Influencing lives: A tribute
by GLENETTA SHUEY
While doing my research for my articles and columns, I discovered that May is Honor and Remembrance Month. As I began writing this column today, I knew this theme was fitting.
As a mom, I recall one of the best decisions I made was allowing my daughters to have jobs during high school. It was a major consideration, as I wanted to be sure they kept their grades up and still manage their extracurricular activities. Both of my girls were fortunate enough to get jobs with good people and doing work that suited them.
Or… in Candace’s case, doing as little work as possible, while her employers, Kent and Myra Spears of Floral Arts, happily entertained her high school rants and encouraged her flair for the melodramatic! It didn’t help that they were my friends, and Candace, spoiled as she already was, felt that this was more of a pastime. No matter that they were paying her! Thank goodness they loved her from the start.
Reminiscing recently with Myra, we both can remember the exchanges between Kent and Candace as being both witty and sardonic. Myra recalls vividly: “The memory that always comes to mind is Candace strolling into the shop, no matter how busy we were, at a snail’s pace. She would always have a smile on her face the minute she saw Kent looking at her.” Candace’s purse was always slung on her shoulder, Myra remembers. After she took her time, Kent would ask her how her day went. And then it came: every detail of any boyfriend drama that was going down. Myra adds: “He would then proceed to give her pretty sound advice, which I’m not really sure if she would follow, but I know she realized was good advice. Kent would usually grab Candace’s purse and give the best impression of Candace you have ever seen…..strolling at a snail’s pace through the shop, every detail so perfect that Candace had to laugh!”
Myra looked forward to their constant banter. “If Kent loved you, he found it necessary to pick on you relentlessly,” she recollects with a tinge of sadness! Kent liked to call her Princess Candace. The title has stayed with her. “Candace was one of the few people I know that could keep up with his wit. They would go back and forth…….laughing the whole time.” Myra mostly just thinks back on the fun and laughter and love. “I know that he kept her employed at the shop for pure entertainment purposes. It was worth it. Kent adored Candace. I adore her as well. Some of the best memories of that shop were with her.”
Candace’s most vivid recollection was Kent’s favorite job for her, which, of course, she despised. He had her wash the buckets in the back which she would let pile up until the last minute. Candace says fondly, “I never wanted to let him down though, no matter how much we picked and fought. He kept me on my toes, and I loved him and Myra for always treating me like one of their own.”
From the time she began working for Kent, he knew that he was going to be “her wedding planner.” For her wedding, he and Myra did indeed make it fabulous! He bought so many roses that he filled his cooler up and couldn’t buy his Valentine’s Day selection until he was finished with the wedding. He brought her in the cooler a few days before just to show her, and handed her a stem with her favorite pink miniature roses. “I left with it that day and kept it for almost seven years, until it fell to pieces,” Candace reminisces. She distinctly remembers his smirk as he handed her the bridal bouquet that he and Myra had made. “Here’s your casket piece” was his sardonic comment as the weight of the three dozen roses caused her arm to drop suddenly.
Kent’s “Princess” remembers looking at the back wall, after the ceremony, while they were taking pictures in the church and seeing his face full of pride as he stood next to Myra. “I always knew he loved me, but that moment has always stayed with me,” Candace said softly. “I will always be thankful for my time with Kent. He taught me many things. But the most important thing he taught me was to laugh and enjoy the time you do have with the people you love.”
As a mother, I could never repay Myra or Kent for their wonderful influence on my child. The last wedding Kent ever did was Candace’s. I remember they left the reception early, noting he looked a bit off-color. After all, they had been there since early that morning, decorating for their “ princess.” However, Kent suffered from a heart condition which he succumbed to a mere two months later. Kent was only 37. We were not his family, but we felt a huge loss at his passing.
The saying that it takes “a village to raise a child” is true in my little world; in our lives, Kent and Myra Spears were integral to my oldest daughter’s self-esteem. Not only did they like her gift for the dramatic but they encouraged it. She became truly confident and accepted herself, largely due to them.
What did they, in turn, teach this mom? I learned that some people don’t let you down and loyalty is still in “style.” I learned that being yourself is a true responsibility. Most importantly, they taught me to trust, not an easy thing to do for me. Kent told me once that he and Myra thought Candace was special. However, he remarked, with that touch of sarcasm that was engrained in him, that he would deny it if I let her know. I loved it, because she already knew!
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