Dear Matthew

Today is no different from any other day. I think of you often, maybe more than I should, but being your mom gives me that right and privilege.  Besides, I can just because I can.

As I was walking along this morning, I noticed squirrels playing around trees and one took off, scurried up a tree with the other one not far behind, climbing another tree.  Determined the one was not going to do something without the other. Watching them scurry about reminded me of when you and Ryan were little.  You always wanted to be where he was and doing whatever he was doing.  You actually contrived in your little noggin that you were as big as he was and you should be able to do everything he could.

For example, when you were barely 4 and he was almost 6, you were angry because be could tie his own shoes and you couldn’t. Boy, did you put your heart and soul into learning how to tie your shoes. One particular morning,  you promptly descended from the car as normal and headed up the stairs to go into preschool. As I looked back to watch you walk up the stairs, I noticed you stopped abruptly. Plopping yourself smack in the middle of the stairwell because your shoe was untied and you were determined to tie it. Knowing full well how this would end, I pulled my car into a parking space and headed over to you.  The frustration meltdown had already begun, tears bursting from the sides of your eyes and the look of sheer defeat on your face.  You said, “I’ll never learn how to tie my shoe.  Never. Never. Never.”  Finally, when you calmed down and took your time, you were able to tie your shoe. Sobs of defeat had turned into cheers of jubilation.  “I did it.  I did it.  I can tie my shoes just like Ryan.”

Sometimes, I didn’t know if it was your stubbornness or sheer determination that always propelled you to excel at anything you set your mind to, maybe a combination of both.  Your stubbornness gave you the drive and your determination saw it through completion.  So, it’s no wonder that you are where you are today.

You have such a big kind heart for people, especially your family.  You have always made time to cultivate and maintain relationships with all you love. I remember last year when Papaw found out he had Stage 4 lung cancer.  You knew you were going to be out to sea for awhile and you also knew his prognosis wasn’t promising.  You struggled to decide whether to come home or just wait it out.  During one of our conversations you said, “Mom, it’s Papaw.  He’s a fighter and I know he’ll fight this but statics are not in his favor.  So, I’ve decided that I am going to come home because I won’t regret it either way.  If something happens to him while I’m gone, I’ve seen him.  If it doesn’t that’s even better.”  Thankfully your XO pulled all the stops and got leave approved so you could come home.  What a blessing it was for us all.  Your presence is like a soothing balm or like a warm blanket on a bitterly cold day.

You have such a gift for bringing joy and entertainment.  As a child you constantly wanted me to entertain you because you were always bored.  In your mind, you fashioned me as your ticket for entertainment.   Remember that one time, when you were probably 9 or 10  and I looked at you and said, “Matthew, God put me on this earth to entertain you.  He put me here to love and take care of you.  If you want to be entertained, go entertain yourself.”  As always, you took me very literally because that how your mind works.  By the time you were 15, you were entertaining folks with your amazing magic card tricks.  You worked hard and diligently to train yourself.  In fact, you entertained many folks at Ci-Ci’s pizza on Monday evenings, landed a few gigs for Relay for Life and even got yourself a nice write-up in the Times-News.  Ironically,  the one who wanted to be entertained became the entertainer.

Your passion for God and people always fascinated me. You always took up for the underdog.  You always sought out those who seemed helpless. You were always, always comfortable in your own skin and you never shied away from sharing your faith.  You didn’t have to follow the crowd.  You could lead one.  I don’t even think you realize the difference you made in the life of others.  I sure hope they tell you one day.  I know you’ve made a big difference in mine.

You always had a knack for seeing beauty in everything, you always took time to smell the flowers.

Your adventurous spirit has taken you to many places in Europe and even Australia, not on Navy time.  You even took a helicopter ride to the Great Barrier Reef and swam with the sharks and bungee jumped at one of the scariest places I’ve ever seen.  Survived it all. Fully anticipating the next great adventure.

And now, you’re on one of the biggest adventures of your life.  A deployment.  I don’t even know where you are and probably don’t want to know.   I know you’re in deep, deep waters and I know there is a level of safety there.  Here’s what I am sure of….”You will never go where God is not.”  Max Lucado  Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and he will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Which is the reason for my hope.  I’m not just clinging to a lofty idea, I am hanging on every word of God because I know it to be Truth.

