Grandma

05/24/16

My Grandma . . . she left us 11 years ago today! Hard to believe it’s been that long . . . for someone who ALMOST made it to 100, 11 years seems so short but so long. When someone has made such an impact on your life, not a day goes by that I don’t think of something about her, something reminds me of her or I remember a story. That’s what I did 11 years ago when I was asked to give the eulogy at her service . . . the stories!

Eudera Walker

Eudera Barton Walker

December 17, 1905 – May 24, 2005

by

Debra Cox Malone

Granddaughter

How does someone begin to think that they can be a part of a service for someone who has lived a century? Who she was, who she is and who we are because we had her in our life. I could get up here and tell all my stories but now I look out and each and every one of you could come up and tell YOUR stories as well. I will tell a few but how do you condense that many memories and stories into a few minutes. Soooo, what are ya’ll doing between now and Thursday.  Aunt Margie, we should have brought the food in here and we’ll have an intermission in a while.

Just Kidding . . .

In these last few weeks of Grandma’s struggles after her recent surgery, I have had my friends and church family in Charleston praying diligently for her as I know all of you have that knew she was not doing well. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 a.m., I walk with a few women who I meet in our church parking lot (it’s rather large) and if we walk around it enough times it equals 3 miles. Knowing that Grandma attributed part of her longevity to walking, I want to do my part.

Anyway, Dorothy Rogers, one of my dear prayer warrior friends, whose an artist and sees things in life very vividly, she happened to be the only one to show up that Tuesday morning (hey, I didn’t say I went EVERY Tuesday) but she stayed and walked by herself. Later that day, I had a meeting at the church, which she knew about. She showed up a few minutes before the meeting to tell me that while she was walking, she felt that God had impressed upon her the fact that at 50 I am now the age Grandma was when I was born. Whew, what a thought. That tells you how old I am. Anyway, she then handed me this small red box and as I was opening it, she told me how she saw my grandmother as an oak tree with very, very deep roots, a solid trunk and far reaching branches. I opened the box to find the most perfect specimen of an acorn I have ever seen. She told me that when I was born I was an acorn falling from Grandma’s tree and that now I had become an oak tree.

oak tree 3

            This is the legacy, this is the heritage, and this is our family . . . our roots. We’re here on the Barton Family Reunion Day by accident? No, God has had his hand on this family for generations. Some of my favorite stories from Grandma are sitting listening to her talk about her Papa. Sitting by the fire with him reading his bible to all his children, loading everyone up in the wagon on Sunday morning to go to church. The soft-spoken man that he was . . . that by his life, his roots, his legacy, he passed down a Christian heritage to the next generation, to all of us, through this incredible woman.

 I feel like I have three areas to touch on for me personally of who she was and what she’s left us.

 As a person

She was one of the coolest people to be around. How many folks do you know that can work the crossword puzzle in the newspaper EVERYDAY . . . in ink!!!! These are ones she did during the weeks before she became ill.

How about the fact that she was going to the gym everyday for several years when she was 93? She was such a regular at the Lanier Athletic Club in their water aerobics class that when it came time for the Club to do a television commercial, they asked Grandma if she would be in it. Her immediate response, “Do you want me in my workout clothes or my bathing suit?” Their mouths dropped open . . . and said “your choice”. She chose the workout clothes. Although she was hot to trot in that bathing suit.

She sat down for coffee every morning and casually dealt out a hand of Solitaire (cards) to gather her thoughts for the day. She played every morning for the last 25 years at Mom’s kitchen table. It was the most relaxing experience just sitting with her over a cup of coffee while she played and listen as she talked and laid out her cards, over and over . . .with each hand of cards, you heard another story or memory.

She could sit for hours and tell you stories from her childhood that you hung on her every word. We are blessed with a 90-minute audiotape that Theron’s son, Bill, recently made of Grandma reminiscing candid memories of her life. I wish we could have played it today. She could tell you what she had for breakfast on Wednesday morning in March . . . of 1934 (I can’t remember last week). She would tell you stories of relationships that gave you the sense of sitting right there . . . almost eavesdropping on their conversations because her details were so full and complete.

Days on the farm growing up . . .

Helping her mother and Aunt Catherine in the kitchen . . .

Making sure Roxie and Margie stayed out of trouble . . .

Carrying Cooper on her hip with Earl and James in tow to keep them entertained while

waiting for Papa to come in out of the fields

Coming home off the bus with friends and the excitement of finding every kind of cake

and pie made waiting in the pie safe

Hiding Sunday dinner in the food cellar (while Mama and Sally, watched with a grin) so                            that “you know who” wouldn’t be able to help themselves

Her details of all the time spent in Water Valley with Jim (Grandpa)

Teaching elementary school here in Coffeeville

The days of working and modeling at Belk in Columbus

And OHHHHHH the trips to the Family Reunion. How many of you know the way Barb drives? (Sorry Mom) Well, one trip in particular, not long ago, Mom told Grandma, as they were heading down the interstate . . . “Mother, that man gave us a funny look when I passed him” and without batting an eyelash, Grandma said “Well, you’re doing a hundred!” and went back to reading her Redbook magazine. One of the things Grandma insisted on when coming with Mom to the reunions was that they went Dutch on everything . . .  and . . . she would always add, “Barb, make sure you add half the speeding ticket to my share of the trip.”

