Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Dad!

When I was young and my sister and I would ask our Dad, Alva Beesley, to tell us a story he would agree to do so and we were thrilled. However, he always picked the same story to tell us as long as we were growing up. It goes like this:

“I’ll tell you a story of Jack and Orie and now my story’s begun.

I’ll tell you another about their brother and now my story is done.”

I was blessed last weekend to spend some time alone with my Dad in the front seat of my car during a trip that was to take three hours. Pamela and Irwin were along for the ride in the back seat but Pamela was sleeping and Irwin had on his headphones listening to his vibes. It was as if they were not there! My Dad is now pushing 80 years of age and it is hard to think of him as elderly. It’s emotionally impossible for me to even think about him not being here. In fact, just the thought of my dad’s eventual passing makes me tear up and my heart ache terribly. So, I try very hard not to think about that day’s arrival.

As I was driving the car on a trip that was supposed to be approximately three hours (but ended up more like 4 hours because of all the unexpected stops) my mind went back to all those road trips from Peoria, Arizona to Beggs, Oklahoma to see my Grandparents Beesley. Those road trips always left us with memories that I now treasure as an adult. For instance; there were no seat belt laws and the back window always had a ledge beneath it large enough for a sleeping child. In addition to the sleeping compartment, the cars had large back seats with no bump in the middle. To keep the fighting and scuffling down to a minimum on these two day trips (if my Dad stopped to sleep at night) one of us four kids would get the honor of sitting in the front seat with the parents. There was always a disagreement about who would get to sit there next!

There were no iphones, cellphones, ipads, tablets, laptops, or dvd players then. (Shut-up with the  old jokes Irwin!) We had to rely on imagination and coloring books. I couldn’t read in the car without getting sick so reading was out. We always packed a bag with toys in it so we could play together in the back seat. I remember playing hours and hours of the “dot-to-dot” game with my siblings. These trips were about 18 hours of driving to our Grandparents in addition to another 18 hours of driving back home. I never boarded an airplane to take this journey until I left Phoenix for Tulsa to attend Oklahoma State University at 17 years of age. My parents simply could not afford to fly with four children at that time in their lives.

Along our trip we would have to travel though the Salt River Canyon. It scared the living daylights out of me too! I’d do everything I could possibly do to try to be asleep during that portion of our trip but for some reason sleep escaped me during the Canyon. The roads were narrow with little or no shoulders at the that time and single-lanes. 18-Wheelers would back up the traffic for miles until drivers could get in a passing zone to pass. However, the passing zones were few and far between because of the winding roadways that bordered the steep cliffs where we could plunge to our horrible deaths!

Every night for a week prior to and just after our trips I would experience nightmares of us missing one of those hair-pin curves and plunging down the Canyon. I just hated everything about that Canyon and as a child I wasn’t seeing any beauty in it either!

Mom would pack bags of food for our trip. Looking back on it I wonder how they ever afforded to take trips at all. Dad was the Pastor at the Peoria Pentecostal Church of God. The church was small and often times there was not enough money in the offering plate to pay much in the way of tithes to the Pastor. Those tithes are how Mom and Dad paid their bills. The church didn’t provide medical insurance either. To make ends meet my parent both worked additional jobs. My Mom, Ruby, worked at Grubers’ Sewing Factory in Glendale, Arizona (later it became Spring City Knitting Company) while my Dad worked at Southwest Pipe & Supply. He drove 18-wheelers and flat-beds on day runs to deliver pipe to construction sites. 

When we stopped for the night at a hotel/motel I think of those places differently as an adult than I did as a child. As a child it was just a place we stopped to sleep. However, being on a very strict budget, and when I say strict I mean the eagle on their coins were having to stretch so far they were screaming, these were the cheapest hotel rooms we could get. It was “back in the day” when hotels were often not the high rise buildings they are now. They were long, narrow rectangular buildings that would have three or four buildings housing several rooms in lines around the office, with the office in the middle or on the end of one of the buildings. They had neon “Vacancy/No Vacancy” signs so you could tell from the road if they had a room available for the night. They also often times had the price of the room on the sign. There was no “World Wide Web/Internet” on which to research the best deal and reserve a room in advance. (shhh!! Irwin- Yes the car had rubber wheels!)

Feeding four kids on a small budget must have been a real challenge. It seemed like my brothers were always hungry too! However, we knew that for that car to stop at an eating establishment two things had to be occurring; (1) the fuel was about all gone, and (2) Dad was finally hungry. Dad wouldn’t want to stop once we were rolling. He combined all the necessary stops into one stop if at all humanly possible. If us kids needed to go to the bathroom we didn’t find an exit and stop at some nice bathroom, he pulled to the shoulder! We would then stand between two open doors and do our business on the side of the road. Mom made sure however that every time Dad had to stop for gas every one of us kids made a bathroom visit. Oh…and often times the bathrooms were on the outside of the gas station. It required getting a key from the cash register attendant. You’d get the key and walk around to the side or the back of the building to enter the bathroom. (Yes Irwin-there was plumbing and running water!)

I remember stopping at one particular restaurant once in New Mexico that had hamburgers the size of a small dinner plate. To small children the size of these burgers was awesome! Breakfast was always the main meal we would eat on the road. Being a truck driver during a large portion of his adult life, Dad always stopped at the truck stops where the food was cheap and the portions were big. I remember one trip before which my brother, Chuck, found a dog and brought it home. It was a breed of dog that my Grandpa Beesley in Oklahoma had wanted so Dad and Chuck decided they would bring the dog on our trip to give it to Grandpa. Joyce was hungry and as the baby was always asking Dad, “when are we going to stop to eat? When are we going to stop? I’m starving!” Of course you know kids, they want something and they consider themselves being starved, or at least mine do! It didn’t matter if my little sister had eaten a peanut butter sandwich an hour earlier she was starving. On this particular trip she had said it so many times that she finally said, “I’m so hungry I could eat this dog!” About that time the dog got sick and squirted it stomach contents all over her and my brothers in the back seat! Suddenly, she was no longer hungry and at the same time that car made a quick, sudden, unplanned stop!! Mom cleaned them up with a spit bath (we hated those) and some clothes out of the trunk. Oddly, nobody really cared to put the dog back in the car…but we did! We didn’t stop for food for a while after that explosion (ha!) but nobody seemed to WANT to either.

And who can forget the invention of “Choc-Cola?” Back then chocolate milk was sold in gas stations in single serving cartons. Joyce always chose to have the chocolate milk when we would be able to get a drink as dad was filing the car with gas. Dad on the other hand always had mom get him a Coca Cola. (Yes Irwin-it was Coca Cola back in the day ,8 not just “Coke.”) Back then, Coke came in a glass bottle that we would get a return deposit on when we gave it back. It was like selling the empty bottle back to the stores. People talk about recycling as if it is a new thing when we were doing it back then! Hey…we recycled when recycling wasn’t cool!

Joyce was the youngest and the therefore it took her longer to drink or eat than anyone else. It seemed like at any restaurant we might stop she was the last one whose food arrived to the table and we were always waiting on her to finish to be able to leave. This particular trip Dad had drank as much of his Coca Cola and Joyce asked if she could have it. He gave her the go-ahead and she poured the Coke into her chocolate milk. About fifteen minutes later she was hurling on the side of the road! From that moment on we always referred to the drink as “choc-cola”. Trust me folks, it apparently isn’t anything you’d want to try~ ha!