So, while I wait and hope and pray, believing that God has you “engraved in the palms of his hands” Isaiah 49:16 and , “The Lord himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.” Psalms 121:5

When you read this, which won’t be until you’re in port or finished with deployment and wonder why in the world I didn’t send it directly to you.  First, it’s far too long for an email.  They’re suppose to be short.  Second, I could simply print it off and mail it to you, but who knows how long that would take to get to you.  Simply put, I want to make sure as soon as your feet hit dry ground you know how deeply loved and special and unique you are and it’s really ok in book, if others know that too.  Besides, let’s go back to Ryan’s infamous quote, “Because I can.  That’s why.”

Also I want to give to hope to other mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children etc that there is this crazy mom in North Carolina who prays for their loved ones the same way I pray for you.  Not only do I pray for their loved ones, but I pray also for them because I know what it’s like to want a word.  One word just to know all is well.  It’s called praying strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

And so today, will end like every short version of my email.  Guess what?  Today is one day closer till I get to see your face again.  That makes my heart very happy.

I love you,




You never know what he’s gonna say

Have you ever been around someone who just spouts something and you’re not sure if they’re serious or not?

I have!  I married one. I’m not kidding when I say I can’t believe some of the things he says.  Mostly it’s just so comical, I laugh at him.

The funniest part is watching the reactions of people when they’re not sure if he’s serious or not.  Believe me, most times he’s not serious, he likes to see the reaction

Case in point, a few weeks ago we stopped by Black Coffee Shop in Tryon, NC   Our initial intent was to get coffee; however plans changed as we looked at the menu.

Remembering that Alex had visited there a few weeks prior and had raved about the smoothies,  I knew that’s what I wanted.  Terry and Amy followed suit and ordered smoothies as well

I noticed Terry spying the yummy looking baked goods in the case.  Then it happened, out of the clear blue, pointing at the cookies, he said to the gal behind the counter, “Do you think you could give me one of those and let me nibble it like a rat nibbles on cheese?”

She looked at him, not sure how to respond, then gave a little smile and said, “I could give you  sample.”

At this point, I am trying to hold myself together to keep from disturbing the peace.

He did his signature chuckle and said, “Nah, that’s ok but I will take the bear-claw.”

Sometimes, he is hard to read.  It’s hard to tell when he’s being serious or joking.  The dude can keep an arrow straight face.  Beats all I’ve ever seen.  However, when you’ve been around him long enough, you can tell.  You know when he’s serious and when he’s not.

I told you in an earlier blog that he doesn’t shy away from confrontation.  He will call a spade a spade.  He calls it like he sees it.  The only difference is that he does it with this chuckle, which helps to ease his words.

There’s just something about him and the way he is that makes me love him more.  It’s difficult for me to stay angry with him for any length of time, mostly because he’ll say or do something to ease the tension.  It’s the same characteristics that make others love him and want to be around him.  He’s consistently the same.

There’s something very special and unique about his personality.  It’s a very rare trait in today’s society where everyone is trying to fit in with the crowd or trying to impress someone for the first time.

Honestly, I find myself trying to be more like him  I want to be real with people  I don’t want to be something I’m not.  It’s farther exhausting.  Besides, if you have to pretend to be something you’re not, is it even worth the pursuit of a friendship?  I think not

Dr. Seuss had it completely right when he said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

God’s word tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  In fact just take a look at how Eugene Patterson translates the following scripture

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬





Grandma Reese

Sassy, sweet and not afraid to work her hands to the bone. The epitome of love in action is how I would describe her.

Her sass gave her the ability to walk through some of life’s most difficulties and the ability to raise seven children

Her sweetness gave her the ability to dote on and love her grandchildren and great grands.

Her hard work ethic gave her the ability to always provide for her family.  While she didn’t work outside the home; her hard work was done in the home.  She was a green thumb when it came to gardening and fabulous cook.  She could whip up a meal in no time flat.  She could quilt, mend, and make her own clothes.  Truly, she could do just about anything but drive

Life would throw her some curve balls so she had to be able to handle them.

My grandfather joined the Navy during World War II and left her and four young boys behind.  She told me, “Every day I would get those boys up before dawn and take them outside to help me.”