A favorite memory and story for her was receiving her beautiful red rose from Aunt Margie every year on her birthday. You saw it in her hand last night . . .and Aunt Margie, I brought a little something today, this beautiful cardinal that you made for Grandma

(BIRD) . . .set out . . .

This has sat on her mantle wherever she and Barb have lived and it was always pointed to Grandma’s favorite chair so that she could look up and feel like she was ALWAYS connected to her family.

 Another area . . .

How she affected those around her

I asked my husband to tell me who Grandma was to him, someone from the “outside” looking in. His immediate response was that she was the most peaceful person he’s ever met. Ever calm and “at ease” but the main thing is that she was ALWAYS glad to see you. ALWAYS!!  No matter who you were. He loved to watch her greet someone with the same excitement as the person before or the next person after. She had the ability to make you feel so special . . . as if you were the only person she was going to see that day.

The Sunday School classes she’s been in over the years always led to an impromptu following . . . women would fight to be the one who was going to pick Grandma up and take her to the church. She loved it!!!

At the gym, coming in on one of her birthdays to the pool and walking in and everyone breaking out into Happy Birthday with flowers, cards and a cake. She loved it!!!

Even at the hospital, at her lowest, what radiated from her pulled her doctor, nurses and even the respiratory therapist. Who . . . after learning that Grandma could only eat vanilla pudding this last week and found out the hospital was out . . . marched right to the local grocery store, bought her a six-pack (of pudding) and wouldn’t take any payment . . . anything for Eudera Walker.

Ron’s son, Cody, bonded with Grandma almost @ birth and to this day even as a 13 year-old teenager, his first action after coming in is to go straight to “Mamaw” whether she was in her favorite chair or in the bed. He would hug her, look her in the eyes and connect with her in a tangible way that we will talk about for years to come.

And this week as I was sitting looking over some of my devotional material, one of the items I have is an 11 minute tape of Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz speaking the attributes of Jesus. I had played this for Grandma just a few weeks ago when I was home. She loved it. Well, I love it so much that I have transcribed the list to paper and read it often . . . as I was a few days ago and then I found myself sitting there  writing attributes of Grandma. The list is quite long . . .

-regal

-loving

-gracious

-beautiful

-joyful

-selfless

-resourceful

-patient

-sincere

-gentle

-steadfast

-kind

-strong

-faithful

As I was writing them, it struck me that about every other one is in another list somewhere else . . . it’s found in Galatians 5:20:

The Fruits of the Spirit

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control

. . .. all who Grandma was.

I look at my Mom now and see what was passed down. Mommy, you have been selfless these last 25 years to care for Grandma in the way you have . . . to allow her to continue to live a life of possibility. To continually tell us that Grandma never said a negative thing about another, to hop in the car with her at 10:00 at night for a run to Dairy Queen for a blizzard, to give her last years the ability to stay on go and make every day a possibility. Thank you!!

Her quiet way she affected those around her . . .

she has reaped 1000 times what she sowed.

 Now, the area that has affected me the most . . .

The breadth of God’s hand on her life

I went into Grandma’s room a couple days ago to look around and check out what was on her nightstand. A stack of books, several well worn bibles, a book by Billy Graham, The Faithful Christian and two books by the author W.O. Vaught, who I believe was her pastor when she was staying in Arkansas with Theron and Bet. One in particular, Believe Plus Nothing, I’ve seen Grandma reading several times over the years, but the other book by him, God’s Calendar, I had never seen. I flipped through it to see what she may have written in the margins and I only came across a passage underlined. Let me read what prefaces it to put it into context for you. Job 5:26 says, “Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.” The expression, “in a full age,” is a Hebrew idiom for “exactly at the right time.” Now here’s what Grandma underlined . . . the only thing in the book . . . Our lives are in his hand, and we need never worry about the time of our death.

She didn’t really talk about the Lord very often or push her beliefs on you but Grandma was a walking manifestation of the Word of God. His living water was a bubbling brook that flowed through her. There were many days when she wasn’t out fishing, playing cards or working her beloved crossword puzzles when she was just sitting studying her bible, working through many of the bible studies that she did or listening to her teaching tapes. And in turn, she simply lived, lived out her relationship with Christ. There was an assurance about her that anyone who was around her could sense that she had purpose, had something to offer with her life that after being around her, you were changed.

