Month: December 2011

A Word About Legacies

Company Picnic

I have made my niche in Life Coaching about inspiring people to create their legacies.  I continue to believe that this is so very important.  I had asked my mom and dad repeatedly to write down or even record the stories from their childhood and life together.   They never really got around to it, but mom thought about it a lot. 

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Their whole generation of our family is now gone.  It is up to the children to gather photos, gather information, and try to write down memories so that so much of that era in our family is not forgotten or simply lost.  A legacy is so much more than just monetary and items.  A legacy is about family, friends, experiences, memories, and so much more.  It is a goal of mine to leave my children with rich legacies not just of “stuff,” but of loving memories, shared and passed down. 

I did not ask my parents much advice or for much of anything this last year, however, I did talk to them every day, and after dad passed away in September, I talked to my mom sometimes two or three times a day.  I did not get to spend the time with her that I wished I could have.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I have some regrets, I think that everyone has some when you lose someone.  

I had spoken to my mom just a few minutes before she passed away on Monday, Dec. 12th.  She had not been feeling well and when we all tried to call her back to check on her she never answered the phone.  She had already changed residences, we just didn’t know yet. 

The days following mom’s passing proved to be nerve wracking and emotionally almost impossible.  I kept longing to call her over the smallest things.  The feeling and “want” would not be satisfied no matter how much I told myself she was gone.  So I did the only thing that made sense to me.  I started a journal just for her called “Dear Mom.”  So for every time I wanted to pick up the phone and call her I would pick up my journal instead and write to her.  It helped some because I was (in a sense) talking to her, though I could no longer hear her replies. 

I am not sure where this journal will lead, whether it will just be a personal thing, or whether I will later share it with others as a sort of tribute or memorial to my mom.  Right now it is an outlet that allows me to deal with not being able to talk directly with her.  As the days go by it has been a way for me to work through the grief, cloudy days and heal. 

I know there are brighter days on the horizon, but it will take a bit for the sun to shine my way again.  Either way I will make sure my children remember. 

Casey and Lindsey

Cherry Coley (c)

Christmas Joy

Photo by Cherry Coley

I love my children.  Lindsey, my youngest daughter drew me a picture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy – freehand.  Since it is a Christmas picture, I plan on framing it and making it a Christmas decoration to bring out each year.  I love homemade presents!!  They are the best possible thing to give me because then I know there was thought and effort put into it as well as a touch of heart. 

Lindsey is a constant artistic surprise!  She inherited many art sets and kits throughout the Christmas holidays and has spent lots of time painting, drawing and creating. 

Casey, my oldest daughter just started working her first job this year and so was able to experience that wonderful thrill of earning her own money, getting her own check and then buying Christmas gifts that she paid for all by herself.  I am so humbled and honored that she did this for me.  How well I remember those days!!  I loved that feeling that first year I was working at the bookstore.  My parents and brother got lots of books, movies and calendars from where I worked.  My parents both loved books and movies and it was from those days that my dad started his collection of Disney video’s and Hollywood Musicals.

Casey knows my love of books and so bought me a Kindle this year as a Christmas gift.  I am IN LOVE with my Kindle.  It’s the best thing EVER!!  This statement is coming from someone who is addicted to the written word and loves the feel of books.  I love the portability of the Kindle and the fact that I can get all sorts of books for free or for .99 cents!  I had used the free Kindle app from Amazon for my PC before and was delighted when I could sync my Kindle with the PC and put those books on the Kindle.  I love that I can highlight, and bookmark things and then come back right where I left off on any and all books I have the device.  I am a variety reader too, so at any given point I am usually reading about 4-6 books at a time depending on the mood and where I am.  Kindle caters to the variety reader as now I am not lugging around stacks of books.  Yes, I am a bit slow as Kindle has been out a few years now, but what can I say, I really didn’t think I would like it that much.   Now, however, I have a new passion AND new goals.

