Monday, February 27, 2012

Gray Matter

During my junior year of high school I took a liking to the color gray. That's not really a strong enough statement. It was a borderline obsession. Not just any shade of gray--a dark, charcoal gray. It was a time when my youngest brother, Russell, was battling an aggressive brain tumor. Maybe it was a manifestation of mourning.

The Woods Crew (Russell is the cute blond)
Riding bikes at DeGray State Park

One of my favorite sibling photos at a rest stop

Photo op on the Carolina coast

If it was, I didn’t realize it at the time. Each time I went shopping I would come home with at least one item in a dark charcoal. Each time I reached into the closet I would invariably pick out an outfit with this color as the central theme. So pervasive was this color in my everyday wardrobe that a friend’s mother began calling that particular shade of gray, “Julianne Gray.” Soon, many of my friends were calling it the same. Even now, each time I’ve picked up a paint brush to paint the living room of the two houses we’ve owned, I have chosen a shade of gray (a much, much lighter shade). 

Russell (with a posse of cousins) at a family reunion 

Me with Russell after treatments began
In "Julianne gray"

It feels appropriate that I remember my little brother with the color gray. My parents gave Russell a family name: first name Russell, after my mom’s grandpa, Russell “Rusty” McGlothlin; and middle name Gray, after my dad’s grandpa, Virgil Gray Davenport. 

That brain tumor eventually did end his short life on this Earth, and the world has been grayer ever since. So in part, the name of my blog is a dedication to his sweet soul. More so than I ever realized before penning this post.