One of her great-grands, Thomas Barton Walker, who is 8, when told that Great-Grandmother, as he called her, had gone to be with the Lord. He asked why and it was explained to him about her struggle these past few weeks, and in his crying, he immediately broke out into the song titled:

YES LORD YES LORD YES YES YES . . .

I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord

Spontaneously, this erupted from him!? . . . his relationship with someone 93 years older than he is? . . . .well, that says it all . ..

Before I close, I would like to play a track from a special CD. I came to Atlanta last weekend to stay with Grandma at the hospital, to give Mom, Aunt Dee and Aunt Betty a break this week. I knew one thing I wanted to do was to play praise and worship music, read her bible to her and just have an all-night “Me, God and Grandma” time. It has been the most incredible experience for me and one that I know the Lord has given me as one of the desires of my heart. Well, this one track is one that, during the middle of the night, I set it to repeat. I wanted to let you hear what she heard as I whispered in her ear . . .”it’s time, Grandma, it’s time” . . . and talking to her about the place “her” Jesus had prepared for her.

 CD “Steve Smith” track 11

             “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be there with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 Let’s Pray:

Father God, you graced our lives with a woman that her children rose up to call her blessed. The impartation that took place in all our lives through her influence, her friendship, her devotion and her love, is a prophetic legacy of what we are responsible to become. Seeds of Christian heritage in the form of an acorn from her family tree that have been passed onto to us and are in us. For some, they have not been watered and nurtured and Lord let us leave today with an awakening of what we have as our Christian Heritage for generations past and for generations to come. I hope today that we can walk out with a sense of nourishment. A sense of divine providence that You, Father God, orchestrated each and everyone of us to be a part of this family, this legacy, and this Christian heritage that has been passed down through Eudera Barton Walker.

Because of this legacy, a true Alignment has happened of the generations for Your Kingdom to Come and Your will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Lord, speak to us about the areas in our lives that need alignment. Lord, remind us who we are and what we’ve inherited through your son Jesus Christ who died to make today possible. Grandma led a life of Christ-likeness and set the example for us all: to love you with all of our heart, soul and mind. The passing of a saint is a celebration and we acknowledge your hand not only in her life for 100 years but in our lives. Also, the divine appointments you will arrange for the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. Appointments to rise up and walk in our God-given heritage . . . to live as Christ lived and to die to ourselves so that others may see you through us. Lord, we thank you for Eudera Barton Walker, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend and a Grandma . . .  your precious child who lived a life that showed us the way, the straight and narrow path that leads to a life of possibility, of fullness, of complete joy and love.

Thank you Lord, in Jesus Name

And all God’s children said AMEN

Grandma, you have had the best seat in the house at the

Barton Family Reunion . . . . YOUR Reunion Day

gazing over the rail of heaven . . .

And Grandma . . . . say hi to Amanda for us . . .We love you

and we’ll see you soon.

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My Father

07/03/15

For anyone who hasn’t read or for folks asking to read it again . . . I’m sharing an older blog post about why the 4th is so special to me!

As the country celebrates our country’s Independence Day tomorrow, I wanted to share a script I wrote for a video interview. I was asked, years ago by my church, to do a video about losing my father, to be used in a July 4th service. Having never done anything like that, I didn’t know where to start. So . . . I just sat down at my computer and this is what came out . . .

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My father . . . . . William “Wild Bill” Henry Cox, Jr. He got the nick-name “Wild Bill” after he went into the Air Force. He loved to fly. In fact, I just recently found out that after he and my mother started dating in Columbus Mississippi, where my mother grew up, he rented a plane one day to fly to Memphis, Tennessee for an ice cream cone. It was in Columbus, Mississippi where my mom and dad met. He was stationed at the Air Training Command base there.

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They were married on the day my father got his wings, June 1, 1955. I came along 11 months later, born while they were stationed in San Angelo, Texas. In the military, as you know you don’t stay in one place long, and when I was still a baby, we moved to Sacramento, California where my brother was born when I was two. I have some memories of California, the little culdesac we lived in, the matching outfits my mom would make for my neighbor and I, and much to my mom’s surprise, bringing the postman in one day to see my new baby brother sleeping in his bassinet.

Daddy 3

After California, we were headed for Godmanchester, England. This is where I remember so vividly the missions my father would fly and come home bringing little trinkets for my brother and I. No matter where a mission would take him, or what time frame he had while he was on a flight, he would manage to pick up something. Sometimes it would only be a roll of life savers or a pack of gum other times I knew he had spent time picking up just the toy he knew we would love. Daddy knew that part of the excitement of “Daddy’s Home” was the whole ritual of getting into his B-4 bag in all the compartments they have to find out what our little serci (surprise) was going to be. Or, us squealing when he came in the door: Daddy, get out of your flight suit and he would so he could put us both inside, zip it up and drag us around the house by the sleeves!! He flew a lot, he was gone a lot. We would have the great send-offs, coloring pictures for him while he was gone, Mommy having to endure the endless “when is Daddy coming home?”. Then to have the same celebration in reverse . . . . Daddy’s Home!!!!!

daddy

My mom was totally involved in all aspects of being an officer’s wife. When daddy was flying she was immersed in taking care of my brother and I and being a part of all the support activities of being in the military. When daddy was home, they were always entertaining squadron friends, traveling, attending commander receptions, bridge clubs . . . . .doing life.

