Thank you for Fathers

Today is a day to be thankful for the men in your life.  Fathers have a very important role in guiding and protecting it is sure, but there are so many men that are mentors, helpers, supporters of those with absent fathers, or fathers who are serving, away working jobs, or just don’t have all the time they need to be the dad they wish they could be. 

Thank you to all of the men who take the time to help a child or a single mom.  Thank you for your kindness, your patience, your sense of humor, your guidance and protection at times.  Thank you for teaching a child to read, showing them how to open a door for someone else, or tie their shoe. 

Thank you for being who you are and know that even the smallest seed of kindness today, can grow into something wonderful later.

Cherry Coley (c)

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 ©

Fear and Ghosts of the Past

No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.- C.S. Lewis

I must say that I completely agree with C. S. Lewis on this one, grief does feel very much like fear at times.  Now and then, out of the blue, it will come along out of nowhere and punch you in the heart and all but bring you to your knees.  Suddenly things you were so sure of, you second guess and then your mind willing or not wants to ask that person their opinion, but they are not there anymore to ask. 

 As nice as it is to paint the house we are moving in to and work together to make it a home, there is a bittersweet thought that lingers in the air and simply won’t go away.  The thought that this will be the first place I will live where my mom and dad won’t come visit me.  Yet it’s not even that thought that haunts me.  No, I was a bit shaky with that thought, but still okay.  It was when my brother mentioned that since we didn’t move in to my parent’s house, he is working on selling it. 

I am actually okay with selling their house; because of where it is located I know we would not be able to live there.  The house is too far away from my work and the kids like their schools and friends.  We weighed our options and looked at it from every direction then decided to stay in Garland.  I know the best thing to do is to sell their house.  Yet the thought of that is like a punch in the heart that almost knocks me to the floor.  I walk in that house now and it’s empty, but the walls ring with echoes of days long past.  I can hear my brother’s footsteps as he stomps up the hallway.  I can watch memories shift in my mind through all the different years, showing me the furniture and how it looked at this age, then how it looked even a few months ago.  I can remember thinking of how amazing it was that my dad bought such a small house, then designed and built on a large den, back porch, and a washroom that could actually be another room.  Later when I was seven or eight years old my dad converted the single car garage into a bedroom for my brother with a large walk in closet.  He did most of the work by himself, with a little help from my uncle Basil Thomas and his brother in law “Slim.” 

 I have a hard time looking at the yard when I go over there now.  My mom loved gardens, and keeping her yard looking nice.  The yard doesn’t look so nice right now.  She created flower gardens and vegetable gardens that were pretty high maintenance since she would spend two to three hours outside every day pulling weeds, watering and doting on her plants.  No one has been there to care for them since December, so there are parts of the yard that are beginning to look overgrown.

 I remember riding my bike on a path we’d made in the backyard, around the gardens and the swing set dad had put up for us.  My little dog Butch would sometimes run beside me trying to keep up. 

 I remember the tree right outside the back porch.  We used to climb that tree, get on the roof of the back porch, lie down and watch the birds fly by during the day and the stars come out at night.  Watching the sky up on that rooftop is one of my favorite memories and something I really miss.  I loved that tree. 

 There are so many good memories in that place.  I can’t help but hope that it will go to a family that will come to love and appreciate it like we did.  It doesn’t make letting go any easier.  When I stop and think about it, there’s a feeling much like fear that tries to swallow me up.  I suppose it’s because once it is gone, then it’s gone and there’s no turning back, no revisiting, no more just knowing that it’s there if we need a place to go.  It’s odd what grief does to you.  Still, this is a time to move forward and memories are portable.  No one said the path would be easy.

 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 ©


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 ©

Dear Daddy – A Tribute To My Father

I’ve been asked to come up with some things to say about you to try to let others know the type of person you

were. I am not sure I can do you justice, but I will try. I feel kind of odd tagging people for this, so if I miss you, I apologize.

My dad was one of 5 kids, born in Louisiana in 1929, at home. He used to tell me stories of growing up in Louisiana and South Texas and how he and his friends would hide out in the graveyards as it got dark and scare people cutting through them. They loved to torment the people that were slightly drunk by wearing white sheets and acting like ghosts. I spent many afternoons as a child, snuggled up against him on the couch, listening to his stories of being on a farm, living with 4 brothers and sisters and the funny things they used to do to each other.

