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 ©

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 ©


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.