It was our life: the Air Force, the military. It was what we did, how we did life! Even though Daddy was gone so much we never imagined the possibility of him not coming home after a mission.

The knock on our door came early on the morning of February 4, 1963. My father had been killed when his plane crashed in Oklahoma on a routine mission to the United States. Just as a captain of a ship waits until everyone is off the ship before he abandons, Daddy had waited until everyone had ejected after one of the engines had blown, and they say he must have had his finger on the ejection button when the plane crashed. I remember the day like it was yesterday. You hear folks talking about something happening and going in slow motion, this was my slow motion day. Details of that day are etched so deep in my mind. Almost instantly our house was filled with people. I was going to go on to school (not knowing yet what had happened) until things calmed down. I specifically remember someone else having to fix my hair that morning beside my mom. I remember the color of the rubber band she used to match the red plaid dress I was going to wear that day. Later that day, a neighbor, Mrs. Feidor came for me at school. She said I was going to get to go to her house where Ronnie (my brother) was playing. At 6 ½, you say OKAY! We even went to a neighborhood birthday party that afternoon. But then Mrs. Feidor walked us across the street back to our house where my mother was waiting, in my parents bedroom, to tell us what had happened. That daddy was gone, he would not be coming home. After those few days it was a whirlwind. Going back to the states, the day of my father’s funeral, moving back to my mom’s hometown in Mississippi.

51 years ago this year was the anniversary of his death. My mother never remarried. She still has this picture of Daddy on her dresser. He was the love of her life, she beams to this day when she talks about their life together. They had so much fun, so much love, so much life. She’s told me so many stories about Daddy as a husband, a father, a friend, a patriot. He loved his country . . . . he died serving his country. So many people have asked me the question: Debra, why would you marry someone in the Air Force, someone who flies? Just as my mother had, I fell in love, head over heels. The fact that Buddy was in the Air Force was a part of who he is.

Daddy 2

So much lost. I have a pictures, none of me with my dad, though. I have the letter from President John Kennedy to my mother after his death. His high school year book, awards and certificates. So much lost . . . .My high school graduation, my brother’s graduation , our weddings… I walked down the aisle on my wedding day alone, not out of sorrow but more out of honor….. he has missed the birth of our children and grandchildren. I have a framed picture in my living room of my dad when he was about four or five and folks coming into our home have asked where did I get such a beautiful, old, sepia tone picture of my son. They can’t believe it when I tell them it’s of my father. Ryan, our 29 year-old son, looks just like my father’s pictures as a child. It is uncanny. I have such an ache for my children to have known my father.

So many junctures and events in my life that have a place where he should have been. I think that’s why I’ve always loved hearing or reading stories about people’s dads. Tell me what it was like, tell me about your relationship with your dad . . . Give me a picture of how it may have been. I told a good friend not long after her father died, that she had given me such a window to look through of what a true father/daughter relationship was meant to be. She has wonderful stories of she and her dad’s relationship. I would and still do hang on every word when she’s sharing about him.

Years ago, I participated in our annual Father/Daughter Banquet here at our church as a server. I wanted to have a sense of what it would have been like. It was hard, I shed some tears that no one knew about, but watching those little girls, all dressed up, looking up into their father’s eyes with such love . . . was so precious. I’ll never forget it. The stories, the pictures, the dreams of what could have been . . .. I know these are all things that God has used in helping me to establish a right “little girl” relationship with Him. It was very hard for me after becoming a Christian years ago, to try and comprehend God loving me as my heavenly Father. I had no model, no gridwork to go from. What was that unconditional “Daddy” love supposed to be like?

It’s been an incredible journey. And here I am, anticipating another 4th of July as I have been on so many 4th’s before . . . thinking about what the 4th of July means to me, really means to me. Sure, I’m planning a big day at the lake, red, white and blue balloons, red tablecloths, fireworks, ribbons and streamers… . . . . I get teased about being a “flag-waving, card carrying, patriotic American! I even have a special Christmas tree I do that has all antique flags, red, white and blue garland and banners on it!……………. Why? . . . . . America is so precious to me . . . . I love my country . . .it cost me so much . . . . My father died serving this country. The rhyme and reason of his death???? The price he paid for freedom. The price countless others have paid with their time, their service . . . their lives. I anticipate our 4th of July services every year … to celebrate. I want the hoopla, the fireworks, the flags   . . . . . .my family and I paid a high cost for freedom. I will celebrate, I love to celebrate …………….because freedom is worth celebrating!

