missing you

Doctor Doctor!

doctorsexterioraerial300Today I am thankful for doctors.  I spent a lot of time in hospitals with my mom over the years.  She was a 3 time cancer survivor and had other health problems that came about due to the lingering effects of the chemotherapy she had to endure.

 I am thankful for the care and kindness of the nurses that would come in and check on us, and the doctor taking the time to explain the parts of the treatment that we didn’t understand.  I am also thankful for the Chaplains who would take the time to come by and visit with mom when we couldn’t be there.

 In some of the hospitals the rooms were made where you could stay overnight if you wanted which was really nice.  I am thankful that both my parents had good attitudes while they were in the hospital which also helps. 

I had to have cesarean sections with both of my daughters.  I am thankful for the skill and care of the nurses and doctors that made sure that we were all healthy and well cared for. 

 I don’t really like to be in hospitals because they bring back so many memories, but I am thankful that we have hospitals and that they are available when we need them.  I am thankful for all the men and women who work tirelessly, under paid and many time underappreciated to give us that good care that is needed.

I do not have the stomach or the temperament to be a doctor or a nurse, but I am thankful there are people that do. When was the last time you stopped to think about your doctor and nurse as people, with homes and loved ones of their own?  I know there have been times when I called after hours and my doctor took the time to call me back to answer my questions.  That was time taken away from his family.  Take a moment today to send your doctor a thank you note, or a card of encouragement, you will make their day and remind them that what they do really does make a difference.

Cherry Coley (c)

I Don’t Feel So Merry

christmas1It’s Christmas time.  Yesterday we had snow, just a light dusting, and it was beautiful.  There is a chill in the wind today, it makes me want to stay home by the fire and drink hot cocoa

I have been looking at Christmas decorations, but they don’t seem quiet as sparkly as they used too.  I have been avoiding Christmas music for the most part.  I simply cannot listen to much of the Christmas music yet.

I am trying, but the truth is I just don’t feel the Christmas spirit much this year.  I try to remember last year, but all I can think of is that my days with my mom were running out and I didn’t know it.  Instead she and I stayed up late talking on Dec. 11th.  We were talking about  how everything was going to be different without dad, and we should try to make new Christmas  traditions. 

We had a long conversation that night about past Christmas’, about new plans, about the Bible and our beliefs, about my kids and our family.  Mom and I talked late into the night enjoying each others company.  I missed her,  I had not seen her in a week or two since Casey was working and using my car more.

Now, the song that best describes how I feel is “Where Are You Christmas?”  The answer is, I am not sure.  I think Christmas is the same, the spirit is the same, it is me that has changed.  I am still healing, still searching for answers that don’t exist and longing for conversations I will not get to finish until I see my mom and dad again someday.

This Christmas is a little better than last year, but it still hurts, aches.  Yet I know that time, faith, and hope will eventually heal the hurts, though they won’t fill the gaping hole left in my heart where my parents once lived.  I miss them. 

If you’re parents are still here, take the time to go see them.  If they need you, listen, and be there for them as they were for you.  If you have family you haven’t talked to in awhile, here’s your chance, your excuse, break the ice, heal the rift and share the love while you still can.  Christmas is about love and that is the greatest gift of all, don’t miss out on this free and wonderful gift.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Honored and Remembered

Today I am thankful for our Veteran’s.  I am sad that there is a need for veterans, but we live in an imperfect world and I’m thankful for those willing to serve.  There are many veteran’s in our family, my uncles on both sides of the family were veteran’s serving in World War II.

My dad was a Navy man and often reflected back on his life in the Navy.  He was just a teenager when he went to war.  At the age of 14 he spent much of his time on ships, being trained and learning to survive in a time of World War.

I don’t think any of us can truly imagine what it means to live a military life unless you’ve been there and done that.  I know from the stories he told and the things he had to do that it would take far more strength both inside and out than I have experienced.

I have never felt the longing, the distance from being far away from home in a hostile place.  I have never been away from my family for an extended time, much less for months or a year.  I have never been to a place where they didn’t speak English and they hated Americans.  I have never had to remember holidays or hold on to good memories while in the battlefield.  

