Thursday, February 27, 2020

It Has Been 7 Years- Missing My Mom, Today and Always -2/27/20

6 years ago-
My mom passed away a year ago today. I miss her every day. I often still say things about her (in the present tense) as if she is still with us. What did I learn from her? Always enjoy the sun. Even if it is too hot. Sit in it. Breathe it in. A little sun screen goes a long way. You are never too good to drink from a garden hose. My friends did want to still play with me even when I was done with the dishes and dusting the shelves. Enjoy your fresh veggies from the garden. Always stop to smell the flowers, pet the pussy willows, scratch a dog behind the ear, wave to your neighbor and talk baby talk to every baby. Never forget to wear a slip. Never pass up a good facial moisturizer. If a boy gives you roses, he is infatuated with you. If a boy gives you tulips, marry him. Make good friends that will last a lifetime, you will need them.  Cherish your children. Love your grandparents and treasure the time you have with them. Seek Jesus daily. He will never fail you. -The last part is what I hold most dear.

5 years ago-
My mom read Edgar Allan Poe to me as a child. She also read Shakespeare and Little House on the Prairie. She liked the movies Pretty Woman, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments and found novelty in Twin Peaks. She loved Russian Tea and found a berry wine cooler was discovered way too late in her life. She bought a new bible every time she saw one on sale. She hoarded office supplies such as paper clips, envelopes and note pads. She loved watching vcr tapes and never fully switched over to dvds. She liked her long phone cord and held onto it much longer than technologically necessary. She spoke often of Norman Allen Koluhiokalani. She spoke of her desire to return to Europe some day. She couldn't imagine a day going by without talking to Angie and I. I couldn't get over the fact that she knew more people than I thought even existed. I learned the importance of giving even when you have nothing, because the truth is, you always have more than you think. Today, I remember my mom. I miss my mom. Today, I just love my mom.

4 years ago-
"I picked up the phone this morning. I so wanted to talk to you. To share with you. To tell you I loved you. To tell you my heart was heavy. To pray with you. You didn't answer. You haven't answered for a while now. But I keep picking up the phone. I know the outcome won't change. I do it more out of habit. Out of want. Out of desire to speak to you. Once. Again. Each day. When Zach speaks 16 spontaneous words in a row. When Lily comes home with yet again another amazing art project. When Zach tells me he misses you. When Lily reads Little Women and Jane Eyre and says she knows you would enjoy it. When I have watched a movie and can't wait to share it with you. When I am struggling and just need you to tell me everything will be ok. These years go by too quickly. Does it get easier? I am sure it will. But not today. Today I ache. I ache for a hug and hand hold and smile of reassurance. Today I miss you. Maybe even a little more every day. But I know you share in these long tiring days. I know you are partaking in the joys and triumphs and praying in times of struggle and grief. I know you. I love you. I miss you. I will pick up the phone tomorrow. Out of habit. Out of want. Out of desire to speak to you."
--excerpt from Speak to You

3 years ago-
"Just love him. Love him like your life depended on it." Best parenting advice I ever received from my mom. My mom passed away four years ago today. And I miss her so much. She always knew what to say, and sometimes when it was important to say nothing at all. She asked me once how she had possibly been so blessed to be Angela’s and my mom. Oh no, it was Angie and I that were blessed to be the daughters of a woman who chased after life with wild abandon.

2 years ago-
She didn't once tell me she didn't have time. She always said, rest a bit, come and sit with me awhile. She would drop whatever she was doing and take time to look me in the eyes and connect with me. She once said she would sit with me all day and she did.
I was ill when I was 14, and I thrashed in pain at night. My legs hurt constantly. She sat with me, made sure I had heat packs and sang over me. She read the Bible to me. She prayed over me. She advocated for adult muscle relaxers and pain meds knowing the risk of addiction was high. She knew what I needed to get the pain under control.
Two months later, she had me off the pain meds and muscle relaxers she brought me 3 days a week to physical therapy and promised me that I would be ready to go to school in September. She said I would be going to school without canes or a walker. She believed it was possible when I did not.
My mom taught me about faith, perseverance and strength. She taught me about advocating on my own behalf and being a woman of my word. She taught me what I needed do know to be a wife, a mom, a woman in this crazy world. She loved me. Encouraged me and desired to see me succeed. But mostly she loved me.
Our mom passed away five  years ago today. Not a day passes that I don't think of her and smile. She was a warrior mom. And I too, hope to be like her someday. 💜

