Just add water…

Every year has life lessons.

I think this year has been the year for gratitude.

Especially when I think of my grandmother.

My grandmother Maudie was a twin. She was born in 1920. Her father passed away when Grandmother and Aunt Mamie were only 5 years old.

How would you like to be a widow in 1925?

My great-grandmother said they would have starved to death if Mrs. Thrasher wasn’t always sending food over because she accidentally “cooked too much”.

I also remember my Granny Acker’s automatic response when we told her someone else was coming to eat.

“Well, we will just have to add a little water to the soup.”

It always confused me.

“But we aren’t eating soup”, I would think to myself when I was a kid.

I now understand.

Sometimes it’s your soup, sometimes it’s your heart.

There’s always room for one more person.

Thanks Mrs. Thrasher.

True kindness that lives on almost 90 years later.

Not because anyone patted theirselves on the back bragging about a good deed.

I never met my grandmother or Mrs. Thrasher. The story was just passed down.

My Aunt Genevieve had a great memory, a good way of telling things, and a niece that loved to listen.

Don’t laugh, be thankful…

Cheryl

Watch your step…

It is funny what triggers my memory, one of those things where a door sticks or a step is crooked.

Some imperfection that needs to be fixed, but at the same time you think about how good we have it.

Now we work to add themes and style to our homes, when we used to only be concerned with function.

We lived in simple little houses. And a roof over your head was enough.

Enough.

I don’t think it exists anymore.

Back before the DIY network, when it was do it yourself or it doesn’t get done.

I think that is one of the reasons I love my father-in-law so much.  I respect him.

You can still visit a crooked little house a little ways down the road.

The roof is low.

The rooms aren’t “square”.

Before he was Paw Paw, he was Jim.

The oldest son to Thurman and Essie.

Thurman was crippled.

When you see that little house, it is pretty impressive.

Paw Paw says it doesn’t look too bad for it to be built by a 12 year old.

Well that’s not completely true. There was a 10 year old and his mom and dad.

Together they tried. Together they built it.

It’s far from today’s perfect.

But it housed 10 kids and more grandkids than I can count.

Sixty years later and I am not only impressed, I am humble.

I can’t imagine.

Most grown men could not build that house.

The biggest reason is they would not try.

I wish there was a network for trying.

When you are thankful this Thursday, be thankful for those that tried.

Sometimes when I think about where life is taking me and things feel a little unsure, I just need to remember to remind myself-

You will get there, even if you’re steps are crooked…

Cheryl

Seems like old times…

When we were growing up, Daddy did all the cooking.

And as my Jacob says, “If you were hungry, it was your own fault. ”

Papa as he calls him, has always made sure everyone had plenty to eat.

He is even famous in the family for making lunches. I cannot say they are traditional, but they definitely make for a heavy sack.

When my brother Johnny was alive, he framed houses and worked close to home at times.

It was not unusual for Daddy to pull up in his big red truck he named “Boodreaux” on a jobsite and hand Johnny a sack.

What was unusual, however, was what the sack contained. We have laughed about Johnny opening his sack to find famous contents like a butterbean sandwich.

As Johnny got teased about his Daddy bringing him lunch, he could shrug it off with a simple “Yea, he loves me”.

And Daddy did.

So when Johnny’s son Luke called Papa last week and asked if he would fix him a lunch, Papa was more than ready to fill up a sack.

I believe Daddy said he put vienna’s, snack cakes, and even an egg mcmuffin in that bag.

No butterbean sandwich. (I did ask for the sake of my readers.)

Daddy was so pleased about being asked, he looked at me and he smiled.

When he said, “It seemed like old times…”, I knew exactly what he meant.

He had to share the story with me. And I had to share it with you.

So here’s to my little brother Johnny.

We love you, we miss you and you still make us smile.

Even over something as simple as a sack lunch.

I am so very thankful for you, your boys and last but definitely not least-butterbean sandwiches.

Don’t laugh brother,

Sister

Trick-or-treat…

Halloween in West Blocton, Alabama, is so very special.

Main Street was made for it.

My friend Todd estimated 700 trick-or-treaters tonight.

Once Main Street gets blocked off at 5 p.m., the fun begins.

Not only do we trick-or-treat, we visit.

We tailgate. We eat hot dogs and chili. And dips and desserts.

So tonight when we give directions, we tell you how to get to Main Street via the backstreets.

And when you turn on Hickory, you will find Daddy.

He plans ahead.

He starts a fire in the front yard.

He sits on the porch.

He passes out goodie bags he has made in advance filled with miniature candy bars.

And then for the grand finale, you get your choice of flavors of a small can of vienna sausages.

The first year Daddy passed out “Vi-enners”, I think I cried laughing. And I was embarrassed.

