Touched By An Angel

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Aunt Marlene and Mom

Tonight I watched “Touched By An Angel.”  I haven’t watched that show in years, but it caught my eye while flipping channels for a moment. 

It was a show about a drug addict that had a baby and Monica and Andrew worked to help her get clean.  Being television it all worked out just in time and just fine on screen.  It really was a good story.  I miss the gentle kindness of the show and inviting it into our lives each night.

I remember so well watching “Touched By An Angel” and “Highway To Heaven” with my mom and dad.  They loved the storyline with angels walking among us, helping and interacting, directing our paths when needed.  My mom thoroughly enjoyed the shows for years.  We would talk about the episode and then how it related to the bible and real life.  Sure, a lot of it was fiction, but it was a good clean show with a heart and you don’t see many of those anymore. 

So tonight, just for a moment, I was touched by another angel.  I felt the presence of my mom come and sit down on the couch beside me and share in a memory.  It was just a moment, but I am thankful for it just the same.  It made me smile and I love memories that do that. 

Take a moment today to remember some of the good memories you’ve shared.  It’s good to appreciate where we come from, it’s better to then live in the moment and enjoy the things we have and the people in our lives.  Life a gift, don’t take it for granted, enjoy every bit of it.

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 ©

Fishing In The Park

photo by Casey Keal

It’s interesting how we age in this life.  Our body’s age every day, but our souls, our minds grow according to what we put in them, what we feed them.  I am so thankful for memories and how our minds store information.

I remember being about 5-6 years old, warm spring days, and dad making us all get up really early to go fishing.  I don’t remember the park where we went; just that it was a stocked pond.  We each had a bamboo fishing pole with a bucket of worms for bait.  I hated putting the worm on the hook, I felt so bad about hooking the poor thing.  My dad would walk over and put it on for me half the time because I would take so long.

We would always park then walk over to a part of the bank of the pond with a big tree.  It was nice on those warm spring days to stand or sit under the tree by the water.  It didn’t really matter that we weren’t expert fishermen.  There were a few times we caught little trout, but we just looked at them then let them go. 

 I remember my brother taking a big swing with his fishing rod, swinging the line way out, hooking dad’s hat and sending it flying out towards the water.  Mom would stand by the bank and laugh and get a little frustrated over not actually catching any fish.

On those banks I heard stories of how mom used to fish with her sister and brother for their dinner.  Sometimes they would eat fish for breakfast too, though mostly they ate flapjacks and biscuits. 

It’s funny how sometimes those days seem so distant that they can barely be remembered, but now and then I see a large sprawling tree standing by a pond and I remember the laughter while we tried to learn to fish.

I remember the squish of the mud between my toes when I took off my shoes.  How I loved to look in the water and watch the minnows playing around the wispy grass and moss on the rocks close to the shoreline.  I even remember the smell of the water, the warm air, listening to the birds sing and feeling the sun shining down through the branches. 

I remember being tired at the end of the day, folding up the lawn chairs, putting the cooler in the back of the station wagon then crawling in the back on top of a blanket and falling asleep on the way home. 

I loved those days spent with my family.  You might think that kids don’t remember, but I do, and even on days when things seem so rushed and hectic, there are times when I look back on childhood memories and I’m thankful for the moments spent in the sun in a time that wasn’t so rushed.

Cherry Coley ©

Telling Tales and Sharing Stories

Sometimes we just try too hard.  Have you ever found yourself over explaining something because you wanted the other person to understand what you were saying so bad and you wanted to make a good impression?  They sit there with a nod and a smile pasted on and you just find yourself explaining when you should probably be quiet instead. 

What’s worse are the times when you find yourself or watch someone else try too hard.  They go above and beyond explanations on to hand motions or sketches to keep on explaining something beyond the facts that are definitely known.

I have a friend that loves to embellish stories.  I suppose since we are in Texas they could someday wind up as Texas tall tales.  Sometimes they just embellish a little bit and everyone just kind of overlooks it and goes on.  Other times, the embellishment gets rather wild and things that happened to someone else suddenly become personal experiences that were much bigger and more harrowing each time the tale is told, depending on whom the tale is being told too, and who they are trying to impress.

We have a few story tellers in my family.  My aunt was one and she was a fast talker too!  My aunt and uncle came to visit us from California one year and she decided she would share with us all her stories about the same time my dad piped up and decided he would share all his with her.  Together in the same room they both chattered and no one else could get a word in upside down, sideways or otherwise.  Honestly, at night we could hear the walls still ringing with the sound of those two trying to out talk each other.

My aunt was hard to follow with her stories because she didn’t really pause between them and if you weren’t really sticking to every word she said then you could get lost and never find your way back to the conversation.  She would switch subjects and keep right on going despite all the blank looks in the room. 

It was great to see them and that they got to come visit, but I often look back on that and wonder how much more enjoyable it would have been if they had been a little more considerate of each other and the other people in the room.  How much more could we have learned from each other if everyone had taken turns sharing, stopped and listened to each story or experience, then allowed someone else to have a say.  It’s we will never know now, but it is an experience to remember.  Now when we have someone come visit we will, find ways to not allow one person or a few to dominate all the conversations all the time.  If nothing else we will make a game of it so that there is equal sharing time.

Time is fleeting and too important to waste.  Time invested with loved ones should be shared and enjoyed and one thing that makes that possible is taking the time to establish and practice good communication so that each person feels heard, valued and equally important and included in the group.

Cherry Coley ©

I Miss You

Today was November 11, 2011. 

The moon was bright and full this morning.

The air was a crisp 35 degrees, there’s a frost on the ground, and I’m missing you so bad it hurts.

I miss your smile, the sound of your voice and laughter, the way your eyes lit up when you thought of something funny, the way you could lean back, stretch out and take up the whole couch. 

 I miss the way you told stories, then would stop and laugh at yourself.  I miss your solid stance on injustice and unwavering knowledge of right and wrong.  I miss the way you would sit and research the things you were interested in, but were always fine with me interrupting you and asking you questions. 

 I miss our arguments when I wanted to do something and you didn’t think it was a good idea, as much as I miss the times I went back and showed you the results once it was done.  I miss that surprised expression, slap on the knee, and the way you’d say, “well, damn, I didn’t think that would work!” then you’d laugh.

 I miss sitting beside you on the couch watching a good movie like “Iron Will” or “Rudy,” and stealing glances at you while you claimed to get choked on popcorn so I wouldn’t notice your eyes watering at the good parts.  I love the fact that you weren’t afraid to show your heart, and didn’t feel the need to hide it under pride or to look tough.

 There are so many conversations and actions that keep crossing my mind lately.  So many days of following you around the yard and asking a million questions, which you (almost) patiently tried to keep up and answer.    There are so many things I’d love to ask you now. 

 I miss you, Dad.

Cherry Coley (c)