I have the greatest respect for the heroes that serve in the military.  They are heroes each and every one of them.  They stand in the gap and protect our freedoms that many abuse and we all take for granted in some ways.  They have that inner something that gives them a loyalty, a resolve to stand firm, a determination to see things through no matter what, and a need to protect what is ours. 

Today I am thankful for our Veterans, all of them, those that have served those that would serve and those in service.  You are AMAZING!! 

Cherry Coley ©

Thank You For a Past to Grow On

Today I am thankful for indoor plumbing and appliances.  As mundane as that sounds I remember all too well the stories my mom used to tell of having to walk to the well, or the creek to get water to cook with or bathe with.  Imagine having to heat water on the stove then trying to fill up the bathtub enough to take a bath before it all got cold.

 I heard a lot of stories how my parents would have to go to the creek in the winter to get water to cook with and have to break the ice first before filling their buckets.  Many days the meals consisted of cornbread and milk.  They had oatmeal, but not always sugar.  Their meat they got from hunting or fishing. 

 In the mornings my mom and my aunt would have to go collect the eggs from the chickens.  My mom hated to do that because sometimes snakes would crawl in the nest and swallow the eggs underneath the terrified hen. 

 They learned to survive in the harsh winters up in the mountains of Arkansas, to share and to take care of each other.  Coats, clothes, shoes were all precious and taken care of so they would last for a long while.  My mother learned to sew and made many of the clothes for the family.

 Amazing the amount of progress we’ve made in just a few generations, going from a wood stove and an actual “ice” box where you put a large cube of ice in it to keep a few things cool to microwaves, toasters, mixers, refrigerators, washing machines, a myriad of coffee machines, and ovens you can turn on with a dial and not much thought.

 I am thankful for all the stories they told of how hard life was and the obstacles they had to face just in day to day life.  Even the stories of being afraid of go to the outhouse after dark for fear of animals and snakes, not to mention a practical joker for a brother. 

Today I am thankful for all the creations that we have become so used to having that we take them for granted every day.  Let us not forget where we came from and how far we’ve come.  By keeping our roots in mind we can better see where we are today and the bright hope for the future.  What’s next?  The answer is whatever amazing thing we can dream up.

 Cherry Coley ©

Kindness is Far Reaching

“Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
-Leo Buscaglia

October is Here

The spider lilies are in bloom.  It both thrills me that they are there and breaks my heart because I know who planted them.  They are lasting evidence that my mom was there and they are not alone.  There have been flowers and plants coming up all year in the different seasons, carefully placed and planted in the yard.  My mom loved to garden. 

I love the lilies, I remember going to the different garden shops each year and buying seeds and bulbs for planting.  Then just as winter was ending she would dig up a large spot in the backyard to plant tomatoes, squash, green beans, mustard greens, and various other plants.  She loved fresh vegetables out of the garden.  She said there was just something so rewarding about planting things in the ground, and watching God make them grow.

mom’s flowers

The flowers are beautiful, just as the red bud tree’s have been this year.  I wish she was here to see and enjoy them one more time. 

There is a joy and a sadness as I look at the backyard with no one there to make sure the weeds don’t take over, and the garden patch sitting abandoned and empty.

 

I can’t help but wonder if the plants notice, isn’t that silly?  Do they know that no one is pampering them, or do they simply do what plants do and depend on God, stretch out their roots and reach up to feel the sunlight?

I miss my parents more now than ever.  A year ago my dad passed away on September 21st, and I can’t help but be silent and remember the weeks that followed, weeks where I wish I could go back and do a little more, be there a little more for my mom.  I did what I could, but IF I could go back I would do so much more.  Hindsight is really worthless. 

It is a good reminder though that we should really not take anything or anyone that we love for granted.  None of us are promised another day and knowing that, we should take the time to get to know those we care about, reach out to those we love, do things to show appreciation and to help without being asked or expecting anything in return. 

We all have our own issues, our own struggles daily.  How much better, more fulfilling would life be if we shared openly, loved without expectation, and left pride and judgement out of the picture?  Sure, I know that’s probably not realistic, but still it is something to think about.

