Eulogy for my loving mother, Betty Ann Williams

The following are my warmest thoughts, love, memories, and knowing of my mama, Betty Ann (BettyAnn) Williams, who passed away during the early morning hours of June 8th, 2017.

Where do I begin? Ahh, at the beginning, of course!

Betty Ann was the middle child of three. She had an older sister, Alberdia (also passed) and a much younger brother, Jim.

Mom, her sister, and parents lived through the depressive days of the 1940s. Life was hard back then. My grandparents taught my mother and her siblings the importance of hard work, honesty, integrity, establishing and maintaining a solid reputation, faithful church attendance, and service to others.

For many years, my grandfather was a truck driver, owning a maintaining a semi-truck tractor. He was also a farmer. I recall stories of my grandmother and grandfather putting in a large garden and raising animals. Mom always spoke fondly of those days, in particular about how her mother loved roses (grandmother had real knack with growing rose bushes), and that mom’s sister loved ducks! Mom gravitated to the cats–especially the calico variety of kitty cats. She naturally attracted them.

My mother’s parents always had farm animals around too, and would butcher one every so often. My mom used to tell me stories about that. Mom didn’t want to like a certain pig too much, as eventually she knew it would be on the dining table! I know a lot of people don’t care about such things, but my mom did! She just couldn’t get emotionally attached to something that she knew would end up being food!

I still hear mama’s voice in my mind about her early life, and how she loved helping her mother string beans, cook, and bake–oh the banana nut cake that my grandmother taught my mom to bake was so delicious that just the memory of it makes my mouth water! She also taught me about eating my vegetables (as most of my friends’ moms taught us to do!) though often we didn’t want to listen or heed that necessary instruction.

Mom grew up eating the freshest of food and knew exactly where her food came from. I barely recall the farm though, because my mom’s dad passed away when I was six years old, and after that, grandmother only kept a small garden–the animals were gone. Many years later, mom would work at a grocery store, and use her knowledge of various meats to educate her customers. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes the very things we learn when we are little, continue to assist us throughout our life?

Early life

BettyAnn had the most amazing naturally curly hair. My mom used to tell me about how her mother would take her hair, section by section, and wrap it around her fingers to create a stunning look. Even as a young girl, in this portrait, you can see how mom’s ringlets would dangle. You can also see that back then, the middle part was a way of parting one’s hair that would stay with mom for most of her life.

Mom said she didn’t like the special attention that the look of her hair used to bring. And that’s because mom never sought to be front and center. She preferred to be in the background. When singing in church, for example, mom didn’t want to be highlighted. Betty Ann never sought the spotlight. Though mom worked hard, and dutifully in a variety of jobs during the course of her life, she only wished to be privately acknowledged, if that. My mother was humble. She had a heart for service.

As a student, mom put a lot of time into her studies–she loved to read. She dreamt of being a writer. She told me many times that she had a book in her and that she hoped to write it one day. As meticulous as my mother was, and as many notes as I found of hers over the years, I know that is an aim she would have loved to accomplish.

Devout Christian

Speaking of reading, Betty Ann loved her Bible. I have mom’s three in one Bible that is probably about 80% marked up with notes and underlining!

Mom’s mother and father always had their children in church, and mom used to talk with me often about summer church camps she attended. She really enjoyed those outings!

Mama was also very proud of her father, my grandfather, who built many churches of their faith. He was also quite devout and he lead his family in a steadfast way. Their beliefs were followed up by wonderful good works, seen as a natural outcome from having solidly developed one’s faith.

My grandfather cultivated such a steadfast reputation around their hometown, that my mother, in particular, took that very seriously. Their “name” meant everything to them.

In this photograph, which included my grandfather’s brother and his wife in the back row, from left to right you see my aunt Alberdia (my mother’s sister), my grandmother, my uncle Jim (he was a young boy then), my grandfather, and then, kind of off to the right–my mother.

Mom was a prayer warrior and deep thinker. Whenever mom was trying to resolve something she said that she’d turn it over, again and again, in her mind.

Most of the things mom loved to study and talk about were of a religious and spiritual nature–my mother had a thirst for God!

Betty Ann was devoted to her family and church, and was as solid of a witness for Jesus Christ as I ever knew. She would defend the Lord until her dying breath, that was how certain she was.

My mother read a lot. She spent long hours in prayer and solitude. Looking back, I have wondered about all of the books she read. She loved John Wayne, and later on, Clint Eastwood. Mom sought the hero, the tough and rugged kind of many who would take care of her, and whom she would help to build a solid life with.

Mom also loved her parents home, and loved property. She never really liked small plots of land, always dreaming of having a house on acreage. That dream must have begun even as a girl. To this day, I learned all I know about mineral rights, from what my mother taught me as a teenager. It always amazed me to know how intelligent my mother was.

Little things really meant a lot to my mama. She thought deep thoughts, and ruminated over many things. She would tell me, “Whenever you’re trying to figure something out, just turn it over and over again in your mind until an answer comes to you.”

Mom also had many dreams and experiences with the Holy Spirit over the course of her life–especially her young life. I always felt that mama had a strong faith in God, and particularly in Jesus–so I kind of had a problem when worry and fear would set in. Even when I was about eighteen years of age, I realized that just having a strong faith, did not solve all of the problems in the world.

Yet, my mother’s strong faith allowed her the ability and stamina to reach out to others, even though she might be going through her own problems.

I recall many a night that mom would take me to one of her friends’ house to visit, often staying up until the wee hours of the morning talking about God, Jesus, Christianity–especially how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was a true Christian faith, and how the Book of Mormon was the second witness, or second testimony of Jesus.

My mama could explain the Book of Mormon and the history of the RLDS faith better than almost anyone I knew. I’m sure my grandfather could too, but I was too little when he passed away to remember any of his sermons or such.

Spending years in church though, yes, even Sunday school, taught me many things, and created a Divine curiosity too.

Mama used to tell me if loving God was the only thing she’d ever taught me to desire for my whole life, then that was good enough for her to know she’d raised me right. Awe! Mom used to talk with me quite a lot about her spiritual experiences, and always hoped that I would also have similar experiences. I think my mother would be very pleased to know that I allow myself to be an open channel for God, and not only that, but that I meditate and seek daily for access to God and the LIMITLESS Omniscience that I perceive God is.

I am gifted that my mother, and her parents too, were believers in  present day revelation, which means, that God is Alive, and speaks to us in myriad ways. I honestly believe that my mom would be the most proud of me, not because I raised two loving children, or had a successful 30+ year career in technology, but that I am humble and OPEN to God–at all times, and in ALL ways.

I know mom wanted me to save more money, but I also know now, that from where she IS, where she continues to exist, she knows that none of us are defined by the money or things that we possess. So, again, I believe the Earth held great value for my mother. That God placed us all here to be good stewards of the Earth and all of the creatures God placed upon it.

 

In this picture, mom, her dad, her mother, and her little brother Jim, went to Fayetteville, North Carolina to visit her sister, Alberdia. I love this picture because I have so few of my grandparents. And because mom was smiling so sweetly.

My aunt Alberdia had lived in North Carolina for some period of time while her husband, my uncle Bob, was in the military service.

My mother was always very happy to drive, and if memory serves, mom had driven the family to North Carolina on this trip, which may have helped to explain the lovely smile she had!

Mama used to tell me that her father was always so busy giving to others (of course, a wonderful trait), that they did not often take trips together as a family–this would later continue to be the case with my mom and dad during my formative years.

(NOTE: I’d love to hear comments from any of our family about these and the other photos.)

I recall mom telling me about someone that she might have married, but the gentleman was Catholic. Mom’s RLDS faith was so important to her that she couldn’t bear to marry this other man (whom she’d known for some time before she met my dad) because any children they might have, would need to be raised Catholic. And while the structure of both the RLDS and the Catholic religions are similar, they are nonetheless quite different, thus mom ended the relationship with that man, before it even began.

Some of the best days of my childhood was spent going to church with mom, my grandmother, my aunt Alberdia, and my uncle Jim along with many close and long-time family friends, singing in the choir or just as a member of the congregation, and learning about the many wonders of our faith. We had prayer meetings, testimony services, baptisms, and more. And ever Easter was a celebration of our resurrected Lord. As I grew older, and even when my faith wavered, mom always reminded me that God had my back. That God would never, ever leave me. A strong faith she had, oh yes, absolutely.

School days

I don’t know much about my mother’s school days, but mom did ride the bus to school, just like I did. I can only imagine her sitting alone most of the time, perhaps reading a book or daydreaming.

Mom never liked the color yellow.

When people say that words don’t hurt, don’t believe them.

Dad has recounted that even when he would buy a piece of heavy equipment that was yellow, mom wouldn’t like it parked anywhere she’d have to look at it. When dad or I would ask mom why she didn’t like yellow, she would recall a time when she’d worn a yellow dress to school and about how a boy on the bus had commented something crude about “girls that wear yellow…” were easy, or something to that effect. After that, she never wore that dress again and grew a strong disdain for anything yellow.

 

Ironically, my five year old granddaughter, my mother’s great-granddaughter, Jennifer Ann, loves the color yellow–in fact, it’s her favorite color and has been since she could name a favorite! I think there’s some karmic healing going on there. At least, I hope so.

I’ve often looked at the photograph of my mom in the white blouse and dark colored shorts, looking down. I am sure it was one of those pictures when a person isn’t ready for the shot. However, it does say something about how meek my mother was. She was as gentle and humble as anyone I’ve ever known.

My mother loved animals too! All kinds of animals, but especially the little ones. Bunny rabbits, kittens, and squirrels were some of her favorites. Once when I was little, mom found a mouse that had just had babies, and she even card for each of the babies, as if we needed any more mouse around! It was kind of funny, but oh so very heart-warming that she cared so much, even about the seemingly needless little creatures, and that I’m sure most women would have wanted to kill.

Growing up, mom was very close with her family, as well as many special church friends. While raising me, she emphasized the importance of friendship. She remained friends with many of the same members of our church, who became as family, even until the last 10 or so, when dementia took it’s toll on her.

BettyAnn also held the priesthood members of the church in high esteem. In reading many of the passages she underlined in her 3 in 1 Bible, she had strong feelings about women holding priesthood office. That, among a few other things that I don’t need to into here, caused mom to quit attending church; even though she didn’t attend church however, my mother never disavowed her faith, and always prayed for her friends of her church, otherwise called her church family.

 

When mom started working, I think she put as much of herself into her work that she could. She didn’t just take pride in her work, she literally worked to a higher standard, as if God only was her supervisor. She put forth the very best of herself that she could when she was working.  I only wish that my mother had been more appreciated, at the time, for all of the effort she put forth, and for her incredible integrity.

Looking back, it seemed that my mother was always working–often two or even three jobs at a time. When I am sad about my mother’s passing, it usually centers around how hard she worked, and that in the end, I question how much of it matters.

Betty Ann knew the value of a dollar and could make a penny squeal. She worked and saved for everything she ever had, beginning in her teenage years, if not earlier. Mama knew how to buy quality and well made clothing, like the jacket in this picture. She put several things aside at her mother’s home in a cedar closet, and it surprised and warmed my heart to receive those items after her passing. I hope she will be honored to know that I am passing most of the clothes, that even after 40 or 50 years, are still in good enough condition to be put away for her great granddaughters to wear one day.

Many times mom did without many things in order to save money. She sure knew how to prioritize! In fact, mom left a legacy to me of how to only spend on what’s important.

Betty Ann was so happy to graduate high school. Her mother, my grandmother, only had a 4th grade education and though it didn’t stop my grandmother from accomplishing many things in her life, she was certainly proud of her children when they graduated high school.

Mom graduated in the Parkersburg High School (West Virginia) class of 1957. When the Statler Brothers song came out about the class of ’57, my mother loved it!

Whenever I would fuss about having to walk very far during my high school days to change classes, mama would tell me of all the times she would have to nearly run across the huge PHS campus to get to class. Looking back on some history though, I now read where PHS was one of the first high schools in West Virginia–and perhaps, that’s why it was such a large school!

