Category Archives: Family

We Turn Skeletons Into Goddesses

“We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need.” ~ Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia ~

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The young girl in this grainy image from the past is me. It pains me to look at her/me because I know she is hiding a secret. She’s hiding more than one secret. She’s standing behind this bright red beach float to hide. To hide her secrets – (1) that she thinks she is grossly fat; and (2) she has an eating disorder. She has anorexia and this is not the thinnest she will ever be.

I was officially diagnosed about four years after this picture was taken. Back then I don’t think eating disorders were understood the way they are today. My weight dropped below 100 pounds. My therapist helped me to see that eating disorders can be about control.

I am the oldest child in a family of three girls. My baby sister is a special needs individual and has been all her life. It was sad to see the sorrow of two parents who love their girls the way my parents loved their girls. I know it had to be hard to realize their baby would not have the type of life their oldest two would. It was sad as a sister to see my baby sister have some of the struggles she’s had. They loved us all and taught us we were valuable.

I’m also a perfectionist and OCD. And, I married poorly the first time around. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say he made Casper Milktoast look like the Man of Steel. So, a naive and somewhat innocent girl was forced into becoming a different person. Well, maybe and maybe it just made me stronger.

What it did do is make me never feel like I was enough.

I bet many of you understand what I’m saying…

So, of course, I became a person in which control had great meaning. I’m not talking the kind of control like mad-scientist-I’m-going-to-rule-the-world-control. I’m talking the kind of control I can have concerning my body and the world around me. Like I can count every calorie, every bite that goes into my mouth. I can choose not to eat for days and days. I can exercise all I want to – like 30 miles on my stationary bike and then go to the track and walk.

And, never, ever be out of control. Never. I have an aversion and fear of becoming addicted to anything. I’ve never been drunk and I am probably the last person on earth who has never – no, never, tried pot, weed, hashish or whatever you want to call it in any form. There, I said it.

Why am I telling you this now? Because I read a story today about a beautiful 18 year old girl named Brandy Vela who committed suicide in front of her parents and grandparents. Why? Because she was being mercilessly bullied by kids at her school who said she was fat.

God in heaven what kind of animals are we raising?

When we have kids driving an 18 year old child to suicide, we have more wrong in our society and more to worry about than BMI. It is that vapid, shallow mentality in our core societal beliefs that is turning us into gladiatorial animals as children.

And, what do you do with children who commit such vile acts? Right now, a Cersei-like  Game of Thrones Walk of Shame seems too good for these little creeps. Shame! Shame! Shame!

It has to stop.

We have to stop idolizing women who are size 0 as if this is some paragon of womanhood. We have to stop allowing momagers (mom/managers) from hawking their daughters like flesh and meat in the public market so they can become filthy rich off of our money. If we allow the selling of our daughters like that, how can we criticize other cultures who violate their daughters and women? We have to stop starving our children and sanctioning it via Federal government programs like lunch programs that leave our kids starving throughout the day.

Am I promoting poor health? Certainly not. Just common sense.

You see when I was struggling with my eating disorder, my best friend at the time weighed more than I did. Considerable more. But, she was far healthier. And, I never saw her as “less than”. She was a talented, wonderful, creative friend who became an oncologist nurse.

It is years later now. I am a terribly sick person – disabled. I’ve battled non-smoking lung cancer twice. I’d never lived with a smoker nor is there a history of it in my family. I have an aneurysm in my heart, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, arthritis, hypothyroidism and other illnesses too many to number. Some of these cluster in my family – like the autoimmune disorders. But, I believe I did irreparable damage to my body and my health by starving myself with my eating disorder. I think I destroyed my metabolism. Just to try and be a skeletal goddess.

I recovered somewhat from my eating disorder and my weight “normalized”. I was always thin. But, as my health continued to fail I began to gain weight. My poor health, the medications and restrictions caused the weight gain – not the other way around. But, you see when people see me they don’t know that and they assume my poor health is due to my weight. Well, you know what they say about assuming. The one great thing about me? My blood sugar. That’s because I do know how to eat healthy.

I do get some bullying now because of my weight – societal bullying. I am not going to let that fall on me and accept it as my burden to carry.

There are some reasons. First, almost 13 years ago I remarried my Tall & Handsome who lets me know every day he loves me and I am beautiful. He lets me know I am enough – not only for him but also for the whole wide world. I am so glad I never gave up.

Take that bullies…

And, I refuse to let people who don’t know me define me. You do not walk in my shoes, you do not know my journey and God forbid you ever, ever have to know my battles.

To the young girls out there like the beautiful Brandy Vela, I say this to you. Prove your tormentors wrong. Sweet, beautiful child, you are so above them. This too will pass and one day you will realize your value and life will be worth your battles. I promise.

Your tormentors are skeletons – hallowed out shells. And, they try to turn other skeletons into goddess. Misery loves company.

But, guess what?  You my child are what we love, want, and need. You are our heart.

Stay with us.

Please.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Anorexia, Brandy Vela, Bullying, cancer, Child Welfare, Children, Disability, Eating Disorders, Family, Health, Life, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Women's health

I Love the Landscape Because It Is So Sincere. It Never Cheats Me.

“I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Taken between Townsend, TN and Cades Cove, TN

Most of you know me as the BamaSteelMagnolia. And, there is a reason for that. For most of my life I’ve lived in Sweet Home Alabama, a state I love from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

I’ve gone to school here, married one guy from here (big mistake, but not because he was from Alabama), birthed a child here, divorced here, remarried a Tall & Handsome southwestern cowboy here and battle twice non-smoking lung cancer here. I’ve lived more decades than I care to share here in this state I am passionate about.

In other words, I’ve done a lot of living, losing, loving and everything in between in this place I call home – Alabama.

What you may not know: on a cold January morning I was born to two young people in an East Tennessee hospital as the Great Smoky Mountains stood silently in the background, an ever present sentinel in my early life and childhood.

cominghome-day-1-7-1954

I’m the little head peaking out in the crook of Momma’s arm. My gorgeous parents.

So, what does that mean and why am I telling you this?

Well, it’s been a rough week for me and my family as we’ve watched the Smokies and Gatlinburg burn.

I don’t care how long you’ve been gone, it’s not easy to watch the places of your childhood and childhood memories, and the places of your ancestry go up in smoke. It’s a helpless feeling. And, if you still have family living in those parts, the helpless feeling is compounded. I can’t even begin to tell you what I feel to know these fires were started by arsonists.

I spent about the first 12 years of my life in or around East Tennessee with the exception of a year or so when I was two. My daddy worked in the engineering department of an aircraft company in the Dallas area at that time. But, you just don’t take a mountain boy out of the mountains and put him on the flat plains of Texas, and, so, back to Tennessee we went.