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In-Laws or In-Loves?

09/18/14

Someone very special to me is turning 80-years-young today and I wanted to share a huge life lesson that she taught me and changed me and my family forever!

Imagine my surprise the first time my mother-in-law introduced me as her daughter-in-LOVE . . .

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Both I and the acquaintance I was meeting were visibly  enamored with the new term that neither one of us had ever heard.

That’s how it started!

mom

From that day, my precious mother-in-law referred to me as her daughter-in-love. Yes, we have a great relationship, beyond measure, but that one phrase “kicked it up a notch” needless to say.  So, what did I do? Started referring to her as my mother-in-love! I think we both realized what happened every time we said it . . . it endeared us to each other a little more EACH and EVERY time! We were speaking something in the natural that was facilitating something in the spirit.

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Soon, her daughter and I began to do the same . . . referring to each other as sister-in-loves! Since each of us grew up without sisters, we were anxious to cultivate a relationship together. We began to experience the same growing closeness with each use of the phrase “in-love”.

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Raising two boys, I knew that one day, I wanted to become a mother-in-love! We prayed for both our sons to meet and marry the women that God had planned for their lives.  I included in that prayer that our daughter-in-loves-to-be would be open to creating a loving and nurturing relationship with me as the one I longed for with them and also, for them with each other. He has done that . . . Brad and Ryan are both married to incredible, beautiful, loving women, Julia and Jennifer. In addition, they each grew up without a sister and now consider each other sisters-in-love. Jennifer recently shared this with me about our treasured phrase . . . “I’ve only just recently started to truly understand what being an “in-love” really meant. Being called an in-love before I ever felt like one, prepared the way and allowed me to step into something that I did not fully comprehend at the time. I feel like after hearing it over and over that it finally started to sink into my core, that this is my family! This came with the realization that I did not fully understand what FAMILY was. My “in-loves” are these amazing people who love me for me, who care about me, want the best for me, and love me unconditionally! The bond of marriage may have joined us together, but it’s the journey with them that has been the most rewarding! Being an “in-love” allows me to go past the barriers and lines of being an “in-law” to being a sister, a daughter, a niece, and an aunt! I truly am in love with my “in-loves”!”

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My sister-in-love, Dawn, when asked about the term, said “we are not bound up with the “in-law” stereotype, we are truly a family in love…unconditional love.”

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God has blessed me with “in-loves” that are not only my husband’s family and my son’s wives, but we are knitted together in my heart “in-love”.

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“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. –Ephesians 4:15

As Ephesians says, speaking the truth to each other in love, has moved us, as a family to an in-love family!

Are you in-laws or in-loves?

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World Down Syndrome Day

03/20/14

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14

Our Angel

There are some folks that will celebrate a special day in March and some that won’t!

Just like some folks have an extra chromosome and some don’t!

Our family is part of a very special, select group who will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21!

I took some time this week, as we get ready to celebrate, to remember the birth of our granddaughter, Sarah Elizabeth, almost four years ago and I was reminded of a poem I had read many years before she was even born!

Sweet Sisters

This is a poem, written by Emily Perl Kingsley. She wrote it to help others understand what it’s like to raise a child with special needs.

A Trip to Holland
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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We landed in Holland over four years ago as we welcomed our precious Sarah, who has Down Syndrome, into our family! Our son, Brad, and his beautiful wife, Julia, never even asked about Italy and proudly introduced us all to the greatest gift our family has ever been given . . . and we LOVE Holland! Celebrate the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome as we will be celebrating our angel, Sweet Sarah!

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2013 Lowcountry Buddy Walk

Team Sarah and Gracen!

Sarah collage

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Down Syndrome Awareness MONTH

10/09/13

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14

Our Angel

There are some folks that will celebrate this special month and some that won’t!

Just like some folks have an extra chromosome and some don’t!

Our family is part of a very special, select group who will celebrate this month. October is Global Down Syndrome Awareness month!

I took some time this week, as we participated in the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Association BUDDY WALK, to remember the birth of our granddaughter, Sarah Elizabeth, almost four years ago and I was reminded of a poem I had read many years before she was even born!

Sweet Sisters

This is a poem, written by Emily Perl Kingsley. She wrote it to help others understand what it’s like to raise a child with special needs.

A Trip to Holland
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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We landed in Holland almost four years ago as we welcomed our precious Sarah, who has Down Syndrome, into our family! Our son, Brad, and his beautiful wife, Julia, never even asked about Italy and proudly introduced us all to the greatest gift our family has ever been given . . . and we LOVE Holland! Celebrate the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome this month as we will be celebrating our angel, Sweet Sarah!

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2013 Lowcountry Buddy Walk

Team Sarah and Gracen!

Sarah collage

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My Father

07/04/13

As the country celebrates our country’s Independence Day today, I wanted to share a script I wrote for a video interview. I was asked, years ago by my church, to do a video about losing my father, to be used in a July 4th service. Having never done anything like that, I didn’t know where to start. So . . . I just sat down at my computer and this is what came out . . .