There was also a bit of rowdiness from time to time in the car. Probably more than I want to admit. The boys, Chuck and Randy,  would begin arguing and my Mom would tell them to quit. They continued! She would tell them if they didn’t quit they were going to “get it!” The “get-it” was her saying to them, “stick your face up here” meaning on top the back of the front seat. Then, she would lift both her hands in a clapping motion and smack them on both sides of the face. Mom would also take a turn in the back seat because she was so cold blooded while Dad was not and as such ran the air conditioner on high that she was freezing cold. She would allow Joyce and I to sit by the windows and she would try to nap in between. We would see she was asleep by the open mouth! Sometimes we would drop things in her mouth and looking back on that it was not hilariously funny like we thought, it’s a wonder we didn’t kill her by causing her to choke to death!

Once we got Mom in between us Joyce and I often took the opportunity to lay a “love-fest” on her. A “love-fest” was us licking our lips until they were covered in spit, then we would kiss her all over her face in a surprise attack. She would try to get away from us but we were in the back seat of a car, two to one odds! There wasn’t an escape route to be had under those circumstances. She would scream and beg Dad, “Alvie..make them stop!” My Dad would do as she asked and quietly and in a jokingly calm voice say, “You Girls Stop.” And we would – we were darn good and ready to stop! Looking back on it, my dad was always the fun parent. He had that privilege because poor Mom was always the parent having to take care of discipline. He just simply wasn’t interested in being a disciplinarian. But don’t for one moment think he couldn’t control his children if he wanted to do so. One look from Dad was generally all it took to stop us in our tracks. And…not just any look either. It was “THAT” look, you know, the “kid you better cut it out now!” look.

As an adult we have taken trips with “grandpa” all the way to South Carolina from Oklahoma to see my nephew, Brian marry his sweetheart Tiffany. Durring the entire, as we would travel over each AND EVERY bridge, my Dad would say, “Dirty, Muddy, River.” The boys would crack up every time. I don’t know if they were cracking up because they thought it was funny or because Grandpa was aggravating Grandma with every bridge crossed. And believe me; Grandpa loves to aggravate Grandma!! 

Dad was always a quiet man who rarely said “I love you.” It was just too mushy I suppose. But he showed his love to us kids in so many ways. His patience and understanding with us and his allowing us to just be children was two of those ways. He could approach me and say, “sis, hug your ole dad’s neck” and I would step in front of him, hug him, and then blubber like a baby, tattling on myself! He just had that way about his nature.

Sunday during our trip I noticed my Daddy’s hands. They are drawn and somewhat deformed. They are old, wrinkled, and look painful. They no longer stretch out like mine and they have scars from years of work. I have seen my Father outdoors working on his cars, our cars, or his grandchildren’s cars, and his tractors, lawnmowers, and other things. He will slip and his hand will get gouged our cut and begin bleeding. If it had happened to me I’d be crying and complaining about being hurt. But not my Dad! He would wipe the blood away on an old oily rag and continue his work. I’ve seen him get up at 3:30 a.m. to go to work to provide a full day of work to his employer at times when he didn’t feel like crawling out of bed. He did this to take care of his family. He didn’t have benefits like paid sick days, holidays, or vacations. He worked hard and he taught all his children his great work ethic, which I need to say my mother taught us as well.

Sitting with my cousins yesterday at lunch I thought about my dad. They have lost both their mother and father, my aunt and uncle. I can’t imagine the pain of doing so. I see my boss, Leisa, every time her dad crosses her mind. Her tears well up and that loss is still so painful. Last night as I went to bed I was thinking about the time when I will lose my Father as well. It’s inevitable and part of the circle of life. I pray my children, nieces and nephews, and my grandchildren get many more years with Grandpa because he is a true treasure. His love has always been unconditional. His belief in God and following God’s word has always been something he taught throughout our generations. He is the essence of doing what’s right in spite of what other people do. He and my mother have been a great example to our family and have been the very cement that bonds our lives.

Our Heavenly Father I am sure will open his arms and embrace my Dad when that day comes. Until then, I’m going to be grateful for every moment he lives and breathes. Several years ago after numerous heart surgeries and stints being put in his heart, his doctor, Dr. Ross, met with his family and advised us that “he is on God’s time now.” It was heartbreaking to hear. He has lasted years beyond that day but this weekend he told me something that again was painful to hear. When I asked him how he’d been feeling he advised that he has been having some rough days. He shared with me that there have actually been days as of late that he wasn’t sure he was going to make it through. In spite of his pain and illness he continues on. I’m so blessed to have him, as is the rest of my family. His health is to the point that my Mother is fearful of getting too far away from the house with him home alone. They both have a cell phone but half the time can’t find them, so in case of an emergency the cell phone isn’t going to do a lot of good!

I am taking a moment today to thank God for the gift of my Dad. I love him so deeply that I can’t even explain it without tears filling my eyes rendering me sightless. He has touched so many lives as a minister, a family member, a friend, and as a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Without my parents’ guidance, teachings, and unconditional love I would not have had the strength or endurance that my life has required at times.  

My Dad has been a fantastic grandfather too! He loves those grandkids and great grandkids beyond imagination. From the youngest to the oldest, they adore Grandpa! He has shown the same love to his step-grandchildren and his foster grandchildren as he has shown to his biological grandchildren. He is truly an example of a lifetime of unconditional love and self-sacrifice and it shows in his body.

I am so blessed that God loved me so much he made him MY dad and my children are wealthy beyond understanding that he was their Grandfather. While they were growing up the boys would say or do things that I didn’t like but couldn’t seem to get them to stop. At that point I would simply say, “why don’t you tell Grandpa about that” or “lets just see what Grandpa says to that” and they would stop doing it! He is that kind of Grandpa, the kind that if you thought you’d disappointed him it would break your heart.

Someday I will have to say good-bye to this wonderful Dad and that day is probably going to be the hardest day of my life! I love you Daddy~ thanks for all those road-trips and for being with us when we’d cross the “dirty, muddy, river!”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Walk On - Storms Don't Last Long!

Today I had the pleasure of being asked to lunch by a very dear cousin. I just do not have enough time or words to tell you how great it was having her for my playmate growing up. We went through childhood sharing some wonderful times as well as our teen years. When I came back to Oklahoma to attend college she was there too. I sang at her wedding and have loved her husband as much as I have loved her for all of her adult life.

Along with her came her sister. She too is so dear to my heart, so much more than she will ever know.  However today when I looked across the table from her I saw something different. The person who used to be vibrant, laughing and giggling and enjoying life was now reduced to someone with the look of hopelessness and despair on her face. I knew that look. Oh believe me I’d seen it before. In fact, I carried that look right after my marriage of 12 years had ended with my husband “coming out.” I was shocked, unprepared, and lost, but more than that I was completely devastated that he was unhappy and wanted out.  

Recovery from that type of betrayal feels impossible. In my case, and in hers now, he left from the marital home and moved right in with the new love. I was replaced without ever even being aware that my position in his life was open for replacement. I trusted him with my very life. I placed my trust and faith in him and yet I was not even cherished enough to have been shared pre-notice that he was going to be exiting my life, the life that was built around him.

Looking at her across that table broke my heart so much that it took me down that portion of memory lane that was probably one of the darkest moments of my life. It hurt me to see her in so much emotional pain because I knew exactly how low she feels, I’ve been in that portion of the lower bows of that ship! Suddenly, I couldn’t help myself and I began telling her that I understood. I just felt I HAD to tell her that she was not alone and not experiencing something that was unrecoverable. My heart had to let her know that she could come out of this a happier, healthier, completely independent woman who would NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER have to depend on someone else for survival or self-worth. When someone leaves you and never spends a day alone, leaves you and moves in with a lover, it is a blow that completely destroys ones self-worth. You feel like dirt! You feel like you were an object that was replaceable when it got old, or sick, or worn. Depression grips your very being to the point that this is the stuff that causes some people to feel so lost, desperate, alone, and in such a deep dark emotional hole, that they actually end their lives. I know this because when it happened to me; I did just that!  