Though my mother loved school and believed in education to help a person become successful, I do not recall that she had any desire to attend college, preferring rather to work and earn money. As well, I remember mom telling me that she even worked while she was in her last year of high school.

I love how my mother signed her high school graduation portrait to her beloved parents. I think that might have been the thing to do back then. But again, it shows the honor and respect mom had for her parents.

Speaking of respect, that word meant so much to my mother. And she strived always to respect anyone she came into contact with.

 

Love of driving

Betty Ann loved to drive! Mama often told me how excited she had been to be old enough to drive, to work and save her money to buy a car. She would volunteer to drive her church friends to church, church camp, or other types of activities.

Thinking about my mother’s love of driving then, it would make total sense that my parents would first meet at a drive-in restaurant. Looking back, I can see how unique it must have been for mom to have a rare night out that didn’t involve church, in order to meet my papa!

Some of my best memories as a child was when mom would take me with her and go out for a drive. We usually had plenty of reason to drive since we lived 17 miles from my grandmother’s house (the one in these pictures). If I couldn’t sleep, had a belly ache, or other health issue, mom would put me in the car and just drive. I am sure it calmed her down, as much as it did me.

Mom told the story for years about how once, when I was a wee toddler, I’d somehow managed to open the car door while the car was in motion! It scared her about to death, but she reached over and grabbed me by the hood of my winter coat, saving me. Whew!

Beautiful loving soul

By the time my mom met my father, she had grown into a beautiful young woman. In fact, when my father took her to him small home town to meet his family, some one hundred miles from where my mother was raised, he has told me many times over the years that many of his family, friends, and neighbors had thought he was bringing a movie star home.

As beautiful though, as my mother was on the outside, it was her genuine heart and love for God and desire to help others, that really touched people’s hearts. Mom was a friend to many, no matter their outward appearances. Granted, if someone–rare though it might be–would offend her deeply, she could turn away, but I can only count on one hand in my whole life, any such occurrences. Someone had to cut to the quick, and strike at mother’s abiding faith, before she would walk away from them. And since I believe that eulogies should always focus on the positive, that is what I will do from this point on.

Selfless connection. Yes, that aptly describes the inherent love my mother felt towards nearly everyone she ever met.

 

From my teenage years on, I questioned my mother many times about God, Jesus, our church, and family history. Mom always had much to say about her father, who not only built their family home, but about the churches, and other homes, he had built. Mom had the utmost respect and love for her father. Mama also loved her mother very much. In a way, you could say that my mother worshipped her parents–and their marriage set the baseline for the one she dreamed she would have.

When my dad met my mother, they were both out with friends. My mom had ordered a sandwich at the drive-in restaurant and my dad asked if he could have a bite of it. At first mom told him that he should buy his own, but if I recall the story right, she did oblige him to take a bite. When dad asked for her name and number, she gave her name, but said he would have to meet her in church if he wanted her number–or I suspect, to date her.

Betty Ann was ever so surprised the day (I think it was the following Sunday) that my dad walked through the doors of our church. He found her, and the rest as they say, was history.

Both would recount the story later on about how dad asked how old my was and she replied, “Twenty.” Then, she’d asked how old dad was, and he said, “Twenty, too.” It was not until they were filling out the form for their marriage license that mom would learn that dad meant he was twenty also. She had thought he was two years older than her, apparently for a bit of time, and was a bit upset at the revelation of his true age!

 

Mom and dad were married at her parent’s home in 1960. And as my parents were married in a home that my mother’s father built, I was also married in the home my parents built. The synchronicities have not been lost on me. However, just so you know, I am not romanticizing or placing my mama on a pedestal–yes, she was human–but for certain, if you knew BettyAnn, you knew how she felt about you.

Many years later, I would come to know that even after my first husband and I had problems, my mother continued to talk with him. She never held a grudge against him, though as one might imagine she could have, for I was her only child. And we all know how most mothers can be a fierce lioness when it comes to their babies.

I love the many early photographs we have of mama. She was always simply elegant and statuesque. I’d commented on more than one occasion how she could have been a model, but mom said it was never her way. She preferred to be in the background. She never sought the spotlight. She was shy, so being the center of attention in any given scenario bothered her.

 

 

 

Beloved Wife

My dad reminisces of his and my mama’s wedding day (January 6th, 1960). They married at my mother’s parental home with mom’s family by her side.

Being as honest as the day is long, my mother wore a beautiful light cream colored suit, a-line skirt, with a mink collar pinned to the suit jacket’s collar. With all of my mother’s family in attendance, I know from the photographs, mom was supremely happy.

Dad still marvels about mom’s 17″ waistline and how he could put his hands around her waist until his fingers touched! The way mom used to explain it to me, she accomplished that feat by wearing those skinny belts and keep pulling the belt in, one hole at a time day-by-day, until she had cinched her waist to the size she wanted it to be.

You can really tell how tiny mom was in these wedding photographs. When I came along, two years later, I remember always loving to visit my grandparents home.

 

So much efforting
Over the entire course of mom and dad’s marriage and life together, mama followed her Biblical principle of being a help mate to my papa. Mom would help dad with manual work around the house, especially during the years when they built our home in Boaz, any contracts that needed analysis, preparation of business, banking, insurance, and all other manner of legal documents. I look back now and realize that watching mama assist my dad with these things, most assuredly paved the way for me to learn how to use analogies to explain complex topics to others (and why I became a techie/business analyst.

Isn’t it amazing to think about how all of the times of effort and struggle that at the time, seemed so harsh–were the very hurdles that helped us master and achieve our desires?

Mom and dad were so in love, and so passionate. At times, they’d argue about things that made no sense to me, but they were the yin and yang, and to achieve balance, at least at times during their marriage, they needed till the rocky soil in order to come in to agreement.

 

 

 

In the twilight years of mama and papa’s marriage, my mother would tell me over and over, “I don’t know what I would do without papa”, and how much she still loved my dad. And my dad continued to love my mom. Unless you witnessed the two of these amazing people together, you just couldn’t understand their love.

I will remain eternally grateful to my papa for the care he took of mom during the last few years of her life, when she couldn’t do the simplest tasks for herself. I may never understand their profound connection and love, but I am so in awe of it. I cannot begin to imagine the loss my papa feels now, and how he misses his wife, my mother. The very best friend either of us could ever have.

I know there are times in every marriage when people feel like they can’t continue on with each other, for a variety of reasons, some small, some extreme. And some of those reasons can be brutally painful. But even in the worst of times, during a loss of baby, infidelity, fights, death of a parent or sibling, bankruptcy, or harsh arguments, only a rare few marriages can sustain. Personally, I don’t know how people survive or even thrive in the midst of such turmoil, but I’ve witnessed it. I’ve witnessed two people pull together, even when I thought they would tear each other apart, and make it through. And honor their vows–until death do they part.

 

 

 

 

I recently asked dad, “Who took this picture”? He just said there always seemed to be someone around to take a photo. I’ve always loved this of mom and dad, kissing, while out in the lake’s water. I think it sums up their life together very well. Water is often moving, never standing still, just like a marriage. It can get rough, even produce outrageous waves that can topple huge ships. But water can also become smooth as glass when there is no wind.

No matter the storms of life, my parents’ marriage survived. Until the end. And my mother knew love that only few find in this life. May she rest in peace knowing her husband and family have loved her beyond words.

 

 

 

 

 

Miracle Baby

Mom and dad had only been married two years when I came along. And during my childhood my mother had so many miscarriages, that she would later call me her “miracle baby.”

For a long time, I wasn’t quite so comfortable with that label because it made me feel like she expected so much of me. And I was sure that my getting married so young, and having my own children, let mom down. However, the last visit we had together, Easter Sunday 2017, I told mama something that had only recently dawned on me. That between me, my two children, and my daughters three children, mama had back all six babies that she’d “lost.”

When you look at these photos of mom holding me as a newborn, and even how my mother’s mother looked at me, I can see such an abundance of love that it still gives me “God bumps.”

 

My grandmother was not always the most warm and loving grandmother, and for years I struggled with that. I know my grandmother had been a wonderful mother to my mother and mom’s two siblings, because mom always told me so. It’s funny isn’t it? How each of us perceive another so differently, even from how that person is / was most of the time. And how our memories of people change over the years.

I find it fascinating now, to look back and remember with much more fondness and adoration. And interest! I’d love to know more about my grandmother and her lineage.

And as the baby in these pictures, I am so curious as to what the conversations were that were going on at that time.

 

 

 

 

You’ll see this picture, taken at Christmas time, and how happy mom and I were to be at my grandmother’s house. It looks like we had so many presents that they spilled out from under the tree (which was in the corner to the left) and in front of the television set in the living room. Grandmother always put out such a nice display in her living room at Christmas.

Mama was still tiny after having me at this time. And always beautiful, with naturally curly hair which many ladies envied.

Loving Mother

For the better part of my mother’s life, she lived by the biblical standard of “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and kept a spotlessly clean house. I remember people saying one could eat off of mom’s floors, and that certainly was true, especially when I was young.

 

