Posts from the ‘Family’ Category

Easter weekend has been grand.  I was reminded again today how the Old Rugged Cross makes a difference.  I don’t forget it per se’ but it’s good to see how knowing Christ makes a difference in everyday life for not just me, but, others.

I go from “training” to “Transition” in my work tomorrow.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Oh…my mom has had some stuff come up as a result of her cancer about this time last year.  She had a biopsy Friday as well as a CT scan.  We’ll know, hopefully, tomorrow what the Pathology thing says.  Ugh.

As for Foster the Wonder Pup…he is so fun.  He has met lotsa people this week.  Seems like everybody who meets him falls under his Foster-ish spell.  He’s still rockin’ and rollin’ on the potty-training. 
One of my favorite Foster pictures of the week…here with my nephew. Boys and dogs just go together.





Feel Good Friday

A little twist for the Feel Good Friday….

Things that make me feel good this Friday:

In no particular order….

1.  Insanely cold weather like we have right now.

2. Any movie that has Walter Matthau in it. (Watching The Fortune Cookie as I type on DVR)

3.  Some amazing family members, both near and far.

4. My Purple Ipod and the Ihome speaker thingy.

5.  Talking to the guy that doubled with me and Patrick to the Prom in ’87 and him telling me of this very evening, going out on a first date with a girl we went to school with that he had a crush on then and she never knew. 

6. Singing with the two Tara’s, Jennifer, Scott and Ron.

7.  Pictures like this that remind me of what a great childhood I had:


That’s me, Terri Leigh, the Sister and Trish.  How great would it be to be that carefree again?

And Emmylou singing songs like this…

When I’m 84

I’m puttering around my picture files on my computer and I came across this picture of my Aunt Lady.   I hope I can look a teensy bit as good as she does when I’m 84.  


The All American Family Celebrates Christmas

Christmas morning has been good.  I was a little worried about the kids and how everything would be for them beings this is the first Christmas Post-Transition.  It has been lovely, actually.  The Three Kids spent last evening and night with me.  Their Dad came this morning to watch the Santa-Palooza and then I fixed breakfast. 

We were sitting down to eat and Tara started singing “Do You Hear What I Hear” and #2 echoed her with “Tara- would-you- shut- up?”   HAHAHAHHAHAHA

More pictures over there on the Flickr of the Smiffs putting the FUN in “DysFUNCtional Family Christmas. 

Hope that wherever you are, Christmas is lovely.

I would kinda like to be here right now.  How fun would it be to go iceskating in Central Park on Christmas Day? 

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

An Anniversary

It occurs to me that not only is it Christmas Eve, but, on this date in 1890 my great-grandparents united in marriage, for better or worse (mostly worse) creating a whole wad of descendants and a bunch of colorful, interesting, twisted people.


They look thrilled, don’t they?  My great-grandpa Collie looks like he coulda been part of the Jesse James Gang and he probably was!  He was an ornery and mean little cuss.  Totally the Black Sheep of his family, he woulda never been nominated for Father of the Year, even so….

Winfrey left Lena in later years.  In spite of the horrible abuse he put her and their children through, she loved him until the day she died.  His children….not so much.  When he died in 1948, none of his children went to his funeral.  His burial was handled by the woman he was living with at the time.

Because I tend to play Devil’s Advocate and have the tendency to analyze, even though my great grandfater was mean and hurtful to his wife and his kids and I have no way of relating to the trauma of what he put them through, I’ve seen some of the same traits he displayed in his descendants.  From my limited, layperson point of view, I think he was bipolar.  


I like to think that somewhere in the meanness were some positive traits.  Good grief, my oldest son bears a physical resemblance, as do lots of us in the family.  He came from a good family (one of his brothers was a dentist) but he was loaded down with demons. 

I went to Spring Hill Cemetery about 5 times in the last year and a half trying to find Winfrey’s grave.  I knew what section it was in, but, couldn’t find it.  I went in October and literally, stumbled on it. I had been in that same spot I don’t know how many times and I realized his grave was covered in weeds and had finally been mowed. 


 I would give lotsa money to be able to sit down and talk to him.

Christmas Past

I have posted this Christmas picture before, but, it’s so funny (to me anyway) I have to post it again and since we are celebrating my mother on her birthday, and since there is no threat that she’ll actually see this (computers ARE of the devil, of course) I can just post it and be amused.


This would have been Christmas about 1972.  I am three, the Sister would have just turned 6.  I am the one in that strikingly lovely yellow gown while the Sister is decked out in the blue.  Our mother is the rather tired looking lady in the pink robe (one of my earliest memories of my mother is her in that robe).