When I finished high school and began college I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t date until I had my degree. Once I had that degree in my hand I dated and found what I thought was the love of my life. When I took my wedding vows I was taking them for life, or so I thought. We married, had children, and I became a stay at home Mom for eight years. What I didn’t know was that when you are out of the work force for that long the degree, which hasn’t been utilized, seems obsolete.  That perfect plan I had made and followed for my future security had just fallen out from under my feet. I simply had no marketability.

When he left, my husband took with him the mode of survival for not only me but also our sons who were 9, 7, and 4 years of age at that time. It would be months before he actually gave any financial assistance to help feeding and supporting the kiddos and I never utilized government assistance either.  In fact, most of their childhood child support was something I never came to expect. If ask when he was going to send it and the response was always "when I get it, you'll get it!" If that were truly the case he would have starved to death. 

I applied for jobs but couldn’t find one in what was a tough work market at that time. The bottom had fallen out of the oil and gas industry and there were huge numbers of unemployed seeking jobs, the same jobs for which I was applying after being out of the work force year after year while staying home raising children. My sister-in-law, Joann provided me a job at a daycare as a daycare teacher (babysitter.) I made $5.00 per hour BEFORE taxes were withheld. I was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks after the split-up as well. I had some big trouble too; I had three wonderful human beings that called me momma to feed on five bucks an hour! It was a scary place to be and I feared most letting them down! We didn't have much for a while but we did have each other. They are still my most precious treasures in life. They were my reason, my only reason for living in that dark time of my life. Even today, my three oldest have no idea just how deeply agonizing it was for their mother to provide for all of us. There were some pretty agonizing times. 

While working at the daycare I began receiving counseling to help me cope with my depression. I'm a believer in counseling because it made such a huge difference for me. It was so deep I can’t even explain the depth of my belief that I would never know happiness, TRUE happiness ever again. I was sure I would be alone for the remainder of my life and folks, unless you have experienced that depth of limitless you have no clue what the fear of being alone does to a person! My counselor, knowing I was  a singer who was just getting my feet wet in the music scene, gave me a directive; pick a song every week that is closest to the way you feel in your heart, then record it and return to the next counseling appointment with it in hand. I did and we would listen to the song. The very first song I can still remember recording. It was difficult to even speak the words. It was a song made popular by Reba McEntire titled; For My Broken Heart. It goes like this;

There were no angry words at all
As we carried boxes down the hall
One by one we put them in your car
Nothing much for us to say
One last goodbye and you drove away
I watched your tail-lights
As they faded in the dark
I couldn't face the night in that lonely bed
So I laid down on the couch instead

Last night I prayed the Lord my soul to keep
Then I cried myself to sleep
So sure life wouldn't go on without you
But oh this sun is blinding me
As it wakes me from the dark
I guess the world didn't stop
For my broken heart

Clocks still tickin' life goes on
Radio stil plays a song as i try to put my scattered thoughts in place
And it takes all the strength i've got to stumble to the coffe pot
The first of many lonely mornings i'll have to face
You called to see if i'm ok i look out the window and i just say:

Last night I prayed the Lord my soul to keep
Then I cried myself to sleep
So sure life wouldn't go on without you
But oh this sun is blinding me
As it wakes me from the dark
I guess the world didn't stop
For my broken heart

I guess the world ain't gonna stop
For my broken heart

The next week was a song that had been recorded by Trisha Yearwood; Walkaway Joe. Each week the songs were recorded and each week we would listen to the songs, examine the lyrics and discuss my heart-felt thoughts and feelings. It was tough work too, just listening to some of those songs cut like a knife in my chest. Each week for nearly seven months the songs were different but the last song I recorded, was as follows;

Oh ain't life wonderful
When everything is right
But sometimes wonderful
Can fall apart sometimes
When your troubles knock you down
Pick yourself up off the ground and

Walk on
Walk on
Nothing ever stays wrong that long
Walk on
Oh walk on
Don't just stand there in the storm
Walk toward the light till you find the sun
And you'll be better off in the long run
And walk on

Oh it's a heartache when love comes to an end
But even though your heart breaks
You know it's gonna mend
Keep the faith right through goodbye
And don't you ever break your stride

Walk on
Walk on
Ohhh walk on
Walk on
Oh walk on

I’ll never forget laying on a gurney in the hospital emergency room just two days after my husband left our house and in with his lover. I had taken every pill I could find in my house during the time when I was lower than I’d ever been. I was so low I couldn’t see anything in my future, I was so low that I thought my sons would be better off without a looser mother who was having a horrible time just keeping a roof over their heads! I was hopeless! I was so low that the darkness surrounded me and overtook my mind. The precious, beautiful woman I saw sitting across the table from me today reminded me of myself on the day I wanted to stop living. The darkness was so overwhelming that I didn't even see the ones who were so precious and valuable to me, my sons!

My Aunt Linda, who died some years ago, somehow found out I had attempted suicide and she showed up at the hospital. Wow! I had no realization until that very moment just how much I was loved by so many people. She said; “I can’t believe this, anyone but Janice, she seemed so strong, I would have never guessed she was so depressed.” She was right too, I was a pretty good actress to those around me. However, I couldn’t hide from myself! People came in and out of the treatment room talking to me. My father, who has never had a whole lot to say to me on a deeply emotional level said something that broke through the hard exterior of my depression and rang in my head like echoing after yelling into the Grand Canyon; “Sis, you’re life isn’t over it’s just begun. You are now given the opportunity to make decisions for your life that you should have made a long time ago. You are feeling abandoned by one man while you have those three boys who adore and worship you!” I’ll never forget my father’s words, or the way he held me in his arms that day in that ER treatment room. It literally saved my life!

On the heels of my Dad’s conversation, my ex-husband showed up. Apparently, as I was being worked on by emergency staff he was called about insurance by the I hospital insurance staff. He was the LAST person I wanted to see. However, I will never forget his comforting words (sarcasm)“I figure you did this to get my attention so here I am, what do you want?" 

Hearing those heartfelt, compassionate words coming out of his mouth I found a new strength and I answered his question; FOR YOU TO GET OUT! He and I are friends now and have been for many years; but in those first months and especially on that day, he was my poison! He had no idea what his betrayal and years of secret life had done to me. More than that, he didn't care that I had been emotionally destroyed. It wasn't until years later when someone he loved did the same thing to him did he understand the deep hole he'd put me in with his betrayal. When it happened to him he came and found me, and apologized because it was then that he found himself in that deep, dark hole of loathing and hopelessness. I remember the very moment he apologized to me! We both cried! Then, I put my arm around him and assured him that even though his heart was breaking, he could get through it as I had. But...recovery and a return to hapiness wasn't something I could see either the day I tried to take my life!

At that very moment I heard those words;“Sis, you’re life isn’t over it’s just begun.” I made myself a promise I would NEVER NEVER NEVER find myself in that position again. I had to find a way to depend on me, just me, for my own existence both financially and emotionally. I did too! Today, had it not been for going through the struggles I have faced I would not be the person I am today. This person is not only loved by a man who would give his very life to save mine, but I am also loved by myself. Then, I didn't think I could ever love again nor did I feel I was lovable to anyone else. However, today I have an enormous capacity to love, so much so actually that I have nine children now, and have shared my heart with an additional 23 children as a foster mom. I am confident and strong and that confidence and strength didn’t come easily. It took years of putting myself back together. It still takes time upon occasion to re-group after things trigger old hurtful memories, but I rebound and I go on. Oh, there are days that I get upset with life, like when my car don't start or when the car door won't open from the inside, but those are so minor now that they are only hick-ups and not major upsets. 