She knew the pain of having a still born but she knew the joy of having a quiver full. However, I believe one of her most difficult trials came when my daddy died.  Often she would say to me, “I never thought I would have to bury a child.  I always thought I would go first. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch.”

She would tell me about the pain and agony he was in and how it broke her heart to see him that way.  But she was quick to always say,  “The smile never left his face.”

She knew the heartache of losing her beloved.  Grandpa died unexpectedly of a stroke in 1991 and she would live as a widow for the next 18 years.

She knew the joy of grandchildren.  She had nineteen.  She loved us all well.  She enjoyed having us in bunches or individually.  She didn’t care how many or how few.  In her mind there was always room for one more.

She even had the privilege of knowing most of her great grandchildren!

Oh, how I loved her and spending time with her.  If I would call her ahead of time , she would always cook a pot of green beans for me.  She knew they were my favorite.  If I didn’t call and just showed up; she’d rummage around in the basement and bring up a quart or two of green beans and insist I stay and eat.  I didn’t refuse because one thing about having Reese blood, food is an essential. Besides that was her way to expressing love. She always had more than enough to feed everyone at the table.

Today is her special day!  It’s the day of her birth!  She celebrates in heaven and I’ll celebrate her on earth.  Happy birthday, Grandma!

Sallie Clark Reese   April 15, 1916-August 17,2009

Just a little more….

When Jason Aldean released, “A little more summertime,” I’ll bet he had no idea that a woman would well up in tears at the thought of her baby girl leaving for college.  The song triggered every emotion in me. Every stinking time I heard that song, I found myself wishing for just a little more.

The previous years had always been in anticipation of the next year.  Excitement about the beginning of tennis season, football games, Yogurt World, track meets and more track meets and more track meets.

Last year, especially around this time, I found myself looking back and wanting more, wishing it would last just a little bit longer.  Wishing it didn’t have to end.  It did have to end and I knew it.  I just didn’t want it to end.

It’s really paradoxical in a way because for years leading up to Amy’s graduation, I always told people how excited I would be to send her off to college.  Not that I was trying to shove her out of the house, I just knew she was ready and I knew we had prepared her to leave.  I was thrilled about it.  Then something very strange and quite unexpected happened, I began to feel sad.

The first time it hit me was during Homecoming.  She was crowned Homecoming Queen and I realized that would be the last time I would see her on the football field in a dress.  I really didn’t think too much about it but then it happened again at the end of tennis season.  I was washing her uniform after the final tennis match and an overwhelming sadness washed over me like a tidal wave.  Again, I brushed it aside.  Time and again, after every thing ended, I found myself with this empty feeling in my gut.  I wanted more.  Just one more.  One more tennis match, one more track meet, one more year…..

Finally, one day over the summer I found myself seeing memories of Amy in everything that belonged to her.  Everything I saw I could associate with some memory and then the longing in the pit of my stomach for just one more.  It was strange.  It wasn’t like I dwelt on these things or even looked for things to trigger memories.  It just happened. Kind of took me by surprise.  I definitely had not planned nor prepared for such crazy feelings.

Right before she left for college, Terry and I were having a conversation.  Our famous morning coffee talk. (I highly recommend these if you don’t already have them with your spouse or significant other)  I was just sharing with him all the crazy I was feeling.  He knew most of it but I kept saying, “I just keep wanting one more.”

He looked at me and said, “You can’t have one more.  Besides, if you had one more it would never be as good as the first time around.  Think about it.  She had a fantastic year this past year.  If you did it all over again, it would never be the same.  The outcome would be different.  Instead of feeling sad that it’s over be happy that you got to be a part of it.”

He was right.  I knew it.  I hate when he’s right.  His nugget of wisdom proved to be the best advice I received.  It’s not really what I wanted to hear.  It’s what I needed to hear. I needed to quit pining for the past, I needed to take joy and delight in my experiences with her and begin to look forward to her new adventure.

For those of you who’ve been there, you may have walked a similar path.  Maybe not.  Some of you are there, right in the thick of it.  Let me encourage you, enjoy every single moment you can.  Relish it.  Cling to it.  Embrace it.  Know soon and very soon, you’ll have to give them wings to fly.  You will be ok and so will they.  For some it will come with ease and others it will take time.  Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes you a little longer.  Just remember:  you can’t turn back the hands of time.  Time marches on and so must we.