 Anyone who visited us would quickly notice what an immaculate housekeeper my mom was. Mom used to hard wax the wood and linoleum floors of the first house we lived in to the extent that, as a young girl, I could skate on them in my sock covered feet! Mom would warn me to be careful as I skated across the living and dining room floor!
I remember wanting to be old enough to help mom with the floor waxing, as somehow, she made it look so interesting! And as I grew older, mom did let me help her strip the old wax from the floor, and then she’d shoo me outside to play, while she applied the new coat of wax.
Everything mom did was meticulous. She would often tell me that if I wasn’t going to do something right, to step aside, and she’d do it herself. But though we would have our share of mother and daughter disagreements, I knew in my heart and soul, that above all, my mother loved me. Calling me her “miracle baby”, my mom adored me. She didn’t give me everything I wanted, as some might have thought. No, my mother instilled a strong work ethic in me, that I’ve actually had to do some work on undoing over the years because it made me hold others to the same high standard–and not everyone can live up, or work up, to those!
I distinctly recall being about six years old, and when I went to sleep one night, mom laid down with me in my bed. I think I had been upset about something. My grandfather died when I was six, so that might have been why I was upset, but I don’t recall. I do distinctly remember telling mama that I couldn’t breathe without her, and that she could never die. Of course, mom consoled me and eventually I cried myself to sleep.
 I don’t have many pictures of mama when she was pregnant for the other babies.
One of the stories I heard many times over the years though, involved the baby girl mom named, Christina. Baby Christina was the infant that most nearly made it, but that was lost at or nearly at full term.
The most poignant part of the story was that Christina would be only one of mom and dad’s lost babies to be buried. And as mom told it, her hospital window overlooked the street to the cemetery. So, mom could see the procession when the Hearst brought baby Christina to the cemetery with my dad following behind in his car. She was in a double room in the hospital and the lady beside her had her baby in the room. It had to be one of the most heart-breaking times of mama’s life. I cannot even imagine!
As I recall the stories from my mother, there were several pregnancies that did not go full term. One was the first baby, when mother believed they were gassed in their first apartment. Then I came out, full term, and fine. After that another baby, that I believe was my sister, Christina. Following were three more, the last of which, had to be taken, in order to spare my mother’s life. It was at the time when my father had to make the call–the doctors said, “Sir, it’s either your wife, or your child.” And mom had been in the Catholic hospital and moved to the city hospital because the Catholic hospital would not “take the baby.” To this day, I cannot imagine the gut-wrenching decision that had to have been for my father. And on top of it, to transport my dying mother to another hospital in order to perform the procedure! It seems ludicrous to me now!
 I only have a couple of photos from mom’s early career days.
I believe this one was taken at one of the banks where she worked.
I wish I had a picture of mom when she worked for the Calvin Calendine Insurance Agency in Parkersburg, because once when I was fifteen years of age, a couple came him (perhaps it was the Calendine’s themselves) to a restaurant where I was working, and asked if I was Betty Ann’s daughter–as apparently I looked just like she had when she worked for them!
If mom wasn’t at work somewhere, or I wasn’t in school, I was with my mama. I love thinking about that!
I hated being an only child, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Nor would I have ever wished any of the hell that my mother experienced on her, for continuously trying to have another child.
Mom and dad wanted so much to give me a brother or a sister, but sadly, mom lost one baby after another–I was the only one of six pregnancies to be born onto the planet. You can see in one of the photos how tired and drained mom looked–it was a picture of her that was taken in 1968 after losing one of the babies that damn near killed her. In fact, my dad had to make the unthinkable choice–to allow the doctors to save mama or the baby! What I couldn’t have known was that my mom had been in congestive heart failure. Had the doctors not taken the baby, mom would have surely died.
Mother had many friends and no matter what hell they might be going through, my mom would talk with them, pray, and be there for them when often, no one else would. As a child, I recall many times going along with mom to friends’ homes and falling asleep on a couch. I soaked in my mother’s compassion and capacity for “being there” when others needed an ear.  And mama always had me with her.
 There was a period of time when mom was into wigs. I don’t think this time lasted too long, but I remember it fairly well.
One Christmas in particular, mom was so thrilled to receive–what I think was–a fifty dollar bill from dad, along with her gifts. I love that you can see an old, but popular lamp behind mom, drapes that used to hang in the picture window, the first Lazy Boy chair mom and dad had, and those hard wood floors in the background.
For years, mom wouldn’t let me put the icicles on the Christmas tree. When she finally let me, it was only after she taught me how to hang them properly, one by one at a time.
Family heritage
This was from a picture my cousins sent to me. I loved the way mom and dad looked here! I can almost remember going shopping with mom to buy the clothes we were going to wear on this rare vacation. aWEsOMe!
 We were visiting my dad’s oldest sister in the northeast. I recall going to Canada once at about this same time, though I cannot be sure it was on this trip. We took so few vacations over the course of my childhood, you’d think they would stand out more to me, but alas, I seemed focused on the bond I had made with my cousin.
I think my mother and father only had one portrait taken in their whole married life. It was a black and white photo that my daughter has to this day in the original frame. I asked my artist husband, Richard, to Photoshop my mom out of the photo and colorize it for the memorial service that my uncle is going to hold in her memory.
I will place the photo here, but I do think the snapshot photos do speak volumes about my mom and dad’s life together. They were always busy working, and making a home for me, and of course continuing to have other children, which so sadly and unfortunately were not to be.
My regret for my mother was that she did not get the opportunity to get to see my daughter’s twins that have only very recently come into our family. It nearly feels like some cruel joke of the Universe. But, she did get to see their pictures and video of our five year old granddaughter, when I last saw her Easter 2017. I want to believe that she knew these were her great-grandchildren as she described as doll babies, and beautiful, and so wonderful!
This picture was mother when she was 30 years of age. I can remember the blouse that mom had on under the black jumper, because she kept this outfit in her closet for many years. Again, the frugal nature of my mother was outstanding.
As well, my mother nearly always wore a cross around her neck. Dad has told me that even unto the last few weeks of mother’s life, she had a simple gold cross on the gold chain around her neck. It would be the only jewelry that she would wear, that she could tolerate wearing.
 When we went to West Virginia, arriving the day after mother’s passing, dad gave me the gold chain that he’d removed from mother’s body. I put it on. It still had some of mama’s hair wrapped around the clasp. That was probably the hardest part for me. Knowing that I had the tiniest part of my mother to carry on with me.
 Of course, I had not told him that I had saved a few strands of her hair from when I’d seen her at Easter and I had used my comb to comb through her hair. Nor did I mention the memories of all of the times my mother would sit with me to comb the knots out of my naturally curly hair when I was young. We both had such tender heads that combing our hair was something very difficult to do, preferring to brush it instead, for most of our lives. Only now that my hair is beginning to thin can I use a comb. And mother’s dark thick hair had turned to thin and gray, but still curly, even unto the last time I styled it for her.
Sharing of Recipes

My grandmother was a wonderful cook, and my mother and aunt learned so much from cooking and baking with her. I can still taste many of the delicious recipes that my grandmother made, especially her luscious banana cake with chocolate frosting. Mom would make this too, but somehow it was always just a bit different.

Mom also made a kicking fudge candy, that one of my cousins still makes to this day from her recipe. My mother also made a fantastic pot roast, that my aunt MaryAnn learned to make, and continues to make to this day.

Growing up, mom always cooked green beans. I still have fond memories of helping mom and grandmother string beans fresh out of the garden.

The memories of particular recipes linger for each of us.

 This photo was of an older boat that papa had bought to restore and sell. I think it was about 1976. It seems like we always had a boat. We went to the river as much as we could on the weekends. It was really the only down time my parents had.
As I’ve said, we didn’t vacation every year like a lot of families. But my parents did believe in buying, restoring, or fixing just about anything, and then reselling it. So, while it seemed we had a lot of stuff, I never became too attached to anything. Just as soon as I’d fall in love with a car, it’d be gone! Mom had a hard time with that also.
We typically only traveled to see family. The only times we went somewhere that didn’t involve seeing family was when we went to Ocean City, Maryland or Myrtle Beach. And then there was the trip to St. Petersburg, Florida. My first trip to Florida, but it was for a somber occasion, as it was for one of my dad’s friends, the man who was with my dad the night he met mom.
On one of our trips to the beach, my grandmother went with us. I don’t recall much about the trip, other than I think I made a friend while playing in the sand. I was pretty good about making friends easily like that (I’m just not so sure why I didn’t make as many friends at school). Vacations were different times though. People seemed so much more relaxed.

My dad loved to fly. H bought a Cessna, much to the chagrin of my mother, and got his private pilot’s license. Mom is pictured standing next to the plane. I don’t recall her ever going flying with dad, but dad took my daughter up in the air once. He took me on one of those helicopter rides, with someone else flying and that was enough for me! I couldn’t wrap my mind around my dad flying, so I guess that’s why I never wanted to go. But, somehow, I let my daughter go–I wonder if she remembers that!

It’s kind of ironic that I would later work (and go to school) for the Harvard of the air, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and work at the Kennedy Space Center! How funny can life be?

Mom was always  proud of my accomplishments, but she had a difficult time with my going to college while working and raising Marie and Matt. She would often strongly suggest that I take a semester off, because in her words, “…your children won’t be around forever.” But, silly of me, when Marie and Matt had returned to live at home with me, after being out of the house for at least a few years, I poked fun at mom because they both of my children had come home. But, looking back now, oh, I am getting paid back in spades! Karma. It is what it is.

 

This picture was taken at my dad’s family farm. I was seventeen, so mom and dad would have been 39. It’s hard to imagine it now, but I used to think 30, or 40, was “old.” But look how young they looked here! Wow!

On top of looking great, my mother was one of the strongest women I have ever known.

I cannot imagine the pain she survived. Even if you only consider one of the stories–the one about mom laying in her hospital bed (a 2 bed maternity room in those days) and the lady next to her having her newborn in for feedings, etc. While that seems almost unthinkable, my mother mourned her loss, as she looked out her hospital window and watched the hearst going by (carrying her unborn infant), with my dad’s car following, directly to the cemetery. I don’t know the strength it takes to go on, but somehow she did.

My mother lost five babies in total (at different stages of development, with at least two of those because the hospital either didn’t type her blood at all, or when they did, they typed it wrong). But there were no lawsuits.

Mom went on to raise me, have a career, build a house with my dad (that one couple loved enough to steal–but that’s a whole other documented story that I could tell), and lived until she was almost 78 years old, nearly 58 years with the same man, my dad.

Throughout writing this eulogy, I have strived to keep my focus on mom. I realize that I’ve ranted a bit, and derailed, but it’s because my mama and I were pretty much tied at the hip, until I met my first husband. When I started dating, and going across the state line to Ohio, my personality began to change. I became independent and mom told me several times that I was drifting away from her.

We had been friends, as much as mother and daughter. I, always being my mother’s closest confidante. I wish I could say that I continued to confide in my mother after I began dating, but it was true what she had said, we had drifted. That is, I allowed myself to drift from her.

More and more we began to live separate lives.

I realize that’s the nature of things for a lot of people, and I am not the only one who has run off from the protection and solace of her mother’s arms while yet a teenager. While I have few regrets, leaving mom and dad to get married so young is one of them, though I have made peace with that, due to having my own children and knowing they might have never been, had I not made the choices I made when I was seventeen.

When I hear the Stevie Nicks song, “Edge of Seventeen”, I remember those days with fondness and self-forgiveness. All is as it should be.
 Even though I was close with my first cousins, and one of my third cousins, I felt so alone during those days. Oh! To know then, what i know now!
 
Mama was close with her sister, Alberdia. And this photo, I think, was at one Christmas at my aunt Alberdia’s home. Mom and my aunt had both sold Avon for many years, and they had much in common.
One time, many years later, my dad related a story to me about mom and her sister sitting up until the wee hours of the morning visiting. He said they giggled and laughed like little girls.
As it turned out, that night would be the last visit that they both shared together. I think of what they must have talked about, and how much life experience and wisdom they shared.
I am thankful for all of the Thanksgivings, and all of the Christmas times we spent at my aunts house, and I am ever so grateful to be in current contact with Alberdia’s children–my first cousins. Our family legacy continues.

A loving grandmother

Oh how happy mama was when her first grandchild was born! She was blessed to have my husband and myself living so close, so that she could see her beautiful granddaughter every day! I remember taking this picture when they came to visit us days after coming home from the hospital. And my daughter, Sheila April-Marie (Marie), loved her mammaw and pappaw!

By the time I had my son, Allen Matthew (Matt), two years later, we’d moved about a half an hour away, and we still made time to visit–the bond and the love was so strong between my parents and my children. The visits continued even after we’d moved to Florida. I am so very glad we were close, and had so many visits, and shared so many wonderful times together.

Even though we didn’t live near each other in Florida, mom and dad would meet me half  way many weekends and take Marie and Matt to their home for visits several weekends or more per year.

Mom really loved her grandchildren! I’m sure in many ways she felt as though, by having them with her, it was like having a couple of her lost babies back.

Speaking of mom and dad’s unborn babies, mom and I talked about them often most of my life, until mom progressed in her illness, then she started to forget how many babies she had lost. That’s when I knew we were losing her.

In the beginning it was just mom’s short term memory that started to go. Then she’d forget how the ball point pen worked. She quit typing me letters. Oh, I used to get the most beautiful long emails from my mom! I am certain many were lost as technology changed though, and I am so sad about that. Then mom failed at being able to use the phone. That probably worried me the most of anything. So, papa did his best to always keep her with him, as if she’d been home alone, she wouldn’t know how to call anyone for help.