We all need to remember that there are people all around us who have heavy hearts, depression, and hopelessness. We need to be ever vilagent to not let them pass by us without notice and fall through the cracks. We need to reach out to help in a positive way. And we must never forget to be ever mindful of how we treat other people. 

My prayer today is for this precious human being I saw struggling today. I tried to give her a pep talk while also advising her that she needed a life plan. To recuperate from her devastating losses she needs to put her energies, all she can muster, into rebuilding and setting herself up for independence! To her let me say this;
Don’t just stand there in the storm, walk toward the light till you find the sun, and you’ll be better off in the long run, and;

Walk On! 

Oh...,and one more thing...your sister truly had no idea that her/your cousin was going to say those things today! She was as surprised as you were! It wasn't a set-up nor was it planned that way. I just wanted you to know that things really DO get better with work!

Monday, March 24, 2014


Have you ever had a day that was jam-packed with several dissapointments, heartbreaks, problems or a mixture of all those things? Today was one of those days for me and it started early. I awoke around 5:45 a.m. and laid in bed with the covers pulled up over me. It had been a cold, chilly night with my better half hogging the covers (he doesn't mean to!). I laid there as long as I could and then I finally had to get up and wake up Pamela and Irwin. Today was the first day back to school after spring break! 

Having Rheumatoid Arthritis it is a struggle each day to get out of bed and walk. In fact, those first three or four steps are painful and stiff. I stumbled into my bathroom and attempted to brush brush my teeth. However? The stiffness and pain in my hands wouldn't allow me to squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube. I got so upset with it that I laid it on the counter and smashed it hard with a can of hairspray until some of the paste protruded from the tube. In the process I ended up spaying myself with hairspray and my hands were sticky not to mention my glasses having a cloud of hairspray dried to them. I was a real sight! I washed the toothpaste off the wall, behind the sink, and the mirror, then applied my makeup. 

As I was about to brush my hair I couldn't find the hairbrush. Being the forgetful person I have become due to all the chemo during my previous cancer treatments, I couldn't remember where I put it! I decided I would borrow one of the girls' hairbrushes so I went to ask. However, I was met with some serious resistance. Pamela said she was not willing to allow "anyone else" to use hers because she was warned that if she ever did that again she would be in big big trouble. I tried to convince her that I was not just "anyone" I am her mother! This all comes from an issue she brought home with her from school two and a half years ago after sharing her hairbrush with all her friends. I thought we'd never get all those little critters out of her hair. But we did and she has been subjected to numerous lectures over the last couple of years about sharing her hairbrush. NOW she wants to follow my directions! As I was becoming very frustrated with begging a 13 year old for a brush our 14 year old son reminds me of where I put it, in my travel bag from yesterday's trip to Grandma Poe's! 

I finished brushing my hair and put on my office attire but then......I couldn't find my shoes. I had them a minute earlier and put them down some where did they go? Not in the bathroom...not in the bedroom...not in the dining room or the kitchen....not the living room or the sitting room...where could they be...I haven't been anywhere else! As I'm frantically looking Irwin brings them to me from the kids' bathroom where I'd been doing my brush-begging! 

Out the door we go, but now my purse is gone! Again, it's 14 year old Irwin to the rescue, he'd found it still in David's car from yesterday's trip! We get in the car and I can't get the seatbelt out of the door. Normal people just open the car door and remove the buckle that's stuck in it, but not me! My door has been broken for three or four months. I have to roll down the window far enough to reach the outside door handle, open the door from the outside, get the seatbelt fixed, shut the door and roll up the window! Much of the time after I go through the rolling down of the window, reaching out to pull up the door handle on the outside, only to discover the door is still locked! However, the window also falls off it's rollers and a lot of times refuses to come up properly. Well, as I'm sure you've guessed, today was one of those days that the window came off the rollers again! 

I took the kids to the crosswalk in front of the school. I pulled over to let them out. Irwin just sat in the front passengers seat, looked at me and said; "really?" I explained that after the rough start I was running late to work and didn't have the time this morning to take them to the front door, then wait in the long line at the stop sign to get out of the school zone. He still just looked at me and again used THAT tone with another "REALLY?" My response this morning was not my typical laid-back reaction. I told him if he didn't like it he could walk ALL the way to school instead of just across a crosswalk and down the sidewalk!      Kids!!!!! 

I arrived late to the office by about 10 minutes (8:10 a.m.) in spite of waking at 5:45 a.m. As I unlocked the office door and entered I flipped on the lights and went across the secretarys' area and entered my office. The first thing I saw was the flowers I received from one of my sons on Valentines Day. They were Carnations and smelled heavenly. I so love Carnations, they are my favorite. Friday they were still fragant and beautiful, but today they were wilted and nearly dried out! I hate that! Every time I looked at them I thought about all the previous moments shared with him. I hated for this sweet reminder of a lifetime of shared love and memories to have to be thrown in the trash. But thus it must be,  it was time! 

At 11 a.m. I took lunch and attended a doctors appointment with David.  He looked sort of fragile to me because he has been fighting a battle for two years with his memory. He was kicked in the head by a special education student and injured. His short-term memory was  damaged. As if that isn't bad enough, he is now having to fight the school district which he has given many years of his life who admit he was injured, but doesn't want to take responsibility for the extent of the injury. It hurts my heart to see him look so frustrated, somewhat helpless, and tired of having to live with the aftermath. Who protects the teachers when THEY get injured by a student? I'm learning it's not the school administration! What happened to old fashioned loyalty and just doing what's right? 

I returned to the office an hour later and instead of doing the work I had planned to do I ended up taking a phone call that resulted in eusurping my afternoon. However, I am there to be of service and happy, knowledgable assistance was what I gave. I love helping resolve issues which are worrysome to people. The task at hand took me into another office where I laid down my notes and then Miss Chemo Brain forgot where she left them. After an exhaustive search they  were found in the bathroom stall! (No confidential info was contained in my notes.)

Later, I received a call from a relative sharing news of an impending divorce. I saw it coming but had hoped and prayed things would work out. My heart was try shattered. I hate it I tell you! I just hate head kept telling me it was going to end up this way however my heart had that eternal hope of things miraculously working out. 

As I left work I got into my car, put the key into the ignition, and it wouldn't start. Let me give you some background on my car: I love it!  It's a Ford Explorer which has over 100,000 miles on it. It has carried 23 foster kids, several family members, five grandchildren, and dogs around for the last three years. The only  thing I haven't liked about it is that it is OU colored, crimson! I bleed Oklahoma State Orange!  In November I took my car to my nephew, Roger Boyd, who is a certified mechanic and a darn good one! He kept my car a week, worked on it, and had it running better than it had ever ran. Heck, Roger fixed things that weren't even mechanical but were minor annoyances. He also fixed things mechanical that I didn't realize were becoming an issue. 

Then, enter the beautiful 18 yr old Genevieve. I love this kid dearly but sometimes I think she poops dollar signs because it seems like when Gen is involved it costs a lot of dollars! Genevieve's car had issues and mine was the only other car on which she is insured. As such, she had to borrow mine until hers was fixed (again by the wonderful Roger!) 

