Keep Smilin’ with Rosie: Bad things do happen to good people, Part I


By Rosie Preston

When Harold Kushner’s book When Bad Things Happen to Good People was published during the late 1970s, I knew I had to read it. I had just lost a childhood friend after she was involved in a car accident. It’s hard to this day to describe the feelings that all her family and friends experienced. I cried for six months because she had already been through a lot of heartache. Her mom was single with two girls, with Marsha being the oldest. They lived with her grandparents in a nice neighborhood in the Country Club area.

Marsha was in the 11th grade when she lost her mother to breast cancer. It was very sad for all of us, and I remember Marsha going into the hospital for a few days after her mom died. After a while, Marsha came back to Gadsden High School and resume her responsibilities as a student.

During her time in high school, four boys that Marsha had dated passed away. One was in a motorcycle accident, two were in a car accident and one was shot. I wondered how Marsha continued to function with so many bad things happening to her.

Marsha and I had met through a mutual friend when we were around 12 years old and remained friends until she passed. Marsha had a great personality and was beautiful and had so many friends from all walks of life. She always spoke of getting married and of wanting to have six sons. Marsha did eventually get married, and she and her husband moved to Birmingham. Even though our lives were too busy for us to visit, we often spoke on the phone.

After a period of years, Marsha and her husband, Ronald Vineyard, did have three boys. She was elated with the way things had turned out. Marsha told me that all her husband’s friends couldn’t believe how she welcomed them into her home to play cards. She loved everything that had to do with her husband and children and the grandparents who raised her after her mother passed away.  We were two women who had much in common enjoying our individual lives of being all grown up and having most of our dreams coming true.

When Marsha was 27, she was involved in a car crash on the way home to Birmingham to celebrate a holiday party with her husband’s company. She had left her children at her grandmother’s house in Gadsden and was hit head-on by a drunk driver.

My dad lost four family members as they traveled from Birmingham to Gadsden one day. Six people were in the car when my granddaddy ran off the road and hit a power pole. So at the early age of five, my own family was shattered, and it’s something you never completely recover from. We were very close to our grandparents and three aunts who were in the car. The survivors of the crash were my dad’s identical twin sisters.

I’ll never forget answering the phone that day. My dad was outside, and I had to go tell him that my aunt was on the phone. As I watched him talk, he turned completely white and fell to the floor. He eventually put us in the car to try to find the place where the wreck had happened. He went to four hospitals before he found where they had been taken and told us who had lived and who had died.

To be continued.

Keep Smiling, Rosie

Contact Rosie Preston at

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