Honoring Dad–Happy Father’s Day

Their presence was never in doubt; it was as it should be. They were always there in the neighborhood in every single house. You could see them every day. Most of them left early in the morning while others would just be coming home. Dinnertime was always held around their schedule, and everyone’s presence was expected.

Their jobs were as varied as their personalities. The factories employed some; stores were the employers of others. There were those who worked in the carpentry business and others who could repair any and everything. One even worked for the school system.

These individuals took their faith very seriously even though some did not attend church regularly. They were all Protestants with most being Baptist, one Church of Christ and even one Christian Methodist Episcopal member.

The strong sense of education was instilled in all of them even though some had not received a high school diploma. There were those that had gone to trade schools or learned a trade in the military. Inside this small group was one that had graduated college. Yet they were basically the same. In each of their households college graduates would be produced.

There was the love of sports that could be heard and seen on numerous days. I don’t remember any teams they routed for except the Dallas Cowboys, the Womack High School Leopards and later on the Longview Lobos. If any of them ever played organized sports, I don’t remember– except for the one.

Since it was before the age of central air, the outside was important to all of them. They believed in growing things even though none of them were what you would call a gardener. Some were into flowers, others trees and even others vegetables. In essence our neighborhood was abundant with life that was shared with everyone.

In each house the nightly news was seen. Most were Walter Cronkite followers. In one house though, the Huntley Brinkley Report ruled the news hour. All were very knowledgeable of the world. Voting was not something taken lightly; they took it as an earned honor and did so with gusto and pride. There was not a Republican among them.

Their love of family was always there, but their upbringing did not consist of showing affection in public. They had been taught to be strong, to be the protector, and most of all to be the best provider possible.

Strong Black fathers who headed their households with strength and dignity were abundant on Della Lane in Longview, Texas in the 60’s and 70’s. These gentlemen were good husbands and loving fathers. The last one left us this year. To all of them I thank you for teaching the children of Della Lane what “fatherhood” means. I thank you for leading by example, especially the teacher, sports playing, Huntley Brinkley watching, Methodist one–my dad, Quintell Cooper. Happy Father’s Day and God Bless to all strong fathers.

I lived on Della Lane in Longview, Texas for all of my childhood.  For most of that childhood the neighborhood held the same families, so in essence I grew up with the same people around me.  There were fathers in every home on Della Lane, and as far as I can remember on all of Fox Hill–which is what we called our part of town.  The fathers on Della Lane were: Mr. Robert Adams, Mr. R. T. Scott, Mr. Boyd Bradford, Sr., Mr. Emory McLemore, Mr. Tom Garlon, Mr. Roscoe Adams, Sr., and my daddy, Mr. Quintell Cooper.  All of them are gone now, but they live on in their children and grandchildren because they led by example.

If your father or father figure is still with you, don’t forget to give them a call.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

Difficult Times

There are no words to express the feelings and emotions that I have had the last few weeks.  They have been all over the place.  What I can tell you though is that “faith” and belief in God can get you through anything.

Last week I was called upon to make the final arrangements for my cousin who died somewhat unexpectedly.  This is not my first time making final arrangements for a relative, but it is my first time doing it solo.

The first thing I did was to pray when I learned that I would be the one handling everything, and pray I did.  As a woman of a certain age, I know that these things are beginning to be more and more frequent.  As I told another cousin “we are our parents now”.  We are now the ones who have to step up and make the decisions.

My heart was and is still heavy with the loss of my cousin, but my faith puts a smile in my heart when I remember that she still called me by my childhood nickname (no I’m not going to tell you). My heart is warm because I know that all of the pain has stopped.

My heart is smiling because I know that God does not make mistakes. My heart smiles because I know that even though this is a sad time I must remember the wonderful times we had together. As women of a certain age, we take on different roles as we mature, but each role is very important. Remember as you are called upon in difficult times that “thisisyourbestyear”. You were able to handle the situation.

Precious Christmas Memories

Two paper Christmas ornaments made so many years ago always find a place on our family Christmas tree.

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This one was made when our oldest was in elementary.

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Our baby created this Christmas ornament when she was in elementary too. We have to prop him up now, but he always finds a place on our tree.

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As a woman of a certain age I am very sentimental. Our Christmas tree has the same decorations each year. We just add one or two each year. Some years we add special moments such as births, graduations or just remembering family and friends.  The decorations go back as far as 1977.

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The last third grade class my mom  taught made her this one. She put it on her tree in Longview–now we put it on ours. The words may be faded, but the memories are there forever.

Memories are so precious because theisisyourbestyear”.