Cherry Coley (c)

Just me

This week has been a week of happiness, grief and reflection.  September the 9th was my oldest daughters birthday, but September 11th was my dad’s birthday.  So often through the years they enjoyed celebrating their birthdays today with my dad joking in earlier years that he didn’t get as many toys as Casey.

I am so thankful that my children got a chance to know and spend so much time with their grandparents.  We had our issues and our family was nowhere near perfect, but my parents took active roles in the lives of their grandchildren. 

Mom made many blankets, sewed dresses, helped with costumes, school projects and many other things.  Dad tutored both kids on math on a few occasions.  Both of them transported my kids to and from school or daycare many times.  As a single parent, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it without their help. 

Mom made sure we celebrated birthday on the day each time, and didn’t just put things off until the weekend or when it was convenient.  We might gather with the rest of the family later, but we celebrated with mom and dad on the actual birthday. 

Each year when the first day of fall rolled around, mom would gather the kids and I together to take our annual trip to Burlington Coat Factory or the mall to buy winter coats and maybe some sweaters.  This was a tradition my parents started when my brother and I were small.  Dad always made sure we all went and bought coats and new shoes for winter.  It’s a small thing, but it’s a tradition we will keep this year as well.

It’s been a real trip down memory lane this week, realizing that last year on the 11th of September, I took a Boston creme cake to my dad, we bought him a new razor, socks, a few movies, a new CD and some funny cards.  He waved his hand and said, “aw, you didn’t have to do that,” while we sang happy birthday, but smiled all the while.  I have thought a lot of that moment this last week.  I am thankful we have it to remember as it was 10 days later when dad passed away. 

Traditions, no matter how big are small play an important part in each of our lives.  Take the time to celebrate when you have the chance and if at all possible keep the dates sacred.  You never know when life will interrupt your plans, treasure each and every moment, take advantage of every opportunity, and love the people in your life.

Cherry Coley (c)

Trip Back in Time

I remembered a conversation I had with my dad when I was about eight years old last night.  It was a warm summer day and daddy had been working on the car all afternoon.  He was in the backyard and scrubbing the grease off his hands using the water hose.

 I had been playing on the swing set he had put up for us and it was about time to go in to eat dinner.  I remember the light being just before the sun kisses the clouds at sunset.  I had been thinking about my mom having a hard time with the ladies at the daycare.  They were talking about money and the programs they wanted to do with the kids for Christmas and mom was frustrated.  I didn’t understand all that was going on, just that it was hard on her.    

 “Daddy, why is life so hard?” I asked.

 “Life is hard because it was designed that way,” dad said.

 “Why was it designed that way?” I asked.

 “Because only through the tough times do we learn to ask for help and grow, we won’t do some things unless we have too, so life was designed to bring us to our knees at times to keep us on track.”  Said dad

 “Sounds like a mean way to do things,” I said.

 “It’s the same as me saying you have to clean house and do the dishes before you go outside to play,” he said.  “You wouldn’t do it if you weren’t made to because you’re a kid and want to go play.”

 “I guess, but adults don’t play much do they?” I asked.

 “Sure, but only after hard work and making money to pay for things and buy the things we need and want.  Life isn’t about getting something for nothing.  You can’t learn unless you give and sometimes we get all involved in what we’re doing and God has to get our attention to show us that He’s got something we need to pay attention to and learn.” – he said.

 “Then I want to learn to pay attention every day so God doesn’t have to knock me down to teach me things,” I said.

 “I think that would be a good thing,” he patted me on the head.

Cherry Coley (c)

Musicals, My Dad and Me

My parents had a love for the musicals.  My brother performed in several musicals in high school like “Music Man,” “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific.”  It was when I was working at the bookstore and musicals were first available on video that we all acquired a nice appreciation and greater love for them.

 My dad and I loved “Singing in the Rain” the most, I think.  We would pop some popcorn and watch that movie on nights when it was raining outside and he would go off to bed, singing either “Singing in the Rain” or “Good Morning.”  His other favorite musical of all time was “Anchor’s Aweigh.”  Since he was in the Navy he recognized and sang along with many of the songs, and of course, he loved Gene Kelly.

