Tag Archives: family

Memories…The Good and The Bad

The one thing about moving into a new house that I absolutely love, is going through boxes of the memories created over the years. Today my husband was organizing the garage and brought me a few boxes to go through. One was filled with photos of the kids and their schoolwork. I spent over an hour looking through those pictures. I smiled ear to ear as I pulled every photo out and remembered exactly what they were doing or where they were when it was taken. It seems just like yesterday I had four children, under the age of 12. Long before the years of teenage angst, teen hormones, attitudes, drivers licenses, first girlfriend/boyfriends, proms, and graduations. Now I have 3 adult children, what used to be the baby is going to her first prom, and I have another baby girl I never dreamed I would’ve or could’ve had! But that’s the thing about memories….there are good, and bad ones. And just as I was busy celebrating all of my good ones, a bad memory was there to slap me in the face!

After over an hour of looking and reminiscing, one of the last picture envelopes I opened took me by surprise and I gasped! Not because it was photos I hadn’t seen before, but because it was photos I haven’t made a habit of looking at. They were photos taken by a relative during a horribly bad time in our lives, but somehow she knew one day, we would need them for closure.

Those photos took me back to being 21. I was married with a 22 month old son…a stay at home mom…when my whole world came crashing down around me! During that time everything was a blur. I don’t remember much. I remember the doctors harsh words, holding my husbands hands and talking to him. I remember the people coming in and out of our home…I can’t tell you who they were though. I remember boycotting food for 5 days…until December 31, 1994…The day I found out I was expecting our second child. And I remember the first bit of nutrition i fed myself after that 5 days, a banana, because the baby would need me to be healthy.

People may wonder why I have those photos or the video tape of his eulogy…it’s simple…he had a son, and unknown at the time, an unborn daughter. I owed it to them, to give them the option of being a part of the funeral if they chose to be when they were ready. My son was too young to understand at the time, so he stayed at home. I remember his first words when I came home…”Mommy, where’s daddy?”

I took a deep breath and looked at my sweet, innocent baby boy and said, “Daddy’s in heaven with God and the Angels!” The same sentence I repeated for years every time he asked, until he finally gave up and stopped asking. I honestly can’t tell you which was worse, saying those words over and over or the day he stopped asking.

Which brings me to my original reason for this post. My son is 25 and my daughter is 22 now. I can’t imagine having to watch either of them go through something like this at their age now. But what I can tell you, is as their mother, I’ve watched them go through it as children their entire lives.

We live in a tight knit community. Most people know my first husband and what happened. They will also speak about rumors on what they think REALLY happened, not thinking about how it may affect my kids or other loved ones. I’ve dealt with being judged for making wrong decisions during the time when my grief was so blinding, I couldn’t see what was clearly a bad decision. But with every bad decision comes a great memory, or in my case child 3 & 4! I’ve watched this town and it’s people put pressure on my son to be someone he was not, just because of his name. And the same people can somehow “forget” my daughter even exists, just because she doesn’t share the same first name! It took years for my son to truly find himself and become the man he was always meant to be. He is strong willed, compassionate, soft-hearted, tender and caring. He still has those that doubt him, but trust me when I tell you, his dad would be SO proud of the man he has become! It has not always been an easy journey, but I’m SO thankful he chose me to take it with him…the good and the bad!

And to my daughter…our last gift….what can I say but WOW! You have surpassed all of my expectations and more. You are so strong and courageous. As a small child I would catch you watching videos of your dad or looking through pictures…you know him inside and out! I still remember him saying, “I don’t want to have a girl! And if we do, she better be fat and ugly so the boys won’t want to date her or else I may go to jail!”

I said, “That’s what we have Little Pit for!” 😀

And from the first moment I laid my eyes on you, I knew his wish didn’t come true….you were the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen!

So, somewhere out there, there is another single mother making memories with her beautiful children, and sure making some mistakes along the way, but I hope that like me, she can one day look back on the bad times and know the good memories cast so much light in her life, the bad ones don’t seem so dark.