The grandkids absolutely loved it.  It is now a tradition for well over a decade.

Daddy buys a few cases every year and I think it is now a novelty stop for the littlest of locals.

Take your pick.

Take your flavor.

And take your hug.

Thank you Papa. For being you.

I am no longer embarrassed.

I am proud of you and all that you do-your sweet way.

Happy Halloween from Hickory Street,

Cheryl

Homecoming…

I was 14. Reagen’s age now.

I was National Junior Honor Society 9th Grade Maid.

I had my dress, posters made for the side of my car. But no car.

Nobody we knew owned a convertible.

Big Ack said you can use my truck. A grey GMC pickup.

We put our dining room bench in the back. The kind with the wooden frame and velvet type cloth with pictures of deer and grist mills scenery on the material.

My dress was borrowed from my friend. I thought I was a rebel with “high top tenny shoes” underneath.

Aunt Genevieve could not stop cringing and laughing about my parade ensemble. She would shake her head and laugh some more.

I remember her fussing because the truck was dirty. I can’t remember if we even had time to wash it.

But what I can remember is looking to my right. (I was facing backwards on the bench.) There on the block wall of Kathy McCulley’s house sat my granddaddy. I can still see his overalls. His head tilted sideways when he smiled at me. And that sweet little wave.

Aunt Genevieve was still laughing.

We get so many things wrong in life. We stress about finances and things and stuff.

Stuff.

Who cares?

My most prized possessions are in my head.

My memories.

Throw away your bad ones.

Declutter the garbage and the mistakes and the abuse and the regret.

Find the Main Street in your life.

And Come Home,

Cheryl

Go!

One year ago.

I am sitting in my car looking at myself in the visor mirror.

No makeup. Yoga pants. Fever blister.

True recipe for avoiding any appearance in public.

I was just going to run in Reagen’s school and back for a second. And I did.

(In the 4 years that Reagen went to West Blocton Middle School, I probably averaged one appearance per year. I usually rank high on Bad Mom Awards when my sister and I compare parenting mishaps.)

But of course, on the day I want to see no one, I see State Senator Cam Ward and State Representative April Weaver. I avoid eye contact and head to my car.

When I get in my car, I ask myself-“What are the chances that I will see Cam and April again?

I know the answer, so I flip up the visor and go back into the school.

I explain myself to Tammy Donner, who is not only our school secretary, but also a personal friend.

Tammy is also a very cool former First Lady of West Blocton, who has supported me behind the scenes and publicly.

I tell her that I would love to ask them to help with our suicide prevention efforts and she encourages me to hang out until they are finished.

About the time they are leaving the school, I am standing at her desk and she is saying, “Go, go, go, go ,go, go goooo…..!”

I catch them outside on the sidewalk.

I stammer out who I am and my famous, “I have an idea”, without catching my breath.

Jeff always says I should slow down and catch my breath when I get excited. My middle age memory scares me. I feel that if I don’t get it out quick, I will forget what I am saying.

Needless to say, I did not overwhelm them too bad. They smiled and ended up encouraging me with their support .

April attended the Wildflower Walk and shared her story. Mental health is important to her because she was a registered nurse prior to being our State Representative.

She also shared a John B. McLemore story with me.

She attended Cahawba Christian Academy. John was much older, but she remembers him and she remembers Mary Grace being the librarian.

What else she remembers about him, makes me smile. We’ve all been the target of dodgeball gone bad. There is always the one kid who is a terror. She remembers John getting that kid out immediately. Then John was a good sport and willing to let them throw the ball at him.

Coincidence? Divine intervention? Or just plain no shame on my part, either way here we are one year later.

State Representative April Weaver is bringing a check for $2,500.00 for the library and suicide prevention.

My heart is full. But my eyes, well they are overflowing.

On behalf of everyone we can reach, Thank You Cam and Thank You April,

Cheryl

Even when I know you’re wrong…

Some friends come and go out of your life and that is only natural.

I am very thankful that I have a friend who has stayed.

Through the good.

Through the horrible.

Through the worst fashion statements, relationships and finances.

She loaned me my down payment on my house.

She showed up and stood by my side at moments I know that she was wincing and shaking her head.

And she talked about me in golden moments with pride and love.

Thank you for being my friend.

But, mostly thank you for being you.

I have called you at 6 a.m. repeatedly with my late night bright ideas.

You have made signs, took pictures and helped pay the bills.

You have had to deliver heartbreaking news to me but it was okay because I knew you loved me.

Our time together as single mom roommates was unbelievably precious.

I love you and I hope you have the happiest of birthdays.

Please don’t ever tell our secrets.

Don’t laugh,

Cheryl