Renaissance Man is the title usually bestowed on a man made aficionado of all things cultured. Calm, collected and diversified, he’s master of all trades, jack of none. He is patient and kind, and has wisdom and insight to bestow on those of younger generations. Mr. Thomas Worthy is just such a man. Throughout his ninety-one years of life, he has managed to serve his country in two wars, marry one wife and raise two children, consistently cook meals for his family for over twenty years, publish poetry, work for an oil company and run a florist shop, and babysit his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And for the majority of these accomplishments, he’s lived under the same roof.
For almost 58 years, Mr. Worthy has lived in the same three-bedroom home. He remembers when his family was one the first on the street. Neighbors knew each other quite well back then, he says.
“We used to have a lot of children on our street and now we have quite a fewer number. We were young couples, all of us had children, and were raising families.”
Although Mr. Worthy doesn’t know some of his neighbors as well anymore, he recounts those he’s known throughout the years. The list is extensive, and although he refers from time to time to his address book, he doesn’t hesitate on many of the details of these people’s lives. Some of those he has kept up with still live in the area, but no one comes close to competing with his stint on the street.
When asked what his favorite memories of this place were, Mr. Worthy lists a flood of every day moments, good and bad: taking care and worrying about his wife Joyce while she was sick, spending time with his grandchildren and watching them after school here. Mr. Worthy’s day-to-day memories are what stick because they are the fundamentals of his life in Richardson and of the lives of so many in his family.
Mr. Worthy met his wife, Joyce while stationed in Oklahoma during World War II. The two were soon married in 1944 when he was 22 and Joyce was 19.
“My wife, she was a real smart woman, not because she was my wife but just because she was,” he says.
The couple moved to Dallas to begin their life together, and when Mr. Worthy was transferred to Richardson branch of Sun Oil Company, the pair moved with their two young children to this neighborhood in 1955. As Joyce worked her way up through management of a department store, Mr. Worthy would daily ride his bike to work just across Highway 75. For several years, he also owned a florist shop on Richardson’s Main Street.
“I always loved flowers and when I was younger, always had flowers in my yard,” says Mr. Worthy.
He watched as his children, Pam and Bill, went to the newest schools in the neighborhood (built so fast the pair each attended different schools), graduated and then began having families of their own. Slowly, more houses were built and the little street became what it is today.
Mr. Worthy’s niece eventually bought a house across the street and now Pam lives there with her husband. She called during the interview to make sure he was okay, probably wondering about the unknown car parked out her father’s front lawn.
Mr. Worthy exudes patience and kindness. Because he would return home earlier than Joyce, he was always the one to make family meals in the evening. After retirement and Joyce’ passing, he continued to do the same for his grandchildren and even his grandchildren, babysitting them regularly after school.
“I have a good family. We weren’t a very big family, but what we have I appreciated,” he says.
While he talks softly about caring for his wife Joyce during her battle with Parkinsons, and humbly about caring for younger generations, Mr. Worthy makes it clear his friends and family members have also cared him for. Piles of birthday cards are stacked on his piano in the front room from his recently celebrated 91st birthday.
“The family showed me much love,” he says. “I want to pass on a good life to them.”
As Mr. Worthy points to different family members he knows so well in the numerous photographs hanging on his walls around his living room, it’s evident his true talent lies within caring for those closest to him. Mr. Worthy has chiseled out his Renaissance expertise in areas such as cooking and caring for others not through boisterous triumphs and accomplishments but rather through the day to day details of living life faithfully to God and to others, or as he puts it in his poetry:
“Life is made up of the good and bad, bitter and sweet, happy and sad…Takes both sides the wrong and right, to prove us faithful in God’s sight.”
I live on a quiet little patch of road tucked behind a large, diverse shopping center. People on the street are friendly, but most keep to themselves and stay busy with work and their families. Dana is one exception to that rule. Several mornings over the course of my first month in Richardson, I passed her in front of our house as I finished my morning run. She was always casually walking back from our street corner with two tiny dogs following close behind.
It wasn’t long before Dana introduced herself to me.
“What is your name?” she said with a kind intentionality as I leaned over, my hands on my knees during an attempt to catch my breath. We talked about her dogs and the people on our street, and I quickly realized Dana was exactly the type of neighbor everyone should have.
Dana pointed to house after house all the way down the road naming everyone who lived at each residence.
“I’m pretty friendly,” she said.
Dana has lived five doors down from my current home for nine years. She knows the neighbors not only because she walks her dogs, Mae Pearl and Lucy, every morning, and not only because she works from home, but also because she takes the time to stop and find out about people just like she did for me.
When I actually interviewed her, Dana didn’t stop moving, I mean she literally did not stop moving. Rearranging her plants, hanging bird-feeders, and fussing with her already immaculate yard, I tried to keep up.
“I can’t be still very easily. My relaxing is being productive physically,” she told me.
As she ticked tasks off her to-do list, Dana told me about her job and her kids. She’s lived in Dallas most of her life. For the past 10 years, Dana has worked as a seller and buyer for materials in distribution centers for big companies like Wal-Mart and Walgreens.
Dana said every morning she wakes up and has to decide whether to buy old supplies from these companies or sell back supplies to them. I imagine she’s successful at her job both because of her amazing multi-tasking abilities as well as her willingness to speak her mind.
But the more time I spent with Dana, the more I realized it wasn’t really what she did for a living that gave her the greatest sense of joy. I think Dana truly loves knowing and caring for other people.
“We weren’t created to be alone,” she said.
Her belief in this statement was evident in almost everything Dana did during that chat: she moved around several plants on her front porch to clear the stairwell so an older neighbor could easily walk to her front door; she unabashedly bragged about her two kids although she wouldn’t tell me much about herself unless I asked; and as we walked down the alleyway behind her house, she devotedly picked up trash from the gravel below us.
“Sometimes I just come down here to sweep and get up all this stuff,” she said.
I responded somewhat thoughtlessly, “That’s nice,” and without hesitation she replied, “Well, it should be.”
Dana considers the neighborhood as a place that should be nice for everyone just as much as she considers herself as someone who should be nice to everyone. I could be wrong, but I think that’s the perfect definition of what it means to be a good neighbor.
I photographed a mask-making workshop at St. Matthew’s Cathedral Arts a couple of weeks ago. St. Matthew’s offers free workshops like this one done in partnership with Cara Mía Theatre that are open to the public, so much fun! You can find out more about their workshops by visiting their Facebook page.
I’m so excited to share these images! Last week, I worked with Brittany Knight from That’s Pretty Ace to put together a Fall Shoe Preview. Brittany is an amazing creative and if you don’t know about her style blog, you need to check it out! Make sure to take a look at That’s Pretty Ace early next week for more images from our shoot together.
Yes, that title is correct. About two weeks ago, I traveled from Dallas, TX, to a little place called Island Park, Idaho, visited Yellowstone, saw a musical, stumbled upon a dead deer and witnessed the Grand Tetons at sunrise before traveling the long road back to Dallas all within the daylight and darkness of four days. The purpose of this seemingly ill-advised venture was to pick up one of my dearest and oldest friends, Payton, from her summer working with a theater company in Island Park. The catch was that we had to do this between Thursday and Monday in order for my other dearest and oldest friend, Carolina, to make it to work on time. Admittedly, we didn’t think through some of the logistics of this plan. However, we did enough to get by and fortunately fulfilled our purpose almost completely unscathed. Spending the day in Yellowstone with two of my best friends was definitely the highlight of the trip, and Payton was kind enough to display her dancing abilities in front of my camera as you’ll see below. I’ll post more photos later in the week, but for now, here’s the first round.