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Memories of Cecelia

I Recall...

Robin- I recall Mom's love of the Serenity Prayer---God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. The older I get the more wisdom I see in that prayer.

Chris- Catching mom in the shower after the manager’s banquet?

Steven- Mema has been known to give me the finger, moon me, has invented her own form of cussing that she reserves just for video games, another for sewing/ crochet, and a third for computer errors. I can recall them all at a moment and they are especially useful on days I need a good smile.

Bethany- The time when I got stung by a wasp at Memaw’s house and she ran it under hot water and it hurt like crap but it ended up getting the sting out!

Diana- Being relieved when during the first time I met Cecelia, a discussion arose with Bill, where he was explaining Chrystan’s (3 years old) behavior and his method of parenting, “….but she’s a girl” he said. At which point Cecelia immediately voiced her feeling about the ability of girls as well as boys to be naughty. In knew Cecelia and I were going to get on fine!

Chris- In the car, we kids would get into it and for us it was hilarious. From the front seat, while driving, she would try to swat us and we’d lean back against the seat and watch as she flailed her arm trying to get at any of us!

Chrystan- I remember when Memaw and Pepaw were living with us in Des Moines. One day in particular I had stayed home sick from school. I had fooled Mom and Dad into thinking I wasn’t well, but Memaw was not to be fooled. She took one look in my eyes and said, “You’re not sick, I can see it in your eyes”. She told me that it was just between us and we proceeded to have a fun day of baking and laughing. Goes to show ya, you can’t bullshit your Memaw, not now, not ever!

Steven- I was so happy when my Mema and Pepa moved in with us in Iowa. I loved having her there everyday. Pepa would bring pizza home from work late and Brian and I would go downstairs and hang out and talk. When they moved into their own house I would stop by after school sometimes, or when I was in the neighborhood. I loved being able to have her there to look at my artwork, listen to me, and advise me.

James- The one thing that will always stand out in my memory about Memaw is her ability to show she cared through her actions, through her own hands. I am sure everyone remembers the warm hospitality and banquet feast-style meals that awaited you everytime you came to her house. The large family gatherings where everyone had a place at a table and an overflowing plate to look forward to, Memaw’s love and affection shone through her ability and willingness to provide such basic comfort.

Chris- When I had pains or had hurt my arm or hand, I can remember her mind technique of counting down from 10. As she moved closer to zero she would move her hands from the top of my arm to the tips of my fingers. As she hit zero, she would “pull the pain out”. I’m still amazed at how it worked.

Steven-The summers I spent at my Mema’s house are some of the most special memories I hold in my heart

Chris- Listening to Winchester cathedral on the record player and mom dancing to the oldies.

Robin F.-Our first trip, for me, to visit them was a 4th of July weekend about 4.5 years ago. It was a rough trip with 2 boys fighting with 2 girls and vice versa every chance they could get. And I was new on the scene to throw in an additional ingredient. By the time we got there I was exhausted. I think I was the first one out of the truck and ready to greet me with open arms was Cecelia.

Steven- One time my Mema found a Playboy magazine under my bed while she was cleaning my room. The worst part about it was that I had taken it from her house out of Uncle Brian’s room when he moved out. Today I laugh about it, because it makes me think about a story I once heard about Uncle Chris and Uncle Brian. All of us are so much alike it makes you wonder. . .

Chrystan-How honest she is, even if it’s not what I want to hear. How I can pick up with her like we never left off. How honest I can be with her about anything in my life and there is not judgment, just understanding and love.

Steven-Mema taught me about art, how to bring my thoughts to life, and what to do with the things I hear in my head.

Steven- My Mema is like a 3rd conscience that speaks and advises, sometimes very loudly, as I go about my day. The many bits of wisdom she has shared with me carry me and guide me. I teach them to my children, and hope they hear me when I am not by their side in a moment of need.

Bill- My mom was always beautiful. I remember when she would get all dressed up to go somewhere. I would lean against the bathroom counter, talk to her and watch her getting ready. She would always complain about the way she looked much like she always complained about her own cooking. I knew she knew she looked beautiful because she smiled that smile

Emily-The scary basement; only a memory to look back on and laugh about, or maybe even still get frightened by.

The Lessons...

Diana- Cecelia taught me not to be afraid of attempting yeast bread. She showed me how (always “improving” the recipe just a little…or teaching me the steps that really matter and where an occasional short cut works) and encouraged me not to be daunted by an occasional failure.

