Unforgettable……forever etched in my mind

Recently I was at mom’s and there was a card left on the counter. I had already heard about the card. Alex told me about it! knew it if it brought tears to his eyes, I was in trouble. It was just a good thing that no one was there.

I knew Mom had left it there for me to read. So, I picked it up and began to slowly read the words Dr Anthony had written to Mom. It began something to the effect that it was way over due but wanted to let her know what a privilege it had been to have known Ned. His words were, “I think of Ned often. He is etched in my heart.”

As I read those words, all of the things that people said about him come flooding back.

A few days prior to his death, I asked family, co-workers and friends to tell me 3 words that came to mind when they thought of Ned. The response was overwhelming and we were able to read all of them to him prior to his death. He knew he was well-loved. In fact those at the Elizabeth House knew how loved he was. During his eight days there, there were more than 100 people who came to visit him.

At Ned’s request, I spoke at his Celebration service. I told the crowd there I was perplexed when he insisted that I speak on his behalf because he frequently gave me a hard time about my excessive talkativeness, dubbing it often as “diarrhea of the mouth”.

As I began to prepare for what God would have me say, I asked specifically for one word. Actually, I asked for a song with a one word title to best describe him. Almost instantaneously, the song, “Unforgettable” popped into my head. “That’s it. Precisely.” Then I began to pray over the scripture passage to use and one of my all-time favorites resonated clearly, Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for us to do.”

As God began to weave my thoughts with words, even I was shocked how quickly it all came together.

One of the most important aspects was not to just let people know what I thought about Ned but to also share how others including family, friends and coworkers felt about him.

Listed below are the things people said:

Unforgettable in every way!


Mom- love of my life

Terry- loyal, family, Nitro

Kristi- selfless, giving, caring, stubborn

David -loyal, dry, caring

Ryan – hardworking, devoted, stubborn

Matthew – my hero

Alex -stubborn, generous, dynamic

Amy- stubborn, strong, caring

Zach- stubborn, caring, strong

Haleigh -ornery, loving, stern

Marshall & June- stubborn, generous and rabid Florida St fan

Jennifer- love for Ann, stubborn, Seminole fan

Mark-smiling, fun-loving, and family oriented. Maxine-musical, faithful, and funny


Amber- stubborn, loving, Ann

Mike Miller — Do you know how hard it is to describe Ned in 3 words, well here it goes: Friend, Mentor, and Blessing

Elizabeth Kohl — Great sense of humor, Compassionate, Down to Earth

Stephanie Cantwell — I can’t do just three! Wonderful Godly example as a supervisor, leader, husband, father and grandfather. We always knew where he stood but even when we were in the wrong he would discipline with a gentle heart and hand. It was a true pleasure to work with him and call him a friend.

Chris Denny

Here are my three words for The General; grouchy old codger! No not really, he was an example of a solid Christian man who lived his life setting that example, true to his faith and a very kind and caring soul. Once you found it! 😀 ok that was more than three but I couldn’t think of single words to express what he represents to me.


Jerry Rice – Faithful loving husband

Cheryl Griffin – Happy Papaw Nedward

– Humourous, Direct, Humble

Jerry Hartline – Loyal, Stubborn, Definitely a Christian

Cecelia Rossell – Stubbornly loving and caring


Doris & Robert- supportive, wholehearted, prompt, outspoken

Jim & Retha- OK Kelly. I talked with Retha. Here’s what we came up with.

Integrity – he always wants to do the right thing. You couldn’t get him to cheat if you wanted to.

Kindhearted – beneath that sometimes rough appearing exterior, he would do anything for you we have observed.

Missions – nobody could do it like Ned, and nobody ever will.

Bob & Carol Friend loyal honest direct. Talented, committed, Nitro

Robert & Norma Ned was a Friend, Christian servant, Missions-minded, Faithful, Focused, Organized, Dry, Frank, Competitive, and Meticulous.

It’s evident that Ned’s life had a profound effect on everyone who knew him!

I think most of us will agree that his stubbornness, while sometimes, abrasive, was the driving force behind the last 19 months of his courageous fight. He touched the lives of many, including those who took care of him.

He loved with great passion! He never did anything half way! He always finished everything he started including finishing his earthly race with dignity and pride!

What he said the day he decided to allow Hospice to care for him!