 My children were oh, so blessed, to have my parents as grandparents! The love that mom and dad showed to my children were incredible!
Leaning on the Everlasting Arm
Many times over the years mom told me she felt trapped in her marriage, however during the last 7 years of her life she would tell me how grateful she was for my dad, “papa”, and that she didn’t know what she would do without him.
Mom had come to accept the course of her fate, and not only forgive, but embrace all of the aspects of my papa, whether she agreed or not, and allowed him to care for her, do everything for her, that in earlier years she wouldn’t have even dreamed.
 Mom and dad argued a lot over the years. And I saw my mother cry–a lot. I often felt bad for the struggle my mama endured. Sometimes, mom would tell me that she and my father would fight because they had so much passion for each other. It took me years to accept, understand, and allow the dysfunction of their relationship. In fact, I had to get married and move out, and have children, in order to experience anything near to the tumultuous relationship mom and dad had before I really understood. Then it took many years of prayer, meditation, and inner work (energy medicine) to come to the place of the allowing. Allowing those choices.
Mama would also tell me that while improving the property where they would build their dream home, every time she chopped a tree down, she would hear or feel the words, “This is all in vain.” Several years later, those words would return to her, as clear memories, when she and dad left West Virginia for Florida.
My mother and my father made their life what it was. What might seem frivolous or simple to many now, took me years to accept–that each of us live by the thoughts and choices we make. I can only hope my papa can find purpose and joy in the rest of his life, as I know he has many healthy and strong years ahead of him. I so want him to be happy! I know he misses mom so much; he longs for his wife and best friend!
The red knit sweater vest that mom is wearing in this photo was one of the garments that mom had kept and stored away at grandmother’s house in the cedar closet. I am now taking it to New Hampshire to give to my daughter. I know she will wear it with great love and admiration for her thrifty grandmother!
I have learned that all any of us can ever do is Be Here Now, if we want to feel better and leave the pain of the past behind. And as I’ve been writing this eulogy that lesson has returned to me many times–even during my writing when a friend called to remind me!
After everything, all I can truly tell you is that all of the hard times, all of the prayers, all of the harsh words, all of the warmth, all of the moments, the days of our lives, what we perceive as the good, and the bad, all of it, it all resolves to Gratitude. And Thank You, is the best prayer you can ever utter.
This was a classic photo of my mom and I, and Marie, while I was pregnant for my son, Matt. I remember that day so clearly, as if it were yesterday. How does that happen? How can one time stand out so complete in one’s mind that you can remember the feeling of the fabric of the shirt you were wearing, or the smell of food cooking?
You can see the double front doors behind us and the large picture window above the doors. There was a foyer there, with a wall that was built in such a way, that you could look down on whoever was coming in or going out of the house, but they wouldn’t necessarily see you. The living room and foyer were on different levels. I’ve never been in any other house like the one my mom and dad built–ever.
I remember sitting alongside mom and dad as they sketched out the blueprint for our home. They built it from every dream they’d ever had about a house. It had so many special things in it. And some things, just sort of happened. We call them design features nowadays. Little things like, “What are we going to put on top of this wall?” would come up in daily conversation. Eventually, it just got carpeting laid upon it. And we used it as a sort of catch-all for books or magazines, mail, or such.
 Oh wow! I would definitely be remiss if I didn’t talk about the river. Mom, dad, and I spent a lot of time out on the Ohio river. I have so many memories of being out on the river, with one of the boats we had, or with friends.
Mom and dad continued the habit of going out on the river, even after they had grandchildren too, which I know my kids loved, and so did I.
This is one of those times at the river! It was evidently during the annual regatta time, because of all the other boats in the water.
Mom had started smoking. It wasn’t like her at all, but it was indicative of the ridiculous stress she was under at that point. I am glad that I could salvage this picture, because that’s my darling daughter, Marie, when she was about two years old. Mom and dad would take her out in the boat with them. And Marie had my sock monkey with her that day. Ha! The same sock monkey that I still have, which mom later found the hat for it and gave to me. He has been with ever since and sits beside our bed.
While I can’t say that we always went to every regatta, the ones we did attend were a lot of fun! I have wanted to return for many years during regatta time, but haven’t been yet. Thankfully, our dear friend, Liz, sends us lots of photos.
Marie and Matt always enjoyed their time with mom and dad, whether on the river in a boat, or just swimming in the pool. When you live in West Virginia, you have to get out as much in the summer as you can, because it doesn’t last long.
I love this photo of mom with her hair up. She always wore her long hair up when we went boating or swimming, and she was so pretty. It really showed off her high cheekbones and beautiful face.
 I wish something hadn’t been on fire in the background of this photo though, as it disrupts from the view of the old Williamstown bridge in the background, and of course, all of the boats.
My mother was statuesque and lovely. She was beautiful inside and out, as they say. When she walked into a room, people noticed. And she spoke softly, but carried a big stick, as they say. She could be quite firm in her statements, but they were always infused with care and compassion. My mother truly was an angel on earth, as my dad always said.
 I love this picture of Marie with mom and dad in her little life jacket. Yes, mom and dad were always careful while boating, especially when they had their grandchildren out with them.
Dad often said it made him a little nervous during regatta, because there were so many boats on the river at the same time, and many people were drinking beer and such. Though this photo only showed a portion of mom, I included it for dad and Marie.
I also love the water, and this one feature the river almost as prominently as it does my family.
Back in those days, the cameras we had were not always the greatest. We kept up with technology, having Polaroid cameras and Kodak, but I didn’t even know what a 35mm camera was until I was in my teens. So, if you have a photographer in your family, you’re blessed! Haha! Your family photos are probably a lot more centered and focused than ours.
Notice that Marie was wearing the same tank top in this picture, when Matt was just a month or so old, as she was during the regatta photos. I am so glad that my grandfather (my dad’s father) was able to meet my children. This is such a great picture of mama holding Marie, and grandpa holding Matthew. This was taken while we were visiting my grandfather in Newville, WV.
I used to wonder how my grandfather could live on the farm without many of the staples of life that I’d become accustomed to having. But now I believe, my grandfather was richer than many of us. He had peace of mind, and love in his heart for all. He read daily, and walked the hillsides. He kept pictures of his family on the wall in the living room, and I believe he prayed for each of us–everyday.
My mama and grandpa would have long talks each time we visited. I wish I’d had a recorder! They could get to the real meat of life, and of God.
My beautiful mother. Mom always loved tapestries and there was a large one hanging on the wall behind her. I’m not sure, but this may have been one that my uncle, my mother’s brother, Jim, gave her. I know he had brought her a tapestry back from Germany (when he’d been stationed there), and she cherished it. Later, I believe she bought one or two more. I know she had this one of the horses, and another of The Last Supper.
I suppose pictures are good for things like this. To be able to look back and remember special times. To look at things our family and friends gave us, and think fondly of the people who were so thoughtful to give us those gifts. Even the smallest of things.
 Mama always loved brick houses, my thought is that was probably due to her father building the house where she and her siblings grew up. Also, since my dad was a builder, mom understood the strength of brick. Even our first house in Boaz, where we lived since I was 3 years of age, was brick.
So, when mom and dad built their large new home on 6 acres, they got a great deal on a massive amount of bricks, and sought out professional brick layers to put up all of the walls.
You can see a lot of brick and stone in these pictures behind mom and dad. The walls of the main living and dining room part of the house were double brick walls! One wall for the outside and one for the inside, with concrete poured in between. That house is a fortress! It was so well built that I imagine it would take an earthquake to bring it down!
I wish the lighting was a little better on this picture, but I think you get the idea.
Mom and dad finished the house in 1978. I lived in the house for about a year, before I got married in Nov. 1979 (in the house–yes the living room was so huge, we had the wedding there!) and then, my husband and I moved back into the trailer in the front of the property that mom, dad, and I had lived in while building the house.
 This is a rare picture that I have of mom standing beside her Cadillac. She really enjoyed this car and it upset her very much to give it back to the bank too, when everything fell apart with  their business. Though friends had suggested mom and dad incorporate their business, so they wouldn’t lose things, such as their home and personal vehicles, they didn’t do that. If that is one lesson we all learned through that time, it was this: if you’re going to run your own business, incorporate.
Looking back now, I am so glad that mama was able to have some enjoyment in things like driving her Cadillac. She’d always worked so hard, fingers to the bone, that having something to show for it, and really enjoy it, was a small reward for her efforts.
Even as a small child I knew well the love of material possessions. And a car was always a huge deal for many of us. I couldn’t wait to drive when I turned fifteen and work to pay for my own truck. So, I can very well feel the feelings mom had for her car. I think she only had this one for a couple of years, but at least she did that. At least, that was something.
Of course, my more than my mama loved cars, she outrageously loved her grandchildren! My mother would take my kids every few weekends, or babysit whenever I needed! She couldn’t wait to have Marie and Matt over to the house! She’d take them to church on Sunday’s, play in the pool in the summer, or just let them run around and be kids on the property. Mom was always cooking, baking, and so on, so she fed her grand babies well!
Mama and Marie at their house in Boaz. My rocking chair is in the background that mom had kept from when I was a baby. Also, the dress mom was wearing in this picture was one of the dresses that she’d kept in the cedar closet for over 30 years that came back to me. Though it was much outdated and out of style, I gave it to a church, along with a few other things, in hopes that someone else would get some use of it.
I am so glad when I look back on all of the wonderful memories I have of our time in the house mom and dad built, especially the times they had my children there, and played in the living room, basement, and outside in and around the pool.
We had so many joyous family times. Naturally, there we just times we sat around and talked, or watched television together, but there were lots of exploring in the woods, cutting of firewood, cooking, dining, and such.
Lots of family and friends would visit and many times (during the summer) we’d all end up in the pool. Mom was usually the last person in the pool though, as there were so many other tasks to take care of first.
Mom was an aWEsOMe hostess to any guests who arrived. I remember the little things, like making sure everyone had a beach towel at the pool, and doing the laundry later, after everyone had gone.
 One of our long time friends, Liz, told me recently that she remembered helping to clean the pool too when she would come to visit and stay for a swim. That was mom’s generation though, always work before play, always helping a neighbor, friend, or family. Selfless action. Always giving, and rarely taking time to receive.
I’m noticing so many little things now, ways that used to think and live. And how differently I perceive life now. The years mom and dad got to live in and enjoy their home were to be limited though. And that’s one story that can still burn me a bit.
You see, after all of the hard work, and years of sacrifice, mom and dad would lose their business and home, even personal property like cars, during a short period of time when the business climate sank in the early 1980s.
For my mother, more than losing the property and home she loved, what really hurt, was the smear campaign and tarnish on her reputation that occurred when she and my dad had to file bankruptcy and turn their properties over to the banks.
I find it hard to think that due to a poor business climate, coupled with the fact that someone who, once they saw the house under the guise of buying it, could become so envious and devious, that they would do anything to possess it! Quite frankly, it still blows my mind when I think about how some bastard was able to connive and manipulate his bank into getting mom and dad’s house. It’s a huge reason I made up my mind years ago that I would never work for a bank. But, that’s all I’m going to say about that right now.
My mother kept intricately detailed records. She’d been a bookkeeper for years, trained by one of the best in the business, so I have all of the documentation. I have it all. The ledgers, the statements, the hand-written letters of what happened. And all of the names involved. It was scandalous.
 Lucky for some, I focus my energies on love and healing. Ah, that feels better. Plus, I note that karma has already come back around on that thief. As I’ve heard rumors that the couple who incredulously took mom and dad’s house, didn’t live there but about a year before passing away. Don’t worry, I can’t dwell on the debacle for long, it twists me to the point of nausea.
When I see this photo, it reminds me of all of the times mom cooked and baked for us in her beautiful kitchen.
At this time, mom was working at Big Bear in Marietta, and I can still take the London Broil she used to make on the Jenn-Aire range! We all ate well when we visited mom and dad, because mom knew the best cuts of meat to bring home after her shift. She never complained about cooking either–as it must have been her first love!
Shortly after this photo, we moved to Florida.
Florida living
After only living in Florida for a couple of years, I was divorced and living in a duplex with my children. Mom and dad visited often, even living with us for several months to help me get back on my feet, so to speak. These photos, of mom and Marie, were during a such a happy Christmas–and includes on of the best I have of mom when she was shocked at opening of one of her gifts. I love it. It’s a favorite!
This is what gift giving is about as far as I’m concerned. Surprise, and exquisite joy! I know it’s fleeting, but it’s so ultimately precious.
I can recall this particular time, as if it were only yesterday. Pictures do that, don’t they? The freeze a slice of Time. Ahh!
 Notice how the best pictures, and the most fun and joy shown in these photos, are of when we are together with our loved ones. It’s not about the homes, cars, or other possessions, though they are nice, they are temporary. Though they can remind of us of our loved ones who helped us, or gifted us with these things, they are just things. And people are what’s most important–cherish the people in your life, now.
 I love how close we were then. Mom would go to Treasure Island during the day to clean hotel rooms or condos, and I was working at Embry-Riddle. Dad would cook breakfast and get Marie and Matt off to school. Some days, if we’d overslept, I would take the kids to school on my way to work. One time in particular, I remember getting pulled over a block from the school for speeding. But my hair was wet and my short was skirt, so no ticket for me! Haha!
Mom and dad really helped me a lot that summer. And I could have been more grateful. We had barely lived in the duplex for one year when I met the man who would become my second husband. Mom approved. But he tricked us all.
 1990s
Here was mom and dad and I at my second wedding in the early 90s in Daytona Beach. I think mom was happy that this time, I was to be married in a church. Even though she, nor I really, knew my second husband that well, she and dad were there by my side. And they always enjoyed having my children with them on weekends.
If for no other reason, and yes, I realize all of learned many lessons through those times, I was glad that we had the wedding to have these photos taken. They were the last professional pictures I would have with both of my parents.
 On at least one occasion, mom came to stay with us for a few days as I know she was there when Marie had an issue at the church school. And I’d only had my kids in the church school during part of one school year, the same year we attended that particular church.
Mom’s hair was very long at this time. It’s difficult to see, but in the photo with her back turned, where she was talking with my uncle Jim (mom’s brother), and my aunt Janice, you can see that mom’s hair was half way down her back! I’d forgotten that she’d worn it very long like that for many years–as you could see from her much younger days when she’d worn it very short.
I was also very happy that my uncle and aunt could attend my second wedding. I know that added much to the happiness mom experience during that event.
I remember my daughter always being skeptical of her new step-father, and with good reason. Yet, I wouldn’t learn my lesson about him for several years.
My mom and dad accepted the husband, but you’ll note I am not including any photos of him. This is after all, a eulogy about my mother, and it’s already had too much about me in it.
My uncle and aunt had come to the wedding and for a visit and that, as well as, how the wedding would be handled, had been my center of focus.
 I could be mistaken, but I think this was the only time my mother’s brother and wife visited us in Florida. I know it’s difficult to arrange times to visit family when one is on vacation, but I can tell you from experience, if you can do it, then make every effort to visit your family. It’s time like these that people will remember, and put in a eulogy later on. It meant the world to have them visit.
 We had lived so far apart for so long, that seeing family in our new home state, was priceless.
 Many times in life we question our priorities, which event to attend, or whom to spend time with. Consider the family and friends who will be there for you when making such choices.
 One of the best things about my second marriage, was the times mom and dad came to visit us–especially at Christmas.
I found a couple of pictures of mom and dad opening their gift when they visited us. I love their smiles!
Mom and dad stayed over only a few times, but I was always thrilled to have them, even if my then husband disagreed. My mother was never the in your business “mother in law” type.
She actually could have been nosier or more “in our business” and I’d have probably left him even sooner!
 I love mama’s smile here. As well as dad’s smile. They were both really happy for me and my children to be in a home at that point. I actually think they had a few months where they didn’t worry about us during that time. But that was to be short lived.
Not that anyone got into trouble, but my marriage was quite rocky, and I didn’t hold that back from them. Once I confessed to them that I had learned my second husband was an addict, they prayed for us night and day, and eventually, the Universe provided a way for me to exit the marriage. Though four years later we reunited, that was only to prove to me that I had done the right thing by leaving previously. And my children and I were on our way to a better life.
 This is one of the rare photos I have of mom, just after she woke up one morning, while she enjoyed a cup of coffee. Mom always loved her coffee! Over the years she went from drinking about a pot of coffee a day, to just a few cups, but always, there was coffee. It makes me smile to smell a cup of coffee and even if ever so briefly I think of mom.
 I remember telling mama that I loved the smell of coffee but not the taste, even when I first began working in a restaurant at age fifteen. Mom would encourage me to try it, citing that it would help wake me up in the morning and aid one in their digestion (to put it nicely).
Yet, even though I tried it, I just never accepted the taste of coffee. Though my husband now would tell you that I bogart his White Russian cocktail on occasion for a sip, because of the coffee flavor! Haha!
Sometimes a long day requires coffee.
 Though my second marriage lasted only a few years, this was yet another Christmas where we could find time to enjoy being together as a family.
Dad had began growing a beard and letting his hair grow, and mama loved that! Oh, sometimes she’d tease him about getting hair cut, but eventually she grew to love his beard and hair and come to acceptance about it. I learned a great deal from my mom about acceptance of things I could not change.
I only bring up some statements about my life, to help to put certain things in perspective, and why the background of many of the photos are different.
My daughter has counted it up and that in her life, she’s lived in over 27 different places. Of course, she’s lived in more places than I, but I tell you this to give you some perspective.
 I always loved having mom and dad visit us, even if I didn’t always show it. I mean, I think I showed it, but sometimes, I had to think about the man I lived with. Sometimes, there were things happening that were out of my control. At least that is how I saw it back then.
I am glad I continued to change and grow, always seeking more. And always teaching my children that they never needed to stay “stuck” as mom had often referred to her own life.
You’ll note that in nearly every picture of mom and dad together, they were always touching each other, arms around each other, holding hands, hugging, or such. And that has always been, no matter the quarrel or argument. There was always peace, somehow, some way.
 Eventually, after my second marriage ended and I’d spent about three years alone, I took a consulting job that moved us back north. Mom and dad came to see us off, and these were a couple of pictures I found of us together to commemerate that time.
We had met at the flea market in Daytona Beach for some shopping and to have hugs goodbye.
I had bought a Jeep and my son would have been 16. Once again, my mother had to say goodbye to my children, and once again, I later would come to know how much this hurt her. I knew we’d be back to visit, but I was off to pursue a big leap in my career. It was my opportunity to shine. And mama was happy for me, but so sad to see us go.
This is dad, mom, and Matt. We just took this pictures kind of quick, so I don’t know where Marie was, or if I just missed a picture where she was included.
 You can probably tell that once again, we had met at the flea market.
Florida is full of flea markets. Perhaps that’s another reason I love Florida. A synchronicity would be that when dad sold CB radios, he would take mom and I to weekend jamboree’s. Those were always such fun times. And something about a CB radio jamboree reminds me of a flea market. I guess it’s the atmosphere.
 At this point, mama was still getting around very well, and she was enjoying retirement. She and dad were able to get out and about often and such. They would go to yard sales and flea markets, and even to the beach!
 These couple of photos were taken at my first cousin Lori’s wedding. My hair continued getting more blonde, and mom was showing a little more age. In particular, one of my cousin’s, Carol Sue, had cancer, and it would be one of the last times I would see her.
Obviously the picture of mama and Carol Sue, means a lot to me. Both of our dear angels in Heaven.
 I had been traveling at this point, doing IT consulting work, so I only got to see mama a few times a year. So, seeing her at Lorie’s wedding was also a treat for me!
It’s funny too, that I used to know each article of clothing mom had. I can honestly not recall her having this cactus top before! But, she always loved wearing her hair scrunchies that a friend of mine had made.
 This is mom and Carol Sue. I didn’t attend Carol Sue’s funeral, but mom and dad attended. I only recall how supremely sad they were to see her in a casket. Mom said they could never take it if something happened to me, before them. Though you can see how different Carol Sue and I looked in these pictures, earlier on we had looked more similar.
Carol Sue was my dad’s oldest brothers’ youngest daughter. She was survived by her son and husband. She was a nurse and had a heart of gold.
 This was mama at home in about 1997 or so. She was reading the paper, sitting underneath an artwork I had created for mom and dad and given them a year or so two prior.
I didn’t claim to be an artist then, nor do I now, but I was led to create something with a big sky and sea, and then glue shells onto it. I’ve seen some such creations since, but never quite like the ones I’d painted in acrylics. I gave several away at Christmas, but I kept the one I liked best for mom. She loved it.
She took off her glasses for this photo.
 My mother loved her grandson so much!
She was especially thankful whenever he would visit them in later years, and mow their yard, or help them around the property. She knew dad couldn’t do it all alone, though he certainly gave it his best.
Anytime Matthew would come to visit, mom was always so very thankful.
I like to think that my daughter, son, and myself inherited my mom’s soft and huge heart! Her empathy, compassion, and loyalty to people were some of her most beloved qualities.
I know people say one must be careful of who they trust, and I can see where that’s true in some situations, but my mother was more trusting than fearful, and for that I am eternally grateful.