My Caregiver

I have always been fond of Little House on The Prairie. I love the books as well as the television series. The books varied from the series; however, it was always the appeal of a simple lifestyle that appealed to me. In the deepest part of my heart, the yearning for simplicity has always prevailed. Simple living did not mean that heartache and disappointment were nonexistent; however, it seemed to me that in living simply, peace was found in abundance. Isn’t that what our souls yearns for the most? Peace. The ability to walk through stormy weather and know all will be well. Peace. The ability, when all things around us are falling apart, to hold together. Peace. The unexplainable feeling when you know something is terribly wrong, but you aren’t shaken by it. Peace. Complete rest for our souls. Peace. The unshakeable comfort.

Living simply doesn’t mean that you are simple minded. Living simply means that you get unnecessary, overwhelming distractions out of the way and enjoy the day and all it has for you. Throw off things that hinder peace in your life. Say “no” to things that do not bring peace. Rid yourselves of unnecessary obligations that create worry and stress. Make the choice to rid yourself of things that are not helpful to you or what is helpful others. Lysa Terkeurst says, “Wisdom makes a decision today that will still be good for tomorrow.” By doing this, we are allowing God a big opportunity to show up and show out.

From my earliest recollection of her, she exemplified peace. She sang “There will be peace in the valley”. Peace was there. All around. From the positioning of their quaint house perched atop a knoll, to the rolling pasture complete with livestock, to the smell of bacon frying in the early morning hours, to the multitude of African violets in a magnificent array of blooms…always- every aspect of her life spoke peace. Peace did not allude her. Peace was hers. It belonged to her in every sense of the word. She was not wealthy by the worlds standards but she was blessed with a wealth of dear precious ones who loved her and loved her deeply. I was one of the fortunate ones to know her. I knew her well. From the time I was 3 months old until I was 15, she was my care giver. She was, to me, another grandmother. Although I had biological grandparents and she had biological grandchildren. She adopted me and I adopted her. She was as close to me as my own and I as close to her as her own.

One of the most fascinating things about her was that she was born in 1903 and her precious husband in 1900. Keeping up with their ages was always fun for me and easy. He was as old as the current year and she was 3 years less. She began taking care of me when she was 65 years old. By the age of 2, she had taught me many things about God’s word through her singing as well as scripture. Every day she would stand me in a chair and we would recite, John 3:16. Every day at nap time, she would rock me and sing to me, mostly hymns, but sometimes lullabies. One of her favorite Hymns was, “Revive Us Again”. She loved the chorus and most days she would even sing the chorus as she watered and tended her African violets. Maybe that’s the reason for their ever present display of beauty. The chorus is, “Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Revive us again.” One day when I was about 3, I was at home singing, as I often did. My mom was listening and heard me singing the chorus but I using a heavy “r” at the end of Hallelujah. She asked, “Why are you singing it that way?” I replied, “That’s the way Mamaw Gillespie sings it.” She said, “Hallelujah doesn’t have an r at the end.” The next day, I walked straight into Mamaw’s house and told her, “My Mama said you were singing the song wrong. Hallelujah doesn’t have an “r” at the end.” I can’t recall her response but I can tell you it didn’t change the way she sang the song. Not one bit. Not ever. Why? It didn’t matter to her. Her heart was so full of love for the Lord and what He had done for her. She didn’t care. All that mattered to her was that she was singing to Him and asking on a daily basis that He revive her and give her “peace in the valley” or “peace like a river.” Her songs were prayers for her soul. She didn’t have to have the words perfect. Her heart was inclined, or leaned into, God and that’s all that really mattered. You see she just chose to be there in the moment. Her life was moment by moment. Day by day. I would venture to say she probably sang, “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.”

Her life was a series of wise choices day after day.  She knew her place and she knew what she was best suited to do.  She chose to say “no” to things that would hinder her from being the best caregiver day after day, year after year.  She was a woman who exuded confidence in her ability to care for her babies.  That is what she did best.  To say I’m lucky to have had her in my life would be an understatement.  Blessed doesn’t even seem accurate.  I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness that I was hers and she was mine.