He joined the Navy at age 15 and went to fight in WWII. He spent time in China and Guam. We still have many of

the Buddha’s and artifacts he brought home. He loved his days in the Navy and often spoke of being on the ship at sea. He bragged about getting lots of practice by shooting the rats on the ship. The men of the Navy loved to play practical jokes on each other. The two terms he served were some of the hardest and most profound moments in his life. Much of what he experienced he took with him from then on.

My dad was a dreamer and a true storyteller. I look back now and I know that much of my odd way of looking at things and relaying my point of view really came from him. He wasn’t highly educated, but in many ways he was one of the smartest people I ever knew. He learned much about mechanics and engineering from working on the railroad for a time. He moved to Dallas, TX in the 1950’s and bought a small house. He built a large den and back porch onto that house, and made the garage into a room until it was big enough for the family he raised there. He could look at things, take them apart in his mind and figure out how to put them together or fix them up, though he might not be able to completely explain it all, but he still knew what he was doing.

He worked for General Motors for 30 years, and though the job was challenging, with long hours, and was

physically hard on him, he didn’t really complain about any of it that I can remember. He would come home with

stories about playing practical jokes on different people at times, and now and then some supervisor would tell him he couldn’t do something. His answer to that was always to show them that he could do it and do it better than they thought, and get it done his way. I guess that’s where I get my stubbornness too.

My dad was the ultimate protector. He was knowledgeable in firearms, swords and just about any other kind of weapon you could think about. He was also very careful to not keep them loaded and to make sure that we didn’t touch them without asking. He taught respect.

My parents both taught me to cut my own path in this world, that no matter how well worn the easy path was, it

isn’t necessarily the path you want to take. When I got to high school my brother was already in drama and the music

program. It would have been easy to follow in his footsteps. It was my dad who pulled me aside one day and asked me what I really wanted. I was being silly and worrying about hurt feelings if I didn’t go into music, and he knew that, he told me “you just be you and don’t worry about anything else.” I took Commercial art and Journalism instead. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted. Thanks, Daddy!

When my mom was so sick while I was in my last year of high school many times it was just daddy and I at

home. There was a time when everything felt so very dark and it just seemed too hard to keep going. My dad would get up and go to work and come home so tired he would just collapse many of those days. He noticed me sitting and just staring at my homework one night and asked me what was wrong.

I asked him, “what’s the point?”

He sat down beside me and said, “the point is, when things get hard, you keep moving. I learned that in the Navy. There are times you sit still and you wait for the enemy to pass, and there are times to move. You have to learn to do

both.” Well, I was 17 at the time and I wasn’t completely sure what all that meant, but it has stayed with me and I

know he was right, there are times in life when you wait for things to pass and then it’s time to move forward. This

insight that has carried me through some of the darkest days in my life. 

My dad was far from perfect. He had his moments like everyone else. He believed in discipline and honesty. He believed in hard work and safety. We always knew we were safe with him. He would check every door, window, and gauge or dial every night. There was never a question if anything was left on or unlocked because it wasn’t. When I had night terrors as a child, he figured out I would wake up around the same time every night with nightmares

and would be there every night to wake me, make me walk up the hall then put me back to bed. I still wake up at 2am a lot of nights.

He wanted to make sure I was safe when driving to and from work at the mall. Many times they would turn the lights in the parking lot out and we would be walking across in the dark to our cars. Every night I worked late, my daddy would meet me at the door of the mall and drive me to my car, then follow me home. Sure, this might seem over protective, but I loved him for it. Cell phones were not necessary. He wanted to know when you left and which way you were coming home. He knew how long it would take and if you didn’t report back, he would be along shortly to find you. When I had a flat or the car died, I just waited and sure enough he would be there to help.

My dad had a kind heart and gentle touch when needed. He put up with me bringing home any and every kind of animal. If it was hurt, he’d try to fix it. He taught me a great respect for life itself in how he treated all of

God’s creatures. He loved them all. 

I could go on and on and never do justice to this man, so I will say this. Daddy, you taught me so very much about people, animals and just life in general. You were mostly a quiet and observant person, at times a gentle spirit and also as stubborn and hard headed as they come. God knows if you wanted to get a point across you’d hammer it home, then come back a couple of times to make sure it stuck. The most important thing you taught me though is the one thing I feel in every breath. You taught me faith. You taught me to never look at the church or the people, but to just look past all the humans that make mistakes to God the Father. People fail, but God is perfect and He is always there. I love you, Daddy, and the next time I see you we’ll share a big piece of chocolate cake and it won’t have sugar or calories. Forgive me my inadequacies, for this is but a small glimpse of who you were.


John R Coley 09/11/1929 – 09/21/2011