Gray Matter

During my junior year of high school I took a liking to the color gray. That’s not really a strong enough statement. It was a borderline obsession. Not just any shade of gray–a dark, charcoal gray. It was a time when my youngest brother, Russell, was battling an aggressive brain tumor. Maybe it was a manifestation of mourning.

Woods family church photo
The Woods crew (Russell is the sweet blond)

Biking at DeGray Lake State Park
If it was, I didn’t realize it at the time. Each time I went shopping I would come home with at least one item in a dark charcoal. Each time I reached into the closet I would invariably pick out an outfit with this color as the central theme. So pervasive was this color in my everyday wardrobe that a friend’s mother began calling that particular shade of gray, “Julianne Gray.” Soon, many of my friends were calling it the same. Even now, each time I’ve picked up a paint brush to paint the living room of the three houses we’ve owned, I have chosen a shade of gray (a much, much lighter shade).
Photo op at a rest stop in ArkansasFamily photo on the Carolina coast
It feels appropriate that I remember my little brother with the color gray. My parents gave Russell a family name: first name Russell, after my mom’s grandpa, Russell “Rusty” McGlothlin; and middle name, Gray, after my dad’s grandpa, Virgil Gray Davenport.

Russell with a posse of cousins
Russell with a posse of cousins
Russell after his treatments for brain tumor started
Russell and I after his treatments began in 1998.


That brain tumor eventually did end his short life on this Earth, and the world has been grayer ever since. So in part, the name of my blog is a dedication to his sweet soul. More so than I ever realized before penning this post.  Save

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11 thoughts on “Gray Matter

  1. What a precious story! Thank you for sharing your heart! I am signing up for your mailing list and looking forward to hearing more of your journey!!!

  2. I knew about Russell’s story but not the story about the name “Gray” on your blog. this is an inspiring post. You are so special to me!!

  3. This is such a heartfelt, precious story. Thank you for sharing. You are talented in so many ways!

  4. Wow…thanks for sharing these thoughts, Julianne. A very difficult time for a lot of people but I’ve often thought of how difficult (way beyond my understanding) it had to be for you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Mike! I know Russell had a big impact on a lot of people. Thanks for your kind comment!

  5. I bet you are beautiful in charcoal. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know how it feels; although my brother was a casualty of war. And I agree. The world is a bit grayer without mine, too. Peace and comfort to you!

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