Bill-Self Confidence-One time I decided to enter a bike-a-thon to raise money for cancer. I think it was a breast cancer ad that made me socially aware of this important cause. Mom encouraged me to think big (bike-a-thon not breast) and instead of asking my family (like her & dad) to support me that I should go to prominent businessmen in the city. "Like who?","Like Tom Vandergriff" The Mayor and largest car dealer Tom Vandergriff?? This sounded good in theory but when I got to his office I really did not want to go in. Mom made me go in and talk to him. He was actually very nice and down to earth and sponsored me for something like $100. The only psychological damage of the experience was that because of my long hair he thought I was a girl for most of the conversation. The unintended lesson was if you are going to talk to a prominent businessman about money you should "wear a dress for success".

Robin F- How to make vinegar rolls and biscuits from scratch and not to be afraid.

Chris- If anyone ever asks where I got my work ethic from – it doesn’t take a millisecond to respond Mom.

Brian-I learned that you do not appreciate male chauvinist jokes (especially when tired). I remember the time I said that dishes were "women's work" and then I enjoyed the pleasure of doing dishes for a month!

Diana-How to make an awesome lemon pound cake.

Bill- “You can do anything if you put your mind to it” AKA "Don't even think about taking the easy way out". When I first started to think about college it seemed like it would take forever to finish. As a result I was tempted to go to Devry institute for some 2 year bookkeeping program. I think they combined it with a minor in "working on the big rigs". When Mom found out I was thinking about doing this instead of going to a "real" college she let me know she was disappointed I was trying to take the easy way out. She really pissed me off. In fact she pissed me off enough that I went straight to TCJC and signed up. I showed her a thing or thing to that day....what if she had not said anything? Would I be where am I today?

The Laughter...

Diana-One of my favorite “lines”, which I’ve told many people was Billy’s memory of his Mom saying “I always loved going to the bathroom for it was the only time I ever got to see my whole family together.”

Chrystan- Her sense of humor is awesome, though twisted at times, it is great to have a grandparent that can laugh it off. Her wackiness, you never know what your gonna get sometimes, but its fun to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Bill- “If I couldn't laugh at myself I would cry". I must have heard this a million times growing up. Mom's open admission of her self proclaimed foibles combined with a childhood of watching "I Love Lucy" made me believe that I was Little Ricky and dad was Ricky Ricardo. I know mom wanted to be Raquel Welch but "I Loved Lucy". To illustrate this struggle between Raquel & Lucy: one day when I was 13 or so, my friends & I were sitting in the living room watching TV (b&w, no def) the telephone rang (back then the only one we had was attached to the wall in the kitchen). Since I was watch-ing TV with all my friends were present it obviously was not for me, so I didn't answer it. Mom was in the bathtub and heard the phone ringing off the hook. She grabbed a towel, wrapped it around her and ran cursing into the living room where suddenly 4-5 teenage boys were no longer interested in TV. Mom did the sensible thing, turned and left the room, unfortunately towels like TV's were much smaller then. "Gosh, I never saw that before"...one man's Lucy is another man's Raquel

Chris-I recall the time I ruined thanksgiving by talking in the duck voice and pretending the bird on the table was my friend that they had killed? Mom didn’t find it funny!

Steven- Mema has been known to give me the finger, moon me, has invented her own form of cussing that she reserves just for video games, another for sewing/ crochet, and a third for computer errors. I can recall them all at a moment and they are especially useful on days I need a good smile.

Diana-Being my “go to” resource on raising step-children. It was invaluable to have someone really “get it”. James-The caring and sympathy she showed on a daily basis for the growing pains and day to day struggles of those around her. I distinctlyremember when I had a bad headache she would grab me up, rub my temples and otherwise just calm me down. It never failed to make me feel better both physically and emotionally.

Emily-Trips to the market store with Zachary and Papaw, only to get us jelly beans and starbursts……Duck hunt and Mario brothers, arts and crafts, no matter what we were doing at her house, the vacation was more than a blast.

Kevin- Showing me what programs like Photoshop could do with your now infamous “Queen Elizabeth” picture. It was a seed you planted long before I recognized it myself.