We eventually ended up in the central Alabama area and I think it stuck for a couple of reasons. Daddy worked for an engineering company started by brothers who were University of Tennessee grads (where Daddy started his college career), the terrain is similar to East Tennessee – we all ended up living on this little mountain top in Alabama because it reminded us of our roots – and the people here in Alabama are 24K gold.

But, oh, the childhood memories I have of those times and places in East Tennessee.

Walks with my Papaw as he pointed out the name of each tree. Watching him have his faithful hunting dog do all kinds of tricks for cornbread. MaMaw and Papaw letting us dig up peanuts or pick some cotton from the garden. This gal from the burbs thought she was a real farm hand then.

Weekend trips to the mountains taking in the fall colors, wading in the cold mountain streams, picnics with the grandparents, and my Aunt Ruthie’s house in Kinzel Springs. You had to walk over a swinging foot bridge to get to her house. It sat backed up against the mountain and even in the summer time, that house never seemed hot. As a matter of fact, back then, those mountains always seemed like the coolest place on earth to be.

It was just a “hop, skip and a jump” over twisting, hairpin two lane mountain roads to Cherokee, NC where we could see a Cherokee chief. My paternal grandmother was originally from Western North Carolina and it was said she was part Cherokee. She looked the part, but we’ve never confirmed the ancestry.

My PaPaw worked at the Little River Lumber Company back in the day. He was a clerk in the company store. My cousins tell me there’s a picture of him in the train museum in Townsend. He was also the fill-in mail carrier for Cades Cove and Daddy went on that route a time or two with PaPaw.

That’s my roots on the “quiet side of the Smokies”, my Daddy’s side. My little Momma is a different story.

Several years ago I started the journey into genealogy and it’s a journey I’ve loved and wished I had started sooner. Once I jokingly told Momma she was a half-breed. She was startled at first and then I laughed and explained.

Tennessee is divided into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Any good Tennessean knows that. Mom’s ancestry is Middle Tennessee/East Tennessee (on her mother’s side). Half and half.

And, it is that East Tennessee ancestry on Momma’s side that carries me back to Gatlinburg.

You see William Ogle and Martha Jane Huskey Ogle are my 5th great-grandparents. Martha Jane Huskey Ogle’s cabin was the first house built in what is now known as Gatlinburg. William and Martha had 7 children and I descend through two of their sons, William “Black Bill” Ogle and Isaac “Shucky” Ogle.

A few years back I went to Edgefield, SC to get a copy of William Ogle, the father’s will. That type of documentation is like the holy grail for a genealogist. The Ogle family was living in Edgefield and William went to Tennessee to prepare for the family to move. He laid up provisions and he cut and notched timbers to build a log cabin for his family. He went back to Edgefield to get his family for the move back to Tennessee, but before they could leave South Carolina, William fell ill and died.

Martha Jane didn’t go to Tennessee at first, but she eventually did and family members helped raise the cabin using the timbers William had prepared.

It was the first house built in White Oak Flats, a place that would become known as Gatlinburg. Over time other families moved in. You saw the formations of clans with names that pop up in my family tree. If you throw a rock into a crowd of locals there’s a good chance I’m distantly related to them – including a famous country songbird who shares a common ancestor with me named Henry Bohannon, my 5th great grand-father.

My family was founding fathers of an area I watched decimated by a historical fire this past week. I never thought I would live to see anything like this. I hope I never have to see anything like this again and I pray for more rain to come their way.

I listened and watched as I saw names like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Chimney Tops, Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap, Wear’s Valley and others threatened and burned. And, each time my heart broke.

For me, it’s not only pride in the pioneer spirit of my ancestors, but it’s also love of the location and area. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When I go into the mountains, my heart sings and my spirit is refreshed. I feel at home.

Just like the people, this area is resilient. They survived the Great Depression and floods after floods before TVA. It will come back and they will come back. There will be regrowth and rebirth. Mountain folk are good strong people, just like the land around them. They have learned from the land. They need our continued support and prayers.

Thoreau said it best, “I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests.”

My birthplace is sincerely hurting right now, but it will be a beautiful landscape once again – and the people will be there with it – rejoicing.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birth, Cades Cove, Central Alabama, Daddy, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Fire, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Fire, genealogy, Grief, Home, Memories, Momma, Mountains, Nature, Ogle, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day

Life Gives Us Brief Moments with Others…by Beverly Hicks Burch

Life gives us brief moments with another…but, sometimes in those brief moments, we get memories that last a life time…” ~ Unknown ~

Daddy & Uncle Lee 5-28-2014

Say what you will about technology and Facebook, there is one advantage to both – reconnecting with friends and family. So, a few years ago I was delighted when I received a friend “invite” from my cousin Mel.

We hadn’t seen each other in years, and through Mel I was able to catch up on family members and enjoy pictures and postings of the latest “goings on”. I also learned my cousin had grown up into a warm-hearted woman who took very good care of her parents.

Mel’s father is my daddy’s last living sibling. Daddy and Uncle Lee have kept in touch over the years through calls and seen each other a few times, but during the last several years time had begun to intervene. They’re both in their 80s and have had to deal with respective health issues.

So, when Mel sent word to me within the last couple of weeks that Uncle Lee’s health was declining, I was crushed – especially for my Daddy’s sake. Uncle Lee is terminal and failing fast.

As a result, this Southern Daddy’s girl was on a quest – my Daddy had to see his brother one last time.

You see, when my beloved Aunt LaRue passed away in June of 2012 we had talked almost every day for years, but it had been sometime since I had seen her. I have regretted that every day, every minute, every second for the past two years. I didn’t want that for my Daddy when his brother passed away.

So, this past Wednesday we set off for back where I came from, and where Daddy came from – East Tennessee. As Daddy says, we were just a couple of ridge runners heading home.

Mel was going to wait and surprise Uncle Lee with Daddy’s visit as an early birthday present, because Uncle Lee’s 84th birthday was the next day, but they decide to go ahead and tell him Daddy was coming in case the shock might be a tad too much. When he heard Daddy was coming, Uncle Lee broke down and cried.

It didn’t make a whole lot of difference because once Daddy got there I don’t think there was a dry eye for a few minutes. At least for me there wasn’t.

That day my Aunt Van, cousin Jan, cousin Rick and of course cousin Mel came to the hospital. Aunt Bobbi, Uncle Lee’s wife was there, also.

Aunt Van and Aunt Bobbi are sisters and had married my Daddy’s two brothers. They both have had health struggles of their own, and on that day looked wonderfully strong and resilient. My lifetime memories of them will be their strength to survive.

