Thursday, August 27, 2015

Guest Blog: A Star in Heaven: Chelsea Ann Tucker (1989-2015)

Chelsea Tucker would have been 26 years old today. She was beautiful, vibrant and tragically was killed earlier this year. Chelsea was my brother's niece. Aunt Celeste and Uncle John loved her very much and wanted to share their memories of Chelsea on this special day. I am honored they asked if they could do so by posting a guest blog.

Chelsea Ann Tucker (1989-2015)

By John and Celeste (Tucker) Jennings

Aunt Celeste remembers...

I remember when John and I took you and Heather to Disney World three months after we were married. Yes, we were brand new newlyweds. Heather was 12 and you were 9. We took you guys to eat at the Pizza Hut; and, when the waitress took our drink order, I told her I wanted the biggest beer she had. Boy, did I get a look from her! We left Orlando and drove all the way to St. George Island, driving across the whole state of Florida. You and Heather sat in the back seat, singing at the top of your lungs and singing different songs, of course. That was when Walkman's were popular.

Heather and Chelsea at Disney World; personal collection

Heather and Chelsea clowning around at Disney World; personal

I remember the time when our family went to St. George Island, Florida, over the 4th of July. We were all sitting around drinking fuzzy navels, not paying you any attention. You picked up someone's drink and started drinking it. Your Daddy wasn't very happy when you did that. So he carried you up to bed and you looked up at him and asked, "Is this a waterbed?" You were a little bitty thing then.

I remember you had a little bit of tomboy in your blood. You and your Daddy loved to go dove hunting together. He would shoot a dove and you would go retrieve them. He even bought you a gun and gave it to you. I didn't know they made guns that small with barrels so short. I don't think there was anything you wouldn't try. You were something else! Definitely a Daddy's girl; both you and Heather loved your Daddy.

Chelsea and her Daddy, Mark Tucker

I look to the stars in the sky in heaven on this day, which would have been your birthday, and send love, hugs and kisses. I miss you like crazy!

We remember...

I remember not long after your Daddy died, we took you, Heather, your Mom and MaMa to visit Washington, DC. We all stayed at Pete and Schalene's (Uncle John's sister) house, but spent most of our time sightseeing. All the usual stuff...the monuments and museums along the mall, etc. We also toured a winery (whoever thought northern Virginia had wineries?) We all favored the white wines over the reds. We went to Mount Vernon -- George Washington's house -- where an impromptu concert by period musicians caught everyone's attention. We had dinner, our last night in Washington, at an authentic Chinese restaurant in Chinatown where the world's largest margarita was liberally shared. WARNING: photograph may be incriminating!

Heather and Chelsea at a Chinatown restaurant in Washington, DC;
personal collection

Uncle John remembers...

I remember when you were 10 or 12, you came to Anniston, Alabama, to visit usYour Aunt Celeste looked at me and we said, "What are we going to do with a kid? What is there to do in Anniston?" We took you to a local baseball field to watch a Little League game. At least you would be around kids your own age. We sat in some folding chairs along the fence just past the end of the dugout. The players soon caught sight of you. One boy would peek around the corner at you and then go back to tell his friend -- a whisper and a sly pointing of his finger towards you. Then another boy would come around the corner of the dugout for a glimpse. At the on-deck circle, they had their chance to impress. The boys would come out, head held high and chest out, pick up a bat with more practice weights than they could handle and take a Major League swing. You know how boys are when they are trying to impress! Next, they would take a peek over their shoulder to see if you were watching. You created a buzz at the Anniston Little League baseball field.

Chelsea, her MaMa, and Aunt Celeste; personal collection

I remember when you bought your first car -- not the first car you drove, but the first you bought -- a black Acura. You asked for help and advice negotiating the purchase, so several of us went with you to the dealership. You got a LOT of advice, didn't you? Most of it was contradictory. You wanted the car but were worried the insurance premiums might put it out of reach. Some of us encouraged you to buy the car and go with your heart. As your cold, analytical, dispassionate engineer-type uncle, I counseled you to wait until you knew all the facts before you bought the car. You listened to all of us, then worked out a way to take the car home but not purchase it until you figured out the insurance premiums. I was so impressed by how you handled the situation and thought you had such a good head on your shoulders.

The first car Chelsea bought; personal collection

I remember you were the first to call me "Unc John." I remember it well. We were at your house on a Sunday afternoon.  Celeste and I were still just dating at the time. When Chelsea called me Unc John, Celeste told her quietly behind my back "Don't call him that, you might scare him off."  She didn't know I heard. I smiled to myself: there was no scaring me off by that time. Before long I was shopping for a ring and a bottle.
I remember Celeste and I took you and Heather to the Atlanta Zoo.  You were both young kids at the time.  After a long day of walking around the zoo, looking at all the different animals, we got back in the car to head home.  I pulled off at an exit in Jonesboro.  At the stop light at the end of the off ramp I announced it was time to eat and asked everyone what they wanted.  "Chucky Cheeeeeeeeeze!" came the reply in unison from Heather and Chelsea --the 'cheese' being drawn out in a long, excited, high-pitched syllable.  Celeste and I didn't know what Chucky Cheese was, so out of total ignorance we agreed.  We soon learned that Chucky Cheese is a place parents take their kids when they want to quit being parents for an hour or two.  The kids were literally wilder than the animals at the zoo.  I think the lions would have been afraid of them.  I'm happy to say you and Heather were the best behaved children there.  We left full of extra cheesy pizza and with a ringing in our ears of a thousand screaming kids.

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