Robin F.- Missing us all so much. It's nice to be missed. Emily-Fireworks on the fourth of July, or sitting on her patio, there was always a smile on my face to be lucky to have a grandmother as amazing as her.

Bethany- Delicious vinegar rolls. Diana- For “keeping” Steven and Chrystan, while busy running a store(s), and raising your last 3 kids, so Bill could focus on wooing me.

James- Showing her love in such a open, obvious and nurturing way. Brian- The multitude of conversations, love, patience, and understanding that helped shaped who I am today. Thank you for...

Steven- Teaching me about diversity and about how people can change. I saw her thoughts and attitudes grow and change with the times, and I appreciate the perspective.

Diana- Being my “wife” when you, Pepaw and Brian relocated to Iowa. It was awesome to have you at the house to keep the home fires burning. The adult at home when kids were sick or misbehavin’ and having dinner ready when Bill and I came home from work was a respite for me.

 Diana-Making us feel special when during a large family gathering (I recall 10-15 guests) you and Papaw bought everyone a different colored bath towel and had them hung in a row looking like a rainbow.


Chris- Mom is a veritable fountain of philosophy. I think about thoughts that are reinforced through play back in my mind and she is the source for many.
Just put your mind to it – you can do it.
Christopher, I love you – I just don’t like you very much, right now.
Christopher, don’t let your mouth overload your ass
I swear, I’m gonna knock your teeth right down your throat.
“There’s nothing hidden that shall not be revealed.”


Serena "She's tough.""She tells it like it is.""She calls a spade a spade." Yep, that's what I was told about my mother-in-law that I was soon to meet. My thoughts were: “Oh my Goodness! What am I going to do if she doesn't like me? I need her to like me.” Who knew that shortly thereafter, I'd be exchanging emails, recipe's, phone calls, and lots and lots of laughter. I can appreciate a woman who speaks her mind, because I know where I stand with her, and Mom likes me. Really truly likes me, and I love her. I look forward to the wisdom she is happy to impart, the memories and pictures she shares, and the new addiction to House I have; due completely to the most relaxing vacation I've had in years. Cecelia is a wonderful woman with limitless amounts of love. She is willing to do whatever she can for those she cares about, and that alone makes her wonderful. Com-pound that with all else that makes up the woman some call Cecelia, Mom, or Memaw, and lucky is the feeling that warms my heart.

And Another Thing...

Chris-The artist in mom is something that I believe is one of the main heritages and legacies that come from her. The paintings, the drawings, the shirts, the bell bottom jeans – custom made with vinyl inseams. You can’t talk about the attributes of mom – without talking about her creativity and artistry.

Chris- At times I wonder about mom’s telepathic powers, many times, I would have this feeling that she was calling me and run home. I say, did you call me? And she would say – no – but I was just about to – it’s time for dinner.

Robin F.- She gives me the feeling of "home" whenever I am with her. Kevin- She’s one heck of a dance partner. Chrystan- Your love of your family, you truly love and are so proud of all of us and that is such a treasure to me.

Steven- Mema started my interest in computers. One summer when I came to stay at her house Mema and Pepa had written a book on the computer, it was amazing. They also had some games, Kings Quest and Space Quest. These games were awesome because you had a character you controlled, but they said and did what you told them to do, unlike all of the other games I had played where you basically had a predetermined path. It was like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. If you entered an instruction the computer did not understand your character had very witty responses. Now when I am doing coded pieces of data and I make an error I think my way around it the same way, in my head I hear “You can’t do that here”.

Diana-When just reaching the point in life where Bill and I could “decorate” the house. Cecelia encouraged us to “Do your bedroom first! The kids won’t take care of, or fully appreciate the sacrifice of decorating their bedrooms. Whereas you two will really enjoy it. Great advice!

Chris-We used to drive mom nuts with our fighting. Man, now I know where I sowed those seeds! She would be working at 7-11 and in the summer when we weren’t at school, Billy and I would get into it and I would call her. I can’t imagine how terrible it must have felt from her side to hear that her oldest son was “KILLING” me. One fight was so bad – we really were going at it – and she sent us to our rooms to separate us. The crazy thing was that one of us had an old time hand drill and drilled through the closets so we could talk to each other!

When I was a Child...

You cuddled me safe,
you snuggled me warm,
You wrapped me in love,
you kept me from harm
You taught me to count
my blessings,
great and small
but Grandma,
you were the greatest
blessing of all!-