One’s attention is obviously first turned to Mom’s hair in this picture.   It sorta has a life of its own, doesn’t it?  I guarantee you, if she were to be looking at this picture right now, she’d say “See? I used to have a lot of hair!” 

That said, Mom likes her coffee.  And her Marlblies.  I figured she hadn’t had a chance to partake in either of the aforementioned things by the time this picture was snapped (no doubt, the sun was not up yet).  However, upon closer inspection….to her right, you will notice there is an ashtray under the tree.  I don’t think Sanny Claus brung Barbara a new ashtray for Christmas. 

This is the sorta thing that in 2008, would cause a mother to be arrested…and scathing news lead in stories of “Mother Caught Smoking Under Christmas Tree”….smoking in the house AND next to the Christmas tree!  Yeah, yeah, it was a fake tree  (complete with fake snow!) and because I always remember noticing the box said the tree was “Flame Retardant” (always bringing giggles that our Christmas tree was retarded. Heh heh), there was no threat of the tree going up in flames but SMOKING UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE ON CHRISTMAS MORNING???   You might be a redneck….

Other notable notes from this photo that could be so easily overlooked by Barbara’s uncoiffed coif….notice the lamp in the back?  That was a lamp attached to the table and the base was a horse head.  I can still remember the sound that silver thing would make (it moved.)  As ugly as that thing is, I’d give a lotta money to have it now.  Talk about a good conversation piece! 

The Lincoln Logs….and what is that we’re holding up? 

And the globe….no doubt we had driven the Parents nuts asking for one.  We were so curious about Geography at this point.  “Insatiable curiosit”  of the world around us, is how teachers were always heard to describe us.  Just couldn’t get enough.

I didn’t know exactly where North Dakota was, geographically until the Manchild was about 7 and was obsessed with the Weather and I figured out where it was by a weather map.

Shut up…I was busy soaking up lots of important, useful trivia on country music and old movie stars.



Happy Birthday today to my Mom.

It’s odd to say that my mother is 74 years old today.


I still believe my mother is one of the most beautiful women ever.


She has had an interesting life, lots of which, she chooses to keep the interesting details to herself.  As nosy as I am and as much as I’d like to know, I respect that and can only imagine that she must have had herself a good time as a young woman, living in Southern California in the 50’s and 60’s.

One of my favorite things to hear her tell is of sitting at a table at the Foothill Club in Long Beach, CA with Patsy Cline or how she was there when Eddie Miller and Don Sessions wrote Thanks A Lot” and wrote the words down for them as they created what’s now a country classic.   Eddie always said Mom was the “midwife” of that song. HAR.

Mom is one of the most well put together women I know.  The hair is always perfect, jewelry properly placed, purse matches whatever she has on…I did not inherit the Well-Put-Together thing, sadly.  She’s quite funny and quite resilient and very smart.

She has outlived two husbands, taken great care of them both during horrific illnesses, herself survived a near-fatal car accident, this year had her own bout of cancer, has stents in her chest, but don’t you even think about telling her she shouldn’t smoke no more or drink coffee.

Happy Birthday Mimi!


Quick Trip To Knox County


Check out Payton’s new teefuses.  He is proud of them. 


Loved, loved, loved the Living Christmas Tree put on by the fine folks at Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville. 


Was especially fond of the little blondeheaded girl grasping onto the Lord Jesus there….that’s my niece.

Was also fond of the 120 shepherd there….and his staff….that would be the Engineering Brudda In Larrr…


The kid in the green vest and red shirt there. (Heh) Third from left….the Nephew With The New Teefuses…

The Sister was also in the production….she’s the one in white.  (Not one of the levitating ones though)


I couldn’t find her in the midst of  all the white but she’s there somewhere.


The Gay Street Bridge there behind the Arena was quite lovely.


As was this old-timey Arby’s sign. (I have a thing for neon)

Oh and here’s my Christmas tree….I wish it were wider and all that but it’s gonna have to do. 


Notice there is not nary a single gift under the tree.  This is because I have yet to buy the first Christmas gift.  I think I may give the gift of “Joy” this Christmas.  Yeah…that’s it.  That’ll go over HUGE with the kids. 

(Note to my children….please answer my texts when I ask what you want for Christmas….love ya, Mom)

The Whole Hee Haw Gang

You know that perfect family you see and go “Wow…I wish I was like them?  They sure seem to have it all together.”  That wouldn’t be my family.

This, bunch, however….is my family:


Almost look like we sorta have sense, don’t we? 