After her usage a couple of weeks my car was knocking, bumping, and grinding. The alignment was screwed up as well. After taking her to one of her friends houses one day I discovered why, the long driveway had chug holes and bumps that were deep and numerous. While trying to go around or avoid them all Genny said; "no! You have to go really fast!" Well, that explained the alignment.  The clattering was explained by the oil dipstick that had no oil on it after my telling her to keep the oil checked. So, while Roger was fixing her car and I was paying for it, my car was abused and returned with major issues.  I was left broke from the repairs to Genny's car, which were numerous and much more than I was charged (thank you Roger- you are so wonderful to Aunt Jan). And here I sit enduring the aftermath of a teenaged driver! 

So now, it won't even start. This is my worst fear for the last couple of months, that I would be car-less, and here I am. I can't even get out without rolling down the off-the-rollers window, reaching out and opening the door!  I did what I have rarely done! I sat down and cried! I cried and cried and cried some more, like a big ole blubbering baby whose feelings had just been hurt by grandma getting onto her! 

After I pulled myself together I opened the door and just sat in the car. Then, after a few minutes I picked up my cellphone and called David. In his usual manner he assured me everything would be ok. He came and picked me up. I got into his car and before I could even get the seatbelt buckled I cracked and began some more blubbering. After a minute or two I pulled myself together again. 

On our way home we had to go to the wrestling center at the high school and get Irwin. He has looked forward to the start of the freestyle wrestling season for the last few weeks. As David and I walked in the door I spotted our son.?he looked at me from across the room and gave me the biggest smile! That smile brought me back to my senses. I don't care if I encounter problems in life, that's natural. I don't care about a fancy house, expensive cars, or so much jewelery it doesn't fit in my shoe box! The important things in life are the ones in my life. 

Tonight; a tan, dark haired, smiling boy who is so different from the sad, abused, broken hearted foster child I picked up from the children's shelter three years and a month ago made me realize that I'm sweating the small stuf! Certainly if he can conquer all of that I can conquer my little bit of temporary struggles!

Don't sweat the small stuff!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Sometimes we get so busy with life that we forget to stop long enough to think about what is truly important. Today, I spent a day thinking on that subject. I awoke from my slumber around 5:00 a.m. and in my bed, between David and me, was my 4 year-old granddaugher, Ashlyn Rose. Ashlyn has beautiful long, blonde hair and blue eyes and is as sweet as can be, even when she patted me on my hand last night and said; "Mawmaw, I'm glad I'm stuck with YOU!" What seems very funny is actually now a very dear memory to me.

I was careful not to wake Ashlyn up yet until I was ready to leave the house to make a trip to Russelville, Arkansas to see my Grandmother on her 92nd birthday. My Mom asked me if I would take her to see her mom last week and it happened to be at the perfect time, between School Wrestling Season and Freestyle Wrestling Season for Irwin, my 14 year old son.

I showered, put on my make-up, packed a bag of clothes in case of an accident (my mother taught me that!) and then I woke up Pamela and Irwin telling them we needed to get ready to go. I spent last evening giving them instructions that I wanted to be out the door this morning no later than 6:30 a.m. Of course Pamela got out to the car with her blanket and pillow in hand and asked, "can I go to the bathroom?" "Please do!" I responded. Then, once she returned to the car I couldn't find my cellphone or my purse. I unlocked the front door and went back inside looking for my purse and phone. I was about to get super upset at myself for losing it so easily when Irwin stepped inside the door and told me it was all in the car! Where do I get this?

We got on the road headed to my parents home near Beggs, Oklahoma to pick them up. Christine, my daughter-in-law was to be following behind in her car with Sophie and Abileyne. However, when I called Christine she advised she was just loading her car. A few minutes later I called back to see if she was on the road and she advised she'd forgotten to take the car seats out of her car into Austen's car, the car she was driving today. I left Christine to take care of her issues and continued on to pick up the folks.

When we got nearly to their house the sunrise was so beautiful that I had to stop and snap a pic.
Irwin thought I had lost my mind when I made a U-turn in the middle of their country road to take a photo of the sunrise, but he just gave me that "mom you're such a dork" smile and put his headphones back over his ears!

The moment I turned up their drive Ashlyn Rose said; "this is Grandma's Forrest! I stopped then to snap a photo of "Grandma's Forrest" otherwise known as their driveway. It's amazing to me how little children's minds work. Everything has such wonder and amazement. 
We got on down the road and met up with Christine, Sophie, and Abileyne to save the time of Christine driving all the way to my parents' home. Mom and Ashlyn got out of my car and into the car with Christine and I spent the next four hours alone in a front seat with my Dad. It's been a long time since we had time to talk, reminisce, and just spend time together unhindered by the outside world. Of course Pamela and Irwin were in the back seat but they were sleeping. 

As I talked with my dad I asked him what the happiest moment in his life had been. His answer: "the day I gave my heart to God." His second happiest moment in life was "the day I married your mom and the next four were the births of all you kids." "My saddest time, the time that was the hardest for me and mom both was when Randy (my brother-his second oldest child) died." He wiped tears from his eyee as I did as well. We then moved on to happier memories.

We traveled East down Highway 16 out of Beggs toward Muskogee. In Muskogee we stopped and filled up with gas. Then, Irwin was starving so we went through the Drive-Thru at McDonalds. When we received our order we pulled forward and then decided we should check the bag to see if we received it all correctly, which we did not! I looked behind me and Christine and Mom wasn't behind us. I pulled around and Dad and I realized they were parked (in a handicapped zone) in front of McDonalds. We figured the three little girls may have needed to go potty. I took the wong item back to the counter and exchanged it for Dad's actual order then returned back to the car. We waited and waited for the girls to emerge but then a black man with braids emerged, got into what we thought was Christin'es car, and drove away. It was at that time that we discovered they were sitting behind us...just sitting...not honking..not calling asking us what we were waiting for...but just sitting. We traveled on down the road for about 30 to 45 minutes and the girls had to potty, so we stopped again, making this this third stop along the way. The fourth stop came when Sophie spilled her drink all over her and Christine had to pull over to dry off the baby. The fifth stop happened when we stopped at WalMart in Clarksville to buy Sophie some dry clothing. (I guess someone didn't teach Christine to pack extra clothes!) 

The sixth stop along the way was at Grandma Poe's house in Russellville. The girls were excited and ready to see Grandma Poe. However, more excited and anxious than them was Pamela and Irwin who, even though they kept it silent from everyone else, was so happy to be visiting THEIR Great Grandmother. You see, for Pamela and Irwin obtaining Grandparents has been a big thing. Their own parents just sort of fell off the face of the earth and took with them every relation with them. After three years of being our foster children, then being adopted into our family in January 2014, they were overdue some grandparents. Pamela just beems everytime my dad, Grandpa Beesley, puts his arm around her and says, "How's my Granddaughter?" She is so happy to be a part of a family that it shows in her face!

Irwin, who has smiled in about 2 photos in the entire time we have had them in our home, smiles when he is with my Dad, HIS Grandpa. I can say that my parents have never made a difference in the love they have shown to any of my children be it foster children, step-children, biological children, or adopted children. (You know I have 9 kiddos right?) Their capacity to show unconditional love never ceases to amaze me and they have done no less with Pamela and Irwin.

My heart sang today as I watched the growth and bonding ocrrucing in front of my very eyes between my Dad and Irwin. My dad has always been a grandfather that teases and jokes around with his grandchildren. He also has been a grandfather that didn't fail to discuss their spritiual growth. The grandkids know that Grandpa won't put up with foul language. They know Grandpa doesn't even like the horrible, nasty, vulgur word "fart". lol . Today, Irwin spend an afternoon with HIS Grandfather and loved it. I hope and pray that all my children will remember Grandpa's nature, his patience, his wonderfulness long after he is gone and strive to be the same kind of grandparents to their own children and grandchildren.