I remember Aunt Van’s cooking when we visited them when they lived in Ohio where Uncle Jay was working at the time. I’ll remember Aunt Bobbi’s soft spoken inner strength and love for her family.

My memories of Jan are of us as young cousins who swapped letters as kids, shared a love of history – and one of my favorites – one summer when it was so darn hot, Jan and family visited us in Birmingham when we were kids. After we had been outside playing, we ran to the back bathroom, filled the sink full of ice cold water and took turns plunging our faces into that cold, icy water.

My memories of cousin Rick is of kindness he showed me as a young fellow when we visited his home.

And, of Mel, a soft spoken blue-eyed blond who grew up to be that hard working woman who takes such good care of her parents and honors them like the Good Book admonishes us.

But, my lasting life time memories was seeing two brothers visiting, probably for the last time on this side of eternity, knowing this and swapping stories of their youth. They each knew they were the last link to the first people they had loved the most of this earth – their mom and dad – my grandparents. The memories of Mawmaw are usually humorous, and the ones of Papaw so bittersweet they break your heart with longing, just wanting to see him one more time.

As Aunt Bobbi said, “He was a good man.” Everyone I know has always said the same thing about Papaw.

After we left the hospital that evening we drove up to the hotel, checked in, went to eat and then drove around a bit. Daddy was showing me his old “stomping grounds”. Places he and his brothers had grown up at and places some of the most infamous stories of his childhood had taken place.

They were memories that had lasted Daddy a lifetime…

Then, the next morning before we left we stopped by the Little River Railroad Museum in Townsend. My grandfather and great-grandfather both had worked at the Little River Lumber company. Papaw had been a clerk in the company store and my great-grandfather, Hughes had worked in the sawmill. The cousins had told us there were some pictures of Papaw in the museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed. But, we did get a chance to look around outside at the train engine and log loader.

Daddy at the Little River Railroad Musuem

We head toward the hospital for our final visit with Uncle Lee. I watched as Daddy and Uncle Lee sang an old hymn they had sang together as boys – old Southern gospel harmony- and once again talked about their mom and dad.

Before we left we gathered around Uncle Lee and Daddy said a prayer and in that brief moment I was left with a memory that will last a lifetime – of two brothers just this side of eternity…

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Brothers, East Tennessee, Family, Grief, Little River Railroad Museum, Photogrpahy, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tennessee, Townsend, Trains

The Bonds of Family Can Be Severed in an Instant, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“9/11 was a reminder that the bonds of family can be severed in an instant. They are essential, crucial, valuable, fragile.” ~ Peter Jennings ~

Bev & Pam in NY ca 1983

I don’t know who came up with the saying “time heals all wounds”. There must be a committee of pencil heads sitting in a room somewhere whose specific job is to do nothing but come up with dumb platitudes. This one is probably one of the lamest.

I personally don’t believe time heals all wounds. I think it may scab over the wound and then scar over it, but totally heal it? No. In the long run, time may help us deal with a wound or a hurt or teach us how to survive.

Take for example my two bouts of non-smoking lung cancer. I have two long scars that run from under my breasts, around my sides and across my rib cage and onto my back to within a few inches of my spine. There’s a scar on each side because I’ve had cancer in both lungs. So, for all practical purposes I was cut almost in half – twice. I have scars where those wounds were. I will always have them. They are a reminder I have survived cancer twice. But, time will not erase the scars, the memories of what I went through or the fact I am minus major portions of both lungs.

For the past 12 years our country has marked a wound on our nation. One that left a terrible scar. A void where almost 3,000 hearts use to beat. They went silent on September 11, 2001.

For the past few years I have marked that day here, usually with pictures I took on trips to New York City – all with views of the World Trade Towers. This year is no different. For you see I had very fond memories of New York and the day the Towers went down left a deep scar on my heart.

The picture this year is of me (on the left) and my sister. We are standing on Liberty Island with the Trade Towers over my shoulder. It was a spectacular sight and I still get choked up when I see pictures like this.

But, looking back on us 30 years ago, I realize how fleeting time can be. Has it really been 30 years? There are children in school now who were born after the Towers fell – they have lived in a world that never knew the Towers. There were people born after that picture was taken that didn’t survive that September morning.

If only those two young lasses could have spoken from the picture and warned of things to come…

My parents are in their 80s now. They have seen history and world changes that 70 years ago would have seemed like science fiction. A man walking on the moon? Pictures from Mars? Organ transplants? Smart bombs? Smart phones and tablets?

But, one thing does run constant through the history of mankind – the bonds of family. My precious aunt passed away June 23, 2012. I have missed her every day since then. Time has not healed that wound. It was a personal 9/11. I continue to try and move forward, much like our nation did in those first scary days after terror and hate took down two famous buildings and stopped the beating of 3,000 hearts.

We continue forward because we have to – those bonds of family are essential, crucial, valuable and fragile. Savor them while you can, tend them, enjoy them, nurture them and protect them because we never know when the next cruelest moment might strike.

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under 9/11, Family, New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, September 11, Sisters, World Trade Towers

All Labor that Uplifts Humanity has Dignity, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“ All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

Oh Say Can You See_edited

By the time the first Monday in September rolls around, many of us are prepared for and look forward to that particular day. Labor Day, the first Monday in September means different things to different people.

For some it signals the last day of summer even though officially autumn arrives a couple of weeks later around the 21st of September. When I was a young lass, the school term usually started after Labor Day. I look back now and compare the early start of school systems today and ponder the difference. I suppose back in my day it was delayed until after Labor Day because we went to school in buildings that lacked air conditioning. September does tend to bring cooler weather.

Labor Day is the last big “hurrah” of the summer, instigating many last minute jaunts to beaches, mountains and places of pleasure. For many adults, Labor Day is the last chance off a needed day off before the end of the year’s holiday season.

Fashionistas view Labor Day as the demarcation of the proper time of the year to wear the color white. In case you’re wondering: any Southern gal worth her weight in turnip greens would never be caught dead in white after Labor Day. Also you would never wear seersucker after Labor Day.

Labor Day also drives certain events. It’s the second largest retail sale weekend, just behind Black Friday. And, Labor Day weekend usually marks the official beginning of college and professional football season. Here is Alabama, a state that has held the last four National College Football Championships, the anticipation builds to an almost torturous crescendo until fans can gather in their respective stadiums and shouts the first “Roll Tide Roll!” or “War Eagle” of the season.

But, what is Labor Day exactly? Do you know the history of the day? If you pause and inspect the day it will dawn on you this is a holiday that doesn’t mark the anniversary of a military victory, an accomplishment of one man or one particular historical event.

