Tracy Simmons/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Stuck in the air vent of my pickup is a white business card that says I have an appointment with Sally Blackwell, M.A., L.P.C., on March 21 at 3:30 p.m.
For the past six months or so I’ve spent an hour at a time sitting uncomfortably across from her, letting her ask me personal questions about my past and my future. After the first few weeks, I knew she had already hit the nail on the head when it came to analyzing me, but I continued to pay $35 every week or two just to talk to her.
“I think you like to come because I’m somewhat of a motherly figure to you,” she told me.
She was right.
Tears only spring to a mother’s eye when they hear hurt in a child’s voice. Twice her cheeks were moistened as I read her the first-person stories I stayed up until early morning writing and I’m sure Sally wept for most of the men, women and children who waited eagerly each week to share an hour of her time at Jack Greeson and Associates counseling services.
“You’re a great writer, Tracy,”she’d say.
I knew every word that came out of her mouth was sincere and I wanted to hear more, so I stayed up late, night after night, brainstorming about what else I could write to read to Sally at our next meeting.
When I couldn’t come up with something to read to her we’d chat about the hounds we both had waiting for us at home or what we learned at church on Sunday.
“When I evacuated during Rita I drove to my daughter’s with my dog in the front seat,” she chuckled.
If it hadn’t been for a mandatory evacuation, Sally would have been in Victoria finding ways to help those clients she worked with both at Jack Greeson and at Child Protective Services.
Shoulder shrugs, smirks and sarcastic jokes didn’t hide anyone’s heart from Sally. She knew when pain was stinging their insides. Maybe it was her deep, love-filled eyes or her picture-perfect smile that allowed her to make an unforgettable mark on people’s lives. Or, maybe it was because over the past 50 years she’s heard it all, and some of the time, had even been there herself.
“I remember when I went though a similar situation,” she’d tell me when she knew I was having trouble getting out what I needed to say.
Her message was forgiveness.
“It’s OK,” she’d say.
Her life ended tragically, but I’m sure if she had survived she wouldn’t have any hard feelings toward whoever it is who did this to her because, as one of her friends said, “She was petite in size but big at heart.”
I believe she’s upstairs with God right now, looking down, nodding her head sympathetically saying, “It’s OK. I forgive you.”