As I walked around my Grandmother's home and property taking photographs I began remembering all the times I was excited about visiting my Grandmothers. We would take vacations to one of my Grandparents' homes and it was exciting. My brother, Randy, hated getting there because he didn't want her to kiss him! I remember him asking my dad, "does she have to kiss me?"

As I spent an afternoon of remembering all those precious childhood memories I realized what I took as "normal childhood" isn't normal at all for a lot of children.  There are thousands upon thousands of children everyday in this world that don't have what I had, family! They don't have the joys that I had at all. Many have homes with little or no food, that was never a problem in our home. Others are abused, physically as well as sexually, my family would have taken the law into their own hands had that happened to us because we were and are precious to them. However, not every home is like that. Not every home treats their children as though they are the most precious gift on Earth. Many will go to bed homeless and hungry tonight. Like my Pamela and Irwin used to have to do, many small children will have to fend for themselves while their parents are out doing whatever feels good at the moment for days on end, without one thought about how their children are starving, frightened, or alone.

I have been so blessed and I know I have! I thanked God today for my Grandmother who turned 92 today. She is such a beautiful human being and she raised my Mom to be a beautiful human being also. As I stood behind them today taking the opportunity to have a photo taken for my Granddaughters to have and remember their day with all three generations of Grandmothers I felt honored that these women are mine! They are my childrens and my grandchildrens' grandmothers. I pray that I will be as loving and considerate as they have both been and my grandchildren will one day think what I did today; "Wow! I am so blessed!"

And.... When I got my parents home and was driving back to my house I receive a call from them....they had BOTH lost they cellphones! Now I know where I get that!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thank You Scotti For The Reminder!

This week a friend of mine, Scotti Maldonado, reminded me that wishing ill will on those that are hateful to us is as awful as the horrible things they endeavor to achieve by doing so. How can we teach our children not to hate, or bully others who are different than them if we don't show them that example? I desire my children to be considerate and compassionate to others regardless of differences. I have spent my time as a Mom showing my children to live life in a compassionate manner.

Scotti was speaking about the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. Scotti's desire was that everyone remains respectful to this man's family during their sorrow and to not show them the type of behavior that was common to this individual's behavior to others during his lifetime. In his compassionate plea, Scotti specifically requested that people watch the jokes that would be forthcoming and  to rise above the hatred shown by the deceased.

Now, those of you who know me well know that my father is a minister. I grew up attending a Pentecostal church every Sunday Morning and every Sunday and Wednesday Evenings minimum each week of my life. Therefore, I am extremely cautious about speaking out negatively about someone claiming to be a religious leader. The Westboro Baptist Church, as most of you know, are the folks who picket the funerals of fallen soldiers. My opinion of that: that is about as hateful as it gets! The God I love and serve is not a God that hates people, his children, as we all are.  I have attended funerals where this congregation held signs saying "God Loves Dead Soldiers!" How dare they! For someone to have the audacity to say such horrible things are doing so under the very freedoms afforded to them by those who take an oath to die to defend that right. As a military mom, with three sons who have given of themselves to preserve and defend our freedoms, this is appalling to me personally. 

The same group of people don't just keep their hatred confined to soldiers; they also target the gay community. They simply change the message on their signs to "God Hates Gays!" This is a very delicate subject for me. People are either open minded or tend to be very rigid in their beliefs about the gay/lesbian lifestyle. For me; I walk a fine line based on personal experience. People, no matter what they choose in their lives, are human beings. In my opinion, all human beings should be treated with dignity.

Some of you who know me very well know that I was married for nearly 12 years to a man whom I had met in a holiness church where he was the Sunday School Superintendant. He was the best Christian man I had ever met. Things went well for a few years and then he got hurt in church by gossip and just mean people. He left the church and vowed never to return! He never went to a church again as far as I know.  Isn't church supposed to be a place of understanding and appropriateness? Aren't Christians supposed to be supportive, understanding, helpful, and loving? Yet I saw none of this when it was needed most. Instead I saw a lot of rigid, judgmental attitudes completely destroy somebody. I don't think God likes such things yet somehow people who do so hide under their Christian or Religious flags as an excuse to hurt others. I don't believe that is how the God I serve would want me to behave.

After being hurt so badly he started the path down a different road. One night, after coming home from a trip a day early to surprise him, I was the one surprised. He never came home that night. This was before cell phones were in nearly every household and I still used that phone that hung on a wall! I called the hospitals first, then the police, then I packed my three young sons ages, 4, 6, and 9 into the car and we began looking in every ditch, down every cliff, and anywhere an accident may have occurred without someone knowing. I worried until I was sick. I didn't find him anywhere and spent a sleepless, worry filled night. We rarely had harsh or angry words and nobody saw what was about to be uncovered coming.

The next morning as I was lying in bed I heard his truck pull into the driveway. When he saw me the blood rushed from his face and he was white as a ghost. There was no yelling, no screaming, no cursing, and no harsh words. I was too worn out from the night I had and was nearly paralyzed with worry. As we talked, there in our driveway, he explained to me that for years he had hidden his life from me. When I thought he was working late he had actually been at the clubs with his gay lover. While I was home raising three children he was having quite a secret life.  For over a year he had been secretly active in the gay community. So much so that he told me he was impotent. Me, being a loyal wife, believed him and thought that not having marital relations for over a year was me being "patient and understanding". After 12 years of marriage and 3 children, I was in shock! It left me questioning myself. Where was I? How did this happen under my nose? What am I going to tell people? What are people going to say about me?

All those questions were answered quicker than I expected actually. While I was left in Never land, unprepared and devastated, extended family members who under the flag of Christianity felt the need to approach the subject of my failed marriage. In their own words, he was my husband and would always be my husband in God's eyes. Divorce was sin and therefore I was a sinner. I tried to explain the circumstances of his coming out and announcing he was gay. In fact, in his own words, he had known he was gay for much of his life but his parents and family didn't know. For them, he wanted to try to have a "normal" life with a wife and family. I felt I was duped! Indeed he perpetrated a fraud and did so very well for nearly 12 years. Of course, these "Christians" didn't have any compassion for me, who had been faithful to my marriage vows. In fact, I became the talk of the town so to speak and the rumor mill was buzzing! I felt alone and defeated on an island surrounded by people who had no business making judgments. Something I will never, never, never forget; a woman even told me that I had I been good in bed he wouldn't have "turned gay" on me! Really? That was about the most disgusting thing anyone could come up with, not to mention the most ignorant!

Do I love gay people, why YES I do! Very much so!  In fact, my ex-husband and I have remained good friends for over 22 years AFTER divorce. I won't say it didn't have its rocky times. In his newly opened lifestyle choice he became somewhat like a horse with blinders. He was so into his new friends, clubs, and activities that he allowed distance between him and his sons. He would fail to come get the kids for his visitation, at times not even calling to say he wasn't going to be there to get them. They would be ready, waiting with anticipation, then disappointed and heartbroken. He also hit rough times financially. A lot of people don't realize that divorce is as devastating financially as it is emotionally. He was to pay $550 per month child support but failed to do so most of the time. And me, I was a pushover! He would give me $400 and I would allow him to borrow it back to make his rent. I simply didn't want the father of my children to be homeless! I wanted my children to know that mom was compassionate to dad when dad wasn't doing so well. Do I regret it now? No, I can't say that I do.