Thanks to my kids for always being the light of my life! 😍😍

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017! 

2016 seemed to fly by so fast!  When we got orders to Washington State at the end of 2013, 2016 seemed like an eternity away! I willed time to speed by, and time being EVER so gracious, did just that! As mid point 2016 approached, I found myself begging time to slow down! As a family, we had grown accustom to our surroundings in Washington.  We got use to seeing our extended family only via FaceTime or during our annual trip to Florida during the summer.  We made wonderful, lifelong friends, we weren’t ready to say goodbye to.  And June 2016 would mark another huge milestone for our family, with Makailyn  graduating from high school. She would be the first to graduate somewhere other than my alma mater, FBHS!  But as they say, time marches on, and so did she.  She marched across the stage with our immediate family cheering her on, as well as her granny, memaw, and papa, who had flown in for her special day! And thankfully, those who were unable to make the trip, they were able to log in and watch via live feed! 

After graduation, we said our goodbyes and headed out across he country. We traveled down the west coast and enjoyed sight seeing through The Sequoia Forest. The trees were absolutely gorgeous, a work of art courtesy of Mother Nature! We spent one day in SAN Francisco.  We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and took photos.  We even drove by the Full House, house, where we discovered we weren’t the only tourists still obsessed with the Tanners! We drove into LA and Hollywood and became typical tourist!  We even enjoyed a Hollywood tour in which we tormented Meadow, telling her every house was Justin Bieber’s!! We spent a day at Venice Beach watching the kids play in the water and walking along the boardwalk.  We even enjoyed the freak show! Traffic was indeed horrible, especially pulling a Uhaul trailer behind us, but it was well worth it! 

They loved our Maltese, Kingston, at The Freak Show!! 

We left California and headed into Vegas!  To say it was hot is an understatement! It was 115 degrees and being outside felt like you were literally cooking.  The heat hampered our sightseeing, but Makailyn, granny, and I did get to enjoy The Thunder From Down Under! Front row seats and they were worth it! Granny and Makailyn had never been so now they are able to cross that off of their bucket list!  The next day we went to The Secret Garden and happen to run into Siegfried! The girls had no idea who he was, but he was nice enough to take a picture with them!  Meadow got to take pictures with a dolphin.  In spite of the heat, we enjoyed our time in Vegas. 

Our next stop was Oklahoma to see my parents on our way through.  We stopped by and saw Grandpa Kenneth’s gravesite like we do every time we visit Oklahoma.  This time was the first time we were able to visit Nanny Joy’s gravesite.  She is buried next to my cousin Dustin who passed away from cancer as a young boy.  It was bittersweet.  I’m glad we had the opportunity to see her final resting place, but oh how I wish we could be sitting at her dining room table, playing a game of Farkle or Yahtzee instead! 

The final two days of our trip were a blur.  We were exhausted from our trip and ready to see the Florida sign!  Pulling across the Florida state line felt oh so nice!

We’ve spent the second half of 2016 getting reacquainted with our Florida lives.  Some things have changed and some things have stayed the same.  During our time away, I’ve learned a few things.  I learned who my true friends are, and who are just really more like acquaintances.  I’ve learned who I can count on and who is really just out for themselves.  I’ve learned for some, out of sight, is really out of mind.  I’ve learned distance does make the heart grow fonder, if the relationship is strong to begin with!  I’ve seen first hand, some people only want you in their lives if they need something from you, but if you need them, they are too busy to care. I’ve learned some of your best friends will still love you even if you haven’t called them because 3 hours time difference messes up your chat schedule, and the only time you can talk, they can’t, so they will settle for Facebook comments and likes from you without getting their feelings hurt, because like you, they KNOW how much you love them!!! My girls know who they are!!! 😘😘

2016 ended with  Chris and I celebrating our 10 year Anniversary! Every day I look at him I wonder how in the heck I got SO lucky!! He’s an amazing husband and to top it off, he’s an incredible, loving father!! What more could a girl want!! 😍❤️

 I’ve learned that family is the most important thing in the world.  If you want your family to make you a priority in their lives, you better be willing to make them a priority in yours.  You can’t sit back, complain and be jealous of the relationship other family members have with each other, if you aren’t willing to make an effort on your own.  Stop being a victim, make an effort and enjoy your family while they are still around to do so! Life is too short to waste your time on petty feuds and unspoken words! Live today like it’s your last! 