Maybe that’s why Labor Day has an identity crisis…

You see, Labor Day is a celebration of the achievement of the American worker (I could say North American worker because Canada also celebrates Labor Day on the same day.) This holiday grew out of the recognition of the labor movement of the 1880s.

To put is simply, Labor Day celebrate and recognizes the hard work this country was built on and the hard work that strengthens this country and leads it to prosperity.

I know many of us would agree our country has been “sick” for some time. We have unemployment rates way too high and if truth be known those numbers are higher than reported because millions have run out of unemployment benefits and have given up looking for work. Certain segments of our population have enormous unemployment rates. For one of the first times in our history we are now having people underemployed because companies are only creating part time jobs. And, our economy is growing at a snail’s pace. We could probably watch grass grow faster than our economy is growing.

A few weeks ago a speech was delivered to a group of our younger generation. It came from an unlikely source – actor Ashton Kutchner. Given his Midwestern roots, it’s probably not hard to see where his thought processes developed. To paraphrase Mr. Kutchner, the jest of his speech was this: Opportunity often knocks in the form of work; his first job did not see him starting at the “top”; he never had a job he was too good or high and mighty for.

As, the kids say today, “Word.” For you baby boomers, that’s the equivalent of, “Right on, man.”

Looking back into my own family history I see hard, hard workers. One of my personal pet peeves has been the tendency to paint women from bygone eras as mousy little things that were always barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Not in my family!

My granddaddys were hard workers. My Pawpaw farmed, was a master carpenter and clerked in the company grocery store. He also was the substitute mail carrier in Cade’s Cove, a route my daddy made with him a time or two. My PaGee was a barber, pastor and business owner.

When the WPA brought in Italian stone masons from New York to build the beautiful bridges and tunnels you see around the Smoky Mountains, Pawpaw and Mamaw boarded three of those stone masons in their home. One day when I was enumerating the 1940 census, I discovered Mamaw listed her occupation as “laundress”. Yes, she took in laundry and ironing – she worked hard to help take care of her boys.

My MaGee was a teacher, a pastor’s wife and later a business owner.

My grandparents were honest, decent, good, hard working people. The kind of people who make up the backbone of America.

On that same 1940 census, my great-grandaunt Eliza proudly listed her occupation as “seamstress”. When I look at her quilts I know the pride she took in her work.

My great-grandmother, Becky Shaffer McGee was the county midwife in Lawrence County, Tennessee. She quilted, gardened and left a loving mark on her family that followed her for many generations.

These people lived during the Great Depression and survived – many coming out on the better end. How and why? Well, because like Dr. King, they knew work uplifts humanity, gives it dignity…and they did it with painstaking excellence.

Happy Labor Day, America.

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Family, History, Holidays, Labor Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Work

The Great Vacationless Class, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh ~

Mother's Day roses 2013C

This morning while I was in the kitchen fixing Tall & Handsome a cup of coffee for his second birthday in less than a week, he quietly disappeared downstairs. When I came back to the bedroom I knew what he had done…he had gone to the kitchen downstairs where he had secreted these roses for Mother’s Day. There they sat in a vase with a wonderful, beautiful card next to them. That’s a great way  to start a day!

(I know you’re wondering about that “second birthday in a week” thing. A few years ago T & H lost his social security card and unbeknown to us the Social Security Administration changed his birthday by three days! So, now, officially, his birthday is three days earlier than he has celebrated for all of his life. But, once the government tells you when you birthday is, you just say, “yes, sir!” No arguing, regardless what your birth certificate says…) But, that is definitely a different story for a different time…

The last few Mother’s Days have been hard around here. T & H lost his mom in March 2011. I lost my beloved Aunt LaRue in June of 2012 so, this is my first Mother’s day without her.

Miss an aunt on Mother’s Day? Yes, she was so much more than an aunt. Friend, big sister, second mom sometimes, travel companion, late night phone companion (I can’t tell you how many place over the world she accidently called trying to call me…they always loved her Southern Tennessean accent and hated for her to hang up), fellow autoimmune warrior and the list could go one…

And, she was Mom’s last living sister. So, I know this Mother’s Day is hard for her, too. So alike in many ways and so different in many other ways, but you could tell they were definitely sisters. They were the oldest and the youngest.

But, I am blessed to have my Momma still with me this year.

Today’s quote stuck a note of familiarity with me. I am a mom and a step-mom; I have worked out side the home, and been a stay at home mom or as Anne Lindbergh said, a “housewife”. I prefer the term homemaker.

I’ve always said being a mom is the hardest, most important job in the world. As the home goes, so goes a nation…or so “they” say…

At this stage in my life, I feel like the filling in the Oreo…I’m in the middle. I can reflect on moms before me and moms coming up in today’s culture behind me. The common feature good moms of all generations share is: unconditional love and devotion for their kids.

I have a sweet young friend who is the mother of three precious young girls. My friend in her own right is talented, sweet, beautiful…an awesome person. She is like the daughter I would like to have had. When I see her girls, well, I know what an awesome mom she is. She is doing a great job! I know she has many vactionless days…but, she delights in her children…and I delight in her sweet presence…

My beautiful step-daughter is a single mom. She works incredibly long hours. And, she devouts equally long hours to her kids, supporting their endeavors and being a great mom. Yes, she is part of the vacationless class, but I know she wouldn’t trade her kids for one day of vacation. Knowing her, she’s find a way to arrange a vacation day with the kids…

Juanita, Korrine & LaRue

When I look at each of these three awesome ladies, I know how young they were and from my place in time I can look back and see what wonderful, self-sacrificing moms they are and were. And each one of them had a profound effect on my life…mainly by loving me and believing in me.

The first beauty on the left is my sweet little Momma. She raised three daughters. One still lives at home and has profound disabilities. Mom has had many vacationless days in her life. But, she impressed upon us to be classy, yet have our own brand of spirit and spunk. When the ex walked out she encourage me to move on and not let what had happened to hold me back. When I found T & H, she recognized his qualities and said he was head and shoulders over a certain someone from my past.

She encouraged individuality, creativity and along with Daddy, education. Both my parents are voracious readers, so I had my own “library” before I could walk. We were never “baby talked” and my parents swear I started talking in sentences. T & H loves the fact that he has a wife that not only knows how to cook, but does it well…and he owes that to my Momma who found a way to teach me to cook and make it fun. Momma was the “artistic” sister.

Momma was like a lioness when it came to her “babies”…she would have fought the devil himself for her kids. So, any “time off” Daddy could talk her into…she has deserved.