1 year ago-
Our mom passed away 6 years ago today. Talk about a dearly missed mom. She was a talker. She once walked up to Paul Wellstone at the Minnesota State Fair and said, "My name is Jo Cook and I think we should be friends." She saw the opportunity and took it. She needed his help on behalf of a friend. He instantly took to our mom's infectious energy and charismatic presence.
She was a force to be reckoned with. She could organize costumes for an entire dance school. Fund raise and send an entire high school band to The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Rose Bowl Parade. She could organize an art auction to raise money for local EMT's and much needed equipment. But her time to shine when she advocated on behalf of a treasured friend or beloved family member. It could have been finding the right doctor. Getting someone into treatment. Helping a friend get a Visa and stay in this country. She loved unconditionally. She loved fiercely. She loved courageously. Often never receiving anything in return. But she loved. And she kept on loving people until she passed.
Today I was thinking about music and movies and how much she loved finding new music. She would have adored Lauren Daigle. She would have swooned singing Sam Smith songs. And she would have wanted to be best friends with Lady Gaga and wanted A Star Is Born on repeat. She also would have commented daily how Bradley Cooper was "such a fine young man".
Not a day goes by that I do not think of my mom and miss her. And not a day goes by when I don't feel the need to share a story about her with anyone that will listen. Today, the listener was Cathy Stgerwald of Carver Tax Service. Bless her for having a compassionate heart and a listening ear.

Today. It has been 7 years. 
I sat to drink my coffee this morning and wondered how she did it. How she tackled each day without coffee. She never drank coffee until later in life and then it was a designer brew with lots of creamer and sugar. She never needed the caffeine. But she enjoyed her Tab and her Diet Cokes. She never needed the pick me up that I depend on every morning before work. I wonder how she organized her reading material. What books took priority and what books could be addressed later.  I wonder if I could figure out an estimate of how many cards and letters and words of encouragement she had written over the years. She wrote to my friends at college, she wrote cards and letters to my kids. She wrote in books and left special notes for Angie and I to discover at a later date. She wrote silly notes like her mom, my grandma Charlotte did, that didn’t make any sense but still make me laugh. I wonder if she would have asked to see the new Little Women 6 or even 10 times by now.  I wonder if she would want to talk after each Outlander show to try an brainstorm about possible outcomes. I wonder if she would have cried as much as I do when watching Lily prepare for Aladdin. I know she would oooh and aaah over her gorgeous costume and her heart would soar over the beautiful melodies Lily is preparing to share in weeks time on opening night. I know she would be on the prowl for each notebook, every sharpie, every piece of perfect paper for Zach and that she would sitting with him at the dining room table encouraging him and observing in awe as he works on another artistic creation. There are things that I wonder, and there are things that I know.  There are two main things that I know today that are true. One, our mom loved Angie and I so much and she did an amazing job pouring Truth into us daily. Two, she is missed beyond measure.  

7 years. It seems like yesterday I was holding her hand and singing to her and praying with her.  7 years. I kissed her forehead and said goodnight as I needed to go home and sleep in my own bed.  7 years. Angie called to tell me that she was called Home. 7 years. Today, I remember my mom. Today,  I love my mom. Today, I will share stories of my mom with everyone I know.  

Missed and Treasured. Jo Cook- 1945-2013

Friday, February 21, 2020

Changed Behavior

Changed Behavior
Kelli J Gavin 

My mom used to say, "The best apology is changed behavior."  I think she knew a little about that. Even though I am unable to attribute this quote to her originally, we will all just pretend going forward that Jo Cook was the wise woman who coined this phrase.

My mom was once asked to marry a man she didn't love.  His name was Darrell.  She only ever thought of him as a friend and knew she would never love him in a way that would make her want to spend her life with him.  He asked her right before she was preparing to leave for a trip to Hawaii.  When she told him that her answer was no, Darrell refused to drive her to the airport.  She was furious but it affirmed to her that she responded appropriately.

When she returned from an amazing trip to Hawaii, she had always thought that Darrell would apologize for his behavior. My mom and Darrell crossed paths with each other frequently after that messy encounter. Darrell didn't actually apologize for his immature behavior and for pitching a fit and leaving her without a ride to the airport until almost 20 years later when they went to the Monroe High All School Reunion.  He admitted he was wrong and that he wished he had handled himself differently in the face of rejection.

My parents were married in February of 1969.  They separated in the fall of 1987 and divorced soon thereafter.  My dad only told my mom that he didn't love her anymore and didn't want to be married to her.  No explanation was given other than that. He refused to go to counseling and promptly moved out. My mother was destroyed and broken.  I don't feel she ever fully recovered.

My dad and mom really struggled being divorced and parenting two teen daughters when they couldn't share a civil word to save their lives.  They both made life very difficult for each other and themselves. They also made life difficult for my sister and I.  While my sister and I grew up, the atmosphere became less contentious, but matchsticks continued to threaten an immediate burn whenever they spoke.  And then they were no longer forced to speak. My dad moved out of state and our mom was our full time custodial parent.

