Perfect in every way

Published 9:25 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

“Why didn’t you stop with perfection?”

I vividly remember those words coming from my sister as she joked with our mom years ago during one of our numerous gatherings at the home place on Pinetops Road in Northampton County.

While I can’t speak for my younger brother, Tommy, but following an emotional filled week, the thought of not being born to the now late Ray and Blanche Bryant did cross my mind while family and friends gathered to mourn the death of my sister. If mom and dad had stopped with perfection, I would have been spared the heartbreak of losing a sibling that I loved and admired so much.

Cynthia Marie Bryant Vinson succumbed shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. Cindy, at the still young age of 62, had reached deep inside and spent every ounce of energy within her petite frame to battle cancer. She was the victor in several of those battles, but in the end cancer won the war.

Growing up with an older sister was indeed a treat. As it is with most women of the “Baby Boomers” generation, Cindy took great pride in her appearance….that fact was very apparent with the time she spent “primping” in the only bathroom within our house back then.

Even though we were just average folks financially, Cindy was always dressed to the hilt. While I wouldn’t admit it back in our younger days, Cindy was an extremely attractive young lady. That fact became more apparent as I made my way through school where I began to take notice of the growing number of boys taking an interest in my sister.

One such male won out over the others. Robert “Rock” Vinson met Cindy while they were both employed at the now closed Panel plant in Murfreesboro. They were married in 1971 and moved to Arkansas a short time later in order for Rock, after completing his hitch with the US Navy Reserves, to finish his education at the University of Arkansas.

Along the way they added to our family, first with a daughter, Elizabeth (“Betsy”), and a son, Bryan. Rock was a great provider for his family, rising through the corporate ranks with Farm Credit Service. Eventually, after stops with regional offices in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Mississippi, he was named Executive Vice President at the firm’s home bank in Baltimore.

In the mid-90’s, Rock was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He and Cindy sped up their life’s plans by moving back to Northampton County and built a home next to our mom and dad. Cindy then assumed the role of being a great provider, taking care of Rock at home until his death in 1999.

Unfortunately, Cindy wasn’t finished with that role….first helping to care for our dad, whose health declined until his death in June of 2004, and then our mom who passed away in October of the same year.

Perhaps it was that mental toughness that allowed Cindy to find the inner strength to help wage her fight against cancer over the past seven years. Despite enduring several surgeries and numerous rounds of chemo, Cindy kept her beautiful smile and caring soul to the very end.

It’s tough to say good-bye, especially to one you love so deeply. I don’t want to let go, but I know she’s in a much better place where there’s no more pain or suffering.

Cindy was right….mom and dad started with perfection; the lone reason Tommy and I are here today is to have each other to lean on and get us through our sorrow.


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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