I have found such a love for this device and software that I fully intend to publish my work through the Kindle format.  Technology is such a wonderful thing!

A Dark Christmas

dark forest

There are times in this life when the path grows dark and uncertain and the only choice is to keep walking, keep going, suck up your courage and keep trudging through the darkness.  It’s not a fun time, in fact there are times when it’s gut wrenching, painful and the sadness and hurt will literally bring you to your knees.  There are times when fear will surround you to the point it’s hard to breathe and you simply want to stop – quit, not go any further because it’s just too hard.   There are times when you feel so alone that it seems like you are in a void, where there’s no light, no sound, nothing at all, just darkness.  Yet, I have been here before, though this darkness is thicker and the pain is more intense, I am no stranger to it. 

So here I am again, walking in the dark.  I know if I stay on the path and keep on moving that at some point, all of a sudden, the darkness will break, and the light will shine again.  Then the colors will start to glow and burst forth to create joy and warmth.  I just have to keep moving in this direction.  I have to make myself get up and keep going, because I know if I sit down I will be stuck here for a long time.  People that sit down can become lost then have to get help to find their way back.  I refuse to get lost.  

Grief plays tricks on your mind.  It’s not a kind thing, but just from my personal experience, I think (for me) it’s better to give in to it when possible.  Allowing myself to feel, cry, hurt, be frustrated, angry, sad, even hearing the voices of blame and all the what if’s.  I know just in myself it is far better for me to allow myself to go through it all, then to push it down or try to act like everything is okay.  So I have been a busy hermit at times. 

I made it through the weeks before Christmas fairly well, or so I thought.  I didn’t really realize how much effort and strength it was taking to hold it all together until the day we got off work for Christmas.  Then on the way home that afternoon I simply lost it.  I started crying and it felt like a black hole opened up inside my chest that sucked all light out of the environment.  I pulled the car over and just sat and cried for about an hour.  I couldn’t stop the flood.  Once I got it out of my system, though, I felt much better, lighter, though very raw and vulnerable.

It was then I decided to nix the Christmas Carols, and forgo the Christmas church service.  I just couldn’t do it.  I knew I would be blubbering all the way through it which would not be enjoyable for me or the people around me.  So, I did the thing I had put off to the very last minute, I went shopping. 

Christmas shopping while depressed, or grieving is dang near impossible, just so you know.  Every store has whiney Christmas music piped over the loud speakers, there are tons of kids running around grabbing toys, clothes or whatever else they find to show their parents they want this or that.   It was a long and exhausting process, but I managed to get a few things taken care of. 

Here is where I must say that I am SO THANKFUL that (for me) Christmas is about people, not stuff.  Our Christmas’ holidays with the kids and I have always been somewhat small, but we have made sure to get at least one nice gift and then other stuff that was also needed or wanted, but not so important.  Usually, I try to make some stuff for Christmas, but this year I just didn’t have it in me to put it all together. 

Since we had all had so much loss in such a short of amount of time our small family decided to do something completely different.  We all met up and went to Olive Garden on Christmas Eve.  It was a nice quiet meal with minimal emotions and just a good gathering.  It helped to do something way out of our norm. 

Christmas day we were able to sleep late, then get up and spend it with just us three.  It was nice to just take our time and relax.  Casey made breakfast, and we spent the rest of the day just enjoying each other, with me reading and watching Lindsey do her artwork and all of us watching Horror movies all day.  It was a great Christmas considering. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Mom, Did You Have To Go So Soon?

Reva Coley 4/8/1929 - 12/12/11

Oh mom, how much I will miss you.

Your name was Ella, but you hated for anyone to know that.  You grew up in the hills of Arkansas with Wendell and Odell that were twins, and a sister named Marlene. Odell was gone at a very young age of 2 years old.  You often talked about having to walk to the one roomed, school house up on the mountain in the snow and sometimes barefoot, uphill both ways.  I often giggled at the expression until you are Marlene took me up on that mountain to see that school house (which is still standing) and I understood.  It really was in the middle of the woods and because the school itself sat down in a sort of dip in the land on the mountain, it really was uphill both ways if you walked to it.  Amazing, that the building is still there, and wonderful that you took me to see it.