Daddy 1

My father . . . . . William “Wild Bill” Henry Cox, Jr. He got the nick-name “Wild Bill” after he went into the Air Force. He loved to fly. In fact, I just recently found out that after he and my mother started dating in Columbus Mississippi, where my mother grew up, he rented a plane one day to fly to Memphis, Tennessee for an ice cream cone. It was in Columbus, Mississippi where my mom and dad met. He was stationed at the Air Training Command base there.

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They were married on the day my father got his wings, June 1, 1955. I came along 11 months later, born while they were stationed in San Angelo, Texas. In the military, as you know you don’t stay in one place long, and when I was still a baby, we moved to Sacramento, California where my brother was born when I was two. I have some memories of California, the little culdesac we lived in, the matching outfits my mom would make for my neighbor and I, and much to my mom’s surprise, bringing the postman in one day to see my new baby brother sleeping in his bassinet.

Daddy 3

After California, we were headed for Godmanchester, England. This is where I remember so vividly the missions my father would fly and come home bringing little trinkets for my brother and I. No matter where a mission would take him, or what time frame he had while he was on a flight, he would manage to pick up something. Sometimes it would only be a roll of life savers or a pack of gum other times I knew he had spent time picking up just the toy he knew we would love. Daddy knew that part of the excitement of “Daddy’s Home” was the whole ritual of getting into his B-4 bag in all the compartments they have to find out what our little serci (surprise) was going to be. Or, us squealing when he came in the door: Daddy, get out of your flight suit and he would so he could put us both inside, zip it up and drag us around the house by the sleeves!! He flew a lot, he was gone a lot. We would have the great send-offs, coloring pictures for him while he was gone, Mommy having to endure the endless “when is Daddy coming home?”. Then to have the same celebration in reverse . . . . Daddy’s Home!!!!!

daddy

My mom was totally involved in all aspects of being an officer’s wife. When daddy was flying she was immersed in taking care of my brother and I and being a part of all the support activities of being in the military. When daddy was home, they were always entertaining squadron friends, traveling, attending commander receptions, bridge clubs . . . . .doing life.

It was our life: the Air Force, the military. It was what we did, how we did life! Even though Daddy was gone so much we never imagined the possibility of him not coming home after a mission.

The knock on our door came early on the morning of February 4, 1963. My father had been killed when his plane crashed in Oklahoma on a routine mission to the United States. Just as a captain of a ship waits until everyone is off the ship before he abandons, Daddy had waited until everyone had ejected after one of the engines had blown, and they say he must have had his finger on the ejection button when the plane crashed. I remember the day like it was yesterday. You hear folks talking about something happening and going in slow motion, this was my slow motion day. Details of that day are etched so deep in my mind. Almost instantly our house was filled with people. I was going to go on to school (not knowing yet what had happened) until things calmed down. I specifically remember someone else having to fix my hair that morning beside my mom. I remember the color of the rubber band she used to match the red plaid dress I was going to wear that day. Later that day, a neighbor, Mrs. Feidor came for me at school. She said I was going to get to go to her house where Ronnie (my brother) was playing. At 6 ½, you say OKAY! We even went to a neighborhood birthday party that afternoon. But then Mrs. Feidor walked us across the street back to our house where my mother was waiting, in my parents bedroom, to tell us what had happened. That daddy was gone, he would not be coming home. After those few days it was a whirlwind. Going back to the states, the day of my father’s funeral, moving back to my mom’s hometown in Mississippi.

51 years ago this year was the anniversary of his death. My mother never remarried. She still has this picture of Daddy on her dresser. He was the love of her life, she beams to this day when she talks about their life together. They had so much fun, so much love, so much life. She’s told me so many stories about Daddy as a husband, a father, a friend, a patriot. He loved his country . . . . he died serving his country. So many people have asked me the question: Debra, why would you marry someone in the Air Force, someone who flies? Just as my mother had, I fell in love, head over heels. The fact that Buddy was in the Air Force was a part of who he is.

Daddy 2

So much lost. I have a pictures, none of me with my dad, though. I have the letter from President John Kennedy to my mother after his death. His high school year book, awards and certificates. So much lost . . . .My high school graduation, my brother’s graduation , our weddings… I walked down the aisle on my wedding day alone, not out of sorrow but more out of honor….. he has missed the birth of our children. I have a framed picture in my living room of my dad when he was about four or five and folks coming into our home have asked where did I get such a beautiful, old, sepia tone picture of my son. They can’t believe it when I tell them it’s of my father. Ryan, our 26 year-old looks just like my father’s pictures as a child. It is uncanny. I have such an ache for my children to have known my father.