My parents didn't see each other face to face again until I married and then my sister married in 1995 and 1996. They spoke, they were cordial and my mother received an unexpected apology. My dad told my mom that he was sorry for leaving so abruptly, for not being more involved in parenting and for not trying harder.  My mom appreciated the apology but struggled to process the meaning behind it after so many years of heartache.

My mom also had been hurt by a few people in her assisted living facility.  When she moved in, she was the youngest one there and people struggled with her larger than life personality. She wasn't able to take care of herself any longer and needed to have help with physical care, medications and meals. She was in pain daily, was forced to give up driving and her home which she adored and was trying to learn how to adjust to living in a small, even though very nice room with a bathroom. She didn't need the senior citizen's form of Mean Girls to assail her in everything she did.

There was one instigator who decided that my mom wasn't worth her time. She called her names, scoffed at her and tried to get others to join in her game of being mean. The three people hurt her so much as two of them were her friends prior. Mom became lonely and sad.  She was hurt by the words and actions of three old mean people.  The ringleader's behavior became unbearable and my sister and I reported it more than once.  The mean behavior decreased but never ceased, until the woman was actually evicted because of how she started treating the care providers at the assisted living facility.

My mom never received an apology from the Mean Girl across the hall. But she forgave her. "You know, KC, she was a victim of elder abuse at the last facility she was at.  She has had a rough life.  I feel bad for her.  Oh! And think of her poor children and the people that will have to take care of her at the next facility.  She probably treats everyone like that.  I will just pray for her. That is what she needs. Prayer."  My mom's example of forgiveness in the absence of an apology was an amazing example to my sister and I of how to proceed in life when we have been hurt and a situation never really is rectified.

The two people that were my mom's friends prior finally realized the error of their ways and apologized.  It meant the world to my mom, even though she continued to be cautious in seeking other people out in new friendships.  Both the man and the woman loved my mom and attended her memorial service when she passed away in 2013.

Sometimes people apologize, and sometimes they do not. Some people are never able to humble themselves enough to recognize when they have done something wrong, and should even apologize in the first place.  But as my mother always said,  "The best apology is changed behavior." Even if an apology doesn't happen, a choice can be made to change. Then we can change how we act, what we say, how we relate to one another.  We can choose to behave differently. Better. Whether or not anyone is watching. We can choose to be kind. We can choose to do the right thing. We can choose to apologize by changing our behavior. Permanently.

This important reminder is brought to you this evening by Jo Cook.  A mom who is missed every single day.

JoAnn Grace Cook
Daughter, Mother, Friend
Lover of Jesus
8/4/45 - 2/27/13

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Card Is What Matters

My husband and I have never really done a whole lot of celebrating for Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve.  It isn't something we are into, so we usually have a very low key evening.  Maybe a special dinner at home, or a movie.  Tonight, on Valentine's Day, the four us went to Crooked Pint for dinner.  With very full stomachs, we headed home to watch Happy Valentine's Day, Charlie Brown! and play some cards. Josh and I will probably watch a show or a movie after the kids go to bed, but Josh has to go to work in the morning, so he won't stay up very late.

Being that we don't really celebrate, we also do not exchange gifts. We always exchange cards with each other, and often buy the kids a special treat. Today they also received a movie each and art supplies.  They loved them and were soon off to create something new.

Josh and I have been married for 25 years this June.  We have really only ever traveled with the kids. The only time we have left the country was when we were married in 1995 when we got married. We went to Quebec.  That is Canada. It isn't exotic. It was quite lovely, but I was 20, my husband 21.  We were so young. It was a perfect adventure for us.

This April/May, we are taking a anniversary celebration trip to France and Italy.  I can't wait. We always said we would travel when we celebrated our 20 year, but when you have a special needs kid, so much extra planning goes in to a trip like that.  I have been dreaming about airplanes and looking down and seeing landscapes. I have been day dreaming about beautiful stone buildings and the luxury that can only be seen in Versailles.  I have been looking up all of the artwork that I want to make a point of seeing at the Louvre. Seriously. Everything that I have wanted to see.  I am mapping it out.

Today on Valentine's Day, my husband gave me probably the best card and picture I could have ever received. The Eiffel Tower card is a beautiful Pop up card. And the picture of Florence has a special message written on the back.

I have never been one to need gifts. Cards, time spent together, words of adoration and intention are what makes my heart soar.  My husband told me how much he looking forward to traveling with me. He told me how he can't wait to explore France and Italy with me. 