I remember you telling me that you met dad at a skating rink and that he ran into you, causing you both to fall down and you to break your arm.  You both had such a good sense of humor and it’s because of you that my dad came to church and to know God

I know I was such a handful as a kid and you often wondered if I would be okay.  I have such a strong and somewhat odd imagination that my mind would wander away often in the middle of some important lesson you were trying to teach me.   I was, at a very young age, always attracted to darkness.  Witches, and vampires, all things dark were my fascination long before Harry Potter or Twilight was ever even thought of.  Amazing too since you censored everything I watched.  I was an odd child.

At the age of eleven, even though I was in a revival and surrounded by my peers, you were the one that noticed I was at war with myself from across the room.  You were the one that followed me out of the sanctuary to the car and you were the one that held me and then led me to Christ that day.  It changed my life forever and is part of the reason I am still here.

So many nights I made you worry while I was going to college and just hanging out with my friends.  I was just being a teenager and testing my limits, you were a prayer warrior praying constantly for my safety.  Oh how you laughed and laughed when I had girls and then called you to apologize for all those long nights I made you worry.  You told me my time to worry and pray was coming because you can’t sleep when your child is out late.  You were right.

I simply have no words to convey how much you helped me, how many things you taught me along the way.  You had more spiritual and physical strength than anyone I have ever seen.  From the time I was very small you taught me to think for myself, to reason out my own problems and stand on my own two feet.  When I was 15 and a Junior in high school, you went with me and signed for me to be able to work at B. Dalton Bookseller.  You did this because you knew I needed a job and that you might not be there.  You had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and given approximately six months to live.  You decided the doctor was just human and had no idea how strong you were or what God is capable of.  You were right.  You endured two years of chemo that was way over what they were supposed to give you and crawled your way back to health and working.  You had cancer two more times through the years and each time beat the odds leaving the doctors amazed at your spirit and asking what you believed. 

You were hard on me and made me strive to always work harder, try harder, reach for more, ask questions, suck it up and keep going.  Our ways of looking at and dealing with things were vastly different and I know I was a source of frustration and worry in many ways because I approach things so differently.  Yet we were learning to communicate better, to see each other’s point of view and to share new discoveries in our beliefs in our interaction with people and in studying the bible.  I do not believe you were ever satisfied with me, but were learning that since I see myself as a constant work in progress, that it is okay.  You told me you were glad I am a knowledge seeker and that is something you wanted to see me continue throughout my life. 

You taught me anything is possible if you work hard enough, keep your integrity and treat others as you would want to be treated. 

I will strive to be the person you knew I could be.  Thank you mom, for such a wonderful example.

Lindsey vs. Santa – Gotta Love Christmas!

This is a story about my lovely, youngest daughter Lindsey.  

photo by Cherry Coley

My sister-in-law – Jamie once said (of Lindsey) – “That kid just oozes personality.”  I don’t think I will ever hear of a better description of Lindsey.  She did then and she still does “ooze personality.”  She is, like her sister, a completely different individual, who has from a very young age marched along happily to the beat of her own drum. 

This event took place in December 2000 – When Lindsey was two years old at First Baptist Learning Center in Downtown Dallas.

It was a cold day in early December and I was taking the kids to school.  Casey went to kindergarten and Lindsey was in the two-year old class.  As we were walking through the foyer we saw a large red and gold chair wrapped with green garland and lights, white floor covering and small trees placed around by the chair along with a few wrapped gifts.  Today the daycare had announced they were bringing in Santa for pictures for the kids.  As we walked by Lindsey pointed to the display and said, “what’s that?” 

I said, “I think you are going to have a visitor.”