I am so blessed to be home in Florida, surrounded by family and friends. My resolution for 2017 is to focus less on the things I can’t change, and be happy with what God has blessed me with! I mean, seriously….have you seen my kids?!?   Those are seriously some pretty incredible humans I gave birth to! 

Pit will start 2017 walking through an adventure I’m sure he never thought he would embark on! As he turns 24 in February, I can honestly say, as a mom, I’ve raised an incredible young man with a good head on his shoulders!  He’s been on more adventures in his short life than many dream of, and I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes him! KaileeLane will start her final semester of Paramedic school in North Carolina and will graduate in May!  She works as a waitress, goes to school full time and enjoys her time in clinicals.  I love her phone calls telling me all about her day! Time will tell whether or not she will continue to call North Carolina home, or if Florida calls her back! We sure do miss her around here, but I am SO proud of my independent young lady! Her strength and drive amazes me! Makailyn is enrolled in online classes at FSCJ and is working as a waitress.  She’s venturing out into the world one step at a time, deciding where life will take her! She has big dreams and a bright future ahead of her, and no matter where her heart may land, I know she will always be my happy girl! Meadow will turn 15 in 2017 and finish up her Freshman year in High School!  She left Fernandina Beach in 6th grade for 2 1/2 years and came back a beautiful, confident, young lady!  She knows what she wants and expects out of her life and the people in it, and she will not waste time on anything less!  She’s definitely strong-willed and tough, with the right amount of sweetness and charm! And let’s not forget, she’s an absolute makeup fanatic! 😀 She closed out the first half of her Freshman  year on the honor roll and has set big goals for herself and her future!  I’m excited to watch her continue to grow and achieve all of her dreams!   And last but not least, we have little Miss Everleigh! She is a 3 year old, little mini teenager! She has watched and mimicked her sisters every move for the last 3 1/2 years! From her obsession with lipstick, selfies, sassiness, hands on her hips and the infamous eye roll, she’s got the role of “teenager” down pat! 😀 Before moving back, I worried Everleigh would be less than friendly to family and friends since we moved when she was 5 months old and she was pretty much secluded except for our immediate family!  NOT in the least!!! She never meets a stranger!! She absolutely loves her brother Pit and cousin Dylan, which somehow she now has claimed as her brother as well! 😂  she adores “Aunt Saucy” AKA, Aunt Sylvie! But, no matter how many new faces she meets, she will run up and hug them whenever they are leaving.  She is smart enough to recognize family when she sees them! She is taking dance and is in cheerleading! She loves to dance around the house with her current favorite, The Trolls soundtrack! 

2017 will most certainly be a great year for our family! My parents are building a house which should be finished in February, and will be moving back to Florida from Oklahoma! And if that wasn’t great enough, our house is being built right next door and should be completed in May! We have been so unsettled since moving back, planning and waiting for our dream home to be complete! But the one thing I’ve learned, anything is possible as long as you have your family and friends by your side! Thanks for making 2016 a year to remember! 😘😘

What I Learned From Our Goodbye

A year ago today was one of the hardest days of my life. My Nanny Joy passed away at 85 years old. May 2nd, 16 days before her 86th birthday, in true Nanny Joy fashion, she chose the way she would leave this earth. I was lucky enough to spend a week with her in April with 3 of my girls during Spring Break. During that time she told me adamantly, I do NOT want to be 86! Well, Nanny Joy, you got your wish, you were only 85 when you left this world!