***This post was originally written on another blog I started several years ago and failed to keep it going.  Two people reminded me in the past two days about this and oddly enough, it’s just what I needed to be reminded of today.***

That Girl

Prior to meeting Terry in January of 1994, I was part of the single’s ministry at FBC.  We were in the process of trying to build up the program and we were doing outreach.  Immersed in letter writing and phone calling, I was gung-ho!

One evening Tom and Marie (later to become my brother and sister in law) gave me Terry’s phone number and asked me to call and encourage him to come.  In fact Marie said, “He gets tired of us asking all the time.  He just needs some extra encouragement to come back to church.”

I took the number and tried to call multiple times over the course of about three or four weeks Every time I called, a deep throaty almost manly voice would answer and say, “Terry’s not here. He’s at work.”  Every time I called, he was always at work.

Then I ran into Marie and she asked if I had gotten in touch with Terry.  I told her that every time I called he was never home.  She encouraged me to keep trying and then told me to call him Saturday morning because she knew he would be home.

I did and the same deep throaty voice answered but this time she said, “Hold on.”  Then she started calling , “Terry.  Terry.  That girl is on the phone.”

From that moment on, I was “That Girl” to her.  For the longest time, I didn’t even think she knew my name.

Over the years, I’ve thought so many times about her calling me “that girl” and I’ve come to a realization that she was testing me out.  She knew that Terry’s heart was growing fond of me and I think she wanted to make sure that my heart was growing in fondness toward him too.  In an odd way, I think she was trying to protect herself as much as she was trying to protect him.  She didn’t want to see him hurt and she also didn’t want to get too close to me, if I were not “the One”.

Terry was her baby boy.

In fact most times when Terry would call her on the phone he would say, “Hey Thel, It’s Terry the baby of the family.”

He will argue with me and say he wasn’t spoiled by her, but I’m telling you she adored Terry.  After Terry’s dad died, he moved in with her and gave her companionship.  She knew if Terry and I married, he would move out and she would lose his companionship.

More than that, she knew that Terry would be taking on a huge responsibility by marrying me. He would become an insta-dad.  She didn’t dislike the idea.  She just knew it would come with difficulty because she too had brought two young children into her marriage with Terry’s dad. She knew the hardships of having a blended family.  She wanted the best for her boy.

Do you blame her?

I don’t.

As our relationship grew, so did her affection for me, as did my affection for her.

Thelma was a very strong woman.  She was strong minded and direct.  You knew exactly where you stood with her and if she didn’t like something, she didn’t mind telling you.  However, she was very quick to say she was sorry if she was wrong.

I remember one time, she said something pretty harsh to me.  I pretended not to hear.  Apparently she spent several days mulling over our conversation and she called me and said, “I think I really hurt your feelings the other day and I’m sorry.”  In fact, when she called there was no small talk, not even a “hello”.  She got straight to the point.

She also had a very good sense of humor and when she was in the hospital right before she died, she asked me to clean her teeth.  She had trouble getting them out so I had to help her before I could clean them.  She said, “Well, it’s obvious you’ve had no experience with false teeth.”  Then she proceeded to tell me how to clean them for her and precisely how to get them back in her mouth.

Oh, how I loved her and she loved me.   I don’t remember specifically when she began calling me by name, but I knew when she did I had earned her full trust.


You know sometimes it’s difficult to trust people, especially when we’re trying to protect ourselves or those we love.  But we can trust God and trust that He always has our best in His mind. He is completely trustworthy.

“See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”  Isaiah 49:16



Was it worth it?

I’ve been avoiding this post like the plaque. A few weeks ago when God began churning my heart, I told Him, “Not now”. Yes, like I’ve said before delayed obedience is disobedience and I disobeyed.

I think as I write you will see why I avoided writing. However, the urge is so great within me, I can no longer resist.

As you know my biological father died when I was 7. He died from Melanoma and you can read some of his story in my blog post, My sweetest sorrow.

Now, we are at another crossroads with cancer. My stepfather, Ned. He was diagnosed 18 months ago with Stage 4 Atypical Non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It sucks. I’m just not going to sugar coat anything about it.

A few months back, well technically a few years ago God began to stir this thought and idea about these two men I have had to privilege of calling Dad.