We walked on through and dropped Lindsey off at her class.  All the kids were dressed in their best Christmas outfits.  Lindsey and Casey had on red matching dresses, white tights and black shoes.  Lindsey immediately ran and got on a Big Wheel and started paddling around the classroom. 

I walked on and took Casey through to the next building to her class.  The kids were making snowmen with cotton balls and black felt.  Casey was excited.  She loved kindergarten.

I waved to Mrs. Penny (the principal) and went downstairs and across the street where I worked in Lincoln Center.

It was about 10:30am that something occurred to me and suddenly I had a sinking feeling.  The day before the daycare had another visitor.  The Crime Dog, McGruff.  He had come by to talk to the kids about “stranger danger.”  He was very thorough and even included a part about staying together at the mall.  The kids had spent the night before coloring the books he had handed out.  “I’m sure it will be okay,” I told myself.

By the end of the day I had not received a call from Penny so I thought things must have went well.  After I got off work I walked back to the Learning Center to pick up the kids. 

I was met at the door by Mrs. Penny.  She looked at me, shook her head and motioned me into her office.  Uh oh.

“I need to tell you what Lindsey did,” she said.

I sat down.

“First of all, Lindsey acted really well this morning.  She was well-behaved and kept her dress nice and clean.  She behaved so well that Ms. Eva made her the leader for the class when they brought the kids down to take pictures with Santa.” She smiled.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  (Lindsey had a habit of stripping if she got too hot.)

“Lindsey led the class in a straight line down the hall and the stairs.  She even helped the teachers tell the other kids to be quiet when they went by the baby rooms.” She went on.  I was feeling better.  This was a good thing!

“Then the teachers opened the glass doors…Lindsey marched through and slammed on her brakes..pointed her finger at Santa and yelled…’STRANGER!’” she tried to look stern, but her lips were quivering in a hidden smile.  “She then screeched at all the kids behind her yelling ‘STRANGER STRANGER!!’ Until she had all of them yelling with her.  They turned and ran back up the hallway, up the stairs and back to the room, where Lindsey turned the latch and locked out both of her teachers.”

“I am…..soooooo sorry,” I whispered.

“So not only did the entire class NOT get their pictures taken with Santa, but we had to make a trip upstairs with the key to open the door, which wasn’t easy since the kids were all leaning against it because Lindsey was telling them to keep the stranger out,” she went on.

“Oh gee,” I said.

“Your daughter is quiet a leader,” she said.

“Um, yes,” I replied, “she seems to be that.”

“Don’t ever let that go away,” she smiled. 

“But….aren’t you mad? I mean, none of the kids got their pictures taken with Santa and she locked the teachers out,” I replied.

“I will have to explain to the parents that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea for us to have invited Crime Dog McGruff over to do the stranger talk the day before the Santa pictures.” She agreed, “Then I will tell them that the class really paid attention, and that they should not be frustrated, but pleased that the children learned a lesson, even though it caused them an inconvenience.”

“Thank you,” I said.

On the way out the door I asked Casey if she got her picture taken.

photo at FBLC

“I did!” Casey replied and produced a couple of candy canes.  “I even got one for Lindsey cause she ran away.”

Lindsey stopped and looked at her, “You took CANDY from a STRANGER!!”

Casey – “Lindsey, it was Santa!  He comes and brings toys in the house on Christmas Eve!”

Lindsey – “OH MY GOSH!!  I’m gonna stay up and watch for him!”

“Well, you can leave him cookies,” I said.

“WHAT?! YOU CAN’T LET HIM IN MOM!!  HE’S A STRANGER!!  WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!!!” Lindsey continued to yell as we went down the hallway.  “HE’S NOT COMING IN OUR HOUSE!”

“Mom, is Lindsey going to get coal?” Casey whispered.

…SIGH…

Cherry Coley (c)

Your Legacy, Have You Thought About It?

 

 

Have you ever thought of what kind of legacy you’re leaving? 