Today, on this Valentine's Day, I am finding that I am even more excited about our pending travels, and I didn't think that was possible.

Today, on this Valentine's Day, the card is what matters. It makes all the difference in the world.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Amelia Boynton

For Black Women's History Month:

She never got to finish her journey that day. She was marching peacefully along with some 600 protesters for voting rights when policemen arrived with tear gas and billy clubs. The protesters would be beaten, and she would be left bloody and unconscious on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

Her name was Amelia Boynton, the date was March 7, 1965, and the incident on the bridge in Selma would draw national attention, eventually being called, "Bloody Sunday."

Boynton, a former teacher, had invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Selma. Dr. King and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference would meet and set up headquarters at Boynton's Selma home, where they would plan the Selma to Montgomery March.

When they got on the bridge, she remembers the troopers brutally attacking them. "I felt a blow on my arm that could have injured me permanently had it been on my head," she would say. "Another blow by a trooper as I was gasping for breath knocked me to the ground and there I lay unconscious. Others told me that my attacker had called to another that he had the "damn leader." One of them shot tear gas all over me."

A newspaper photo of Boynton, lying on the ground, left for dead, shocked the entire nation. Boynton also suffered throat burns from the effects of the tear gas. Bloody Sunday would prompt President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965, with Boynton attending as the landmark event's guest of honor.

Boynton, who later would be referred to as Amelia Boynton Robinson, would continue being a voice for civil rights, touring the United States "to defend the rights of all humanity to progress — material, moral and intellectual."

She would remind younger people of the importance of history, saying, "It’s important that young people know about the struggles we faced to get to the point we are today. Only then will they appreciate the hard-won freedom of blacks in this country."

She added, "You can never know where you are going unless you know where you have been."

Her son, Bruce Boynton, who he himself had been arrested for trying to eat at a white lunch counter at a bus station, would say of his mother, “She’s done so many outstanding things that a lot of people don’t know." [Bruce Boynton’s case would inspire the freedom rides, and he would be represented by Thurgood Marshall in the Supreme Court case.]

Boynton was known by many as the “Matriarch of the Voting Rights Movement."

She was the first African-American woman to run on the Democratic ticket for a seat in Congress from Alabama. Although she didn’t win the election, she did garner 10 percent of the votes at a time when only 1 percent of the voting population was made up of African Americans.

She was a member of the brave Courageous Eight and one of the first African Americans registered to vote in Alabama.

She would be awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom.

On August 26, 2015, Boynton Robinson would die at the age of 110.

But before her death, she was able to finish her journey across the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the Selma Voting Rights Movement 50th Anniversary Jubilee. In her wheelchair, she was accompanied by the first black President of the United States, Barack Obama, holding her hand.

Close friends and family would say, she died, harboring no animosity for anyone, not even those who might have hated her for the color of her skin.

She had said, "I was brought up by people who loved others. I love people. We had no animosity. We had no feeling that we hate anyone."

"Only until all human beings begin to recognize themselves as human beings will prejudice be gone forever," she said. "People ask me what race I am, but there is no such thing as race. I just answer: "I’m a member of the human race."

(I did not write this. I found it on the internet.)

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Every. Single. Day.

Every. Single. Day.
By: Kelli J Gavin
For Writers Unite!

Every single day
Whether it is morning
Or even the dead of night
Each time I hear
The roar of an engine
The swoop of a descent
Or see the lights overhead
I wonder if you are there
Above it all
Are you arriving?
Maybe leaving?
Where are you going?
What brings you back?
Let it be me
Let it be us
Please let it be today
To say I miss you
Would be an understatement
You once were my everything
Every breath
Each smile
The laughter that escaped me
It was all due to you
Amazing you
The one I adore
The one I have always treasured
The one who walked away
When I needed you most
I won't pretend it hurts less
As time passes so slowly
In your absence
Your continual absence just makes me
Know that life is too challenging
I can't do it on my own
I will continue wanting you
Desiring you
Waiting for you
By doing so a shred of hope remains
Hope that should have been dashed
A long time ago
But I will hope
Each day I will spend wanting you
My desire will never fade
I will always wait for you
So today as always
When I see a plane
Whether it is morning
Or even the dead of night
Each time I hear
The roar of an engine
The swoop of a descent
Or see the lights overhead
I wonder if you are there
Above it all
Are you arriving?
Maybe leaving?
Where are you going?
What brings you back?
Let it be me
Let it be us
Please let it be today

I Know What That Means- By: Kelli J Gavin for Writers Unite!

I Know What That Means By: Kelli J Gavin After my family moved to Minneapolis three years ago, my parents refused to visit us in our ne...