My Aunt Korinne is the second beauty in the picture. She was an elementary school teacher and every little boy fell in love with her. She was a single mom in an era when there weren’t many around and there was very little support for single moms. That is really vactionless times! She had a son she was devoted to, yet she had time for her oldest niece…from the day I was born. I spent at least two weeks every summer with her once I was about middle school age. We had great fun. She took me to see Gone with the Wind at a theater, took me to my first pizza parlor, stayed up late night talking to me like a best friend, encouraged my writing and warned me about the wrong type of guy…I wish I had paid more attention on that last topic…

Of course, the last beauty in the picture is my Aunt LaRue.

I tend to agree with Anne Lindbergh. She seems to have been a wise woman. If you are a mom there are carpools, fevered headed, meals, groceries, laundry, diapers, school and everything else that goes along with raising your child. Even then you will never stop worrying, never stop caring and never stop loving…even after they are grown…

No, there is no vacation from being a Mom…ever…we are the great vacationless class…but, we have really big pay-off…

It’s called love…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Aunt LaRue, Aunts, Children, Family, Kids, Momma, Mother's Day, Mothers, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Roses, Tall & Handsome

But the Greatest of these is Love…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ~ I Cor. 13:13  NIV ~

This month marks the 60th wedding anniversary of my parents. That’s a milestone in and of itself, but it’s also a rarity these days. I often wonder about the future and how many 50th and 60th anniversaries we’ll see celebrated.

My parents have raised three daughters, one a disabled child that has lived at home since birth…something that went against the tide in the days when children like her were institutionalized.

They’ve also seen a lot of changes in the world in those 60 years. We should honor the elders in our society and not push them aside…we will be them one day…sooner than we realize.

During those changes and trials I saw my parents persevere with faith, hope and love…and the greatest was love…

 

Oakley Hicks and Juanita McGee Early 1950's

Momma and Daddy ca 1950s

 

Mommma & Daddy 25th

Momma and Daddy’s 25th wedding anniversary picture

Mom & Daddy 5-12-02

Momma and Daddy just after their 50th anniversary

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Filed under 60th Wedding Anniversary, Anniversaries, Family, Love, Parents, Photography, Picture of the Day

This Too Shall Pass, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The very last words I heard her speak were, “I love you, baby.” That was just over a week ago. Those will be the last words I will ever hear my aunt speak. I cannot tell you how thankful I am those are the last word I heard from her and the very last words I spoke to her. There are no regrets there.

My beloved Aunt LaRue passed away shockingly suddenly early Saturday morning. I had been working on tagging photos Saturday while Tall & Handsome was outside mowing the yard. Many of the pictures were of my Aunt LaRue. I can’t tell you how many times I almost picked up the phone to call her and ask, “Aunt LaRue, where was this picture of you taken?” Had I done that there would have been no answer.

mom yesteryear

LaRue McGee Posey

As it was, my cousin called me Saturday evening about 6:30. I noticed the call was coming from my aunt’s house and at first thought it might be her. When I heard my cousin’s voice I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea how much my world was about to change and how broken my heart was about to become.

When Montee said, “Honey, I don’t know how to tell you this.” I replied with, “Montee, don’t give me any bad news.”

But, instinctively, I knew. As best and compassionately as she could, she broke the news. My precious aunt had slipped away early Saturday morning.

At that point, with T & H’s arms around me and him feeding me Kleenex, I would say I was ready to hire out as a professional mourner at funerals and wakes. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Many of you may be taking pause right now thinking, “Isn’t she being a tad irreverent?”

Well, let me tell you something. Yes, we all grieve in many ways and sometimes dark humor can be part of that, but my Aunt LaRue was a feisty, funny, smart, bright and fun loving gal. There was nothing she liked better than a good laugh. That’s one thing I loved about her and enjoyed about her. She would totally understand what I’m saying and chuckle herself.

In many ways she was like a big sister (there were only 15 years between us in age, she was my mom’s baby sister). She was also my champion, confidant, traveling buddy, second mom, partner in fits of mirth and most of all, a best friend. We would talk for hours, yes, I said hours, on the phone at least once a week and many times more often, depending on what life was dishing out to each of us.

Back in the late 90s she went to the US Virgin Islands and San Antonio with me. There were other trips I wanted us to take. We didn’t have a chance to take those other trips. Life has a way of intervening in ways we wish it wouldn’t. We both began to feel the disabling effects of chronic autoimmune disorders that tend to cluster in our family. We both had so many similar illnesses it’s like we shadowed each other. That was one strong bonding component we shared. That’s one thing that made us comrades. There wasn’t sympathy between us…it was empathy.

There were other things that kept us from those other trips…divorce (mine) remarriage (mine) and several moves me and my Tall & Handsome made to relocated due to employment.

T & H’s elderly mom began to fail a few years ago so we went to Minnesota several times to see her. We spent her ninetieth birthday and Thanksgiving with her in Nov. 2009. She slipped away in March 2011 and I was thankful T & H had that time with her. I just had no idea my time with Aunt LaRue was dangerously approaching that narrowing point in the tunnel where only one passes through and leaves the rest of us behind heartbroken.

I do have great memories. From family holidays, visits and those trips we did take. One of my favorite memories from the Virgin Islands is sitting at our table at the outdoor restaurant of our hotel in St. Thomas. The hotel was perched high above Charlotte Amalie on a hillside overlooking the beautiful harbor. As we ate a world class dinner we watched the sunset and a large cruise ship set sail and disappear into the setting sun. Aunt LaRue was in heaven…and I was thrilled to share it with her.

In San Antonio we visited the Alamo, the Riverwalk and ventured out into the hill country where we came upon a state park. At first the park seemed unassuming…a few camp sites, picnic tables and rural peace and quiet. Exploring a little deeper we came upon a place to get out and walk around near what we considered a creek. There nesting in the branches of the trees and what looked like moss hanging from the trees were thousands of colorful butterflies. It was breathtaking. It was a living kaleidoscope.

That wasn’t our only encounter with Nature during that trip. We had gone out to San Antonio for my son’s graduation from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base. It was October and the temperatures had been running from pleasant to warm. Right before we start back home there was a Nor’easter that barreled into the area. We were ill prepared for it…we had mostly short sleeves tops and cloths for warmer weather. In no time the weather turned to fiercely cold with freezing rain that pierced your skin like little needles. We laughed clinging to each other and tried to run as one entity as we ran from our vehicle into a place to eat. We just couldn’t believe how cold we were and how badly our skin was stinging from cold, driving rain!

But, we shared laughter, secrets, recipes and so much more. I introduced her to one of our favorite authors, Ann Rule, who writes about procedural criminal stories with the emphasis on the victims’ story, especially women who are victims of violence and abuse. We both loved procedural crime shows, both fiction and non-fiction and sometime I think if we had been well and lived closer together we could have been amateur Agatha Christies. We both have an uncanny ability to size up a person’s personality.