Definition of LEGACY

1: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest 2: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past the legacy of the ancient philosophers. -Miriam Webster

 

It’s just my personal opinion, but I think there is so much more to leaving a legacy. 

 The time you spend with your loved ones each and every day, the dreams you share, the life lessons that you have experienced along the way, are just part of the legacy you will leave to your children, your family, and friends.

So many times in this modern world we rush through life from job, to home, to errands and family activities.  There are so many distractions available and we run through life at a speed that doesn’t leave much time for personal reflection, meditation or growth unless we make a point of deliberately creating the space for these things in our lives.  Learning to balance work and home life is a struggle that has been in existence ever since jobs have been in existence. 

Everyday there is a constant barrage of commercials, ads, and every kind of media that assaults us from the moment we open our eyes and ears in the morning, to the moment we close them at night.  It’s important to make sure that when we are spending time with the people that matter to us, we turn off the cell phones, put aside the distractions and be present so everyone will enjoy and remember the moments that are being created on this journey.  How sad for some that the memories will be filled with someone texting at the table, or watching the television while another was trying to express something important to them.

My father passed away in September of this year, and I can’t help but realize how very short life is and how limited the time we have to spend with each other may be.  If I have any regrets it’s that while I did spend many hours as a child sitting beside my dad and listening to his stories of growing up, fighting in WWII, and working, I did not spent as much time as I could have catching up on different things going on in his life.  I still look for him at times, expect to hear his voice, or to see him sitting on the couch at mom’s house. 

My grandmother used to speak in rhyme and verse all the time.  She also told many wonderful stories using nature to teach important life lessons.  I loved to follow her around her house and listen to her.  She seemed to have an answer for everything, or at least a funny saying or poem on the subject.

Legacies are really so much more than money or things.  I have decided to write and illustrate many of the stories my grandmother and dad shared with me growing up.  Those stories were their legacy to me and I can’t think of a better way to honor them than to recreate them and share them with others. 

Take a moment today to think about what kind of legacy you are in the process of creating, because whether you intend to or not, you are creating one.  Then take a moment to decide what kind of legacy you would like to create, to leave for your family, friends and perhaps even share with others.  We all leave our mark on this world, some of us live very quietly and pass through without making deep impressions, or so we think.  Realize that each and every person has people in their lives that they touch each day.  Just as you are affected by the people that surround you, so too do you affect them.  Much like the ripples on the water, starting from a tiny point of contact, all it takes is a small touch, and the ripples grow and spread out reaching further than we realize.

Cherry Coley ©

 

 

Brainstorming, Not Just For Business and School

photo by Cherry Coley

So what’s the deal with brainstorming?  The term is used loosely all the time in offices, in groups, and in classrooms when there’s a project that has been assigned. 

What about in families?  Brainstorming is great activity for families to learn to discuss, respect, listen and enjoy each other’s ideas.  It allows even the shyest child to take part and suggest things they want to do, places they want to go, movies they want to see, or how they want their room to be decorated. 

There’s no limit on how you can brainstorm with your family.  Some people like to use visual aids like poster boards, index cards, or if you’re a high-tech family, Ipads, laptops, or cell phones.  I’m a big believer in imagination and hands on experience so at times of brainstorming room idea’s my youngest daughter would whip out her spiral notebook and map out the room then draw in what furniture she wanted and how she wanted it placed. 

Here are a few rules to having a fun, creative and productive brainstorming session.

  1. Pick a topic to discuss and limit the session to one topic.  If other topics come out of the session – write them down and make time later to discuss them.
  2. Everyone is involved and gets their own time to present their view of the topic.  While that person is talking, make sure there are no interruptions or comments that would discourage the person talking.
  3. Everyone should take notes and learn to write questions that come up from each person’s presentation.  It is important that the questions are presented in a respectful and open manner.
  4. Have each person do a little research on the topic before your meeting.  This will keep things open, creative, friendly and help to curb opinion only comments.
  5. It must be agreed on – in advance that while each suggestion is important and heard, there will be a vote taken and that decision will stand. 