He left a mark, one way or another, on everyone he encountered. He passing is leaving a substantial void but his legacy is one to be admired and mimicked. Be who you are, no matter who you’re with and no matter where you go!

Ned Whitmire. You truly made your dash count.

Enjoy celebrating your 1st birthday in Heaven. For those of us you left behind, it’s still difficult to do life without you. You were such an integral part of all of our lives. We wouldn’t wish you back but knowing you’re waiting for us makes the desire and taste of Heaven sweeter every day.

Tattoos and Grandchildren

I’d planned to share a different story, maybe next time or not at all. This is the story I am suppose to share with you on the eve of Ned’s birthday.

This picture is the last time he stood between his grandchildren. Little did we know but 21 days after I took this picture, God would call him home.

About two weeks before this picture was taken Ned had been in the hospital and Amy made her “big announcement”. She was getting another tattoo.

Ned’s primary response was directed towards me and Terry, “I can’t believe y’all would let her go and do such a stupid thing and mark herself with a tattoo.”

Terry gently reminded him that Amy was 19 and could make her own decisions and also reminded him that she had worked all summer, “If she wants to spend her hard earned money on a tattoo, let her. It’s her money. I’m not paying for it.”

Ned huffed and frowned. His standard response to anything he didn’t like.

I popped in and said, “I know you don’t like tattoos but at least let her tell you about it. She’s put a lot of thought into it and designed it herself.”

She carefully described the tattoo and its meaning. She told him he had inspired her to draw it. (I’ll share a picture and story at the end). Suffice to say, she had us all in tears and I looked over and saw a tear gently roll down Neds cheek.

His response was something to the effect, “That’s a great sentiment but I still hate tattoos and think they’re stupid!”

No more was mentioned, until the day after she got her tattoo. It was on a Wednesday because he was in the ER. He was miserable and in a lot of pain. They finally got him settled and I said, “Amy got that tattoo.”

He snarled

I pulled out my phone and said, “Look! It even has your signature.”

He glanced and said “I’ve never signed anything “Nitro”. That is not my signature.”

I explained that the tattoo artist took the letters from his signature to make the name Nitro. In fact, the artist was so gifted he was able to turn an “a” in Neds handwriting to an “o” since there was not “o” in his name.

He still didn’t buy it and wanted to argue but I changed the subject to keep him from getting excited.

The first time he saw the tattoo up close and personal was on October 8 when this picture was taken.

He only looked at the tattoo once and said, “I still hate tattoos and I think people who put them on their bodies are stupid.”

We tried passionately to no avail to get him to let us take a picture of him and Amy with her tattoo. He adamantly refused to look at her tattoo. Saying, “Now, Kelly I’ve already told you that I think people who have tattoos are stupid and you don’t want me to think my granddaughter is stupid do you?”

Our best efforts failed; however, as I look back at this picture I am reminded again of how much effort it took him to stand for those photos that day. I am reminded of how strong he was in his fight against the lung cancer. I am reminded of how determined he was to keep on living. More than that, I am reminded of the genuine and real love he had for his grandchildren. They were the spark in his eye and the spring in his step. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for any of them. All they had to do was call and he was there. Always.

The tattoo and it’s story:

Hello all,

Here is a little something I figured I would share with everyone following this page.

Don’t knock it until you read about it. I designed it myself.

Triangle- Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

My papaw Ned believes in the divine purpose for his life, and trust the Lord through it all.

Daisy- April’s birth month flower, and my Papaw’s birth month.

Flowers to me have always represented the beauty in life, as well as the delicacy of life.

“Nitro”- my Papaw’s nickname for being a stubborn, strong, yet caring man. This is in his handwriting.

My Nitro has been battling lung cancer, as you all know, for a while now. He is still believing in the purpose, and beauty of the life he has been given. I have seen strength in him in a way that I have never seen before.

He is my inspiration to continue to push through the hard times, and always be strong.

Thank you to everyone who has supported, and prayed for my grandparents through all of this.

Amy Yarborough

Why I call him Ned

In my previous post, Read here, I said Mom and Ned were married without a hitch. While the wedding did go off without a hitch, the marriage itself came with plenty.

One being that Ned was starting out with the insta-fam, a wife and three kids, and the knowing he would never have a biological child of his own.