I just never expected to lose my aunt this early in life. Even as sick as she was, she was an anchor and rock for me. She always seemed strong. But, she was taken as the sayings goes like a thief in the night or in the twinkling of an eye…she was here one day and devastatingly gone the next.

Diabetes was her killer. She had been diagnosed not too long ago. It seem like it’s not even been a year. It was a diagnosis that was hard for her to accept and like they say in football, almost a penalty like unfair piling on…one disorder, one more sickness too much to deal with.

She had told me a few time that “diabetes was licking her” or “getting the best” of her. I can recall a couple of time I call her and after we talked a little she’d tell me her sugar was over 500! I wish to God I had known then what I know now…sugar levels that high are indicators of impending diabetic coma. She also had been throwing up a lot and had been really sick at her stomach. Just the last time I talked to her she told me how much she had been throwing up and she could hardly eat without getting extremely sick, or as she put it, “as sick as a dog”. I was so use to us sharing a common rotten stomach and gastro problems I thought she was going through an extreme period with hers. Now, I know that vomiting and nausea are yet more indicators of impending diabetic coma.

When she got to the hospital, her sugar was between 1500 and 1600…

I have beat myself up too many times to count over the last week wondering what would have happened had I known those warning signs or if I had just called her one more time. I know in the end, I cannot think like that…it is just part of the grief process.

What I can do is this: I beseech you…if you have a loved one that lives with diabetes know the symptoms of impending diabetic coma or Ketoacidosis.

Early symptoms:

· Thirst and dry mouth

· Frequent urination

· High blood sugar

· High level of ketones in the urine

Other symptoms that began to appear:

· Constantly feeling tired

· Dry or flushed skin

· Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain

· Breathing difficulties

· Fruity smelling breath

· Confusion and hard time concentrating

If you do suffer a loss understand there are stages of grief you will go through. There are different kinds of loss, too: death of a loved one, death of a pet, loss of a job, divorce and any other kind of life altering tragic change.

Some say there are 5 stages of grief . There is another school of thought that spells out 7 stages of grief. Dr. Kubler-Ross truncated the stages into some pretty simple efficient stages. And, then, there is the New Grief Stages. I tend to like this last model best because I like how it’s put best: Shock, Suffering and Recovery.

Until Recovery comes, you will loop through the other stages and maybe even experience them together…maybe many times over. No one can tell you when to “get over it” or when you should be better…it’s not their grief…but, at some point you will move on and heal…for yourself and in honor of the one you lost.

I cannot even tell you that I’m at any stage of recovery. I do know I’m trying to find some sense of reason…

I keep going back to the last words Aunt LaRue and I spoke to each other. Some people never even have that. I know it’s not logical, but I ache for one last conversation…one last word…one last sound of her voice…one last time to catch a whiff of her wonderful scent, she always smelt so good…

Aunt LaRue told me one time she wondered how many times I could have my heart broken and still live. She understood the trauma I have been through. I will admit to asking why many times since last week. Why did she have to leave me? I’m not angry at her. I know how sick she was and how bad she hurt and I know she could have taken a little bit better care of herself. I just wonder why…

The only answer I can wrap my head around is this: She knew how much I loved her and she knew I knew how much she love me…and, she knew I was married to a man that would not break my heart…

Bev & Aunt LaRue 1984

Bev & Aunt LaRue – Nov. 1984

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Aunt LaRue, Aunts, Death, Diabetes, Diabetic Coma Symptoms (Ketoacidosis, Family, Grief, Stages of Grief, Tall & Handsome

Gerber Daisy, by Beverly Hicks Burch

gerber daisy

While my little Momma has been sick and in the hospital Daddy and I have had tending and watering duty for Mom’s various green thumb projects. She’s been sick for some time now, so there’s not quite as many as there normally would be. Tall & Handsome and I made sure she had a few herbs for the deck nearest to the upstairs kitchen. So, we brought her mint and basil.

Daddy has shuttled back and forth from the house and hospital until Mom could come home.

The Gerber Daisy was looking sort of puny with a lot of dead leaves, but I promised Daddy if we kept it watered it would perk up. Sure enough in a few days there were new green leaves and beautiful, happy, bright red blossoms.

They were also shouting, “Shoot me! I’m beautiful!”

So, I obliged…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Alabama, Backyards, Daddy, Family, Flowers, Gerber Daisy, Horticulture, Momma, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Tall & Handsome

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6–“Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6 – “Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block

And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:8 NASB

(*This post can also be seen at my quilt blog Around the Block with the BamaSteelMagnolia™ where I am blogging the whole project.)

Wedding Ring block

I started this chapter in February some time ago and it seemed a fitting month to start writing the latest chapter of The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries. The block for this chapter is called Wedding Ring. It is a single wedding ring and not the double wedding ring we know so well. The block is a simple 6 inch pieced block and it represents the fact that I don’t know many in life who have not been affected by a marriage in some way or another…including me.

Being a genealogist I can see how all the “begats” or unions/marriages in our ancestry make us who we are. When you stop and think about the numbers in the equation of “you” it becomes pretty staggering.

For instance, for each generation you go back the number doubles to how many sets of ancestors, or marriages if you will, it took to trickle down to create the final individual you. Look at it this way…you are the starting point on the road backwards into time and your ancestry. Take those sets and multiply them by two and you have how many people it took to create the one special individual called you.

It works this way; you had two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents, 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents and 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and so on. As mind boggling as 128 may seem, your heritage and ancestry doesn’t stop there and it continues to double for each generation back. There are so many life lessons just in the formula of who you are and how you were made, but that is for another story. One missing link in that chain and you would not have been you…as a matter of fact you probably wouldn’t have been, well, here on Earth at all.

I would ask you to reflect on the marriages in your life, including your own that have affected you and what they mean to you. I’m sure everyone has different recollections and feelings and experiences.

The most immediate marriage that has affected me all of my life and is actually responsible for me even being here is of course the marriage of my parents. My parents have something that is rare to find in this day and age. That’s a long lasting marriage. For you see, on Feb. 28, 2012 they celebrated 59 years of marriage.

Oakley Hicks and Juanita McGee Early 1950's

Daddy and Momma early 1950s

Momma and Daddy were high school sweethearts. They were 15 and 16 when they met at a church function being conducted by my Momma’s daddy. Yes, Mom was a PK…a Preacher’s Kid. She was the shy quite one with big brown “doe eyes” as Daddy calls them. Momma and Daddy were a couple all through high school, for four years, so for all practical purposes you could say they’ve been together for 63 years and that is the biggest portion of their life. When they laid eyes on each other, there was no one else as far as they were concerned…that was it.