This was another Christmas when we were celebrating together in 2000 or 2001 when I had moved back to Altamonte Springs. Mom and dad had come over to visit and we all enjoyed a great time.

This is Matt, mom and dad, sitting on a couch Matt had found for our apartment.
 Later on, Matt rented his first house in Deltona and mom and dad had come over to visit him. They loved relaxing on this chaise lounge type of chair that Matt had. You can see how comfortable they were. As I recall, we’d all enjoyed a wonderful visit together.
 I’m sure we had some wine and chocolate covered cherries, one of our annual traditions.
 I remember how proud mom was of Matt, for working and being able to have a home of his own. She always valued a dollar, and of course, hard work. She would often tell us to save our money. Over the years, mom just couldn’t believe how much homes cost, and how much rent we paid for housing. She always dreamed of having a place where we could all live near each other.
Some of our last times together
This was mom and my daughter, Marie in 2007 at our last house for Thanksgiving. I also believe this was the last year that mom wore makeup.
This was one of my favorite pictures of mom and Marie together in the last ten years. When mama would put her hand on my face, similar to how she’s cradling Marie’s face in her hand here, that was one of the things that made me feel most special. I will never forget her doing that to me, the next to the last time I visited mom and dad at their home in Florida.
 This is mama and papa with my beloved Beau (Shih-Tzu doggie) in 2008 at their home. I used to visit and take both of my fur kids with me over the years, and eventually, it just became Beau.

Mama loved Beau so much, that I have a feeling that is why she was so accepting of their fur baby doggy, Sundae, when she came to live with them.

Again, you see mama and papa holding hands. They often did this. And it always warmed my heart to see it.

 

 

 

In this photo, you can see that mom is wearing one of two blouses she had that she enjoyed the last few years of her life. The picture of mom and I was in 2009 at our last house. The one that follows, was of Matt and mom in 2012. Just once again displaying how frugal mom and dad have been.

My dad and I have talked in the last couple of years about life. What’s life about? Why are we here? What comes after? There are so many ideologies. Different faiths. Myriad of opinions. But no one has died and come back. Oh, yes, I know some who have gone and returned after a short time of being pronounced dead, but even they have only but glimpsed the beyond–and their fascinating and intriguing stories differ.

In the end, it seems none of us will know for certain what lies beyond–until it’s our turn.

 

 

During the last few years of mom’s life, my son, Matt, was constantly checking in with mom and dad. He only lived about thirty minutes from them, and he and his wife, Jenn, would go to visit them. Matt would mow the yard, and they would take food in, and Jenn (thank you dear heart) would bathe mom. As well, dad would take mom and go to Matt and Jenn’s house, and though Matt and Jenn were both holding down full-time jobs, they always somehow made time for my parents. Matthew loved his grandparents as much or more perhaps, than his love for me. And for that, I am also eternally grateful.

 

 

 

 

This group photo of mom and dad, myself and my husband, and Matt was taken in November 2012 at Matt’s house. We’d all met there for a visit and celebrated Thanksgiving about a week early.

Mom was having a hard time getting around, and using a cane, but she was still happy and getting out with dad quite often.

Matt and his wife (at the time), Jenn, took such wonderful care of my mom over the course of the last three or four years. I cannot thank them enough for their compassion and love.

I believe the last time mom and dad visited Matt and Jenn at their house, Jenn helped mama take a shower. I will be forever grateful to her for that. Mom had always been very modest, and had never asked anyone to help her. So, I knew it was a combination of mama needing the help, and also of Jenn’s ability and capacity of being able to talk with mama in such a way as to help her with such a task.

 

 

This was the last picture I have of Marie and Jennifer with mom and dad, and it was taken in April of 2013 in Daytona Beach.

This was also about the time that dad had begun dressing mom daily, and I knew the top she was wearing had a little more to it, turns out she had the skirt on too, but it was just bunched up. As mom lost more weight, dad had been searching through her closet and found this. It was the same outfit, top and skirt that mom had worn to my second wedding! I didn’t realize it at the time, I only knew it looked familiar. Looking back through old photographs, I now know why I’d known it was familiar but wow! Awe!

I’m also so glad that we had more than a few minutes to share together that day. I believe mom did know Marie and that Jennifer was her great-granddaughter. In this next picture, mom seemed to be reaching out for Jennifer, perhaps even to give her a blessing. I will never know for sure, but certainly there was great love there. And in the end, that is all that matters.

 

 

 

 

 

Mom had not cut her hair, but it had been breaking off. I know one of her wishes was to have died with long flowing hair, and that makes me sad when I think that she didn’t. However, I know that was something out of her control, and perhaps not even something she gave any thought to in her final years, so I know it’s only my thoughts about it, that make me sad.