First, you must understand the first to understand the second.

Mack, my dad, had a strong enduring faith in God. He hoped beyond all hope that one day a cure for Melanoma would be discovered. Knowing full well it would not be in his lifetime, he allowed the doctors at Baptist Hospital (Wake Forest) to try new treatments on him. He was their guinea pig. His philosophy and mindset was to aid in the research and help others in the future.

Another thing to understand about my dad is that he never shied away from sharing his faith. He firmly grasped and held tight to his belief in Jesus. He had strong convictions about sharing his faith and the above picture is a treasure straight out of his Bible. His desire was to see that no one would perish without knowing Jesus. His chief goal in life.

I believe that through his death his chief goal was reached and realized. When Jesus tells us in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Bear with me while I explain.

When Mom and Ned began dating Ned wasn’t really living out a full life with Christ at the center. He had made a profession of faith but wasn’t really living a life totally reflective of Christ.

As their relationship began to grow so did his love for Jesus. Eventually leading up to his rededication. In perfect Ned style, it was not a haphazard decision, it was done with intent and passion. A decision he will tell you was the best choice he ever made aside from marrying my Mom.

The reality here is that without my dad having died, Ned may have never been able to experience the blessed life that only Jesus can give. If you ask Mack if it was worth dying for he would say, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


That was the original post from September 11, 2017.

Today marks the 43rd year my Daddy was called Home. The day that once brought me such pain, with each passing year, restores my hope and my joy. How can this be? Over the years, I was just enduring the pain, I am now learning to embrace it for what it is.

You will never get to the victory of the cross without enduring the pain and you’ll never be able to endure the pain without embracing the process.

My Sweetest Sorrow

Forty-one years ago today was the beginning of my “sweetest sorrow” or “the great sadness”.  I was seven, an innocent child, with the weight of the world on my shoulders.

The cancer diagnosis came when I was one and my dad was thirty.  A mole mom discovered on his back.  They removed the mole and it was malignant Melanoma.  After successfully removing the mole they had to continue cutting around the perimeter.  Finally, after leaving a crater sized hole in my dad’s back, margins were clear.

He was told by doctors at the time if he didn’t have any recurrence for two years, he would be fine.  Close to the end of the two-year period, he had a spot on his leg.  The Melanoma had returned.  This time, however, it had spread.  Chemo would be necessary. So, the arduous process began.

Every month for a week at time, he would travel to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem for treatments.  This continued for approximately four years.  In late February of 1976 while waiting to be checked-in, he told my mom that he couldn’t feel his legs.  Immediately, they rushed him for x-ray.  A large tumor was pressing on his spine.  It was inoperable.  My dad was paralyzed from his waist down.  He knew the end was drawing near and wanted to be closer to home.  The decision was made to transport him to Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville.  This would be his home for the next seven weeks.

We would visit frequently.  My dad had a pull-up bar in his room.  He still had strength in the upper part of his body and could pull himself to an upright position.  We called it his “monkey bar”.

On the evening of April 4, 1976, we went to visit.  Daddy was very weak and didn’t have strength to pull himself up.  He talked and laughed with us like normal but then as we were leaving he asked me to come hold his hand.  He looked at me with his beautiful sky blue eyes and told me how proud he was of me.  He told me how much he loved me and then the very last thing was, “Honey, you’re the oldest and I need you to help your Mama take care of your sister and brother.  Now, you be a good girl and remember I love you.” Then he kissed me.

Here I sit, forty-one years later and it still rips my heart into tiny little pieces.  I was given a task by my dying father that I could not fulfill.  I was far too young to take on responsibility of my younger siblings but at the time, I was determined to try.  I wanted to do what my daddy asked me to do.  I wanted to be his good little girl and I wanted him to be proud of me.

It wasn’t long after he died that I realized that I wasn’t able to live up to the promise I made to him and I began to feel like a failure.  Yes, at seven, I was a failure, a flop, or at least in my mind.   Thus began the compartmentalization of my heart.  I took each hurt and disappointment and tidied it up and put it in a box in my heart.  I shoved and stuffed for as long as I can remember.  In my mind, I yelled and screamed at God asking “Why”?  Why did my daddy have to die?  Why did you not answer my prayer?  Why did you send someone new into mom’s life?  Why?”