Daddy started the University of Tennessee with intentions on becoming a mechanical engineer. But, Momma and Daddy also had secret plans…yes, in their own quiet non-conforming conforming way they were rebels with a cause. They had plans to get married and I don’t mean a big church wedding with the wedding party, flowers, music and weeping mother of the bride (and in this case weeping mother of the groom, too). Nope, no way, no how. Momma and Daddy were going to make Hicks history…or at least stuff that would go down in family history. For you see, the shy lovely quite preacher’s daughter and the tall good looking guy from the foothills of the Smokies eloped…all the way to Ringgold, GA!

Now, the plan was to get hitched and drive back home. Mom would go back and keep quiet and live at home and Daddy would go back home and live with his parents and continue going to college. The slight hiccup in their little plan happened when Mom told her next oldest sister, Korinne, what she had done and swore her to secrecy…which of course was the very last thing that actually happened. Before you knew it the cat was out of the bag, the cow was out of the barn and the camel’s nose was under the tent or in other words, it was like telling Western Union and everyone found out. As Ricky use to say to Lucy, “There was some `splaining to do.”

Well, of course everyone knows you can’t keep true love apart very long anyway and by the time the parents (my grandparents) had time to wrap their heads around the events Momma let it be known in no uncertain terms she was living where Daddy was. And that was that.

Everything went along pretty good in newlywed life until about three months later. At that time Mom came down with a raging case of flu. Made her sick as a dog. She just could not get well. That was the “Beverly” flu. Yep, eleven months after they married I was born…and Mom’s flu was cured.

Cominghome Day 1-7-1954

Daddy, Momma and Bev – Coming home day

I was an only child for about three and a half years. During that time we moved for a brief time to Texas where Daddy worked as an engineer in the aircraft industry for Chance-Vought Aircraft. I celebrated my second birthday in Fort Worth, Texas which has always left me with a soft spot for Texas and branded me Daddy’s “little Texas girl”. And, as I have always said, some of the most famous and infamous Texans were Tennesseans.

“Oh, really?!” I know you Texans are saying… yep. For instance: remember Davy Crockett…♪born on a mountain top in Tennessee…♪ and also famous for the Alamo. Then there’s Benjamin and Henry McCulloch who both fought in the Texas Revolution and became Texas Rangers; Mack Brown head coach at the University of Texas and oh, yeah some fellow named Sam Houston. I think you might have heard of him, too. Sam’s time in Tennessee included time as a governor of that great state and time spent teaching in the town of my birth…a long time before I was born or course Smile

Being the true East Tennessee mountain boy that Daddy is, the Plains of Texas didn’t do much to lift the Tennessee boy’s spirits and heart. In other words, he got sorely and mightily homesick, especially when those Nor’easters barreled into the Plains faster than a New York minute without any warning. It wasn’t too long before we were packed up and headed back to the lush green climes of Tennessee.

Over the next eight or nine years Momma had two more cases of “flu”. And, two more baby girls followed those cases of “flu”. Pamella was next in line, followed by Yvonne. For a little Hicks trivia here: Mom named her girls Faith, Hope and Charity…in that order. I always teased her and said if we had been born boys we would have been named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…

Momma and Daddy’s marriage has mirrored life in general…a road with ups and downs and bumps in the road. Almost every young couple starts out with the bare necessities and grows from there. Daddy was smart and savvy and his engineer career grew. We also moved several times following that career. We landed in Birmingham, AL (for the second and final time I might add) when I was 12 years old and the rest of that is history. That is why I proudly say, ♪…my home is in Alabama…♪ and one of my ringtones on my cell is Sweet Home Alabama…

My baby sister Yvonne, really Charity Yvonne, was born in Greeneville, TN when I was in the third grade. Mom’s delivery with her was fast. Like greased lightening…about 20 minutes. She barely had time to step off the elevator at the hospital before Yvon was born. When Momma & Daddy brought the baby home, they brought home another beautiful baby girl (Momma and Daddy had the reputation of popping out beautiful baby girls with long dark eyelashes and heads of thick dark hair. The nurses in the baby nurseries used us as baby dolls and hated to send us home. Back in those days they had about seven days to get attached to a baby before it went home.)

It seems like from the recollection of my child’s mind that it wasn’t too long after she was born that Yvon seemed to get sick and stay sick. So sick in fact that Mom had to take her all the way to Chattanooga for medical care and stay with family that lived down there. Papaw and Mamaw came to Greeneville to help Daddy take care of Pam and me.

I remember it as a tumultuous time. Yvonnie was sick. We didn’t quite know what was wrong and in the world at large, the Cuban missile was going on.

Over time Yvonne was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and for the last 50 years has lived at home. Do you know what the statistics are for marriages surviving for couples who have disabled children? They’re not very good. The divorce rate is very high and it’s usually the husband who takes his walking papers and goes on to create another worry-free life for himself.

It is a testament to my Daddy’s character that he is right where is started out 59 years ago, disabled child and all, and that is with my Momma and our family. As a matter of fact Daddy is pretty much the rock of the family and the three of us girls are Daddy’s girls. It is also like having a Jewish momma having him around, which is our way of saying he worries over us like a Jewish mom would…he just never learned to cook that chicken soup. Daddy’s remedy is to always take it to prayer…

I heard some place one time that marriage is a marathon not a sprint. My parents’ marriage would certainly qualify for the marathon…

Unfortunately, the first time around, I married a sprinter…

There is a lot I could write about my first marriage. My child is the issue of that marriage. And, sometimes I feel really badly because I feel I provided a poor example…a sprinter if you will as a role model for my child. I do not adhere to the current feel-good philosophy that divorce does not affect children. It does…no matter what their age. I think our society today reflects the side effects and ravages of decades of divorce. On the other hand I also believe that some parents can be toxic and I do not adhere to the theory that having a toxic parent around is better than having no parent around.

But, with that said, there are just times when divorce is unavoidable. Marrying that “marriage sprinter” is certainly one instance. Infidelity usually ends a marriage fairly fast or ends the chance for that marriage marathon partner. Another unavoidable instance is when you marry the type of person who ends up creating the “tragic love” scenario or as I wrote about a few years ago, the type of guy (or gal) that causes love to hurt.

If that is the case, I would beseech you to go back and read a blog I wrote a few years ago that addresses just that subject. Called When Love Hurts I address the rash of tragic stories in which women have chosen to stay and in the end unfortunately paid dearly for that relationship…sometimes with their lives.

