Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is a holiday that became official in 1914, and is not celebrated all over the world.  Why not, being a mother should be celebrated and enjoyed. 

My mom was an older mother.  She wanted to be a mom all of her life, it was something she yearned for from the moment she got married.  Yet, nature’s idea of “when” is not always the same as what we think it should be.  She hated going to church on Mother’s day.

Each Mother’s day the church would make a huge deal of recognizing different mother’s including; the oldest mom, the mom with the most children, the newest mom, the mom with the most generations present,  and the mother with the most grandchildren.  They would ask them to come down to the front of the church and give out flowers, bibles, or pins. 

My mom hated the entire ceremony, mostly because she sat in misery for years wishing and wanting children and wasn’t able to have any of her own.   She threw herself into working in the nursery, vacation bible school, teaching, and everything else to do with children.  Yet, there was a vacancy in her life.  Finally, mom was able to have children and fill that space in her heart, but what about the many women that can’t?

I love Mother’s day.  Yet, I have to say that my life has been filled with so many wonderful women that were mentors to me, many of which were not mothers.  Instead they were teachers, choir directors, drivers, artists, writers, story tellers, bosses, and entrepreneurs. 

Women generally are the nurtures, the tender touch, the comforters and gentle guides by nature, whether they are mothers or not.  So be kind, not just to the mother’s tomorrow, but to the women in your life.  We all play a part in each other’s lives each and every day, let us use this time as a reminder to appreciate and look for the best in each other.

Cherry Coley ©

Parenthood Is A Gift

I’ve often heard the saying that many men can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.  I think this is true, just as it’s true that many women can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a mom. 

Being a parent is about so much more than genetics and just having a child.  The truth is that a baby changes everything.  Suddenly you are more aware of your surroundings, and things you just walked by before, or barely gave a passing glance, are now items you carefully consider, pick up, throw away, or even lock up so they won’t cause harm.

Suddenly sleep becomes a fleeting thing of great value.  Naptime is guarded at all costs.  Time alone is almost unheard of, even in the restroom; there might be that hesitant knock and tiny fingers probing under the door. 

The pitter patter of little feet was pretty much just toddler stage for us, after that it was stomping, jumping, tap dancing, and skipping.  The tuner for inside voices didn’t work too well most of the time either. 

Then there’s the kid who has to test what you mean when you say “no.”  They push the buttons, turn the knobs, tight rope walk across the back of the couch, build a “castle” with the cushions from the couch and chairs, play fort with the coffee table and kitchen table, try to flush the cat down the toilet, and see if Dr. Pepper will make the dog hyper.  These kids are the creative one’s that we want to both throttle and encourage because they will pave the way to the future.

My youngest daughter is one of these kids that just has to try it to see what will happen.  She tried to swing on a water hose from a tree and unfortunately, another little girl jerked the hose away as she leaned out, causing her to fall and break her leg.  She spent the better part of 5th grade year in a cast.  I painted a dragon on the cast to try to help with the awkward feeling of being a kid in a cast.

Then there are the reasoning kids who want to know the in’s and out’s of how things work so they can decide what to do and how to do it, my oldest daughter is my super analytical child of reason.

 It’s funny how God has such a sense of humor that He takes half our personality and places it in one kid and half in another.  They are night and day different from each other, but both like their parents.  It will definitely keep you on your toes and keep life interesting.  Whatever the case, motherhood and fatherhood are the greatest gifts.

 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 ©

 

End of a Hard Week

This week has been hard.   There have been a lot of odd things to deal with in many areas.  One of the things I was working really hard on fell through and it completely threw me off track. 

My dad’s cat passed away and somehow that was like losing another piece of both of my parents again.  Yet he was an old cat and just got sick, so it was one of those things. 

I suppose there are times when the days will just seem harder, longer than others.  I don’t like it, just for the record.

I found myself spreading myself way too thin on too many things.  I still have a ton to unpack and sort through.  I will be going along and making good progress, then I’ll run across a stack of coasters my mom crocheted and get lost in the memory of sitting and talking to her while she made them. 