I can’t begin to express what my Nanny Joy meant to me during her life here on earth. Other than the obvious name we share, we also shared a lot of things together that most grandmothers would not dream of sharing with a grand daughter. She talked to me about relationships, in a way you usually speak exclusively with your girlfriends. She didn’t judge me no matter how shocking the statements I may spew at any given time. She shared of hardships of growing up without a mother. Her mother died of an appendicitis at 27 years old and left her small children behind. Those young children, including my grandmother, were shuffled from house to house, just surviving during a time in this country when poor was the norm. She lived a rough life. Her grandmother believed the girls should be the ones to take care of the boys. She did farm work before attending school. She told me about inappropriate situations that no little girl should have to go through. I will not go into detail, as it was her story to share, but it was heartbreaking to hear. I only knew by listening to her stories that God was surely on her side! She married young…to a much older man. She was abused, left him and found out she was pregnant….with my mom! She worked hard…she lied about graduating from high school to get a job as a telephone operator and the rest is history. She rose to the top and became union president for the local operators. She met and married my Papa Bill, also a man of the Union, and they lived out the rest of their days together. When Papa Bill passed in August 2014, everything changed for her. She had to begin to rely on others for help, including my mother. And that’s when I learned the most.

Growing up, I never understood how my mother couldn’t get along with my Nanny Joy. To me, she was amazing! She basically walked on water! As I grew up and became an adult, I begin to see the little things I was blind to as a child. The snide comments, the difference in the way my mom and her brother were treated. Looking back, it was sad she wasn’t able to have the same relationship with her own mother that I was able to have with her as my Nanny Joy. After my Papa passed away, Nanny moved closer to my mom, 3 hours away from her home, back to the home town where she had raised her children. She lived at the end of the street from my mom, allowing her to be independent, but also allowing my parents the ability to care for her when needed, including my mom cooking dinner for her every night and my dad delivering her plate to her and giving her the nightly meds she needed. This time was not easy on them. I continually heard complaints from my Nanny Joy and my mom cried constantly at how mean her mother was to her. I was torn as to who I should believe.

When I walked into the door in April, I knew at that very moment what was happening. My Nanny Joy had given up. She was choosing to die. She didn’t want to live anymore and she was determined to let go. The problem was, my mom didn’t want to let her go. My mom was fighting to keep her alive and my Nanny was fighting to die. She was refusing to eat. She wouldn’t let my mom bathe her. She wouldn’t go to the doctor. She stopped going to the beauty shop, which was simply unheard of!! Nanny ALWAYS had her hair done! It was clear, this was a battle of the wills and I was caught in the middle. The first thing I did was talk her in to letting me give her a bath. She agreed, but refused to let my mom in to help. My heart has never been more broken than seeing my Nanny literally starving herself to death. She was skin and bones. Her meals on wheels were stacked up in the fridge. Her plate of food my parents brought over every night was sitting on the counter, barely touched. I would make her breakfast, only to watch her move the food on the plate and take one or two bites before setting it down. An hour later she would say, I didn’t have breakfast! I would have to remind her what I had made her. It was then I realized all the stories she had told me about sitting there alone were not true. She was forgetting.

Some of my fondest memories were sitting at the dinner table playing games with my Nanny…I asked her if she wanted to play Yahtzee, one of her favorites, and she replied, “I don’t believe I know how to play that game!” All I could do was enjoy every second I had with her. Deep down I knew it would be the last time I would visit my Nanny Joy alive.

One night before bed, we were sitting in the living room talking. She said to me, “You know, I never thought you were like me until today!  Today I saw me in you!” I knew exactly what she meant! I had stood up to someone who I believed was hurting her emotionally and financially and I was pissed! There was no way I was just going to sit there and let him run all over her, knowing how vulnerable she was at the time. Then she said, “You know, I remember when you stood up at your husbands funeral (Pit) and gave a speech, I just remember thinking how strong you were to be able to do that in front of all those people after loosing your husband!” I knew what my Nanny Joy wanted, she wanted me to do the same for her. She wanted me to be strong for her too…and I knew I had no choice but to do just that!

