Tag: dad

My Hero… by JoAnn

Summertime was a time to be free from shoes, homework, and schedules when I was a little girl. My older sister and I would spend as much time outdoors as we could. We had a beautiful property to run and play on as much as our hearts desired.

When it got too hot, we would go into the woods surrounding our home and play in a cool, shady spot. We would play house in the dirt, pretending to bake pies and cakes. We always had a grand time. It saddens me that today’s children will never experience such a simple activity. It made us better human beings by allowing us to be more appreciative of the little things that life can offer.

Along with the fun of being outside all day, there were also learning experiences. The occasional wasp sting would undoubtedly slow our fun down. A lightning storm would send us running for cover as well. But the most fun-busting thing of all was the unwanted guests that would cross our paths.

I have loved animals all my life. But when I was little, I encountered a big Ground Hog standing up on his hind legs, which scared the beans out of me. This happened to me several times one summer. My Mama & Daddy finally made me realize that if I just shouted loudly, I could scare the Mr. Ground Hog away. I still was not amused when he made his appearance.

Our mailbox was down the mountain, at the end of our long, gravel driveway. It was a little steep walking down and even steeper climbing back up. The walk provided some good exercise for sure. I loved having the chore of checking the mailbox. I never received mail, but that didn’t keep me from dreaming that maybe something would be in the mail for me.

One day while making my way back up the steep driveway, I was greeted by yet another critter. This one was not big and furry but instead long and slithery. You guessed it, a snake. It was lying under the wild blackberry bushes that grew on the fence line. The moment I saw Mr. Snake, I screamed. The loud noise must have disturbed him because he began moving towards me. I began to run as fast as my chubby little legs could take me, screaming for Daddy as I ran for my life. Daddy was always outside working when we were out playing.

The snake began to chase me. I ran so fast to the top of the driveway. By then, not only was my Daddy there, but Mama had run out of the house too. Daddy already had a hoe in his hands. He began hitting the snake with that hoe until it was no longer moving. I was still crying and inconsolable. Both parents kept trying to assure me that the snake was dead, but I did not believe them. So Daddy took the snake up with the hoe and down toward the pig pen he went, telling me to watch what he was doing. When he reached the electric fence around the pig pen, he slung the snake onto it. The snake immediately started sizzling and smoking. I calmed down.

My Daddy became my hero that day. I saw him as a superhero in a comic book. I thought he was the bravest, strongest man I could ever know. He went above and beyond for me that day. The story may sound gross to some, but it is a story I keep tucked away in my heart. I know a lot of people who weren’t raised on a farm or in the country would say that Daddy shouldn’t have killed the snake. What else was there to do if it were chasing a child and about to strike? This is just one of the many stories that explain why I loved my Daddy so very much. He wasn’t perfect by no means, but the things he did right out-shined all the bad!

Thank you, Daddy, for being such a great hero to me.

Oh, Fudge!

It’s that time of year again where everyone who enjoys cooking for the holidays is interested in exchanging recipes. I have always enjoyed cooking when I’m in the mood, that is, and I have always loved finding a new recipe. My favorite ones, of course, are for anything that may be sweet. If there is sugar or chocolate involved, I want to hear about that recipe.

Lately, there has been an upswing in posting recipes for different sweets on social media. I tend to gravitate towards the ones with fewer ingredients and fewer steps to prepare. The easier, the better. Sometimes the most simple recipe can be delicious. I have also learned that the fewer ingredients and steps, the less likely anything will go wrong. That’s a win-win in my book. Today, all this recipe sharing brought back some lovely memories for me.

I grew up watching my mother work hard during the holidays to make all of her family’s favorite goodies. The recipes were always handwritten on a sheet of stationery or an index card. They were yellowed from age and sometimes stained from the occasional spill or sticky fingers during their making. They were more valuable to Mama than anything in her kitchen.

Mama was a perfectionist. She wanted whatever she cooked or baked to turn out exactly as it was supposed to, every time. No exceptions. She once told me that she had tried a new cookie recipe that turned out “Not fit to eat!”. So she took them to the outhouse and dumped them so my daddy would not know she had made something so horrible. I really doubt he would have been upset, but I think if he had laughed at them, her ego might have been crushed.

Everyone that knew my mother knew that she could cook! Especially in her later years, after having experimented with her family for so very long. And one of her specialties was homemade fudge. She made fudge, chocolate, and peanut butter in her retirement years nearly every week. She would cut the fudge into perfect 3-inch squares and wrap each individually in plastic wrap. She would fill a cooler with the fudge and take it to the flea market where she and my dad had a reselling business. No surprise, the fudge was first in sales every week. At only 25 cents apiece, sometimes a customer would rush in and purchase every piece she had. So during the holidays, she made extra. Mama was very proud of her “little candy business.” That being said, you will understand better what I am going to share next.

Long before my Mama and daddy were selling fudge at the flea market, my sister and I were little girls. Mama was a good cook but still learning, as are most mothers. One year she wanted to make fudge. I have no memory of whether or not she had ever tried her hand at fudge before. I must have been around age 5 or 6. Anyway, something must have gone entirely wrong with how my Mama made that batch of fudge. Because instead of setting and becoming firm as it cooled, it remained pretty liquid. I can still remember the disappointment on her face and in her voice. She couldn’t hide it. I remember she was sad that she had “wasted” so many ingredients. We lived on a tight budget, and it was challenging to have enough money for the holiday season. So every teaspoon of vanilla and every cup of sugar was accounted for.