Or I’ll run across some pictures, an old card or note, and will just wind up staring at it for a long while not realizing how much time has passed. 

This week has also been a week of nightmares.  Sleepless nights and what sleep there was to be had was tainted with dreams of searching through fog and darkness trying to find my way.  It’s a mirror to how I’ve felt this week. 

Today, I just didn’t feel good.  Worn out tired from restlessness, allergies that are trying to turn into a cold and worry over our little dog who managed to somehow hurt himself yesterday.  Lord, I really don’t need all this right now.  I was able to get some medicine and go home to take a nap this afternoon and that made a world of difference.

Some weeks are just harder than others for no particular reason, just a lot of odd and unrelated stuff.  One thing I’ve noticed to be true though is that before good things happen, often there is a time of trail and struggles.  I am choosing to think that this week is a precursor to a much better week next week. 

Cherry Coley ©

A Personal Story – Law of Attraction – Part 2

This is the second part of my personal, unfortunate experience with the Law of Attraction.

At the time that our apartment got broken into, there were many other things going on in our lives as well.  I had been, for several months, running back and forth almost every day to check on my parents.

My dad had was just starting to be on the mend from an extended hospital stay and they had been talking to me about moving in to help them while dad was recovering. 

It was the beginning of summer and my youngest daughter had stayed with my parents during the day that day.  I had picked up my oldest daughter, we were headed to pick up Lindsey, race to an appointment, then drop off several bags of old toys, clothes and other items at the Goodwill.  We had a Ford Winstar so we had room in the van to carry everything comfortably.

We were in a bit of a hurry and I whipped into the driveway at my parents house, threw the van in park and got out.  Casey said, “mom, why is there a big can of beer on the porch?”

I was standing beside the van when two men came out of my parent’s house, one with brass knuckles on his hand and the other, covering his face with one hand and a baseball bat in the other. 

My very first thought was “Oh my God, everyone is dead.”  My second thought was “they’re not taking my daughter (who was sitting in the van).

The man with the bat screamed at me, “Give me your keys!”

As odd as this sounds, in my mind there was no panic, no fear, just me sizing him up and thinking, “he’s not taking my daughter and if he tries to kill me, then I’m taking him with me.”

 He noticed I didn’t wince, or move and slammed the bat down on the hood of my van in front of me.  I didn’t flinch or jump – I had noticed the younger guy was standing at my daughter’s door, not letting her out.  I knew they were going to try to take her with them.

He stood within inches of me and raised the bat, “GIVE ME THE KEYS, BITCH!”

I stood firm and unwavering – prayed, “God give me the strength of angels.”  I immediately felt stronger and protected, what’s more is I am not sure what he saw in my expression, but it unnerved him and he took a step back.

I said in a low, calm voice, “You can have the keys, but you’re not taking my daughter.”

“I give the orders!!” he yelled and swung the bat and hit the side of the van beside me, “GIVE ME THE KEYS NOW!!”

“I will give you the keys, but you’re NOT taking my daughter,” I repeated perfectly calm.

He looked at me for a moment and I actually saw fear pass across his eyes.  He backed up another step uncertain why I wasn’t begging for our lives when he was obviously threatening me.  I never took my eyes off of his.  He told the younger guy, “get the girl out of the car!”

We stared at each other when as I was listening to him open the door and say “Get out!  Get out of the car!” to Casey.

Then everyone turned to look as my oldest daughter – given courage by my demeanor said, “I want my book bag, my binder, my make-up bag, and both of our purses!”

The younger guy started grabbing stuff and throwing it out in the yard.  They gave her everything she asked for and as soon as she was out-of-the-way, I handed him the keys to the van. 

He grabbed the keys, they both got in the van and took off up the road at high-speed.   I prayed, “God, take care of this.”

Casey was trying to call the police as I was, but then the shakes started and neither one of us could dial or get the phones to work.  I told her to stay there while I go in the house, not sure of what we would find and feeling my heart skipping beats in every direction.