Two, we would have to pack our family and move from Brevard to Columbus, NC. Why you ask? Ned’s job. He was a Special Agent with the SBI and he worked Polk and Rutherford Counties. The job required him to live in one of the counties in which he worked.

Prior to their June wedding, they purchased a lot in Columbus and hired Mom’s cousin from Inman to build the house. Around the first of August 1978, we loaded up the fam and moved into our new home.

I wasn’t thrilled. I’ve never been one for change, although my life has been a constant series of change. (This is how I know God has an incredible sense of humor.) The move took me away from my two best friends, Diane and Theresa. It also took me further away from my cousins, aunts, uncles and both sets of grandparents.

Not long after we moved, Ned sat us all down and told us that we could call him whatever we wanted to but his stipulation, “Whatever you start with, you stick with”. David and Kristi both chose to call him, Daddy and I chose, Ned. He never asked again and I never changed my mind. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t think of him as my daddy, it just meant we were both staid on what was agreed upon.

A few weeks after this encounter, he called me into his office with Mom. Probably the only time I wasn’t in trouble for something. No joke, I was always causing some sort of raucous! He and Mom sat me down and he followed up with this, “You know I love you, Kristi and David like your my own. I want to adopt you but that means you’ll have to change your last name. I wanted to ask you because your the oldest and whatever decision you make is fine with me. I won’t love you any more or less than I do right now.”

Without even a moments hesitation, I blurted out, “No. I don’t want you to adopt us. Daddy was so proud to have a son to carry on his name, I don’t want our last names changed.” He graciously and humbly accepted my answer and he never, ever asked again.

What kind of man does that, you ask? A man like, Ned Whitmire. A man with a generous, kind heart. A man who was sure of himself and had no need to demand his own way. A man who prayed and asked God to go before him, lead and guide him. A man who chose to do what God told him to do. That’s what kind of man does such a thing as this. He wasn’t looking to his own interest. He cared more about us than he did about himself or having a son to carry on his name.

So, when we get the stories about his stubborn and contrariness that made him who he was, you’ll first remember that he had a soft and tender side too!

This is the very reason, I call him a unique man. Most men, first and foremost, wouldn’t seek out a woman with three kids and ask her to marry him, much less be satisfied knowing he would never have any children of his own. You see, he found the one God had made and kept for him.

It all began with Fireworks

It all began with fireworks. I guess the should’ve known they were destined to become one!

On July 5, 1976 Mom took Kristi, age 5 and David, age 1, to the fireworks show at Brevard High School. They were delayed a day because of a monsoon rain on the 4th of July. Little did she know that God already had been working behind the scenes to make sure that Ned would be at the very same place with his two nieces, Sheila and Jennifer.

Mom and Ned had both grown up in Brevard and actually attended school together and graduated from Brevard High School in 1964. So, they knew each other but they had never been friends, just acquaintances. In fact Mom wasn’t really impressed with him in school because she dubbed him as the “class clown” and he was in trouble a lot!

At the fireworks show, Kristi sat with friends Betty and Larry Owen. So Mom found herself and David a seat. A few minutes later, Ned saw her and sat down beside her. The last time they’d seen each other was their Class Reunion a few years prior and Ned was engaged and Mom was pregnant with David. Mom naturally assumed he was married and that Sheila and Jennifer were his children.

They talked. Ned’s dad had passed away in March after having colon cancer. Mom told him Daddy “Mack” had died in April, of course Ned already knew that. In fact Mom said that’s probably why he came and sat down beside me! (She’s probably right). Mom said he held David throughout much of the fireworks. Oddly enough when they said their goodbyes, he didn’t ask for her phone number.

After their encountered, Mom said one night she fell to her knees and begged God to bring her someone to help her. She recognized she couldn’t raise three children on her own. And wouldn’t you know, a few days later Ned called. He actually used a telephone book to find her number. He told her The Letterman were going to be in Asheville and asked if she wanted to go with him.

Her response. Wait for it…….”I don’t know. I’ll have to ask my Mother!” I still find this hilarious. Mom is 30 years old and has to consult with her Mom. It wasn’t for approval as much as advice. Mom was afraid of what people might think. My grandmother told her that she shouldn’t worry about what others thought. If she wanted to, she should. Best advice Colleen could give her daughter. So, she accepted Neds invitation and they went to see The Letterman in concert in August.

My Mom had made a promise to herself not to marry until two years had passed after Daddy’s death.