I am so very thankful, and my heart is so full of love when I think about how my mother had this special time with her great-granddaughter, Jennifer. I believe mama knew Jennifer was her great-grandchild, or at least her grandchild, during this visit, since this was four years before her passing.

I know people say that when you have dementia you are attracted to babies and young children whether or not they know they are a relation. But mama was still wearing her wedding  band in this photo, on her little finger, and I feel that since she still had the mind to wear that ring, then she knew who Jennifer was.

You see, I had had mama’s wedding band for sake keeping for several years. However, when we bought our RV mom and dad had come for a visit, and that was in 2010. At that time, I had given mom’s wedding ring back to her during our visit.

When I saw this picture, and saw mama wearing her ring, I knew there was still a bit of “mom” in mom.

 

 

 

This was mom and dad at Matt’s house for Christmas 2015. Mama had been losing weight the last few years and I was glad to see her wearing a pretty pink top. She’d been wearing hats a lot also.

Thank you for reading this and for any comments or corrections you would like to add. I’ve spent about three weeks going through the photos I’d scanned and saved, and presented the best ones of mom in this post. But I would love to see more. If you have any to share, please email them to me at:

sheila(dot)murrey(at)gmail.com

Much love and many blessings to you in ALL ways,

sheila

In service and support of our U.S. Veterans

This Memorial Day weekend… oh, I am so outrageously HAPPY!!!

I’ve been granted the best opportunity of my career thus far, to do what I know and am skilled/educated for–working in Information Technology (IT)–to be in service and support one of the best groups of human BEings I know, our U.S. Veterans! Yes, my years of education and experience will not be lost, but it will all contribute to a mission that I can whole-heartedly accept and honor–to ensure our veterans receive their accurate and proper benefits!

Over the past three years, I became acutely aware that I was in a place that did not align with my spirit or soul, and as I watched things happen there–many not to my liking–I knew that at a deeper level it was because I was working within a corporate arena that was “part of the problem” vs. “part of the solution” from my perspective and from the perspective of many of my indigenous friends and those who support the environment and the “green movement.”

I became disillusioned and apathetic. I could blame it on not having my work valued, or this or that person not communicating, not showing up, or not playing by the rules to work within my team, or any other number of nonsensical illusory issues. But at the end of the day, I knew it was because I had never aligned with that corporate mission. I really didn’t.

I had been in quite a quandary! I enjoyed my work and didn’t want to throw away years of education and experience (knowing that Creator God had helped and guided me to all of that over the years), but I knew that I didn’t want to be where I was. I wanted to help people, perhaps even help people heal themselves (as evidenced by this blog site)!

So, I joined several groups over the last three years, went to many MeetUp meetings, talked with lots of friends–old and new, and worked with several uplifting people, like Alaina Starhawk, Maria Carranza, Linda McCarthy, Dr. Alison J. Kay, Lama Nicholas Packard and more, who saw my struggles and encouraged me to allow more ease and grace into my life. They knew the right thing would open for me at the right time–even when I couldn’t wipe the gray clouds away from my eyes to see it.

And then, the clouds parted! And in a BIG WAY!

On May 13th, I had went to Qigong class with Lama Nicholas at the park, taught a class, “Natural Ways to Relieve Nervous Tension & Anxiety” at Awakening Wellness Center, and then went to the Pachamama Alliance, “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium” at Sacred Lands.

At the end of the symposium, each participant was given the opportunity to give a 30 second public service announcement. After watching videos and listening to presenters for about 4 hours during that event, I not only KNEW that I would stand up and talk with those in attendance, but I also knew–with more clarity than ever–what my “problem” was, just not how to solve it. I knew I needed to ask for their help.

My PSA went something like,

My name is Sheila. I work for a major corporation as a Technical Writer. One of the company’s clients is one you would not support. I don’t want to be part of the problem anymore, but I want to be part of the solution. Now, that we’re awakening, where do we go (what portal or job board) to find a way to BE part of the solution? And if no one knows of one, let’s create it! Maybe, Green Jobs 4 You?

Can you help me?

I didn’t know it acutely at that moment, but I was open and ready to receive. I was in a state of resonance to receive.

And I did talk with a couple of people after the event, and I picked up a couple of words that helped me later as I researched to find two job portals similar to what I had been thinking about:

http://www.ecojobs.com

and

http://www.goinggreenjobs.com

But I digress.

Literally, while walking to the parking lot of Sacred Lands, my friend Beverly Banov Brown, and I were saying good-bye to one another, when she heard me say, “I am going to be out of that place (job) within 30 days.” Compelled she said, “Wait” and asked me to stand squarely in front of her so she could say something. I don’t recall if she said she was going to pray for me, bless me, or what, but I felt a strong conviction in her statement. So, I turned to her and stood there.

What happened next, to me, seemed much more than a prayer. Beverly’s words seem to stretch into the ether. I want to describe what she said to be as a Sacred Contract, or Universal Command, or something. I still don’t know what to label it (me, who doesn’t believe in labels anyway). Ha!

Beverly spoke the Sacred Words to me, calling forth my intention in faith and steadfast BELIEF that “within 30 days…” the change I had so desired would occur.

As earth-shaking as her words sounded to me though, oddly, I left and went on my way, tired from the very long day that I’d had. I was hungry and just wanted to get home and go eat with the hubby. Thus, I promptly forgot about that prayer — until the morning after I was offered a new position working in support of our veterans!

And it was definitely within the 30 days. It was actually 10 DAYS later that the job offer came in. Of course, there was lots of paperwork for me to do, fingerprints, background, and drug screen, etc. but I’m to start the new job June 1st.

So, here I sit. Outrageously happy and excited to announce that the prayer was answered! And that graciously, my heartfelt desire for meaningful and engaging work in ALIGNMENT with my soul to help people IS happening!

I am resonating with a profoundly grateful and thankful heart to Limitless OMNIPOTENCE Source OMNIPRESENCE Energy OMNISCIENCE Creator God!

A long chapter (full of efforting and lessons learned) closed Friday May 26th, 2017 (synchronistically, on my son’s 35th birthday!), allowing space for a blessed new chapter in the book of my life to begin–AMAZING!!

The new role “that came so effortlessly” to me will have me working from home (100% Remote) in humble service as a Business Analyst.

You bet that I will also continue to promote the Pachamama Alliance too, and continue to learn from the new friends I made at the symposium. Just click on any of the links within this blog article to learn more about each person I’ve named–as well as the Pachamama Alliance.

I would love it if you would take a few minutes to watch the following video about Awakening the Dreamer:

 

Finally, I’d like to tell you about one more sign of synchronicity to all of this that shows me I am on the right path for me, at this time. Not many would notice… but one of my first childhood friend’s is named, Beverly Brown. And my friend who carved this spiritual request into the ether of the Universe is named, Beverly Banov Brown! Don’t you just love that? I do!

In humility and service to all,

sheila

OM

Got Problems? Opposites Attract

Why does it seem that opposites attract? Takers take too much from givers. Givers give too much and become drained, or sick. Energy vampires SUCK!

Dear one, oh sweet empath — they are drawn to you for your light.
For the healing energy of the light.
Just allow them to come.
Allow them to heal.
They will only take the frequencies they need.
They cannot take too much.
They cannot take your higher vibrations because they are not ready for them – they are not a match – no parity.
Keep refilling yourself from the light.
You will be gifted with higher frequencies as you see not what is seemingly being taken from you.
As they cannot take from you, that which you do not have. And you have a never ending, unceasing Limitless supply!
Why does it seem that opposites attract? Doesn’t like attract like?
The Universe conspires to order. To balance the energies.
Perhaps it is the strength of the energies that matter?
Example of alignment opposites attract.png
WARNING — You may not want to hear this! — WARNING
In everyday scenarios we explain it thusly —
The narcissist is drawn to the empath’s light. Like a moth to the flame.
Allow them to receive the light from you that no other will give to them.
THEY actually know the truth. The truth about dualism and illusion that you fail to see. It’s all about them!
But you are hurt because you do not know that it’s also all about you!
So, you stay in your hurt place, stagnant and seemingly disconnected.
That is YOUR choice.
But separation is illusion. Even if you can’t realize it yet, We Are All Connected.
Yin and Yang.
We are here to achieve balance.
This is why you, my dear and loving hearts, always attract the assholes, liars, thieves, energy vampires, wacky, crazy, bitchy, mean-spirited, which all boil down to the fact that these people are HURTING / suffering. And here they are at your door, looking to you to heal them, help them, make them whole.
Yet, you choose to turn away.
You can.
It’s okay.
But you’ll continue to get more of the same, until you clean up your vibrations.
Oh! Dear ones, you are missing a very big point.
You attract your like kind too, so that you can recharge. But is it not better to come directly to the Limitless, Ever-Living, Filling-All-Space, Creator, Source Energy — the ONE?
Hurt people aren’t of the frequency match to come to Creator.
You are their “step-up”! Perhaps you’ve heard of Jacob’s ladder?
Step up.
Step up.
Know that all of your hurt is needless. It only separates.
Know that all of your frustration is pointless. It only leads to ill health, pain, suffering.
And pain begets pain.
All you need focus on is what unifies.
All you need focus on is what uplifts.
All you need focus on is what builds.
All you need focus on is LOVE. Unconditional LOVE.
We told you this in the Be-attitudes and other ancient books.
Be still and know.
Love for ALL.
Limitless LOVE.
Love can never die. Love has always has been. And always will be.
You can transmute all disparate energies with LOVE.
Be still and know.
Omnipresence.
Omnipotence.
Omniscient.
Omni-everything.
Yes! OM I-everything.
OM
Look at how many of your common words contain the OM to bring you back hOMe: wOMan, mOM, abdOMen, accOModate, accOMplish, anatOMy, bloOM, cOMpany, cOMpass, and so on.

Example of alignment opposites attract.png

That little blue dot…

Once upon a time, my mother carried six little babies inside of her. Not at the same time, of course–but at different times in her life. I was one of them. And in my mother’s former words, her “miracle baby.”

For years, I have been on a quest to reconnect, or somehow meet, my five “lost” siblings. Siblings who were never born, never incarnated on this earth. And I have felt lonely being the only one to have been born to my earthly loving parents.

However, I am no longer lonely.

I met one of my sisters, and would you believe, she is a little blue dot. At least, that’s the part of herself she showed me.

Blue dot.png

You see, for my birthday a couple of years ago I decided to be hypnotized. Not just with anyone though. I had never been hypnotized before and wasn’t sure about it. Thankfully, my mind was put at ease when I met a very special hypnotherapist at an intuitive event in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2014.

I had been drawn to meet Patricia McGivern, when I saw her sitting behind a table of beautiful blue covered books called, Angel Babies. The title and cover of the book, along with Patricia’s brilliant and deep blue eyes told me that we shared an inexplicable connection.

While talking that day, I shared with Patricia a bit of my mother’s story of five miscarriages and that I had always been searching for my lost siblings–feeling somehow I suppose, that they were born to other parents. Also, I was interested to know why some babies are not born. Though I wanted the book, I actually did not buy it that day–as I still had about a dozen or so books at home in progress and knew I shouldn’t “buy another book.”

But the Universe had a different plan.

Eventually, not only did I buy one, but I bought two copies of Angel Babies, when my only daughter experienced a miscarriage. But more on that in a moment.

Even before I read, Angel Babies, I had went to Patricia to be hypnotized into a so-called, Past Life Regression. I don’t know how much of our session was about any past lives, but I can tell you–someone came through. Can you believe? One of my unborn sisters came through! She was the only one my mother had named, and her name was / is Christina.

Christina came through to me in my session as a little blue dot. It sounds kind of funny to state it that way on the page though. It seems so small. So tiny! But, Christina was / is not only just any little blue dot, but a beautiful spirit, pulsing right on time, and in perfect resonance.

Christina was / is a light frequency, appearing as an indigo blue dot, with a curtain of black opening just slightly enough to allow a shimmer of gold light at the bottom to reveal her! And she’s much more than that…

You can’t see where all of the path lines intersect, but they do!