At night, I would bury my head under my pillow and cry myself to sleep.  I couldn’t let anyone see my misery, especially not my mom.  It was much easier for me to conceal than to feel.   Because I was hiding my pain, my anger grew.  It was intense and, at times, quite explosive.  In fact, this anger I carried into my relationship with my first husband, my children and even with Terry.  Oh, I had control over it, most days, but when it came out, it was ugly.  (My kids can attest)  The sad thing was I never really understood why I had these horrible explosive outbursts and most of them happened over the most random incidents.

I didn’t understand until I read “The Shack”.  Now, before you tune me out because you don’t agree with the book, hear me out.  As I read the book, it was as if God was taking me back to “my shack”, “my sweetest sorrow” or “the great sadness”.  Just as Mack, in the book, learns how to trust God with his deepest hurt and pain, I had to learn the same thing.  I had to allow myself to feel the grief of my father’s death.  I had to learn to let God help me work through the feelings of worthlessness and failure I felt for not being able to fulfill my dad’s wish.  What I really had to learn was to get over the anger I held in my heart towards God.  This was a pivotal moment.  It was the recognition that my anger towards God for letting my daddy die was the reason I burned so fiercely with anger. I had to let that anger go.  The only way to let it go was to tell God all about it and allow him to begin the healing process.

Remember, I told you in my post, “Binding Wounds”, that most of the time we don’t want the wound to be pulled apart because it hurts too much.  Well, it hurt like hell.  I felt as if my whole entire soul was being ripped apart.  It was.  It needed to be.  I needed to feel the pain of being seven and losing a most beautiful life.  For the first time, I grieved.  I grieved not just the loss of my dad but the loss of my innocence.  Through the grief of “my sweetest sorrow” I began to heal.  I began to be able to feel the anger subside.  Do I still get angry?  Sure, I do.  I just don’t have the feelings of irrational rage.  Most times, I am able, with God’s help, to prevent an outburst before it happens.

For years, this day has been much harder than tomorrow, the day my daddy died.  It was hard because I never wanted to talk about what happened the night before.  I didn’t want to share my deepest hurt because it hurt too much.

My prayer through sharing this story is that it will help you to understand a little more of who I am.  I am wired differently and think differently because of the events that happened in my childhood.  My hope is also that my story will benefit others.

I am here today sharing this story only by the grace of God.

“The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me.  I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer.  I will be with them in trouble.  I will rescue and honor them.” Psalms 91 14-15


I kindly help people

One thing you’ll learn very quickly is that I absolutely adore my grandfather.  Most folks who know him feel the same way.  He is one of the most gentle, kind and loving people I know. He is the epitome of a good man

It’s rare that I fail to find a really good story where he’s concerned.  From the things he says, to the way he impacts people, he’s just a great source for a great story.

Recently he had to visit his orthopedic surgeon and have shot in his knee. He had surgery a few years ago from a fall and has residual pain and swelling.

I was visiting the day after his appointment and asking him about his appointment.

“Well, let me tell you.  That doctor wants me to use the walker instead of the cane. I’m not ready to use the walker. I don’t think I need it. I didn’t tell him but I kindly help people around here and if I use the walker, I can’t help them.” He said.

Then he continued, “My neighbor, the lady beside me, is in a wheelchair and she can’t get around well.  I generally push her to and from the elevator and then back again after dinner.  There’s also an elderly man that’s crippled and I help him sometimes too.  You see, if I had to use that walker then I wouldn’t have an extra hand to help them.”

“Popaw, I understand and I know you like to help people.”

Glancing at the walker, sitting at the end of his bed, he said, “I know one day I’ll have to use it but I’m not going to until I need it.”

When I was telling Mom about our conversation, she said that the staff, on numerous occasions, have asked him not to help people because he could fall and hurt himself.

I said, “He’s always been about helping others and that’s not going to change now.  He’d rather fall and hurt himself as opposed to someone else falling and getting hurt.”

I also told her that he wasn’t bragging saying that he was “kindly” helping people, it was his way of saying, “I sort of help people”

Mark Twain says, “Kindness is what the deaf can hear and the blind can see”.

I am so thankful for the example of kindness Popaw has consistently displayed.