This is me

Cheryl (177 of 418)-1
Special thanks to Koli Nichols Photography 

I love children, flowers, and conversation.   I don’t watch tv and I don’t iron.  I am tender hearted and hard headed.

I believe in marriage, foster children, and adoption.  Despite that fact, I have failed at all of them.  I do not regret anything I have attempted and, of course, there are things that I would do differently.

Thirty days ago I didn’t know much about a podcast.  Things have changed.  I obviously don’t know much about a blog either, but I have a precious baby girl who is loyal to her mother.

I love being Southern, at least in the mindset of all that is good.  Relationships are the best and it all began with my Aunt Genevieve.  She lovingly called me by my middle name of Suzette my entire life.  She was my dad’s baby sister.  She spoke her own language-Genevievian.  It was tons of small phrases followed with laughter.  I try to speak it with my close friends whenever possible.

A funny story was always preceded by “Don’t laugh, Suzette”, and I knew that I was about to.  I would love to share the best of us with you as well.

Don’t laugh,


A prized possession…

Reagen “woke up” a little late this morning.

Sometimes she does not listen when I try to wake her up.

When she asked about breakfast, I had to admit that we are out of everything.

The grocery store has been on my to do list for more than a few days.

I bribed her with breakfast from Jack’s and I would take her to school.

On my way home, I passed my old house.

Years ago, Mother bought the house next door to me.

It was wonderful to have her and my brothers living next door to me over the next few years.

I remember how she had a friend who quoted her a price on landscaping.

I thought Mother was spending too much money and I did not agree.

Mother planted her flowers regardless.

Life goes on like it always does.

Last spring, Daddy and I drive by the two houses.

“Sister, look how pretty that tree is…”

I told Daddy that Mother had planted that tree over 20 years ago. He did not remember.

I have always loved the saying,

“the true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit”

If we weren’t running late this morning, I would not have taken Reagen to school.

So today I am thankful for my daughter and my Mother for not always listening to me.

Mother may not be here to enjoy the blooms, but it feels like she sends them to me every year.

If you want to leave your children a prized possession, go plant something…

The search for red plum jelly…

Saturday, February 29th, 2020.

6:42 a.m.

The phone rings.

It is my Aunt Pat.

She wants to go to Clanton Outdoor Flea Market.

Daddy always kept her well-stocked in red plum jelly. And not just any red plum jelly, the kind the Amish make.

I want to give her an excuse.

I have not been since my Daddy died.

I am not sure if I can face his friends and deliver the news even if it is 6 months old.

This particular month has been hard. He has been gone 6 months and it was the first time I had to spend his birthday without him.

But if you know Aunt Pat, she is persistent.

And her good days are rare.

I get up, get dressed and wake up Reagen.

She is less than thrilled.

“Why Mom?”

I explain to her that when Aunt Pat has a good day, this is as close as she will ever get to the Aunt Pat who helped raise me.

Aunt Pat always tried to make sure I was dressed and ready to go.

From dances to beauty walks, everything was special.

There was no stopping me when I had her Estee Lauder Private Collection powder dusted on my shoulders.

I don’t know if the Queen of England has jewels that felt any more precious than Aunt Pat’s pearl earrings.

“Now you keep up with them…”

I was instructed and nervous until they were placed back in her jewelry box.

I may not have been the best, but I felt like a million bucks.

“I love it when Cheryl thinks she looks pretty,” Aunt Deborah would laugh because I had no shame about smiling at myself in the mirror.

I hope you are as blessed as I am to have an Aunt Pat.

And I hope if she calls you in the middle of the night, you answer.

Maybe it’s the fact that Mother and Daddy are gone.

But there is something about death that make the little things in life so very special.

Like red plum jelly.

Oh yeah, and a jar of pickled beets for Uncle Terry.

We bought them out by the way.

And it was four hours of laughter and recipes and the best part- Family.

Sometimes your “cup runneth over”, when your jelly jar is empty.

Be Mine and Be Kind…

Valentine’s Day 1979-

Do you remember how exciting Valentine’s Day is to a second grader?

I remember the excitement of choosing which Valentine to give each of my classmates.

And I also remember the joy of reading mine.

We decorated bags and boxes in the days ahead and had playground conversations about what you were sending or receiving.

But in 1979, my parents divorced. I was already on my 3rd school that year by Valentine’s Day.

And we had moved in the days before.

There was no email update about the new kid.

No text message.

I simply was not on the class list at my new school.

I remember the party beginning and there I sat at my desk.

I also remember some type of excited conversation behind me.

To this day, it makes me teary-eyed.

I turned to see my teacher from my previous school.

It makes me sad that I can’t even remember her name.

But she tracked me down at my new school and there she stood excited that she made it in time to my party.

She brought me my valentine bag from her class.

There was no Facebook post.

There was no pat on the back.

But I remember it 40 years later.

True kindness is so much more important.

Today I hope you celebrate that.

And a kind teacher.

There are so many things they are expected to do, but the going above and beyond with a simple kindness can heal a broken heart in a child.

And an old woman.

Struggling for imperfection…

I have wasted so many years on a life that doesn’t exist.