So many junctures and events in my life that have a place where he should have been. I think that’s why I’ve always loved hearing or reading stories about people’s dads. Tell me what it was like, tell me about your relationship with your dad . . . Give me a picture of how it may have been. I told a good friend not long after her father died, that she had given me such a window to look through of what a true father/daughter relationship was meant to be. She has wonderful stories of she and her dad’s relationship. I would and still do hang on every word when she’s sharing about him.

Years ago, I participated in our annual Father/Daughter Banquet here at our church as a server. I wanted to have a sense of what it would have been like. It was hard, I shed some tears that no one knew about, but watching those little girls, all dressed up, looking up into their father’s eyes with such love . . . was so precious. I’ll never forget it. The stories, the pictures, the dreams of what could have been . . .. I know these are all things that God has used in helping me to establish a right “little girl” relationship with Him. It was very hard for me after becoming a Christian 25 years ago, to try and comprehend God loving me as my heavenly Father. I had no model, no gridwork to go from. What was that unconditional “Daddy” love supposed to be like.

It’s been an incredible journey. And here I am, anticipating another 4th of July as I have been on so many 4th’s before . . . thinking about what the 4th of July means to me, really means to me. Sure, I’m planning a big day at the lake, red, white and blue balloons, red tablecloths, fireworks, ribbons and streamers… . . . . I get teased about being a “flag-waving, card carrying, patriotic American! I even have a special Christmas tree I do that has all antique flags, red, white and blue garland and banners on it!……………. Why? . . . . . America is so precious to me . . . . I love my country . . .it cost me so much . . . . My father died serving this country. The rhyme and reason of his death???? The price he paid for freedom. The price countless others have paid with their time, their service . . . their lives. I anticipate our 4th of July services every year … to celebrate. I want the hoopla, the fireworks, the flags   . . . . . .my family and I paid a high cost for freedom. I will celebrate, I love to celebrate …………….because freedom is worth celebrating!

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House Tour

05/26/13

First off, let me say how much we love our home! We still feel like the most blessed people on the face of the earth every time we put our key in the front door. Having been in our new house for over 5 years . . . when do you stop calling it “new”? Maybe it’s when you start making changes and it becomes a little more worn in? We have not made any major changes beside putting cabinets in our laundry room (by ourselves 2 days before our first Thanksgiving in our house) and changing out all the light fixtures for ORB!

These pictures were taken a couple of years ago and have sat in a folder on my computer. After starting this blog a couple months ago, I thought “why not?” put them up! So here they are and I’ll be updating a few since some have changed.

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room

Hallway

Living Room

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Yellow Guest Room

Yellow Guest Room

Yellow Guest Room

Yellow Guest Room

Yellow Guest Room

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Blue Guest Room

Blue Guest Room

Suitcases belonged to my paternal grandparents and hold Caroline's dress-up
Suitcases belonged to my paternal grandparents and hold Caroline’s dress-up

Blue Guest Room

Upstairs Landing
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Upstairs Guest Bath

Upstairs Guest Bath

Upstairs Guest Bath

Upstairs Guest Bath
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Craft Room

Craft Room

Craft Room

Craft Room

Craft Room

Craft Room

Longaberger Baskets
Longaberger Baskets

Craft Room
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Master Bedroom and Bath

Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondahl plates starting with 1903 collected by my grandmother
Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondahl plates starting with 1903 collected by my grandmother

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Suitcases belonged to my maternal grandmother
Suitcases belonged to my maternal grandmother
Handpainted tiled pieces that belonged to my grandmother
Handpainted tiled pieces that belonged to my grandmother

Master Bath
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Laundry Room

Laundry
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Den/Office

Den/Office
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Dining

Dining
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Kitchen

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It’s time to CELEBRATE

04/04/13

So many things to celebrate RIGHT now!

It’s spring!

It’s getting warmer!

It’s stays lighter longer!

The main reason to celebrate . . . EASTER!

It may mean many things to you but to me it’s the season to revisit something that was done for me a very long time ago. 2000 years ago, to be exact. I believe, as does my family, that God sent His son to die on the cross to save us from our sins. We were separated from God and He gave us a way back to Him. The freedom this brings to my life is indescribable and the joy and love that permeates our family is palatable. One of our traditions is to have our Easter Family Dinner together, an egg hunt with our granddaughters and then to all attend one of the special services at our church (www.cathedralofpraise.org)!

Several of our family members are usually involved in the service and this year was no exception. My son was the host of “Jeopardy”, a comedy spoof (pulled off Alex Trebeck to a tee) to open the service and my sister-in-love was a part of the choir that would be an integral part of the worship sets.

Holidays around here are one of our favorite things. I start making lists for the menu, shopping, timing items, etc. If it’s gotta get done, I’ve gotta write it down, email it to myself and put a reminder on my phone! Seriously!!! One good thing about emailing your menu or lists to yourself is that you can pull them up year after year to use again or revise. Saves a ton of time!