For instance, if a family is discussing possible summer vacation spots, then each person in the family can offer a place they would like to visit.  They would potentially include some pictures or even a PowerPoint slide show with some of the things to do and reasons why their destination should be considered.  At the end of the presentations a vote should be taken and tallied.  Once the destination is chosen then another meeting could be held closer to the time to go to discuss different activities that will interest each individual so that everyone will enjoy the time together.        

These types of activities are terrific for creating a strong family bond.   It’s also a good opportunity to teach kids about marketing strategies, putting presentations together and even the art of respectful debate.  Family time can get challenging at times, but putting some rules in place helps to keep things on a level playing field and allows everyone to be creative, have fun and feel like they are an important part of the process. 

Cherry Coley ©

A Friend Indeed

When I was fifteen years old, I started working at B. Dalton Bookseller at Town East Mall.  I had worked at odd jobs up until then teaching toddlers to swim, teaching roller skating and being a teacher’s aide to three year olds at the daycare where my mom worked.  That year my mom became very ill and was in and out of the hospital constantly.  She knew that I wouldn’t be able to do the odd jobs without her being able to work, so she went with me to the mall and signed a waiver so that I could work.  The manager liked me, but still thought I was too young.  She didn’t want to hire me because I had just turned fifteen and because I had no experience.  I took my art work with me.  I showed her the tedious drawings, ink painting and watercolors I often worked on.  She hired me that day saying, “Okay, if you have the discipline and patience to do this, then you can work.” 

B, Dalton Bookseller logo

I worked at the Town East Mall location for two years until I graduated.  I won several awards and employee of the month working here.  By the time I was eighteen I was the youngest manager in B. Dalton’s history and was co-manager of the store in the Galleria Mall.  I also filled in for two other stores while other managers were on sick leave and maternity leave.  Working at B. Dalton Bookseller changed my life.  I met many authors and celebrities along the way. I worked for B. Dalton Bookseller for eight and a half years.  The chain of stores eventually became Barnes and Noble.  B. Dalton Bookseller has faded into the fabric of history.

In 1987, it was at the bookstore at the Galleria Mall that I met my friend John Rohde.  I was working on the magazine rack taking out the old magazines and putting the new issues in their place.  I had been struggling with a large display for Playboy when the whole thing collapsed on top of me and magazines spilled every which way, but mainly rained down on me in a tidal wave.  Two hands reached in, grabbed my arms and pulled me out of the deluge.  We both fell on the floor and watched as the whole upper half of the magazine display continued to fall all the way across.  It was a big display and had glass across the front that also fell out. 

“Are you okay?” he asked me.

“I think so,” I said.  “Never had THAT happen before,” I stood up and began to dust myself off.

“I think you are going to go down in the history of my mind as the only woman I’ve ever met who was almost killed by Playboy,” he said with a serious look on his face.  “My name is John,” he held out his hand for me to shake.

I looked at him and at the magazines and started to laugh, pretty soon we were both laughing so hard tears were running down our cheeks.

“Thank you, John, for saving me,” I said when I could speak again.  “Your quick thinking really did keep me from getting hurt.”

“Would you like to get some tea with me, or eat lunch perhaps?” he said with a half bow.  “I confess to being seventy nine years old, but I am not dead.  I would like to enjoy the company of a fair lady for a few moments.”

“Wow,” I replied.  “Chivalry is not dead and I would be delighted.”  We both laughed again.

This was the start of a wonderful friendship.  John was married to a lady named Marie and had a son named after him.  He had not spoken to his son in over ten years.  He would come up to the bookstore at least twice a week and we would eat lunch together.  If the store was busy then he would help customers (he was an avid book reader and managed a B. Dalton Bookstore himself many years before).  I learned so very much from John.  Through his eyes I saw the world as it was in the 30,s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  Through his eyes I saw the world change, riots, innocence lost, new music born, and the world change forever.  I learned that he used to work at MGM Studio’s as a stage hand under such great performers as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly. 