You don’t know when the intersections are going to occur, but they will!

Christina showed me several spiritual mysteries, and they will unfold at just the right time, as I’m still being given the words.

The more I learn, the more I want to know! And the point of creation all begins with a dot–according to Lama Nicholas Packard, and I intuitively agree. (smile)

Amazing, as it is, I am only just now–more than two years later–having the courage to write THIS!

Yet, for some reason now, I believe it is the best time to write about this, at least this portion of my experience of Christina.

You see, when my daughter miscarried I couldn’t help her. We live far apart and I had never had a miscarriage, and though my mother had–and I believe could have been a great help and solace to gently ease my daughter’s pain and loss–my mother is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, barely able to speak. So, my heart ached about how I couldn’t seem to console my beautiful daughter. I didn’t have the words! But I knew someone who had the words–Patricia!

So, I asked my daughter (who typically doesn’t read a lot of books), if she was up to reading, Angel Babies. I was delighted when she agreed.

I bought two copies, and we read them chapter by chapter, slowly–and via distance. We read independently, and talked or emailed about specific parts. We read the book over a span of a few weeks, with my daughter finishing the book before me. (smile)

Soon, I visited my daughter and saged her home (that’s another story as I didn’t even know HOW), and within a few more weeks she became pregnant again. And they were to be twin girls!

Jaclyn and Jewel were born Super Bowl Sunday of 2017.

Through a twist of fate, because I had not planned to be there, indeed I was able to make the trip north. And even better, though this also had not been the plan–as I had gone primarily to stay with my five year old soul-connected granddaughter, Jennifer–I stayed at the hospital with my daughter and beloved new granddaughters for five days (and three nights)!

Yay!!! I was so happy to care for Jennifer during the daytime, then change Jaclyn and Jewel’s diapers, help during feeding times, burp, hold, talk and sing to them gently, just all around love on them, as the snow fell outside.

Jennifer and I stayed busy when the twins and my daughter were sleeping, by playing with my phone, taking pictures and videos and other games. Plus, after my son-in-law would take Jennifer home at night, my daughter and I had some beautiful and deep conversations.

I am still ever so amazed and in awe at how all of the intricate details just seemed to easily, and magically fall into place.

For our family to be blessed with twins, and for me to be there to witness the love between my daughter and her girls, and of course, my son-in-law–who’s the best dad ever, by the way!

And to think, my sister Christina, Patricia McGivern and the Angel Babies book, all played starring roles in this rich journey! How blessed we all are. And how infinitely connected.

We Are All Connected. (Even when we cannot see the lines.)

OM

–If you would like to support my blog and resonate with the following, please visit one of my aWEsOMe advertisers:

3 Enneagram Paths to the Sacred with Jessica Dibb

or

Healing & Awakening Through Past Life Exploration with Linda Backman

 

Using Emotional Freedom Technique to feel better

Originally published 2008 on my former website.

I believe any changes you are seeking to make in your life begin in your mind. That old saying, “I’ve made up my mind” has been around for a long time for a reason. Also, ever notice how many times a day you say, “I think…” in a conversation?

We are thinking every moment of our lives. Everything we feel and do starts first with our thoughts. So, I challenge you, to try to be aware of the thoughts you are thinking and see how many are limiting ones, or thoughts, that if you just “let go of” might make you feel better.

It works like this: a thought comes, then the feeling associated, then an action. Contemplate this.

This post is focused on something called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

In April of 2008, I met with Janice Cunningham at HealthQuest in Titusville, Florida to see if we could stop me from a lifelong habit/addiction of picking (and/or chewing) my fingers. I previously had been a “nail biter” but an ex-husband broke me of the habit by smacking my hand anytime he caught me with it near my mouth. Yes, negative reinforcement works – to a point – but it wasn’t such a pleasant way! Meeting with Janice was the BEST $125 I EVER spent (up until that point) because aside from my body being cured of the addiction, my body also experienced other profound affects from just one EFT session!

I highly recommend Janice to everyone who is ready to work through their own “issues”.

You may be wondering what I mean when I say that I had been “picking my fingers”. So, it seemed that I only traded my bad habit of nail biting for something less noticeable. I was pulling at my cuticles, hang nails or any other rough areas of skin around my finger nails.

In 2007, I bought a book called, “Tapping the Healer Within” because my acupuncture doctor, Joan Massey (also from HealthQuest) had told me about it, and because I had tried everything else. I found that book to be a bit convoluted and besides, it mostly dealt with phobias and anxieties – neither of which I thought I had. More importantly, while reading the book, I found it too difficult to hold the book and try to tap on my body with my other hand. Or, maybe that was just my excuse – but the book, though interesting to me, wasn’t enough to help.

A few weeks prior to my personal EFT visit, my husband and I watched a show on the TLC television channel called, “I Can Make You Thin.” On the show, the host using EFT to help people overcome their food cravings. Because I had also tried everything to lose weight, I decided that I really needed some one-on-one personal guidance with both my weight issues and the finger picking habit. And much to my delight, after a 2.5 hour session with Janice, where I fully described both of my issues, I found resolution to some deep seated disturbing mental “programming.”

I had the best night’s sleep ever after that session! I guess I had not even realized that my sleep pattern had also been an issue.

So, aside from experiencing relief from finger picking that day, the habit does not reoccur unless I am stressed. I began a routine of exercising, eating less and so forth, so, the session also helped me let go of excess weight. I believe letting go of those issues aided my body in losing the weight.

During my EFT session with Janice, we spent nearly two hours going back into my past, into my former marriage, teenage years and finally, childhood years. I realized that I had picked up my habit of finger nail biting at the same time I had been diagnosed with the asthma – when I was six years of age. My mom has always been a terrible nail biter, biting her nails down into the quick (pink part), so I knew I’d picked up the habit from my mom, but I had not realized just how much of a connection there was between that habit, my asthma, and my mom.

I fully became aware, during my EFT session, that when my mom’s father died, my maternal grandfather, that this deeply affected her — and ME.

The important thing about that experience is to know now, that when I was a child, how much that event upset my mom and how fully connected I was to my mom and her EMOTIONS. It was natural for my mom to be upset about losing her father. But, I had taken her upset on as MINE. I vividly recall believing if she could lose him, I could lose her. And that I couldn’t live – couldn’t breathe in fact – without my mom.

I remembered (during my EFT session), that as a child, when I would say my nightly prayers, that I would plead with God not to take my mom away from me. This may not make sense to many people, but I am an only child, the only child who lived of the six pregnancies my mom had. My mom (and dad) have always told me how much they love me (not a bad thing in and of itself) and how precious I am, a miracle, gift, etc. But, because of this, I became a super responsible adult. I had held on to some deeply rooted beliefs about having to “live up to any and all expectations” and so forth.

My EFT session sort of felt like it had been a combination of counseling and hypnosis (though I was awake and totally aware of what was happening). It seemed as though Janice had been talking to me on a deep soul level.

During the session, Janice recommended I take some notes, both of things that I was becoming aware of, as well as how to be able to run through this process again on my own if need be.

I noted that I had always tried to “save my mom”.
I am not my thoughts.
My perception influenced my thoughts, but my perceptions were not always “true.”
The genie is out of the bottle.
I do not need the old thoughts.
Am I the thought or the awareness?
Am I “this” thought, or am I the awareness of “this” thought?
Who sent “this” thought? (My pain-body)
Examine “this” thought. It will probably be a limiting thought, a no-win thought, and one that would eventually bring pain.
To let go of “this” thought: 1) focus on the feeling of my breath in and out, 2) be the observing presence.
When I observe I suspend space.
Inspiration = In spirit, and inspiration fills me, lights me up from the inside – the same as when someone is in creative mode; you feel the creative energy inside, in your heart or chest, not in the head area.
The Aha moment when the head agrees to the inner knowing.
My nails = my own fear and anxiety to my feeling, as though I could never fix/help/save my mom.
A trigger for me is when I am faced with something I can’t do anything about, when I feel a sense of powerlessness.
But I’m a super responsible person – I’m supposed to DO something vs. just BE.
(This is the conflict that causes the habitual negative behavior).

Once we got to the root cause of my habit, it effortlessly left me.

EFT helped me to realize that even if I could pluck my mom out of her seemingly dysfunctional situation, that the change would not bring her happiness and that after all, it’s her life. It is what it is. I cannot “fix” the world. I am not here to “save” anyone else.

That “saving” realization freed me. Now, I still have other issues to work through, but wow, I really have that peace that passes all understanding after one EFT session! I have just been able to deal with things and just BE.

 

I can’t say enough about EFT. If you think you’ve tried everything to find relief from anxiety, depression, weight issues, nerve problems, etc. I implore you to try EFT. You do not need to “believe in it” for it to work for you. And what do you have to lose?

Here is a link to explain what EFT is all about: http://www.emofree.com/

You probably already know that most physical ailments begin in the mind. I’ve met many doctors over the years who have told me this too, but it is best explained: “It is an established fact that psychosomatic disorders (PSD) are in fact responsible for a great share of OTC medications, mainly for anxiety and depression. Psychotherapy deals in harmonizing the agonized mind, while Aromatherapy acts as a support system for the mind as well as the dis-eased physical body/ physiology.” per a quote from Dr. Ravi Ratan.

UPDATE: Join me for a lesson in how to perform Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) at the Awakening Wellness Center, Feb. 4th, 2017 from Noon – 1pm.

Located at:

6161 Dr Martin Luther King St N, Suite 102 St Petersburg, FL

(727) 289-4747

And come out to the Awakening Into The Sun Zen festival in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, Florida during the weekend of March 4th and 5th at South Straub Park. I’ll be on stage between musical performances sharing about EFT.

Take it upon yourself to be healthy, joyful, vibrant, and beautiful. Be who you want to be.

–If you would like to support my blog and continue on your self help path with a trusted personal development leader, please visit my sponsor:

Get Ready! Your breakthrough awaits at TonyRobbins.com.

–If you love to look at unique items to enhance and add comfort to your living space, please visit my sponsor:

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Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe.

The Reconnected Friendship Quilt — A Christmas Story

There once was a friend (me) who let down another friend. At the time, I doubt that I had much of an idea how much I had upset the apple cart of the friendship, but thankfully, a few weeks ago, it was brought to my attention, and I was given a beautiful opportunity to genuinely apologize and heal a past hurt. And I hope, and believe it was, a beautiful healing experience for us both.

Now, for the story…

A few months ago, I saw a picture on Facebook of a wall hanging quilt that a distanced, long-time friend of mine had created. The colors and energetic patterns within each hand-sewn square really pulled me in. And though we had not talked in years, except for a few minutes at her niece’s Celebration of Life memorial service (over a year ago), well, this quilt resonated so much with me that I jumped to ask her about it! And perhaps boldly of me, I asked if she might craft a King size quilt like it for me!

Patties wall hanging quilt.jpg

I loved it! The colors, pattern, and workmanship was outstanding! To my joy, she agreed to make a King size quilt for my husband and I, but not like the one I had seen, because of the size. The quilt I had commented on was much smaller (only a wall hanging).

However, that was a good thing because it meant we would get to chat a number of times about colors, design, and so forth. I took some measurements of our bed, and asked my husband too, about colors, design, and so forth.

We did all of our chats via Facebook. This might not sound like an important aspect of the story, but trust me, it is.

I wanted a King size version of mostly brown, blue, and green–in a Native American kind of design. It didn’t have to be traditional. In fact, I would have been happy with anything–as long as Pattie made it.

Our Christmas Star.JPG

I told Pattie that I’d cherish the quilt for years to come. What she didn’t know was that in the last ten years or so, I’ve learned that mostly only the things people have given to me, or that were personally made for me, hold any kind of special emotional attachment. Other things are nice, pretty, useful, etc. but if they all went away, the only ones I’d miss, are the few that were given to me by family that didn’t give often, or were from my home state or town, or were handmade. And living in an RV for the last seven years, I’ve had to be quite discerning over size, weight, and quantity of items I chose to keep and hold dear.

All the while Pattie and I chatted about the quilt on Facebook, I didn’t know that our friendship was kind of mending too! There was healing occurring. And that’s always a good thing.