As I turned in the direction of the house, Lindsey burst through the front door yelling, “Mom!!  Mommy!! Use this phone!” She was holding out the house phone.  I grabbed her and held onto her for dear life.  The intruders had scared my mom, hit the wall with the baseball bat, and threatened to kill both of them.  My youngest daughter had grabbed a kitchen knife and told them to leave her grandma alone. 

They had gotten the keys to mom’s car and were planning on taking it when we had driven up and parked in the way.

The cops came within a few minutes and took our statements.  The detective asked me where I was headed when I stopped by. 

“I had an appointment to get my breaks replaced, they are shot and if those guys get the car on the highway and go too fast, they will crash,” I replied.

The radio the cop was holding said that the suspects had been spotted on I-30 going west by Dolphin.  The detective looked at me, the kids and my mom (who was crying and shaking).  She put the radio to her mouth and said, “give chase, the van has bad brakes.” 

Needless to say, there was a chase, the van wrecked out in Grand Prairie roughly about 45 minutes after they took it.  They tried to slam on the brakes and they didn’t hold, so the van rolled.  Casey and I were taken to the hospital to identify the suspects.

They had been caught and honestly looked like someone had half beat them to death.  The console in the middle of the van had come down from the roof and beat them both in the head giving them concussions, the extra toys, dishes, and stuff for the goodwill had flown all over the inside of the van as it rolled and hit them from every direction.  They had gashes, bloody lips and black eyes to match.

The men went to jail.  God is good, and we were protected when we needed it most.  I knew without a doubt I would indeed fight to the death for my family if I had too.  Why do I associate this whole ordeal with the Law of Attraction?   Because I had wondered, asked the question over and over – if I had a life and death situation – what would I do?  Could it have been a fluke thing and not related? Possibly, but I don’t think so. 

I have many good examples of the Law of Attraction working as well, but the point is that we attract what we focus on.  When you focus on being afraid of something you may bring that fear to life.  When you focus on a goal, a dream and don’t allow yourself to be distracted or get off track, then you will make that happen too. 

Cherry Coley ©

 

 

A Lazy Sunday Spent Thinking Too Much

It’s been a lazy Sunday.  I would love to say I did something profound, wrote something amazing or at least read something interesting, but I didn’t do any of those things.  Instead I spent the day unpacking some, cleaning some, sorting things out, resting some, and just generally moving slow. 

It’s hard sorting through so much.  I have things we’ve moved from the other house that were mine and the kids and lots of stuff from my parents house ranging from furniture, both new and old, photos, books, and a great assortment of all kinds of different items from my childhood.  It’s an emotional ordeal to unpack and sort through it all, and it’s taking much longer than I thought it would.  I will be doing fine, making a lot of progress then run into a bag containing all my baby shoes and just sit and stare at them in wonder.  Still I push through and keep going on to find baby clothes my mom made, table cloths she crocheted, and some of the needle point she created. 

I have cried today.  I cried  when I looked at the fields and noticed that the blue bonnets are gone for this year.  They come, bloom and look so beautiful, people take pictures in them and we get to enjoy them for a very short while, then all at once they are gone, fading into the grass and due to be mowed and forgotten until next year.

As I was sitting and thinking about the blue bonnets a few minutes ago it occurred to me that they are a good example that nature offers us of how things flow.  After all, we all have a time to grow, bloom, shine and be our best, then we have a time where we become part of the crowd, taking our place to seed (mentor) the next generation before we are gone and they grow up to take our place and their time to bloom, bigger and brighter than those before them.

Every part of life has a cycle and though at times there is sadness, it is just a small part of the big picture.  I miss my parents, the future scares me at times and that fear is new to me making me uncomfortable.  In the end it’s all just a part of the journey.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

 

Missing You and Thinking of Snow

Here is it the first day of spring and I’m missing my parents and thinking of snow.  I’m not sure what brought on the memory, perhaps it was one of my friends sending me a snow picture a day or so ago.  I looked at that picture and all of a sudden was transported back to childhood. 

Growing up in Texas, I really don’t remember that much snow, but when it did snow it was a big deal even when it was just half an inch or so.  Mom would get out the big silver bowls and put them out on the bushes to catch the fresh snow as it fell.  If there was enough then she would bring the snow filled bowl inside and mix us up a batch of fresh snow icecream.   I remember she added a little milk, a cup of sugar and a few drops of vanilla to taste, and it was so yummy!