One of the major players of our get-togethers is our table . . . love, love, love setting the table. My mom always had a beautiful table, even for everyday dinners and thus, I love to set a table!

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 I feel like when you put a little more effort into your table, adding special touches, it not only shows but brings a bit of your personality to your table, the celebration, the reason you’re all sitting down together . . . for this holiday, it’s to celebrate new beginnings, a fresh start . . . HOPE! Nothing says that like COLOR! For this year’s table I purchased a few yards of fabric (yellow) and pulled out a piece of gingham I had bought a few years ago for a baby shower. The baskets are individual baked potato baskets that my grandmother had. I used some scrapbook stickers to put the initial of each family member on a plastic egg to mark their place setting.

All I did for a centerpiece was make a cake!!!! Add the fabric, a few extra eggs and voila!
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If you are on VINE (the new video app equivalent to Instagram), you can find my profile and check out the stop action video i did of a place setting. TOO FUN! Why? Because I can! Remember, if you can . . . you should . . . I did!

I set out to make a gathering a little special with a few things I already had on hand. Brought in a little of the excitement of the season through color, some fun objects and a great dessert and set the tone for a wonderful day with my family . . . the most important part of my life!

Here’s a few more pics of our day . . .

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Great Easter “baskets” from Lands End!

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IMG_2362Caroline reading her new book to Sarah

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Scrumptious Green Bean Bundles
1/2 slice bacon
6-8 green beans
1 stick butter (melted)
1/4 cup soy sauce
tsp garlic powder
Wrap beans with bacon and use toothpick to secure; Mix sauce and pour over each bundle; bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bacon is to your liking! Wait for the applause . . . it will come!

This was our side dish that has become one of our holiday dinner staples. We had it alongside our new crockpot roast!

roast

Coffee Marinade for Roast
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup Italian dressing (any brand)
1/4 cup of beef broth or worcestershire sauce or Dale’s steak seasoning (we use the Dale’s)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt/Pepper to taste
Mix in ziplock and add roast of your choice (we use either churck or sirloin tip)
Marinate overnight. Before placing in crock pot, sear each side of the roast (optional) in a little olive oil. Cut up 1-2 onions in rings on the bottom of your crock pot and place roast on top of onions. Pour in marinade. Slow cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. ENJOY!

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Caroline Grace enjoyed her “loot”!

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Our angel, Sarah Elizabeth, wasn’t feeling well and STILL had her beautiful countenance!

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Our son, Brad and his beautiful wife, Julia, with their daughters along with my in-loves, Bill and Shirley . . . proud great-grandparents to Caroline and Sarah!

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Ryan, the host of “Jeopardy” and his precious wife, Jenny Lynn!

Celebrating the season with those you love and cherish is a true blessing! I tell folks all the time that I am the most blessed person I know!

It was a HAPPY EASTER and one we will drink off of for a long time.

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World Down Syndrome Day

03/20/13

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14

Our Angel

There are some folks that will celebrate a special day tomorrow and some that won’t!

Just like some folks have an extra chromosome and some don’t!

Our family is part of a very special, select group who will celebrate an incredible holiday this week. World Down Syndrome Day is on 3/21 to symbolize a third copy of the 21st chromosome in people with Down syndrome.

I took some time this week to remember the birth of our granddaughter, Sarah Elizabeth, three years ago and I was reminded of a poem I had read many years before she was even born!

Sweet Sisters

This is a poem, written by Emily Perl Kingsley. She wrote it to help others understand what it’s like to raise a child with special needs.

A Trip to Holland
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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We landed in Holland three years ago as we welcomed our precious Sarah, who has Down Syndrome, into our family! Our son, Brad, and his beautiful wife, Julia, never even asked about Italy and proudly introduced us all to the greatest gift our family has ever been given . . . and we LOVE Holland! Celebrate the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome on March 21 as we will be celebrating our angel, Sweet Sarah!

 March21

Sarah collage

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HERE WE GO!

03/12/13

Am I ready to ride the blog WAVE? Not sure! Will I step out onto it? Here we go!

Are you ever ready for something new? Will you ever feel that now is the time to start something? Really?

Okay! I’ve had several folks tell me that it’s time and I’ve fought it every step of the way until this week when I felt an overwhelming sense to STEP . . . just step . . . step OUT! So here goes . . .

WordPress? Didn’t know what it was.

Plugins? Nope. Dashboard? Well, maybe.

To tell you the truth, I’ve written several of these “posts” over the last couple days and apparently have not saved/published/viewed/etc. them the “right” way because when I go to view . . . well, they are back to “template” view, you know, the verbage THEY put up until you get your stuff uploaded. So this time . . . 3rd, 4th time, I will copy what I’ve typed and save it somewhere else and then . . . then . . . I can copy into this very same window  . . . . J I C !

So . . .

If I Can, I Should . . . I should! I will! I’m getting ready to hit the Publish button!

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