 I set about collecting all the musicals and Disney movies that B. Dalton Bookseller would let me order.  They were better than just about anything on television even back then.  We both teared up watching Bambi and laughed at memories of Pinocchio.  Pinocchio was my first movie at the movie theatre and it was also the first time I successfully dumped a large coke all over my lap then spilled the popcorn trying to get up, (I was about 4 yrs. old I think).

 I got to watch musicals like “American in Paris,” “Oklahoma,” “Music Man,” “Show Boat,” “South Pacific,” Unsinkable Molly Brown,” “The King and I,” “Carousel,” “The Sound of Music,” “State Fair,” “Mary Poppins,” and of course the holiday classics like “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas.”   We watched them, sang with them, and later I shared them with my kids and clapped as they twirled around the room singing and dancing the steps while the music played. 

 My dad loved cartoons too, we spent many hours watching classic cartoons like “Casper”, “Mighty Mouse,” “Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes,” as well as the new musical animation like “Little Mermaid” and “Lion King.”  He was always really happy to babysit the kids because they brought the latest animated movies with them.  He even liked “Jimmy Neutron.”

 I loved watching movies with my dad, he was always so sentimental.  He would tear up like me on the mushy parts and then clear his throat a few times to cover it up.  Yes, he loved the action movies, westerns, and war movies too and watched those quiet often as well, but he had a tender side too and I’m very thankful to have had a dad that was not hesitant to show that.

 Cherry Coley ©

Grief and Birthdays

If there is one thing I have come to realize the last few weeks it’s that grief is completely unpredictable, and that it will not be ignored.  You will not skip by it, you will not just put it off until later, you will get doubled over and knocked down, and then struggle to keep some sort of composure as you muddle through the day.

 I have just been sort of going through the motions the last few days, putting one foot in front of the other and acting like everything is fine.  It’s not fine; it doesn’t seem real at all.  At least 4-5 times I started up the road and thought, “I have to call mom,” then would remember that she’s not there to call.  Then my mind would do this weird flip flop of trying to reject that fact and act like it was all just a bad dream.  If only we lived in soap opera land that might be true.  Then again, I’m not one to stand around plotting and worrying all day. 

 Somehow I just didn’t plan for this rollercoaster, and feel like I should have seen it coming, I should have anticipated or something.  You see, my birthday is tomorrow.  It’s never been that big of a deal for any of us.  We don’t go way out of the way, or celebrate for weeks or a month, or anything like that.  I am not really sure why, we just never have. 

 Yet, every year my mom would call me at 5 minutes until 5 o’clock and say, “Well, it’s about time you woke up!  (insert year)’s ago you kept me up all night long waiting for you to get here!  Happy Birthday!”  Then later on we would meet up and she would have made a cake and have written out a card.  It didn’t hit me until this weekend that I wouldn’t hear that message that used to make me smile and roll my eyes at the same time. 

 This last Saturday, my oldest daughter went to her Senior Prom.  She was simply beautiful, so very grown up looking in her dress with her boyfriend by her side.  I had to work so I wasn’t sure I would get to see them before they went to Prom, but they waited and made a special trip to come back by the house so I could snap a few pictures.  It was a bittersweet moment, I am so amazed at how much she’s matured and has really grown into a wonderful person, I was nailed again thinking how my parents would have loved to see her all dressed up.

 My youngest daughter went to a friend’s house to stay so it was just me, the dog, the cat and boxes of stuff to go through.  I was at a really low moment on Saturday, and just let myself cry for a while, talking to my mom as is she was there with me in the room.  At one point I asked, “Why, Mom, Why did you leave?  Why aren’t you here now?”    It was then I looked in the drawer of a cabinet, and found an envelope. 

 I turned the envelope over and pulled out a birthday card from my mom.  There was no date on it, but I know it must’ve been one from the last few years.  There she had written “Happy Birthday, Cherry.  If wishes were dollars, we’d both be rich.  I have so many wonderful wishes for you, and in the end, it’s the thoughts and wishes that count the most anyway.  Love, Mom”

 Thanks, Mom, you have NO idea how much I needed that!  Then again, maybe you do.

 Cherry Coley ©