The most recent example would be Susan Powell and her precious boys. Susan disappeared one cold December day in 2009 while her husband supposedly had taken their two very young sons camping in a blizzard. On Feb. 5th of this year her

husband blew up himself and those two precious boys as the police drew closer to lowering the hammer on him and his pedophile father. The coward and those poor children died in a burning inferno that should have never happened.

My love hurt story wasn’t like that, but it was traumatic just the same. Had I just opened my eyes and looked at the warning signs early on I could have saved myself sorrow and devastation years later. After 27 years of marriage my ex walked out because he was unfaithful. The summer he left I read my diary from the summer we started dating and as I did it was a real eye opener…he was the same back then…had cheated then and had not changed in 27 years. Leopards as they say do not change their spots. I just could not love him enough for him to change.

Bev & Momma on the Regrettable Day Nov. 1974

Bev & Mom – me as a young bride not paying attention to warning signs

And, unfortunately staying in a bad relationship hoping to make it functional only teaches children dysfunction. What did Susan Powell’s children learn in the end by her hanging on to a bad marriage? It cost her kids their lives. What a tragic shame… There is a saying…”The sins of a father (parent) are visited upon the children…” In other word the kids will learn from the father…from the parents. And, if you close your eyes to alcoholism, addiction, incest, abuse, violence and plunge ahead into that and choose that as a family center for your children…it will trickle down to them and affect them in one way or the other

For me realizing I could not love the ex enough to change who the core of him was, it was, well, the beginning of a new future, hope and moving forward…

So, even though I was scared to death when Gomez the Underwhelming abandoned me I began to have hope. Yes, I was disabled. Yes, he had wiped out the bank accounts. Yes, I had not worked outside the home full time in over 21 year. Yes, at one point he left me without health insurance. Yes, he assaulted me before he left and injured my back. Yes, I had hoped with everything in me that that he would have a change of heart and come home and things would go back to normal.

But, to have normal and a marriage that’s going in the same direction, you have to have two people who want the same thing. Without that, it’s just not going to happen and the only resulting by-product is going to be pain, sorrow, poor health, a bad example for the kids and low self esteem.

In the end the veil was lifted from my eyes and I was able to see there just might be someone out there who not only would help heal my broken heart, but became my marathon runner.

As the Rascal Flats song goes…God blessed the broken road that lead me straight to you…and that you is my Tall & Handsome…my southwestern cowboy.

Our story is unconventional at best. A sign of the times and a sign of what happens when a geek (me) comes into her geekdom and starts to revel in her life and gain self esteem once again. And a lonely, broken hearted southwestern cowboy who had given up on the hope of a loving nurturing relationship begins to hope again. You see we met playing an online MMORPG game. We emailed, talked and instant messaged for almost a year before we met face to face.

When I first laid eyes on my Tall & Handsome he was walking out of the Birmingham Airport. He had on tight blue jeans, a Western cut jacket and a Stetson. I got out of the Lead Sled (what I “affectionately” called my Park Avenue) and walked towards him. He walked toward me, smiled and said, “Hello, darling” and then kissed me under that cowboy hat in front of the Birmingham airport.

I felt 18 again! Wow! It was like living in a movie…a real chick flick. He really had me at “Hello, darling” and that kiss.

The kiss 12-30-03

The Kiss – my favorite of our wedding pictures

I have also learned words are cheap, but actions speak volumes and they do so loudly! Some of Gomez’ parting words were (referring to my illnesses and disabilities), “I didn’t want to take care of you, I hated taking care of you, but I did. So, there!”God help him when his karma comes rolling around.

I have never wanted to be a burden…to anyone. So, I was very up front from the beginning with T & H about the status of my health. The man did not tuck tail and run. He called me his wounded dove…

He knew I saw in him a heart that was larger than large…and he appreciated that.

I never felt secured and truly loved with a man I was married to for 27 years. I never felt “good enough”. I poured myself into him, body and soul. But my self confidence and self esteem was non-existent. There were episodes of suspect cheating from the beginning. He had developed hepatitis before we were married five years and I was so naïve back then I didn’t realize how hepatitis is contracted. Deep down inside though I knew something wasn’t right…

By the time T & H and I married, I felt loved, appreciated, confident and secure. I had found my muse. I wanted to create again. That is a huge gift any man can give to the woman he loves. My T & H does it effortlessly…

It has been the little things that some people would never notice. The time I lay dying in the back of an ambulance in Knoxville, TN my feet were bare. T & H dashed quickly into the house and grabbed a pair of sock and gently put them on my feet before the ambulance doors were closed. At the hospital ER, he refused to be separated from me and was by my side until I stabilized and was released.

When we moved from Alabama to Tennessee I was so sick I had to go through the ER first. When we got to Knoxville I was exhausted and slept quite a bit. I woke up one weekend afternoon to discover T & H had set up the deck furniture like a side walk café, bought flowers and grilled a luscious dinner. All I had to do was eat and enjoy him and the outdoors.

Another time when I was deathly sick and my stomach would hold absolutely nothing down, he cut up corn tortillas and made home-made lime-pepper tortillas chips and they were the only thing I could eat and not get sick.

Life may try to batter us, but we fight back together as a team.

We’ve taken care of a couple of bucket list items together. But, our greatest strength is being there for each other, understanding each other and appreciating each other. I love to see life through my T & H’s eyes. It is seeing life anew sometimes.

In the end, my greatest regret…our greatest regret? That we won’t have more years together and didn’t meet years earlier. If only fate had intervened when we were young…how many times have we had that conversation?

But, in the end, it is what it is…as much as we both hate that saying. We are thankful for what we have and for finding each other. It would have been awful to have never found each other. Neither of us can imagine a life without the other. I cannot imagine a day without his voice and his blue eyes and his sense of humor.

My Tall & Handsome and me at the Survivors Dinner in Savannah, GA (2011) celebrating 29 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (right lung) and 16 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (left lung)

And, in the end we resolve…`til death do us part…with the wedding ring block…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

**The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries is a writing and textile art project I started a few years ago. It’s based on a concept started by Mimi Dietrich and a book she wrote about diary quilts. I was so inspired by the book I started my own and decided to accompany each block with a chapter. Everyone has always said, “Bev, you need to write a book!” Well, here it is…at least part of it!”

If you’re interested in catching up, here are the beginning installments:

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries Begin

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 1 – Cupcake Block or Happy Birthday to Me

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 2: Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle or A House Divide Will Fall…

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 3 – Compass or Where in the World is Bev?

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 4 – Paw Print or To All the Dogs I’ve Loved Before

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 5 – How Green is My Thumb? or Grandmother’s Flower Garden Block

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