To me, one of the best parts about this picture is #2 right smack dab in the middle….NOT looking at the camera.  It just works.
Photo courtesy of LiveLaughLovePhotography.

Heaven’s Gates Are Open Wide

I don’t know what posessed me to put that video up early this morning of the Gaither Vocal Band singing Jesus Loves Me. Maybe it was to prepare me for a phone conversation I had to have this evening.

My mom calls me, sounded a little frantic “Mary [her sister in law] called and left a message. Said it’s bad news. I’m ‘fraid my brother’s gone.”

Her brother is 86 years old and has been blessed with pretty good health considering his age and the one-after-the-other tragedies he and his wife have experienced since 1994:

1-Only daughter dies unexpectedly of pneumonia after surgery. I think she was 40-41 years old.
2-Oldest son gets lung cancer. Goes through treatment. Things look good. Then, about a year later, I think it was on a Wednesday, they discovered it was in his liver. He had worked that day. Was dead by that Saturday. I think he was 52 or 53.
3-3 years later, their other son commits suicide.
4-2 years later, daughter in law, wife of oldest son dies of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
5-Last year, daughter in law, wife of son that died in 2003 dies of cancer. Two late teen/early 20ish sons.

My mother only has a cell phone for long distance. She doesn’t keep the thing charged or on. She doesn’t even have a long distance carrier on her regular phone anymore. So, she calls me and asks me to call Mary. I am dreading this. I’m thinking that if my Uncle Nootsie (nickname) has passed, I am going to have to talk to his wife of 60+ years and it’s gonna be painful. Then, I’m thinking “Oh geez, I am going to have to call Mom and tell her that she is now the sole surviving Sullivan Kid.”

I’m dreading this call, but, at the same time, I’m thinking “Damn…Nootsie’s 86 years old. If he’s gone, then he didn’t suffer. It was probably his heart. He probably mowed his grass recently. A life well lived.”

Something told me though, as I dialed the phone and got the busy signal that it probably wasn’t Nootsie. This was confirmed when my Uncle answered the phone (and sounded eeerily like my mother when she first wakes up and hasn’t had coffee yet) and proceeded to tell me that Steven, his oldest grandchild, was killed in a car wreck today.

You want to hear something absolutely GUT wrenching, listen to an 86 year old man, who has been walking around with a piece of shrapnel in his head since WWII and has a Purple Heart, break down and cry uncontrollably on the phone and then pass the phone to his wife because he can’t say anymore.

Then, I talk to my Aunt Mary, who is crying and I’m thinking “Holy crap…what do you say to this???” I’m not believing what I’m hearing. It’s bad enough to outlive ONE of your children, much less THREE, plus two daughters in law that have been in your family for so long, it’s almost like you gave birth to them, and now their oldest grandchildm the same kid that was born the same week my grandfather died in 1971 and carried his middle name. What the hell????

How is it that Steven took his wife some lunch today at home because she was sick and now he’s dead? Left no skidmarks. Died on impact. And his younger brother and sister now are the only two left in that family? This young guy, who isn’t even 30 yet, helped care for his mother as she suffered that horrendous disease has to call his grandparents, as they’re sitting down for dinner to tell them that once again…….

That same Steven that we used to call “Stevie” who was probably one THE absolute most adorable little boys I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen Steven since he was about 15. I’ve seen pictures but my picture of him is this kid right here with my sister in about…oh 1977 or 78-
Little Stevie…I think of him as about 3 or 4…with his pajamas with the rhinoceros on it and we’d ask him repeatedly….”Stevie…whats that on your pajamas?” We wanted to hear him say…again….”Ith a bunotheroth.”

So, there I am on the phone with my aunt….listening to her cry, talking about what a good husband Steven was and how crazy he and his wife were about each other…She asks how I am. I can’t quite describe how it humbled me when she asked, yet, I was a little hesitant because sheesh…I have NOTHING to complain about. Humbling because she stopped crying for a minute to ask about each kid by name, etc.

Then, I have to call my mother. She answers the phone and I can tell she’s been crying.
“Well…it’s not Nootsie.”

“Who is it?” she asked me.


“What happened?”

I tell her and she hollers “No! HOW MUCH MORE CAN THEY TAKE? THIS CAN’T BE! etc. etc ”

I haven’t heard my mother let loose like that since…gosh….I was probably a little kid. Mom tends to hold her emotions in. Oddly enough, I was glad to hear her do that.

But, it absolutely sucks. It would have been easier to tell her it was her brother, I think.