 Snow was so rare that if it snowed just a little, the schools would let us out for a longer recess so we could play in it for a while.  Or the news reports and people would panic, act like we were going to be snowed in for days, buy everything in the grocery stores up like crazy while the kids would be making green furry (grass lined) snowmen that were a foot tall, or making green and white snow angels.  We had a blast chasing each other and throwing snowballs.  We had no worries about much of anything as kids, as the snow was usually gone in a few hours or at the most a day. 

 The worst snow / ice storm I remember was in 1979.  I remember it because we had visited family in Arkansas around Christmas, were on our way back and not long after we crossed the border of Texas and Arkansas I remember looking out the window and saying, “Daddy, why does everything look so still and funny?” 

 We had made good time coming back and my dad was very much a “pedal to the medal” type of person on the highway.  We all started looking around and realized we were looking at ice.  Ice was everywhere!  It was considered to be the worst ice storm in thirty years in Texas and there were tons of people without power, including us. 

 A tree had fallen on the roof of the house across the street and my dad went to help.  He sawed the log and I saw it start falling before he did.  I grabbed him and yanked as hard as my 11-year-old self could yank, the limb still hit him on the shoulder as it fell and banged him up pretty good, but it could have been his head.  Once he gathered his wits and anger, he sent me straight to the house and yelled at me that I could have been hurt.  I knew my dad was scared that we both could have been hurt and thankful that we weren’t.  We spent a few days under blankets, with the gas stoves for heat, and candle light to see by, a game of Monopoly by candlelight wasn’t too bad. 

 We still had floor furnaces back then that worked.  Those furnaces were set down in the floor with a grate on them and you could stand over them with the heat blowing up your legs and back until you got too warm.  Or, if you were really cold and brave you could sit with knees bent, rear end on one side and feet on the other.  If you sat too long though, you’d have grill marks on your butt later. 

 Funny, to be thinking about those things today on the first day of spring, but it is a cool day and raining, so maybe the grey of the day jogged the memory.    I miss you mom and dad, thanks for the memories and for keeping us warm on the cold, dark days. 

 Cherry Coley ©

 

Things I’ve Apologized To My Mom For – Part 2

This is the offending table.  It sits there just staring at me and grinning in table like manner while it contemplates how it will offend yet again.  I swear to you, when other people are glancing away it moves in my way!  It’s taken out my knee and spread my toes on many occasions leading to repealing laughter from the kids, friends and even (I’m convinced) the dog. 

I think back to how many nights my mom would try to make it across the dark living room without turning on the light to retrieve a book from the table beside the couch and you’d hear, CRUNCH!  “AAHHHH!!!” and you knew in an instant that toes would not be the same for days. 

 Then there were the many times my brother and I would have jack wars on the kitchen floor.  We would put the balls aside and spin the jacks until they would hit each other and go winging off to different sides of the kitchen. 

Mom would warn us every single time, “you kids make sure you pick up every single jack!” 

“Yes, mam,” we’d reply.  Every single time we would count and search and search and there would be one jack missing.  We’d look and look all over the floor until finally we would give up and think, “okay, so if we can’t find it then it’s safe because we can’t find it.”  Except it wasn’t, because every single time my dad would find it walking in socks, usually either early in the morning or on a midnight trip to the refrigerator.  We learned all kinds of words that we didn’t know dad would say that way.

 Sorry, Mom.

 Cherry Coley ©

Pleasant Memories and Ghostly Echoes

photo by Cherry Coley

It’s funny the things you think about late in the night.  Last night as I lay in bed half asleep, I was listening to my mom make all kinds of noise in the kitchen.  She was griping at the cat to get out of the way, banging pots and pans and occasionally said, “oh me,” as she picked something up.  I was just lying there listening to her, not cringing as I had done before, but just holding my eyes closed and listening intently. 