The fact that he "came out" didn't change who he was when I fell in love and married him. He was still THAT person. In fact, he still says that he loved spending time with me because I was "always so much fun, no matter what we were doing." We still talk and text message, we visit and laugh at our son's major events and our Granddaughters' birthday parties. When I travel to Texas we make it a point to get together to talk and laugh. current husband is fine with it because he understands I have no animosity and/or no romantic feelings, only innocent and honest friendship. He was not a bad person, he was gay! He was still a good guy so why does everyone look at his sexual preference and label him bad? I will never understand how someone can look at the gay community and immediately think of them as horrible, isn't that God's judgment to make? It certainly isn't ours. What I choose, is MY choice. I choose not to hate but instead to love others, regardless of their sexual preference or life choices! I do not choose the gay lifestyle but I don't feel I have the right or privilege to assume someone else’s right to make choices for themselves should become my right to do.

I have seen my ex-husband be the victim of violence because he is gay! I hate that so much. I have seen him called names, spit upon, and hated by those professing Christianity as equally as those who don't profess religion.  That behavior angers me greatly! I do not believe for one moment that if Jesus Christ was still on earth he would behave in this manner. In fact I believe he would say, he who hath no sin may cast the first stone!

I love all people! It's as simple as that for me. This world is in bad shape folks and I've seen a lot of hatred. I simply refuse to be part of that hatred! If others want to question my Christianity for doing so, then so be it. I'm just glad they are not God, who knows me fully and knows my heart! Only God will be my final judge, and I like it that way! He knows me!

Thank you Scotti for reminding me that even those who are persecuted should be respectful and show compassion. I love you and wish only the best in your life. Please, all my readers don't confuse hatred with being God-like. Have your beliefs, stick to your choices, but you do not have the right to make choices for others. Let God direct others, it's not our job!

I'm sure after this post a lot of my "Christian" friends may even un-friend me, but so be it. Like them, I will stick to my belief that God is the Judge, not me!

I love this email from President of the Patriot Guard Riders, sent out Friday,in response to the requests — and it perfectly illustrates the difference between a group of patriots and a group like Westboro Baptist Church. I love it!! So glad I he wrote it........Lets not forget that military families makes sacrifices as well as their soldiers. Standing beside them in times of loss should be the priviledge of all Americans. 

Patriot Guard,
Let’s first remember our Nation’s true Heroes. Those brave men and women of our military and first responders who gave their life so that we may enjoy the freedom to express our differences.

While it is hard to find anything good to say about his views or actions, we do give our condolences to his family during what must be a painful time for them. We take no joy in the sickness and death of any man. We do not celebrate the death of Fred Phelps. Patriot Guard Riders hope that Mr. Phelps somehow found the peace that seemed to elude him in life.
It is true that the PGR grew out of a response to protests at funerals. That’s a fair statement.
However, that was 2005 and the PGR quickly learned that there was something powerful in a gathering of Americans who would simply stand and hold flags and let a family know that they were not alone. That powerful thing became our mission.
We are neither a protest nor a counter protest group. We honor fallen Heroes and those who have honorably served this free America. The presence or absence of a protest does not alter that mission.
If it not for this man and his family we might not have heeded the call to regularly honor the sacrifices of our nation’s true heroes and their families. Nor would we have come to know the brother/sisterhood that has become the Patriot Guard Riders.
Robbie Smart
Patriot Guard Riders

Monday, March 10, 2014

Turning Grief Into Celebration! My Personal Story!

Have you ever dreaded something so much you wished the day was nonexistent? That was me every March 8th since the year 2000.

My brother, Randy and I, shared March 8th as "our" birthday. This occurred for all the 40 years of my life up until 2000, when he died suddenly. I simply had never experienced a  single birthday without him until his death. When he left us suddenly and without warning, our birthday, March 8th became the anniversary of an extremely deep sorrow and horrific emotional pain. I saw March 8th as the darkest day of the year!

Every February the emotional upheaval was overwhelming. I hated seeing March arrive each year to the point that I started dreading it’s arrival in February or even at Christmas.  I also had no interest in celebration of that day. I still miss my blue eyed, always joking, youngest brother as much, if not more, than I did on the day he was laid to rest. I sat alone at the Cemetery after everyone else had gone to make sure his vault cover was put on top the vault, then covered with dirt properly and completely. I suppose it was a way of easing my mind of the questions I might ask myself later.  I can still remember watching the casket lower into the ground, surrounded by the concrete structure. I can still hear the sound of the scraping of the concrete as the lid of the vault went on over the lower portion of the concrete structure. The rain came down that day in dribbles, it was a cold, damp dreary day as it should have been since my world felt like it also was being lowered into darkness. This memory is still so vivid, as if it were just yesterday. I truly believe it is the saddest and yet the most vivid memory of my life.

When a wife has lost a husband to the angel of death people extend their sympathies and feel so sad for their loss. Just as it should be. When parents loose children nobody questions the grief they must feel. After all, a Parent isn’t supposed to outlive their children. It’s a painful experience for any parent. However, as a sibling I was posed with questions that were ridiculous and caless. One such question was "were you close?" I wanted to pop some people right in their face!

My brother and me, along with my sister, Joyce (Beesley) Boyd, and brother (OLDEST SIBLING) Charles Henry Beesley, spent a lifetime together! 40 years of birthdays I shared with Randy! Chuck was right beside his little brother for much of the 42 years of Randy’s life. The four of us were a team! We were a posse! We played keep-a-way, catch, football, hide-and-seek, tether ball, and other childhood games together. We conquered the enemy from the seats of our bicycles on many occasions too numerous to count. We rode bikes in the snow, rain, wind, and heat together. As long as we were all together doing anything or nothing was fine!

In our teen years we went go-carting together, skating, bowling, and attended church youth camp in Prescott, Arizona each summer with the other youth from other Pentecostal Church of God churches. It was Randy who snuck me away to the movies after he was an adult because our parents wouldn't allow us to go to movies. Remember, our parents were strict Pentecostals! (Please don't confuse that with the United Pentecostals-there IS a difference.)

We kept each other’s secrets (like when Dad and Mom would make the boys take their little sisters on dates with them and they would take their girlfriends parking in the desert, sending us out of the car on Scavenger Hunts that had absolutely no purpose other than remove us from where they were making out!) We had each other's backs (like when Randy and Joyce would sneak out of the house after curfew to make a Whataburger run across town without the parents knowing. They left me at home to cover for them because “mom will believe you!” Even when we didn't always agree we loved! 

As family, and a close family the way our parents’ intended and raised us to be, we have also experenced some disagreements through the years. We weren't always happy with each other but disagreements do not diminish love. I may not always agree with the choices of my family members (or them mine) but it doesn't mean we love each other any less. There have been times I haven't liked family members very much at specific times while loving them incredibly all the time! Over the years, that hasn't changed regardless of what the subject of the disagreement.

Let me say this here and be perfectly clear: people have tried to make my birthdays enjoyable for me. Believe me they have done a lot and gone out of their way to make me feel special. My dear Friend, Sharon Wynn, as well as my daughters-in-law have always done sweet things. My in-laws and parents always do something wonderful as well. My husband too! However, you can lead a horse to water but if he doesn't want to stand near the pond that horse will not be in a position to drink! That was me. I wanted to enjoy my birthday but something inside me wouldn't allow me to feel anything! All I felt was emptiness and loss.

This year however my birthday was different because of a group of women who had no idea at all they were bringing me to a new understanding. With March 8th landing on a non-work day, Saturday, this year my co-workers made March 7th my birthday at work.

I arrived at work early, around 6:00 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep. I had problems sleeping all week and I would have nightmares in my sleep of sitting alone in my car watching my brother's casket lowered into the ground. My mind was heavy with what was to follow this day, a heavy dark, dreading brought about his loss. It's been a dark dreary cloud over my head and heart for fourteen years. However, this day started was to be much different than I expected. It  brought with it a release from the grief I had been experiencing for the fourteen years since Randy’s passing.

