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Tribute to a friend I met online
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All too often, we hear horror stories about "meeting" people online. It's true that predators and crazy people use the Internet as a tool to take advantage of others, but if one uses common sense, the world of cyberspace can lead to true, real relationships.

Some of the best people on earth, whom I have come to know and love, were people I "met" on Facebook. Whether we connected because of mutual friends, shared interest or otherwise, I can count several people I've eventually met in person — and even some whom I've never met — as friends.

Ellie Colclough Futch was one of those people. I don't remember why we started talking, but we share several mutual friends and when it came to personalities, we clicked. I'm sure going to miss her posts - racy, nutty and purely hilarious. Unfortunately for us left behind, Ms. Ellie has gone on to heaven and reunited with her true love, Thomas.

Ms. Ellie was a hoot. Many may know her from the Statesboro Walmart, where she worked for years. Sweet little old lady? Maybe — but with plenty of spice to boot. Once I came to know her, I learned lots about the sassy senior who was always ready to jump to my defense when she thought I needed someone to watch my back.

She had several tattoos — the first of which she got in her 60s. Being a tattoo "owner" myself — having been branded on my collarbone at age 38 with a wild little Native American pony, mane blowing in the breeze — I understand why Ms. Ellie, as a senior, chose to decorate herself with ink.

Her tattoos, tasteful and mostly hidden from view unless she chose otherwise, were part of her free spirit. She wasn't a clueless teenager, but a seasoned adult, and she wanted to cross that item off her bucket list. I say more power to her because Ms. Ellie did what made her happy regardless of what anyone else said.

Ms. Ellie had a sweet, compassionate side as well. Possibly that is how we met — she became involved in charity efforts made by a small group of friends called "Pray it Forward."

When we had yard sales, car washes or other events to raise money for those who needed food, clothing or other necessities, Ms. Ellie would not only show up to help, but was generous in her donations.

A classy lady who always dressed to the nines, with makeup and jewelry perfectly accessorizing her outfit, painted nails and a smile, Ms. Ellie also had a salty side. You just didn't mess with her family, and that included friends. She would fly hot in a minute if she thought someone mistreated her kids, grandchildren or buddies, and not many people were willing to tackle the feisty granny when her dander was up.

Ms. Ellie would do anything she could to help others. She should have been nominated for the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award, because her heart was one of the biggest I've ever known. Her charity of choice was the Children's Miracle Network, but she showed generosity wherever she saw a need.

She wasn't your typical little old lady. Some may have found her vocabulary and tastes a little surprising, but I loved her uniqueness and lack of fear. She didn't sugarcoat and definitely would not hold back when expressing her opinions. She loved and lived life to its fullest, and enjoyed going on cruises with family.

We should all take a lesson from Ms. Ellie. She seized every opportunity to enjoy life, she appreciated others and made the most of every moment. She was a beautiful person inside and out, and the intensity of grief her sons, daughters and grandchildren experienced through her last days showed just how much she was loved.

I believe in soul mates, and Ms. Ellie often spoke of her late husband Thomas. Love comes in many shades, but a true soul-mate love lasts beyond death. He was gone, but not from her heart. A family member said Ms. Ellie spoke of Thomas in the days before she passed, and said he visited her before she spent her last day on earth. She said he was waiting for her.

In spite of missing her, knowing she had that reunion in heaven makes me smile. I love you, Ms. Ellie, and until we meet again — I hope I will always appreciate life the way you did.

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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