Also, at the time I commissioned this work, I had not considered how I’d get it, whether she would ship it, or I’d pick it up, etc. I certainly hadn’t given any thought to having the opportunity to meet in person, with some time to visit and enjoy a beautiful lunch!

Closeup.JPG

So, when Pattie was done with the quilt, I asked her if we could meet halfway, instead of her shipping it. That way, she could get to know my husband too, and we could have a nice lunch, somewhere midway from where we live (since we live about three hours from each other). She agreed. We talked about where we would meet. Finalizing on our plans, we set a date and time.

When the day arrived, we texted to make sure we were each on our way. I was super excited to be able to hang out with Pattie, catch up, and of course, receive our quilt.

We met at an eastern European bistro restaurant that we love. We shared some different and unique foods, and had plenty of time to relieve some of our past, share how my husband and I met, and so forth. And then came the question I had not expected.

I had not remembered or probably fully ever realized or known why we had quit talking. Thankfully, Pattie refreshed my memory, so that I had the opportunity to apologize. We held hands and tears flowed. Cleansing. Forgiveness. Allowing. I am so glad we had this time. Not just to relieve past hurts, but to understand. To process the pain that had been caused, and to allow the hurt to shift (even if only a little bit), so that over the coming days and weeks, we could “let it go.”

I know that for many of us, taking the time to be heard, to ask what’s wrong, or tell another what’s wrong, ask for forgiveness, or forgive, can be the hardest thing to do. But God, it’s so worth it!

And chatting via Facebook or text doesn’t communicate all of our emotions, plus, as we all know it doesn’t allow us to exchange vibrational energy.

I’m not perfect. I’ve made my share of mistakes in my life and I own each one, taking full responsibility.

But yesterday is gone. And today is all we have. I’m not just saying this in a philosophical way, but in a real time, honest-to-goodness, way. The person I am today is different than I used to be. I feel more deeply. I love more generously. And when I need to, I discern and draw better boundaries. But mostly, I am more open to receive.

So, this Christmas, I wanted to take this moment to tell those who have been in my life how very special they are to me. You are loved. You are cherished. You make up the tapestry of my life, because you’ve been in so many of my experiences. We may live far apart. Or we may not talk often. But you make me who I am.

You are worthy. You are loved.

Our unique experiences are each a thread within a tapestry, or quilt, of one’s life. And We Are All Connected.

Quilt with sock monkey.JPG

Note the sock monkey on the bed! He was handmade for me when I was born by a dear family friend–and he has went everywhere with me, every move, of which there have been many.

A few folks who have seen this quilt have commented of Pattie’s exquisite precision sewing and design work. So much so, that one gentlemen has already put in an order for a similar quilt.Binding and thickness.JPG

I should also add that this quilt is oh so very comfortable to sleep under! It’s not too thick like a comforter, so in Florida we can use it all year.

I only quilt with words. My husband quilts with music. But my friend Pattie quilts with fabric & thread and turns memories and forgiveness into tangible ‘heart-work’ that can (and in our case, will) last for generations.

Handmade tag.JPG

May you be blessed for 2017 and always, in All ways.

–If you would like Pattie to make a quilt for you, comment below and include a way for her to reach you. Or email me.

–If you would like to support my blog and would love to send flowers to a loved one this holiday season, please visit my sponsor:

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Do you feel as though you are reaching the end of your rope? Please read this first!

Originally published on EXAMINER June 5, 2016.

If you feel as though you might be reaching the end of your rope, please reach out to someone! Do not give up hope! Don’t end it all. It might feel hopeless to you in this moment, but please talk with someone — anyone! Maybe, consider talking with someone new!

I once worked with a young lady who committed suicide. I didn’t know her. One morning, after my meditation, a thought dropped into my mind. How sad was it that she ended her life and had never even had one conversation with everyone in our office! Sure, I had seen her around the office. She had even worked with someone sitting right next to me once. I’d passed her in the hall. I’d said hello to her while washing our hands in the ladies room. But, we had never had one conversation. And we had worked for the same company for more than two years.

I understand being an introvert. I am naturally introverted. But if you are going to make a conscious choice to end your life, which to me, would require a great deal of courage, wouldn’t you at least work up a little bit of that courage to talk with every person in your office, your neighbors, or someone walking down the street, FIRST?

What I am really suggesting is that there are untold opportunities to learn something new, experience a new way of looking at your problems, or perhaps, even a new way of living! Why would you want to end it all before even exploring any of those possibilities?

Somewhere, someone cares about you. And even if in this moment you can’t believe that could be true, YOU should care about you. Make a list, even if it’s just a mental list, of all of the things in your life that up to this point you’ve accomplished. Did you successfully get through elementary school, high school, college? Have you ever worked a job? Cared for a pet? Cared for a parent or a child? Have you ever told a joke, or made someone smile? If you could do any of those things, you can hold on for one more day. Give someone new a chance to show you life is worth living!

Tomorrow is another day. No man, woman, thing, or circumstance is worth ending your journey on this beautiful planet. Don’t take your own life!

You have choices!

Let’s say you’re in a narcissistic relationship. Perhaps even YOU might feel as though you are the narcissist.

You are worthy! Everyone is worthy of life!

Here are some links to direct you to my dear friend of mine, Beverly Banov Brown — who specializes in narcissistic relationship counseling.

Narcissistic relationships

Let’s say you’re depressed. And I know depression hurts. In this kind of situation, it kills.

Because I admit, you may be reading this from a very different mindset than the mindset that I wrote it, I will quote a dear friend of mine (who sent the following to me after she read the first publishing of this article). She wrote,

There is a difference between being depressed from the daily stresses of life and being clinically depressed. Unfortunately, when people suffer from clinical depression there is no space in their being to reach out to do the things you’ve suggested. There is no room in their chest for breath, no light in their heart to feel love from partners and family members. No energy for walks, only pain and it hurts to be alive. It’s a very dark place to live and one that is incredibly difficult to climb out of. In these situations, it is more helpful for a family member/loved one to be of service. Trying to “pick someone up” by being overly happy and energetic is misguided and a slap in the face to those who are suffering. Just sitting in silence and holding the space for their pain lessens the burden and creates an opening for dialogue. Try not to want to “fix” the person as they are not broken. In fact, they are very much alive and feeling the rawness of life itself. Lean into their pain and hold them as they tell you how dark it is. By sharing this space, it literally opens up new possibilities for a breath to be taken. It takes time and patience but each new breath will breathe life into the dark corners. Clinical depression is a life long battle and one that must be honored on a daily basis. Treat it as a friend, become intimate with it’s warning signs. Often times the person struggling with depression will feel a bout of it coming on. If caught before it has fully engaged the person’s mind, body and soul…then it is much easier to do the things that you’ve mentioned in your well written article. Thank you for addressing such an important issue. It needs to be talked about often and openly as so many of us suffer from this. Much of my life’s work will be directed toward people who struggle with depression and/or addiction.

In health and wellness, blessings to you.

My friend Robin poured this out to me from her wonderful open and loving heart. And from her experiential knowing of depression.

So, I am not a mental health counselor, nor did I originally write this article about those who are experiencing clinical depression per se. I am attempting though, to help you stop, breathe, or refocus–even if only in the smallest way–to give yourself a bit of hope and potentially the time to reach out to someone — anyone. I know suicide is a very complex and complicated subject, but I feel compelled to start somewhere after losing a beautiful young coworker.

After sharing the previous paragraph back to my friend, she wrote,

I hear you Sheila and am grateful that you are willing to write about this. My heart goes out to you and the loss that you experienced. Suicide is about clinical depression, the darkest and toughest depression to battle. My father took his own life one Sunday morning when I was 9 years old. He was bipolar with clinical depression on top of that. Those of us with parents that suffered from some form of mental illness, are oftentimes genetically predisposed to similar traits. My own battle with depression has led me into the belly of the beast. It’s a very scary experience for those who are standing in the fire. My advice to those who have loved ones that are going through this is to find them some immediate help. Waiting for a shift in their emotions is often a death sentence when truly at the bottom. You are a kind and loving person, I salute you for taking this subject on!

Yes, this subject is near and dear to me on many levels. The day that he took his life was the beginning of a very long journey for me. One that would take me decades to unravel. I have enormous empathy and compassion for human suffering. As long as we carry a body, we all suffer in different ways. Making yourself available to others with clear boundaries in place is a noble effort and one that is very much needed in this world! The one thing that I’m clear about…we are here to love and to help each other find our way home again.

So, I offer this updated article, that not only brings my thoughts, but those of my dear and beautiful friend to you in hopes that any of our words will help you in some way. I thank my friend for sharing her experience with us all, more than words can express! Much love! Hugs to you my dear heart!

Reach out to someone for help. And there are many people available to help you! There is always hope and grace, somewhere.

You can call Silent Unity for prayer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at: 800-669-7729

There is no need you can have which is so trivial, no pain you can experience so great, that breath, prayer, and meditation cannot soothe.

Prayer has been the heart of Unity for more than a century. It’s a ministry available to serve anyone, no matter your faith, 24-hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. You can write or call about any need, day or night, and a loving being will pray with you. We know you need someone who will listen to you and pray with you. All requests for prayer are confidential and treated with reverence.

Write to Silent Unity at:
1901 Blue Parkway,
Unity Village, Mo. 64065-0001

or call: (816) 969-2000

If you have no means to pay for the call dial:
(800) 669-7729

or you can always go online to: www.silentunity.org

Breath is always free. Focus on your breathing for awhile.

Go for a walk outside. See if you meet anyone along the way. Smile. Feel like you can’t? Try it anyway. One step at a time.

Sometimes we inherit (we “in hear” it; hear within) problems from our parent’s, relatives, or guardian’s — their argumentative or toxic relationships do not have to influence us though!

Sometimes we think we’ve made bad choices and cannot undo them. Think again.

If you are in a toxic relationship, consider if you care too much. Or perhaps you are an empath, always trying to help someone else. Now you’re drained of energy. Now you think there is no hope. But even false hope, is hope.

If you are an empath, know that empaths can naturally lean toward attracting narcissists. If you find that you’ve been trying to resolve someone else’s problems, and it’s all taking a toll on you, you need support! Only in movies are narcissists cured. Narcissists do not love themselves. And they can be very dangerous. Talk with someone who has the resources to help you.

The movie Moonstruck provides a glimpse into narcissism when Johnny’s mother is “dying everyday”. Some people go around claiming that they’re “dying everyday” for 20 years! In Moonstruck, Johnny’s mother manipulates the entire family. That character did not know “how to love”.

Go to YouTube and watch uplifting and informative videos, like the the ones presented by our good friend and life coach, Beverly Banov Brown.

If you are being mistreated or abused, consider this thought: People in pain cause other people pain. No one deserves to be bullied or abused. You do not deserve whatever negative thing someone is doing to you.

Some things to try in order to begin to feel hope and grace:

  • Put your hand on your heart and tell yourself that you love “you”. Say it again and again. Feel your heart beat. Relish in knowing it will beat for you even without you directing it to do so. Bless your heart.
  • Allow yourself to feel your pain, then as you exhale, allow a bit of it to leave your body. If someone wants to listen to your while you vent about what’s going on in your life, let them. Allow someone in.
  • Put your hands together when you pray. Don’t believe in prayer? Put your hands together and sit quietly. Ask for nothing. Just sit and breathe. Breathe deeply. Give yourself permission to cry, or laugh, or scream!
  • Scream! Afraid someone will hear you? Hope they hear you! You do not have to get through your situation alone.

What new and positive choices, are available to you now?

Life is for the living, go take a chance and live!

We understand that if you have been diagnosed by a medical professional as someone in clinical depression, you need professional help. This article is not intended to replace qualified licensed professional medical advice. This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding your care must be made with a licensed professional healthcare provider, considering your unique characteristics and health history.

Depression can present a high risk of suicide. Anyone thinking of suicidal thoughts should be taken very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or the deaf hotline at 800-799-4889.

Ye who have ears, let them hear.

Blessings to you in ALL ways.

Amen. Namaste. OM