Sharrie Williams, author of The Maybelline Story, is an original descendant of the Maybelline family. Her Great uncle, Tom Lyle Williams, founded the Maybelline Co in 1915 and sold it in 1967. Sharrie shares her family's photos, stories and vintage Maybelline ads.
I yearned to finish my book someday and eventually live in my new home as a published writer.
Georgia and I received fire-survivors counseling through FEMA and she began working through the post-trauma that had thrown her into a deep depression. I tried to make the apartment and her room as luxurious as possible, but was so distracted with the rebuilding process, I seemed emotionally unavailable. She yearned for a boyfriend and within a year of the fire she found him and fell in love.
My life however, had become a nightmare of red tape and paperwork... trying to give the Insurance company an idea of what I lost. Georgia told me I cared more about money than anything else and was mad I wasn't more sympathetic about her feelings for her boyfriend. I didn't approve of him and soon became the enemy.
The stress was killing me and the only place I felt safe was at the beach looking out at the rocks on the coastline. I yearned for the past and cried for my mother, who's mental health prevented her from being emotionally available for years......
so sought comfort and love from Mother Nature.....as I peacefully sat and watched the rocks being bathed by the crashing foamy waves. With my life twisting and turning in chaos, the rocks with their sense of permanency gave me soul peace and soothed my broken spirit.
The busy people scurrying by on the boardwalk seemed so out of balance with the undisturbed rocks and It struck me how temporary life was and how material things come and go. You just have to enjoy the stuff while you have it and then let it go. I reflected on my relationships as well, realizing they too are only temporary and could be washed away with the tide at any time.
I'd close me eyes and think about America as far back as
possible and felt compassion and empathy for those who had lost everything in the Civil War, the holocaust, the Titanic, WWI, and WWII and cried for all the lost lives..... the lost dreams. I pictured Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg address and thought about how freedom is really the greatest loss to endure and how fortunate I really was to only have lost my material things.
Suddenly it occurred to me that the rocks were here since the beginning of time and would probably remain until the end. I reflected on how my family fit into the scheme of history..... like a deck of cards..... and began placing my family pictures into the stack. I saw my grandparents, parents, siblings, Gene, Georgia and even my future grandchildren flowing through the deck and slowly my mind slowed down enough to filter through the lost boxes of pictures in the garage that had been destroyed by the fire.
Eva, Frances, Tom Lyle, Bennie, Preston Williams
All of a sudden my imagination came back to life and I was able to see my great uncle Tom Lyle, smiling as he posed with his family in 1916, right after he renamed his little company Lash-Brow-Ine, Maybelline,in honor of his sister Mabel.
Day after day I looked forward to my quiet times at the beach listening to the hypnotic rhythm of the waves lulling me into deeper and deeper meditation. I had discovered another world inside myself and as the birds called to each other from the rocks, my imagination turned their sounds turned into words. My family's history came to life as tears poured onto my lap and quickly dried as if they never existed.
A deep sense of loss for my grandfather, Preston,... my dad's father, whom I'd never known, came over me and I felt the passion and romance of his spirit. Stories of him unfolded as the waves misted my face..... and I knew he'd live forever in my heart. Week after week, I put the puzzle of my past together and the clearer the picture became, the more I realized it was impossible to put a number on my loss without telling The Maybelline story.
I called my agent at the Greenspan Co. and told them what I'd discovered and they agreed with me. My loss wasn't just a slam dunk situation, it was very unusual, almost on the level of a celebrity.
"Where do I begin," I asked.
"From the beginning," my agent said, "we'll tell them the whole story as you remember it."
Stay tuned tomorrow, as the picture of my loss finally unfolds......