nicotine. As an able-bodied runner I often tried to get her to walk the the Flowertown 5k, thinking maybe I could help her change her destructive behavior. As an amputee I had hoped maybe she would have some incentive to make a real change.

February 17, 2009 

Well...yes. I have committed myself to losing this weight. I am slowly killing myself. I want to be around to see you run in the Azalea Flowertown race in 2010! Who knows? Maybe I can trot along, too! Have a blessed day! Love you! Marcia


And this defines the love Marcia had for animals, even the sympathy for the loss of our cat sweet Kiki and best friend Snickers:

February 20, 2009 

Mom just told me about precious Snickers and I know Jennifer and you are devastated. I am still crying. I am so very sorry. I know this is particularly heartbreaking after the loss of your cat. I don't know any words to say to relieve your pain other than I know so well how you are feeling. I love you both so much. I wish I could be there to give you both a hug.


This is the next to the last email I received from my sister. She had sent me a link to the website of Nick Vujicic months earlier and I had sent her a link to his YouTube video.

November 5, 2009

I knew you would like it. There is no stopping the human spirit imbued with faith, love, hope, determination and family! You will always be my hero. I love you so much. By the way, I have a new job at a bookstore here in Summerville. The store is Here Be Books. The owner is training me to do everything, including running the store. I'll be part-time for now making only minimum wage, but at least I am making some money and am so thankful for that. Sometimes, once you find a job, other more lucrative possibilities surface! What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Hope to see you soon. Kiss Baxter for me!

Your crazy sister


 My sister's funeral will be on Thursday. She had very little but leaves great riches in her loving children, Catharine, Megan, and Casey. I cannot help but think she left so much undone, so much potential that this world will never know. It is our loss. It is my loss. It is also my hope that none of us leave this place with lives undone, that in the striving there is the victory.

I will be running the Flowertown 5k in the memory of my sister, She will be there trotting by my side, whispering, you will always be my hero....


  1. We are so sorry to hear about your sister, Marcia. We remember meeting her when we were there visiting. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Richard, Jenny, Betsy and Family.

    God Bless


    Buzz and Chris (Jen's Sister)

  2. What a touching tribute Richard - she really will be missed and remembered fondly by everyone who has met her.

  3. Beautiful tribute Richard! My heart goes out to you for your loss :(

  4. Hi Richard. Not sure if you remember me, but I am one of Marcia's friends, Chi-Chi. First I would like to say that I am so sorry about the loss of Marcia. She will be missed by all who knew her. She touched me in ways a friend is supposed to touch another friend. She made me laugh uncontrollably on so many occasions. We used to sit out on her porch swing talking for hours about most anything. We would exchange books and talk about them later. The one book that hits home for me is "Lovely Bones". We shared and compared lots about that book. We agreed that when it became a movie, we would go see it together. I have not seen the movie yet, but I know when I do, I will be thinking only of Marcia. I loved her like a sister. She was a wonderful friend who I could count on to keep secrets, cry with, laugh with and just have a great time with (although sometimes I thought her dog, molly, was going to bite my butt :-). I will miss her greatly!! And to her family, my prayers and thoughts are with you completely!!

  5. From the heart, thanks everyone for the comments. My sister touched so many lives, hard to know what small action we do one day will be remembered by others forever.

    Do not fear to live your life.

  6. Richard, Betsy & family,

    I remember Marcia from when we visited you guys. What a sweet and lovely woman. Thanks for sharing the emails from her to you-they exemplify her warm, kind, courageous and loving spirit. Not many people love with an open heart as she did--her life is something to celebrate, for sure. Thinking of you and praying for you all. It's very difficult to lose a great love in this life. I believe that she's so proud of you, Richard--your strength, courage and perserverance. May the Lord Himself comfort you & reveal the mysteries of His amazing love to you all.

    Love you!

    Julie, Curt, Carroline, Connor and Kathryn Kirtley