After a year she and Ned were continuing to date exclusively. Mom was sickly at the time. All the stress of Daddy’s death coupled with raising three children on her own began to take a toil on her body. She ended up in the hospital with phlebitis.

During her hospitalization Ned stood by her side. In fact, as he tells the story to me, “I knew she couldn’t run away, so I decided that was he perfect time to propose.” She said, “Yes!”

It was decided they would marry on June 10, 1978. Mom said even up until the day before the wedding she asked God to give her a sign if he wasn’t the one. Obviously, Ned was the one because the wedding went off without a hitch. Ned would often tell her, “You know that the say, third times a charm.” He said this to her because he had been engaged twice before.

You just never know how powerful a fireworks show can be when God is orchestrating the details of your life!

You Are Loved

Have you ever wondered if you’re doing the right thing? Do you feel like you could be doing more? Do you feel like what you’re doing doesn’t really matter?

Lately, I’ve been feeling this way!

A little over two years ago when Greg decided to retire and I found myself jobless, I knew I would never find what I had with him. It was the perfect job. The perfect hours. The perfect boss. The perfect everything. I loved my job.

Right after we closed our doors my niece and nephew needed someone to care for the their babies one afternoon a week. I accepted the offer.

A few weeks after, I was offered a job. The job was for another cabinet shop. Hours were good and the owner of the shop was willing to be flexible. However, it would mean that I would have to give up watching them and doing some other things. Not to mention, Ned had just been diagnosed and I knew I needed to be available for him and Mom. I had an uneasy feeling in my gut. I declined the offer.

As it turned out, I ended up being able to spend additional time with the girls and pickup a few more cleaning jobs. I still felt a sense of worthlessness. Like I could be doing more or I should be doing more. However, I always found myself looking forward to seeing my girls or seeing my people. I would tell Terry time and again, I just want to be a blessing to them.

The few months have been an emotional rollercoaster. In addition to Neds death, our move, Popaw’s illness, I too have had a few issues of my own, mostly related to my back and neck. These issues have made for many sleepless nights and I don’t function well without sleep. I’m not a happy camper. Honestly, I don’t know how people go on little to no sleep. I can’t. Not only was I in physical pain but mentally as well.

Fortunately, I have a great chiropractor and now a massage therapist helping to alleviate my pain. Ibuprofen and Biofeeeze are now my best friends, along with stretching and walking and ice.

Having sleep the past few days has been a key ingredient to being mentally refreshed. I don’t feel like the walking dead now! And I don’t feel like I could cry over spilt milk. (That’s how I know I’m at my breaking point)

Anyway, I’ve been asking God to show me that what I’m doing matters I’ve also been asking Him if there’s something else I should be doing. He hasn’t given a clear answer on that yet but let me tell you what happened today.

After the girls got up from their rest time, we were sitting at the window playing, “I spy.” Hayden looked down and saw a sign on the neighbors porch and said, “Kelly, what does that sign say?”

“Welcome”, I replied. “Do you know what that means?”


“A welcome is an invitation to come in and visit.” I told her.

“Oh, well we don’t have a welcome sign. But we do have a sign.” She said. She hopped off the stool and went into her room. Bringing back a small sign in her hand, she said, “Tell me what this one says.”

“You are loved,” I told her.

I pointed to the sky and told both girls, “When you see the sky, the clouds, the sun, the moon, the stars, the trees and flowers those things are all reminders that God is telling us “you are loved”. He loves you more than anything. But you are also loved by others too. Who else loves you?”

Scottie, the younger one looked up at me and said, “You love me!”

I gave them both hugs and said, “Yes I do love you. But who else loves you?”

Then they named all the family members they could think of and then Scottie looks at me again and says, “and you love me!”

In that moment, I knew I was doing the very best thing I could do. They know they are loved and they have full confidence in my love for them.

God wants us to have the same confidence in His love for us. He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus to die for us. In that moment, He said, “You are so loved that I am willing to give my life for you!” However, we can’t have confidence in His love unless we know Him. Just like with the girls, I’ve spent the past two years building a relationship with them. Which is why Scottie could say with complete confidence in her sweet little voice, “you love me!”

When we begin to realize the vastness of His love for us, we too can look up towards heaven and say, “God, you love me”.

He replies, “You are so loved!”