3 days after we left, my Nanny fell at home and had to go into the hospital. I spoke to her on Friday April 24th on my way home. I thought she was mad at me because of a certain someone in our family trying to make her think I said something bad about her. She said “I could never be mad at you sugar!” She said she thought she would be going home the next week, she was doing better. We talked for 45 minutes, about nothing and about everything! The last few minutes of the conversation she said how proud of my kids she was. She hoped my son would continue to straighten up and stay in town. How my oldest daughter was doing so well in college and she would be going places. She said how beautiful Makailyn was and she enjoyed visiting with her. And that Meadow, she said…you’re going to have to watch that one…she’s a looker! Give my baby (Everleigh) a kiss from Nanny! I love you sugar!

The next morning, my mom called my crying. She came into the hospital that morning to see her mama and she found her unresponsive. Nanny Joy had a stroke. 2 hours later, she was still unresponsive, but alive. She put the phone to her ear and I told my nanny how much I loved her and how I would always love her! The next morning she opened her eyes. I Facetimed her and let “her baby” see her. Everleigh looked at her and smiled and said “Nanny” A few hours later, she started mumbling, the language was more clear for a while, until it wasn’t. She became unresponsive again and she passed on May 2nd.

What I learned from her passing is she catered to boys. Not because she loved them more, but because she viewed them as the weaker of the two. She expected the girls to be strong. That’s the way she was raised, and that’s how she raised my mom. My mom is strong willed, independent and caring. She’s self sufficient and doesn’t need anyone or anybody to tell her what to do. On the other hand, her brother is the exact opposite. He depended on his mother until the day she died. That’s the way he was raised. I learned that she trusted my mom with her life. She would never tell my mom just how much she loved her or just how much she knew she could trust her, but she would tell me. And if my mom could see past her own sadness of the mother daughter relationship she longed for to realize just how much she really did entrust her with everything, maybe she could draw comfort from knowing how important she really was to my Nanny. My mom had access to bank accounts no one else did for years before she got sick. She knew she could trust my mom with her money, knowing she would never spend a dime of it without permission. She had keys to a cedar chest that no one else had. She gave her a credit card to buy stuff for her when she was unable to do so anymore. She did not do this for other members of her family. It was always my mom she trusted the most!

Although she is gone, I will never forget the life time of love and affection my Nanny Joy shared with me. And thanks to her, I now have the rest of my life to enjoy my mom as well. My Nanny was a young girl with a hard road ahead of her, but she walked the road proudly with her daughter by her side.  And now with the strength and determination we inherited from a special woman so adequately named Joy, we can finish the path she once started all those years ago, hand in hand, knowing we share the love of a beautiful Angel to guide the way!  


9 Years–Finally At Peace!

After a tragedy, your daily life can be consumed with feelings of rage, hate, fear, loneliness, and uncertainty. You never know when you will begin to feel “normal” or even if you will ever feel that way again. How do you move on? How do you put the pain of the past behind you? When will the dark memories fade and the light from your present shine brightly enough to diminish the darkness?

After many years, I’ve finally got an answer…9 years! It took 9 years for me to forget the date. It took me 9 years not to wake up on February 25th and realize it’s the anniversary of that horrible night. In fact, the day came and went…without my knowledge. It wasn’t until last night when I reached up to scratch my face and felt the numbness that remained in the wake of the attack that I remembered, the day has past! I didn’t wake up grieving for what once was me. I didn’t wake up wishing it were all just a bad dream. In fact, I just woke up on February 25th to the gentle kiss of my husband before he left for work. I woke up to my 15 year old and 11 year old playing with their baby sister. I woke up to the sound of happiness! My heart is full. The darkness is indeed fading. My life is whole once again.

I’m not saying that everyday I don’t remember. It’s a part of me and it always will be. I always see it..in every picture, in every smile that hides the pain that once overtook my life. But for now, I’m celebrating a milestone…I was able to forget…forget the anniversary to a tragedy that led me to the life I am living today. But, I’ve healed. I’m no longer a victim. I no longer hate. I no longer want to change the past. I am ok…well more than ok….I am happy!

And in spite of the tragedy, I am thankful. For if that terrible tragedy on February 25th had never happened, then the life I now live would not be the same!