Suddenly Mama calls my sister and me into the kitchen. Mama tells my sister to retrieve the child’s size Blue Willow porcelain tea set Santa had brought her for Christmas. That set was to be treasured and guarded for safety. So, of course, my sister and I got very excited that we would play with it.

After placing the tea set around the table, Mama brings over the “fudge.” She poured some into the little teapot and the small cream pitcher and sugar bowl. She smiled and told us to enjoy our special tea party.

I don’t have to tell you how much fun me and my sister had with this fudge tea party! What a treat it was. We didn’t get sweets daily, not even weekly, so we were in Heaven. We enjoyed that special “fudge” until none was left. Eating it from a fancy little tea set with tiny spoons made it all the more fun. I don’t remember having a belly ache afterward, but I imagine maybe we did. I remember how my Mama took something so disappointing to her and made one of our best childhood memories. I also remember washing the little tea set afterward. That was fun too.

Long gone are recipes handwritten on index cards and notepaper. All you need now is a smartphone and Google. It has been over 22 years since I tasted my mother’s fudge. I still miss it, especially around the holidays. My favorite fudge she made, though, will forever be the batch she poured into that little tea set. She may have thought she failed that day, but as a mother, she triumphed.
Happy Holiday Season to all of you!

Remember Me….by JoAnn

With the holidays just passing, and a new year birthed, I have been in a remembrance mood.  I’m sure it has to do with the fact that we lost a very significant family member this past year.  It left a hole that no one or nothing can ever fill again.  

Through the process of grieving, I remember not only the loved one I recently lost, but the many others that are missing from my life.  And it has put the question into my mind; how will people remember me?

When my mother passed away, 19 years ago this month, I was at once consumed with good memories of her.  Anyone who knew my mother well, knew that in her later years, she could be very difficult to get along with at times.  My mother suffered from debilitating chronic pain.  There was not one hour of any day in her last 15 years on earth that she was not in constant pain.  She could be very harsh at times and hurtful with her words. 

Of course, now I know, being older myself, that it was the pain talking and not my real mother’s heart.  But when I was only in my 30s, I did not understand that concept.  So why, upon hearing of her passing from this world, did I receive instant healing from the bad memories of times my mother had hurt me?  Was it because she was now free from her pain and once again happy?  Or was it because all the negatives had passed with her and was no longer an issue? 

I remembered the times I had not gotten along well with my mother, for whatever reason.  The memories were there if I chose to confront them.  But I felt this peace in my heart that there was no need anymore.  And when I did force myself to remember something negative, it no longer affected me.  The love was greater!  I felt content in remembering every good thing about my mother and feeling the love from her in those memories.  It felt right.  And I felt very blessed for it!

Please don’t get me wrong.  My mother was a great woman!  She did many, many things right!  Unfortunately, it is human nature for us to remember, and spend more time and energy on something a loved one has done to hurt us.  The good things become clouded with the pain.

I noticed that the same thing happened to me with my dad’s passing 8 years later.  It was indeed another welcomed blessing.  Then I got to thinking that maybe it’s God’s way of comforting us.  His promise is to comfort us in our grieving.  So maybe that is the answer as to why.  

Then, I saw it happen again.  This time not to me as personally as before with my parents, but I watched it through my own children.  The loved one we lost last year was their dad.  My ex-husband, co-parent, and close friend.  Anyone who knew my children’s dad well knew he had suffered for years with lots of problems.  Sometimes very serious problems that not only affected him, but everyone that loved him.  Most especially our children. 

I watched each of my daughters be blessed in their grieving by the overwhelming remembrance of the good things that were very much a part of their dad.  He was a very good man!  And sometimes that got lost in his problems.  It did surprise me that my children were able to remember so many good parts of their dad.  I had always thought that the painful times would leave a permanent cloud over their relationships.  But much to my surprise, and relief, each of my daughters received the blessing that I had with the loss of my parents.  They can speak so highly of the real man their dad was.  His goodness, his love for them and others, and the wonderful parts that made him who he was.  It makes this mom’s heart so full to see my daughters have this positive experience through something so life changing as a parent passing.  

So back to my question, how will people remember me?  I can’t grasp the thought, or vision, of being remembered with such love and adoration as I have remembered my parents, and how I have seen my daughters remember their dad.  Maybe that’s not  supposed to happen.  Maybe none of us are.  Maybe that is something that is only left behind for our loved ones when we are gone.  Our way, or God’s way, of comforting them in their time of grief.    

But how wonderful it would be if we could seriously put aside our differences with people, lay conflict and hurt feelings to rest, and remember only the good parts of a person now, while we are still on earth together.  To remember only the positives that are indeed stored in our minds right along with the bad!  Why is the negative file always in the front of the filing cabinet of our brain?  It’s human nature, but is there a way that we can change it?  I for one, think  we should give it a try.  How much happier everyone involved could be.  

It is my hope that I will be remembered as making a positive impact on those I love.  My biggest hope is that they will know, without a doubt, how much I love them.  I hope they will remember how hard I tried at life, and even though I may not have succeeded in all things they think are important, that I did succeed in what God put me on the earth to accomplish.  I hope they will be happy they knew me, and proud of the person I was.  I hope that just maybe; I did something so right that they even learned an important lesson from me.  Something that will be of great help to them after I am gone.  

How will you be remembered?  Something to ponder…JoAnn

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