One night when he was in his late teens he got caught practicing dance steps he’d seen Fred Astaire perform in front of a mirror.  Fred walked in and waited until John finished, then clapped for him.  John was so embarrassed that he wanted to crawl away.  Fred told him not to quit his day job, with a smile on his face.  Then he gave John free dance lessons every night until the musical he was working on (American in Paris) was completed.  John learned all about the theatre and the politics that went along with it.  The performers were protected at all costs in those days.  Their reputations had to be spotless.  He was invited to many of the private premier parties, sometimes as a waiter or a chauffeur.  He didn’t care how he got to go, just that he got to go.  He met many of the big stars and learned as much as he could about singing, acting and dancing.  He was an extra in many of the films. He wrote a few plays that were later published and used on some of the small stages.

I so loved to listen to him for hours.  Oh, we got the strange looks when we went places together, but we didn’t care.  I met his wife and spent many dinners watching and listening to a completely happy and content couple.  They were good for each other and obviously still loved each other very much.  Their positive attitude and outlook was absolutely contagious.  You could not be around them and walk away without a smile on your face.

I learned that John also got to work for Walt Disney.  He met Walt on a few occasions and told me so many things about the man that I so looked up too.  Walt Disney’s story was amazing and one I had read on many occasions.  It was then that I introduced John to the new wave of musicals coming out.  I bought him “Little Mermaid” and we spent several Saturdays watching it together.  He was completely entranced with Ariel, the advances in animation and the story.  He would tell me over and over that the REAL story of “The Little Mermaid” didn’t end happily.  That it was actually a very tragic book, but Walt always thought that fairy tales should have happy endings, so he rewrote them to suit himself.  I thought this was fascinating and wound up reading many of the fairytales, and then understood why Walt Disney felt the way he did. 

When my daughter Casey was born, Marie made her a pink quilted, photo album.  They thought Casey was the prettiest baby they had ever seen.  I am not Catholic, but John and Marie were.  I made them Casey’s Godparents.  They bought Casey little outfits with Snoopy on them.  I loved Snoopy too and they thought Snoopy fit her personality.  Casey would clap her hands and throw out her arms yelling, “Noopy!” whenever John would give her a new Snoopy stuffed animal.

I deeply miss my friends John and Marie.  They are no longer here to share my life.  I am very thankful that I had twelve years to share with a couple of amazing people that changed, enriched, and greatly influenced my life forever.  What a truly happy accident.

By now you are asking yourself why I am writing this.  Here’s my point.  So many times I go to the store or to the mall and I see the elderly being snubbed, ignored, and even mistreated.  I’ve been to nursing homes where they are put in a room and simply forgotten, left to wonder if anyone will even speak to them today.  Stop!  These are people!  They have lived and they have amazing stories to share if you will take the time to listen.  So much of history is lost, simply passed by in the rush of everyday life.  Take the time now to get to know the elderly around you, whether it is a family member, a neighbor, or the little old lady sitting alone every Sunday in the church pew. Take time, you will be so glad you did.  Everyone has a story, life experiences to share and be passed on.  The life you change will be your own.  Teach your children to respect them and to listen. 

I loved my friends John and Marie, they taught me about life, love and how important each and every person in your life is.  Don’t miss the opportunity to find the treasure that lies within having an elderly friend. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Need A Little Christmas – A Little Humor

Photo by Cherry Coley

Slightly different – but a good memory…..sort of.