Celebrating All the Time–It’s my Birthday

I can’t believe it, but it is here again, my birthday.  For all of you who dread birthdays, get over it.  Oh, at one time I did.  It is amazing how much birthdays’ can change our demeanor.  Remember the excitement of turning “13”–you were officially a teenager; you were no longer a little child.  Then when 16 happened, you thought the world had opened up for you.  In my case it was dating–even though no one asked me out, it was the thought that counted.

At the age of 18 we were graduating high school, joining the military, getting married, going to college and so much more.  We were grown and still happy with birthdays.  The age of 21 gave us the right to drink legally back then, and of course we were really happy–cheap wine was to be had.  Even the ages of 24, 25 and even up to 29 were happy times.  Then for women the dreaded age of 30 appeared.  Women were now about to become their mothers.  We were never the same.  With each decade, we let society tell us what to do.  Well all I can say is STOP IT!!  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

My good friend Avis always says when you can wake up, it’s a good day.  My former pastor, Rev. Jerome B. Price always said if you can look in the mirror and know who is looking back at you it’s a good day.

This year I have come to a conclusion, and I have made a plan.  I will celebrate the entire year, and next year on October 2, I will start the process again.  My plan includes learning something new every month.  I know I learn something each month, but now it will be intentional.  I will  sign up for a class, go to a seminar, read a book, go to an exhibit–I will learn something.

I will use everything that is in my house.  I hate paper plates.  When we look in the cabinet and the everyday dishes are not there, we will reach up and grab the “good” china.  Save it for what–“thisisyourbeswtyear”, and it is my birthday–so it is special.

I will wear everything that is not too little in my closet or get rid of it.  It may be to big now, but that’s what they make pins for.

I am going for an unexpected getaway.  I’m going to see a special in the paper and just pack and go.

I am going to pamper myself with any and everything a spa can offer.

To celebrate more I’m going to cook Saturday brunch for my family so that we can all be together and so they can go home after about 3 hours (love them though).

I’m going to play more, and laugh way more than before–why, because it’s my birthday.

This year the little girl born in the piney woods of Longview is truly a woman of a certain age.  Happy Birthday to me.

If I could tell the little girl at the top of the page one thing it would be: “thisisyourbestyear” no matter what age–enjoy the ride, it goes fast.

Don’t Believe the Hype–Strong Black Fathers Have Always Been In the Picture

Their presence was never in doubt; it was as it should be. They were always there in the neighborhood in every single house. You could see them every day. Most of them left early in the morning while others would just be coming home. Dinnertime was always held around their schedule, and everyone’s presence was expected.

Their jobs were as varied as their personalities. The factories employed some; stores were the employers of others. There were those who worked in the carpentry business and others who could repair any and everything. One even worked for the school system.

These individuals took their faith very seriously even though some did not attend church regularly. They were all Protestants with most being Baptist, one Church of Christ and even one Christian Methodist Episcopal member.

The strong sense of education was instilled in all of them even though some had not received a high school diploma. There were those that had gone to trade schools or learned a trade in the military. Inside this small group was one that had graduated college. Yet they were basically the same. In each of their households college graduates would be produced.

There was the love of sports that could be heard and seen on numerous days. I don’t remember any teams they routed for except the Dallas Cowboys, the Womack High School Leopards and later on the Longview Lobos. If any of them ever played organized sports, I don’t remember– except for the one.

Since it was before the age of central air, the outside was important to all of them. They believed in growing things even though none of them were what you would call a gardener. Some were into flowers, others trees and even others vegetables. In essence our neighborhood was abundant with life that was shared with everyone.

In each house the nightly news was seen. Most were Walter Cronkite followers. In one house though, the Huntley Brinkley Report ruled the news hour. All were very knowledgeable of the world. Voting was not something taken lightly; they took it as an earned honor and did so with gusto and pride. There was not a Republican among them.

Their love of family was always there, but their upbringing did not consist of showing affection in public. They had been taught to be strong, to be the protector, and most of all to be the best provider possible.

Strong Black fathers who headed their households with strength and dignity were abundant on Della Lane in Longview, Texas in the 60’s and 70’s. These gentlemen were good husbands and loving fathers. Very few of them are with us now. To all of them I thank you for teaching the children of Della Lane what “fatherhood” means. I thank you for leading by example, especially the teacher, sports playing, Huntley Brinkley watching, Methodist one–my dad, Quintell Cooper. Happy Father’s Day and God Bless to all strong fathers.  If your father or father figure is still with you, don’t forget to give them a call.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.