When I Dream…

Someday, when Cuzzin Terry and his Missus permanently move to Florida, if the Good Lawd’s willing, I hope this will be my backyard view:

This will be my deck I will sip my coffee on every morning and watch the sun come up.  (That’s Cuzzin Terry there)

Yep.  That’s my dream.  One of them anyway.

Had a wonderful time yesterday with Cuzzin Terry, his Missus, his boys and daughter in law.   I swear, them people are just wrawng.  You hadn’t seen twisted til you run acrosst Joe.  The V is as in Vandy. (I think?)

When Cuzzins Are Two Of A Kind

A coupla weeks back, I was in Schpilkis mode.  Cousin Terry thought I needed a casserole so you know what he did today? He personally delivered this to me.  It was some kinda good too.  Spaghetti Pie, he called it.  It had Eye-talian sausage in it, green peppers, other good stuff. 

Cousin Terry is my…let’s see…I guess we are third cousins or some sort of “removed” cousins.  Terry’s grandmother was Aunt Millie.  She was a younger sister to my grandfather.  Aunt Millie was the baby there in the middle and my grandfather is the cherubic looking little feller there on the left.  This picture was made about 1898 on the Nickell Family property up by Lake Barkley, right by the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.  (Sometime I have to do a post about my great-great Uncle Shelley Nickell who woulda been a blogger if he was around now and was quite the conservation hero in that area.)

Anyway, Terry is a kin people I didn’t really get to know until I was grown.  We would see that side of the family once a year or so when my grandmother would visit, but, I was a little kid and Terry was a grown up man who had kids older than me. 

After my Dad died in 1992, and his mother died in 1994 and when our Great Aunt Mimi died in 1994, I guess I was seeking family connection. My sister had married and moved away and my mother, during this time, sorta checked out and that side of the family was good enough to sorta draw me into their tight-knit circle. Terry inherited our Aunt Mimi’s house on the Cumberland River and thanks to him, his niece Barbara and other family members, I’ve been able to do some serious connecting with that side of the family and learn a lot about my grandfather and who he was.  

  I don’t think that was hard for Terry and the Brocks/Smiths to draw me and my bunch into their because our grandparents and all the siblings were tight.  Every picture you see of them, even as older people, they were always hugging and touching (I didn’t get that gene. Heh)

I’ve had some fun times with Terry and the other assorted Brocks/Smiths.  Terry and Kaye aren’t just my kinfolks but I really think of them as good friends that I’d have wanted to be friends with even if we didn’t share a lineage, ya know?  I am blessed to have Terry not far down the road.

Thanks Terry.

All In The Fambly

My real life Sista has done got herself a blog. Go over there and say hey.

From Pasadena To Pascagoula

I was just reading Jag’s post about her weekend in LA.

Everytime I see the word “Pasadena” and especially “South” and “Pasadena” together, it makes me think of how my Dad used to call me “Sharon Rosena From South Pasadena” (Sharon Rose being my given name.) 

I saw the name “Pascagoula” on a weather map today and that’s another one of the phrases Dad would use in reference to me.  Sometimes, he’d say “Sharon Rose-oola From South Pascagoula.”

When I had my own kids, of course, I had to attempt the same sorta thing.  It was “Tyler Thomas-o From Southwest El Paso” and “Tara Rosita From South Escondido.”  Unfortunately for #2 (or maybe he was fortunate) I never came up with a twist on his first and middle names.  I wonder if he’ll end up on Oprah cause of that someday?

Lame, yes, but, it was always fun to say and even funner to hear Tyler and Tara as little people try to say it.  Tyler, with his lisp and Tara always said it perfect.

In Keeping With Early California Tradition…

In my move, I found something I didn’t know I was in possession of.  My grandfather’s fabulous postcard collection.  (Pop Collie has been dead since 1979)  Most of these didn’t have anything written on the back of them.  People, I guess, would pick them up on various trips and some he got from his infamous roadtrips (ones where he’d decide at the drop of a hat “I think I’ll go visit Biff” and he’d drive from San Antonio to Los Angeles and “forget” to tell my grandmother)There were some real gems in this plastic pouch, like this  one from the Desert Inn in Las Vegas.

I love this one from Kentucky Lake, I guess, from the 50’s.

I love this one of Francis Albert Sinatra.


And the Palladium (I bet that Lawrence Welk show rawked the house!)

This one from the Tutweiler Hotel in Birmingham advertised it’s air conditioning.

Of all the stuff in the collection, this one was my favorite…from the El Paseo Inn in Los Angeles:

Ladies in slacks and men without ties…please refrain from dancing. 

I wonder if Pop Collie had any clue that 50 years + after getting these postcards in his posession, that his grandchildren would treasure them so much?  Maybe he did.