A few hours later my co-workers began arriving. Each of them came bearing some pretty wonderful gifts. Although they each stated they were at a loss as to what to get me for my birthday they each somehow got exactly the perfect gift to make this day perfect and uniqully me! I love to cook. It’s one of those things I find joy in doing and I love kitchen gadgets of any kind. Two days earlier I had thrown away my cutting sheets because they were getting old and I felt I needed to replace them. Not knowing my kitchen’s absence of a cutting board Melody came bearing a beautiful bag with a plant and a cutting board in the shape of Oklahoma. Later Leisa came in with a kitchen gadget that I love! Also among the gifts were gift cards to restaurants from Betty and Leisa. They all treated me to a birthday lunch from the restaurant of my choice. I chose Elote’s Puffy Tacos and they were fantastic! 

For desert Leisa had gotten up at 6 a.m. and made me a homemade angel food cake. Now how many of you can say that you have had a birthday dessert made for you by your State’s Assistant General Counsel? (that’s me bragging~lol) I was so touched because she took the time out of her life, which is something she can never get back, to make that cake for ME. I was also touched by the fact that she cared to make something that would be more appropriate for a diabetic! Leisa also brought a bowl of fresh strawberries and a can of fat free whipped cream. That was the most delicious cake I think I’ve had all year! Perhaps it was because I felt the love that went into that cake which was made special for me.

While sitting at the table we began to talk about my birthday plans. I explained that I really didn't do much because I missed my birtday counterpart. It was as if I was also hovering over that table looking down at us all having the conversation. It was then, at that table and in that very moment in time that I realized, I'm remembering what I lost 14 years ago and forgetting what I gained for 40 years prior to his death.

After lunch I walked away from our office conference table with the determination to heal. Having just experienced the first truly happy birthday moments I’d had in fourteen years, I picked up my phone and text my husband that we would be celebrating my birthday that night. 

When I met David Sizemore I met a great friend. He had been married to a woman who had an extra marital affair for the last year of their marriage. We started a relationship as friends, meeting in a divorce support group chat room online. Once we had gotten to know each other we began dating. It was difficult at times because he was the primary caregiver of his two young children, ages 5 and 10. As much as I hate he was hurt by someone who didn’t treat him appropriately, someone who didn’t seem to know what a special man she was throwing away, I thank God each day that he is mine! As a husband, he always gives me the freedom to be me. He always respects my needs to do things my own way when it comes to deeply emotional issues. He has faith that I will find my way to what is right, and without his faith and love I would be lost more times than not. David has seen me through cancer, the loss of my hair and being the person who shaved my head for me when it began falling off my head and onto my feet in the shower after Chemo at M.D. Andersen Medical Center, and through the years it took to recover from two hospitalizations with cellulitis rounded off with a total knee replacement. David has been loving, considerate, and ever faithful through the financial crisis that resulted from Cancer without insurance, and patient with a wife who was in a mobility chair for quite some time. None of these things were easy for either of us, but he never wavered! My husband is the perfect example of what it is to be faithful in the bad as well as in the good times. Girls, men like this are rare! They are not born either, they are raised to be considerate and thoughtful by Mothers (and Fathers) who take their responsibility as a parent as if they were getting their marching instructions from God’s own voice!

When I left work on March 7, 2014, Janice Marie (Beesley) Sizemore enjoyed her birthday a day early by using those gift cards and having a quiet, wonderful dinner alone with my gift from God, David Sizemore. We went to Longhorn Steakhouse and it was scrumptious! We laughed and loved each other’s company. The kids were at friends’ houses and as such we had a nice quiet home to go home to that evening.

As I was about to lay my head down for the evening I checked my Facebook page and saw a post my sister had put on asking if anyone wanted to go dancing Saturday night. It was at that point that I decided I was going to put an end to the darkness I had come to know on March 8th and instead celebrate all those years God had given us with my brother. I answered my sister’s message by telling her I was going to be there shaking my bootie in celebration of our brother. Before you know it there were others in on the celebration.

The next day I purchased a birthday cake at our local Reasors Bakery that read simply, "Happy Birthday Randy." The words were written in blue to represent the color of his eyes. It was chocolate, the flavor he preferred. It had deep red roses on it, just like the one I have saved in my Bible from his funeral. This cake was symbolic to me of the year he called me in Oklahoma, where I was attending college, to tell me happy 18th. I was so homesick and lonely for my family. It was the first time I’d been away from home for more than a week and by that time I was away for months! Randy, in his sarcastic voice said, "Hey! Mom made a cake for both of us and Mexican food. When I'm done eating I'm gonna eat that cake and call you back to tell you how it tasted!" AND HE DID! I got off the phone after his second call and cried like a big ole homesick baby! The only thing that got me through my 18th birthday blues was having my cousin Michael Ray Beesley show up unannounced to take me for a birthday dinner. Michael Ray was a God send for me that day and had no idea how much of a hero he was for me that day. (To reciprocate I took him out for his next birthday to Sirloin Stockade in Okmulgee. To choose what he wanted he didn’t choose the item, he chose the price….the most expensive! lol, He’s a mess~but I love that guy !!)

On my brother’s birthday this year, I took a photo of his grown daughters holding the cake I got to celebrate him. He would have been so proud that we found a way to move past the pain and see how blessed we all were to have him on earth for 42 years. I danced that night for the first time in years! It was a full release and on Sunday morning I woke up in jubilation because I felt free. I didn’t realize until that day that I had been carrying around a lot of guilt. I felt guilty for celebrating my birthday when he couldn’t. I felt guilty for being able to be here and love my grandchildren, when he couldn’t. I felt guilty for going on with life when my brother, whom I loved so much, was no longer able to have life.

Every time I’d see Randy’s grandchildren, whom he has never seen with the exception of one, I would feel horrible because they had no idea what a special human being their grandfather was all packed into those 42 short years. On Sunday I suddenly began thinking that had it not been for my brother his grandchildren wouldn’t have life.

I had always avoided seeing my own parents on our birthday, March 8th each year because I felt that the day and seeing me was just a painful reminder that my brother was no longer living. Their loss was great and I still see that pain in their faces at the mere mention of his name. I see it when people they know loose children to death. It’s something I know they live with daily. It wasn’t until after Randy’s death that I learned he made it a point to call our parents each and every day.

Up until now I have found it very painful to call my parents because it always brings my memory back to when I learned Randy called them every day. It wasn’t until this Sunday that I realized that by not calling them I was including them in my misery.

My brother always made a joke, “live hard, die young, and leave a good looking corpse.” I’m positive that he had no idea his joke would become his reality! The truth is Randy will always be 42 years old. He will always be remembered as how he looked at that age.

There are times when I long to talk to Randy. He always had a way of making me laugh when I really wanted to cry. I could tell him anything and he would have some type of response. A lot of the time the response was, “Awe sis…it’ll all buff out!” My last moments with Randy were moments of healing that I thank God for every day.

From now on when my birthday rolls around each year I am going to refuse to look at the things I’ve lost and instead think about the things gained by his very existence. I gained memories that I will forever cherish. I gained the sound of laughter, his laughter, his jokes, his voice! I gained nieces and nephews and even great nieces and nephews because of him which I love to my very deepest core. I think in a lot of ways much of my sense of humor was derived from him.

Today, on March 10, 2014, a burden of guilt has lifted and in its place is a glow of warmth remembering Randy.

Thank you God for allowing me to share my birthday with him for 40 years!
You must have loved me greatly to allow me to have that gift in my life for so long!