I heard her call to dad that dinner was ready and that he needed to get up and come to the table.  I heard her yell at the cat when she stepped on his tail and make him meow in a loud screech.  I heard the chairs being pulled out from the table as they sat down and my dad say, “Cherry, you comin’?”

 I heard my dad as he started reading the headlines of the paper out loud and mom asking him questions about what he read.  I could smell the stew she had fixed and hear the clink clink of silverware on the bowls as they ate, the sound of ice moving in glasses of water as they picked them up, and the soft thunk as they put them down on the table again. 

 I could hear my mom get on to my dad for sneaking a piece of something to the cat waiting for tasty tidbits at his feet. 

 Finally, my brain registered that I was just listening to memories and the sounds faded away into the fog of my wounded mind. 

 I had you guys, just for a moment, I had you there again and could hear your voices so clearly.  For just a moment I was back there, not long ago, listening to the sounds of family sounds that I will not hear the same way again in this lifetime.  I miss you both so much.

Remember that the sounds that might annoy you, or you just take for granted today, may be the very sounds that you would give anything in this world to hear one more time someday.  Don’t take anyone or anything for granted.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Love the people in your life today.

 Cherry Coley ©

Walking in the Darkness

photo by Casey Keal
 

People handle grief in all kinds of different ways.  Not only that, but there are cycles to it and a process of healing that you go through that is intense and just plain hurts.

When you lose someone you were close too, a hole is ripped in your heart.  There’s a vacancy that just can’t be filled.  When you lose more than one person in a short time, the world becomes a very dark place very quickly.  You will, without any choice in the matter, experience all the gifts grief brings with it including: regrets, second guessing, confusion, forgetfulness, feeling lost, anger, and that urge to call that person that just won’t go away.  There hasn’t been a day since mom and dad have been gone that I haven’t wanted to pick up the phone and call them to check on them or share some news with them. 

 I went through the wondering what would have happened if….stage.  That one was probably the hardest for me. The “what if’s” and “why” questions tormented me for days, especially at night.  Even two days ago I remembered something else that I used to do for mom, that I know she had forgotten to keep doing.  Would it have made a difference?  There’s no real useful purpose in even letting the mind wander along those lines.  What’s done is done and God doesn’t make mistakes, it was their time to go and that’s that. 

 I have over the years walked dark paths with my friends as they lost loved one’s, friends, parents, family members, but going through it yourself is quite different.  I had been trying to function as normal after my dad passed away in September.  I still went through the pains of grief, but kept going and forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other and made a point of calling mom several times a day to check on her and hear her voice. 

When mom passed away in December, all the order, organized thoughts, daily routines and even habits that were a normal part of my life went right out of the door.  I felt so completely thrown off kilter that there are some days, while I know I got things done, I don’t really remember doing them or even the days.  There were plenty of times when I felt a giant darkness invade my soul, knock me to the floor – sometimes literally – and threaten to drag me down into a depression that I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull out of. 

 Since my life has read much like a horror novel for many years along the way, darkness and I are old friends.  I embraced feeling everything, even the vast empty dark, but didn’t allow myself to set up residence there.   I knew then as I know now that brighter days will come again.  Even now the pain is nowhere near as intense as it once was.  I still miss both of them and there are days when I still cry all of a sudden because of some memory or thought that hits me out of the blue.  I allow myself to cry, because I am human.  I am thankful for several very close friends who took the time to come over and just be there.  I can’t claim that I was entertaining or good company at all, but they just came and didn’t necessarily talk a lot, sometimes we didn’t talk at all, but they were just there.  Thank you!!

 I recently saw this in an email a co-worker sent me:

A four-year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman had recently lost his wife.  Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. After awhile he hugged the man and went back home to his mom.  When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,

Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

 When I read that, I thought, EXACTLY!!  Sometimes, we don’t need platitudes, no one really knows what to say anyway and we all know that.  You don’t really want to hear someone tell you “they are in a better place,”  mainly because the place you wish they were, is here with you, no matter how selfish that may be.  Sometimes, we just need someone to be there and help us cry.  Never under-estimate the good you do when you take the time to “just be there.” 

 Cherry Coley ©