I just love Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. Actually, I guess I love the fall season, but Christmas is right up there for favorite holiday. I try to be sure to fit in little reminders of what Christmas is about into the mix. It just so happened that after a hectic Saturday of running kids to choir practice and squeezing in some shopping which is always an adventure, we came across a live nativity scene at St. Phillips Catholic Church on the way home. My kids – two girls, Casey age 13 and Lindsey age 8 years old – spotted it and started bouncing up and down in the car for me to pull over and go through it. I made a turn and got in line. There was a choir that sang and a bell choir in the Nativity Scene, so you had to ride with the windows down to get the full affect. I had a van and it was pretty cold outside. So instead of opening the side door the kids squeezed into the front seat and rolled down the window. This was fine too because I didn’t want to chance my youngest jumping or falling out of a moving van. It seemed to work well. We were able to go through the whole scene and enjoy it.

The church had done a wonderful job putting together scenery and costumes. They had the verses painted on backdrops to tell the story and live animals. The bell choir played a little while we were there and there were some really cute little angels that smiled and waved before pretending to pray. There was also a Shepherd that was feeding a sheep that was (apparently) hungry. The sheep nibbled a little too hard on his fingers and the shepherd said something under his breath that I don’t think was part of the story. There were also a couple of wise men beside a donkey that were discussing football quietly. I breathed a sigh or relief and thought to myself, “this is really nice.”

We neared the end of the driveway and they were handing out candy canes and bibles. They smiled and we all said Merry Christmas. Then I drove to the end of the curb and waited for a chance to turn. It was at this point that the kids decided they were crowded and started pushing each other. The window was still down and I told Lindsey to get back in the back seat and buckle up. Now WHY exactly my 8-year old suddenly thought she could fit through a 4 inch space between the window and the seat I don’t know, but instead of going back the way she went through the first time she decided to crawl through by the door….and her jeans got stuck on the seat, she lost her hand hold and got wedged. She slid down between the door and front seat to get really stuck then and …of course….started screaming. Word of warning, Lindsey is really LOUD.

My oldest daughter tried to roll up the window because people were looking and Lindsey screamed more, her butt and legs were facing the window and she started kicking. I’m trying to be calm and yell over Lindsey’s screaming – “DON’T MOVE” and decide to LEAVE the driveway and pull across the street to a parking lot to pull her out. We didn’t get that far. Lindsey wouldn’t be still and in the meantime my oldest daughter decides to try moving her seat back and Lindsey slides down more and is now yelling “YOU’RE KILLING ME!!” at the top of her lungs. So Casey moves the seat back up. Lindsey could’ve made the scream record at that point you would’ve thought we were doing some kind of medieval torture on the kid. Her legs were kicking wildly out the window and there were now quiet a few people wondering what the heck we were doing. The wise men and shepherds came running, the donkey took off across the field, the choir dismantled and the angels were running to catch the sheep and Mary (I understand) took the opportunity to go to the restroom.

After much wiggling and pulling we finally got Lindsey free. Casey stood off to the side in horror watching the mass chaos. Lindsey sat and rubbed her stomach; tears still running down her face.

“Lindsey, baby, are you okay?” I asked.
“I gotta go to the bathroom and now I’m hungry,” she smiles. She then points to a candy cane held by one of the Wise men and asked “You gonna eat that?” We all look at each other for a minute and burst out laughing. Everyone – the Wise men and the Shepherds laughed and shook their heads.

“Why’d you think you could fit through that small space?” Casey asks her.

“I could before,” she holds her hands up to the space then measures herself, “I guess my butt’s too big now.”

“Ya think?” Casey said.

“I think if someone was video taping that scene we are going to wind up on funniest home video’s for sure,” I said.

“I’ll be remembered as the girl with her butt hanging out the door,” Lindsey laughs.

“No, the minister said, you’ll be remembered as he one who made the Nativity lively.” He smiled.

We got back in the car, everyone in the Nativity went back to their posts with apologies to all the cars waiting in line, and we started out of the parking lot. The minister stood in the road to make sure we got out.

“Mom,” Casey said, “I don’t think we’d better make THAT a tradition.”

SIGH…Christmas memories.

Cherry Coley (c)