Monday, August 25, 2014

What a Ride

Last Saturday night over dinner, I told Clint that I needed to come up with my next topic for the blog, but so far, I had absolutely no ideas. When you've been blogging for almost two years, you pretty much use up all the good just-in-case stories you keep in your back pocket. I was feeling the pressure of writer's block. Maybe, I told him, something funny will happen in the next week and I will have my subject matter. It didn't. Instead, I got my subject matter in an entirely different way.

We found out last Monday that my cousin, Lana, had passed away unexpectedly. She was young and vibrant and fun, and frankly, I had thought many times that I could not wait to enjoy the havoc Lana would wreak one day as a little old lady. Needless to say, it was quite a shock to all of her family and friends to find out that she was suddenly gone.

Since we grew up pretty far apart--Lana in Dallas and myself in the metropolitan city of Toccoa, Georgia, I always heard about Lana but had never really gotten to know her until a few years ago. She and I connected through Facebook and hit it off immediately. As it turns out, Lana liked good food, good clothes, good friends, and good times (oh, and Peeps--let's not forget about Peeps). I am on board with every single one of those things, so we quickly found plenty of common ground. She loved my blog, and practically every post would start a discussion between us or bring up some funny family story or memory that she would share. How fun to get acquainted with my zany Texas cousin!

You may remember that last April, my mom and I went out to Dallas to visit with Lana for a few days. It would be an understatement to say that she rolled out the red carpet for us. I am so thankful I had the chance to go and spend time with her in person. She even loved me enough to take me on the tour of Southfork ranch (home of the television show Dallas, of course), even though she swore that no self-respecting Texan would be caught in such a tourist trap. The memories of our trip have given us a lot to laugh and smile about over the last week.

I have to say, what a life she lived. A perfect illustration (quite literally): there is an oil portrait hanging in her living room from a trip she and her parents made years ago to Monte Carlo. The portrait is an actual scene from the vacation, with 17-year old Lana slouching, pouting at the end of a craps table as her parents play and gamble. She was irate that they refused her the chance to sail on a yacht for a week with a cute guy she had met at the hotel a couple of days earlier. Imagine them ruining poor Lana's good time! The picture is even more priceless than the story.

Lana was also one of the select few who can call themselves a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. At least she was until, standing on the sidelines at one of the games, she looked up into the stands and realized her family was in a luxury box and they were having more fun than she was, and so she retired her pompoms the next day. What's more fun and glamorous than being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader?  Being Lana Sosebee.

Lana was smart, funny, articulate, and a total free-spirit. She was incredibly generous, and her family and friends meant more to her than anything in the world. She was, like her daddy, a fabulous cook, and her love of food was a big part of her life. I used to feel so envious of the friends who lived close enough to attend the parties, cookouts, and get togethers that she would frequently throw. It was almost tempting enough for me to justify paying the airfare to go!

That cousin of mine loved music, Las Vegas, thunderstorms, and spending quiet morning time sipping coffee out by the pool. Her two boys were her pride and joy, she was an avid hater of squirrels, and she literally counted down the days until the Texas state fair opened every year.

Another thing that mesmerized the celebrity worshipper in me was the fact that Lana lived in L.A. for a while before coming back to her Dallas roots, and while she was there, she traveled in the same circles as Jamie Lee Curtis ("we still give her fits about the yogurt commercials!"), Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Melanie Griffith, and Antonio Banderas (I'm sure there were more, but my cousin was modest and I would have to beg these details out of her).

Did I mention that wicked laugh of hers, or that irreverent sense of humor? To show you how much she loved having fun, a few months ago, she had a 15-foot high, 37-foot long custom slide built for her pool that would give any water park a run for its money. She certainly knew how to keep us all entertained. As a side note, I'd also like to thank her for introducing me to popovers with strawberry butter at Neiman Marcus and for giving me my first taste of Cristal champagne (her favorite). I'm pretty sure they are serving these in heaven, especially now that Lana is there. These are a but handful of things I know about my cousin; I wish I had been given more time to learn more.

I will certainly miss Lana, and the suddenness of her passing reminds me that life is short. Don't wait for the right number on the scale or in your bank account to make you happy.  You know that grudge you're holding? Let it go. Those nagging critical thoughts about yourself? Dismiss them. Don't let petty issues or petty people take even a moment away from you. Live large. Laugh out loud. Love fiercely. Enjoy every minute of it, and appreciate the fact that right now is the only thing you have for certain. I suppose, in the spirit of Lana Sosebee, I should also add, "Don't Mess with Texas." And as for sweet Lana, I think we can all agree: Wow! What a ride!


  1. Wow, thank you for sharing! Holt Hartgrove

  2. I only knew Lana 6 months and we met in the Forest Lane group. In the beginning we talked on FB but then we started to do things with the other girls. I felt I knew her all my life and she just got me to do more. I loved that girl she was such a great breath of fresh air. I miss her wit and laugh, and everything else. Stefanie Brown

  3. I've known Lana my entire life but you forgot one thing... she used f bombs like nobody I have ever met. I think she and I shared the same love of the word. This gives people a glimpse of who she is and it is wonderful. Anytime I think of her I hear her laugh in my head. So thank you for compiling so many thoughts of her in one place.

  4. Lana was a counselor of mine in 2009. I googled her and found this. So sad. What a great lady. She saved my life.


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