I remember being around 12 years old and I questioned why God made people who were different.

My friend Sheree Goggins scolded me quickly and strongly enough that I remember it 30+ years later.

She was so very right back then.

Your truest and best friends don’t tell you what you want to hear, they tell you the truth.

The truth that you need to hear.

And they still love you.

Clarence Reach has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.

Our little town has taken him and loved him like family.

And he has loved us back.

He walks the streets of West Blocton and makes the world better just by being his beautiful self.

He was there when we laid my Daddy to rest and he wanted to help.

He grabbed a shovel and offered his own version of comfort-a helping hand.

He was there again to help me move furniture and decorate for the Woodstock Music Festival.

Always willing.

I guess what I am trying to say is this-

If you feel that you are wasting your life to acquire things or the pressure you are under is too much to bear, I have an answer.

Find one good friend who will help you slow down and one good friend who just loves you.

I am so very thankful that I have both.

It only took me 40 years to figure out the value of a simple life.

I hope you find it much sooner.

If you are going to struggle,

Try struggling for imperfection…

Much love,


My Valentine…

Valentine’s Day-1978.

He was my parents 4th baby.

He came into this world at over 10 lbs.

He held his breath and turned his face red when he cried.

We used to laugh at him constantly.

He turned the tables on us and made everyone laugh with him.

There is something about the baby that can do that.

I was always amazed at the things he could say to Mother and Daddy that I would never get away with.

Everyone’s favorite.

I told Jeff I miss him so much.

And he knew exactly what to say.

“Everyone misses Johnny.”

Oh that laugh. 

Even when it was on me.

So today I celebrate the day you arrived.

You took this world and my heart by storm forever.

It is so hard to imagine that you would be 42 today.

I would say that you were forever 29 but it was more like forever 17.

Happy Birthday and Happy Valentine’s Day to one of my greatest blessings.

I miss you baby brother.  Always.

Your Daddy’s Prayers…

28 years ago…

There is something special about your Daddy’s prayers.

Especially knowing you were in them before you were born.

A Daddy that prayed for you. A big, tough hard-working man wearing overalls and covered in sawdust.

When he started out as a newlywed with your Mother he made $100 a week.

He laughs and corrects me.  “Don’t cut me short, I made $120.”

He was one of 3 boys. And then, he had 3 boys.

A baby girl was all that was missing.  For two generations.

And then you get that wonderful news.

On the morning she was to arrive, he walks out of the bathroom and he had shaved his beard.  When his wife asks, “What are you doing?”, she gets one of the sweetest moments of her life…

“I want to feel her face on my skin.”

She is now grown with two girls of her own, but he tells that baby girl he prayed for her until this day and she loves her Daddy.

I don’t blame her.

When I told him, I was about to be a grandmother, he told me-“You’re about to get wealthy.”  And he was so right.  He should know.

Sometimes in the middle of a busy life you can’t see that your prayers are being answered. 

Sometimes you can’t see the priceless value and riches that come in the health of your children.

That alone would be enough and all that you could ask for…

But sometimes you are fortunate to live long enough to see and realize the blessings you have may just be the answered prayers of your sweet Daddy…

The Burt Boys changed places and got outnumbered with 8 little girls.  Never underestimate the love and prayers of your Daddy…

Whatever it takes…

It is never easy to be a single mother.

Especially to not just one, but 3 young girls- ages 10, 7 and 4.

Sometimes it took 3 jobs.

You waited tables, cut hair, and worked at the garment plant.

You hung up sheets and lived out of one room with a space heater.

You walked in the woods and cut down a skimpy Christmas tree.  It was so skinny it wouldn’t stay in the stand.  You used bricks to prop it up and it fell every time, so you finally stapled it to the wall.

Just a few years before, you were Junior Miss WBHS.

You probably had no idea what life was about to send your way.

Through it all, you would be kind to those who faced hardships along with you.

You would stop at the food bank and deliver it to local households.

No one was watching.  You did it because it was the right thing to do.

Throughout your lifetime, you continued.

From local group homes to the Bibb County jail, you have been a mother to those without one.

You have spent your check on simple things like socks and underwear because you know how good those feel to someone without family and money.

You may even be seen buying spices at our local Wal-Mart to make bland jail food taste better.

In titles, you have been the jailer, the cook, and the transporter.

But in life, you have been the hero.

You have been called in to talk to inmates who would not listen.

But they would listen to you.  They saw that you truly cared.

You have even been the recipient of someone’s one phone call from jail.

They used it not to ask you to bail them out.  They instead called to tell you they were sorry for how they acted and thank you for what you have done for them.

Kindness is so much greater when it is done for those who can give nothing in return.

You don’t even know I am writing this, I did not interview you.

When Candi messaged me, I was more than happy to do a story about you.

After all, you have been a mother to me too.

You set a wonderful example of how to love not only your own children, but everyone.

I am sure that behind closed doors, there were many times with tears and prayers and despair.

But on the other side of that wall, three little girls were paying attention.

And that is all that matters in life, when you know that whatever comes your way, you have a Momma that will do whatever it takes…

Thank you Miss Patsy for loving all of us.