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the path back is the path forward


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this part of the journey. exclamation mark. [k.s. friday]

tpotj song box.jpg

today my sweet momma would be 98.

she was born in 1921 and saw everything change around her. she stood in a world that saw the great depression, world war II, telephones and cars, movies, televisions and news shows reporting on more wars than she could wrap her head around. her husband was missing in action and then a POW shot down over bulgaria, all while she was expecting a baby. she gave birth to their first child while my poppo was still a POW and stood in faith that he would return as that little girl died.

momma built a life with my dad, all the while navigating veteran-ptsd that hadn’t yet been labeled. but she figured it out. she held her ground, both supportive and snapping to action or to “words” as she would call arguments between them.

my sweet momma wore stockings and pumps “to business” and had housecoats with snaps, long flowing mumus and finally, at long last, blue jeans and keds for relaxing. momma drove a mean stick shift and, because they were a one-car family for the longest time, walked to the king kullen and dairy barn for groceries and milk. she turned her very green thumb over to my dad after he retired, likely to keep him out of her hair for a bit of time.

she volunteered as the girl scout president and in aarp alongside my dad. she loved wood and glass; she loved to paint with oils. she loved lists and calendars and math and writing and doing the laundry any time she was stressed. she wrote old-fashioned letters with pen and paper. she adored her word processor and then the computer and finally, her beloved iphone. anything to stay in touch. she texted, she called, she facebooked, she mistakenly took pictures of the ceiling and sent them on errant trips out to the ethers. momma loved to coffee sit and have english muffins or crumb cake or danish or chocolate chip cookies or pie. and she made extra homemade french fries every time she knew I was visiting so we could sit, drink iced tea, eat cold french fries and talk.

she didn’t let fear overtake her. she was strong in every way. she credited being from new york, but i credit just her – she just went with the flow and sort of ignored anything that got in the way, including any physical challenge that presented itself. two days after a double mastectomy at 93 she sat on the side of the hospital bed and, in good humor, sassed everyone around.

she loved that everyone called her beaky. and i mean everyone.

her journey was long, her experiences rich. she was an exclamation mark in life. she celebrated people and love and moments and I miss her.  so much.

but it is part of my journey to miss her.

each of us bring to our journey our own punctuation. sometimes i think i am an ellipsis, but i realize that applies to all of us. we go on…

if i got to choose what singular punctuation i would want to be, i would want to be an exclamation mark, just like my sweet momma. for this part of my journey. for every part of the journey.

download THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

momma, d & k website box

THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998, 2000 kerri sherwood


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lemon meringue pie

a few days ago it was official lemon meringue pie day. now i don’t know who decides these things, but a day (especially right now in our world) dedicated to confection doesn’t seem like a bad thing.  and, seeing that in the paper made me think of my momma.

photomy sweet momma loved lemon meringue pie. no, that’s too mild….she adored lemon meringue pie. in the days prior to chocolate ganache cake (thank you, publix!) she would, sometimes, allow herself to have a piece of this bright yellow unicorn/rainbow/bubble sort of dessert. now, to be fair to other fruits, she also loved all other fruit pies. a piece of blueberry pie and a cuppacoffee made her smile; a piece of lemon meringue could elicit giggles. i mean, really, when is the last time you had that whipped confectionery sugar stuff stuck to your chin and the sides of your lips? you can’t help but giggle. such joy.

the book next to our bed is titled ‘the book of joy’ and it is next up on our read-it-aloud-together list. maybe we’ll start it sitting in adirondack chairs out back. maybe we’ll start it on a blanket on the beach. maybe we’ll start it sitting in the breezes that cross our bedroom, filled with soft light and treasured mementos, our favorite quilt, dogdog and babycat snoozing sounds. just the thought of reading this aloud together brings me joy. joy.

where do we learn joy from? is it something that we are taught? is it something that is inherent in each person on this good earth? is it reachable even by those who are in distraught times, in times of darkness?   is it a right? is it a responsibility?FullSizeRender(1)

my sweet momma was one of those people who was filled with joy. she woke me up every morning with the bright words “good morning, merry sunshine!” or “good morning, my sweet potato!” even in my grouchiest mornings i found it hard to resist smiling to that. i have no idea what she might have been dealing with at those times – her own life stuff with her parents, financial woes, words with my dad, a leak in the basement, personal disappointments or victories, worries about something in our family, what to cook for dinner, menopause or physical challenges, or a plethora of big or little things that were happening. regardless of whatever was in the docket in her mind, she made an effort (without making it look like she was making an effort) to bring joy.

momma’s level of excitement was contagious. she definitely leaned toward full spectrum on the positive side of the emotion band. her reaction to plans you talked about with her always met with enthusiasm…and often glee. the way she met life has set the bar high for me, making me cringe when there are others around me who don’t enthuse or act excited. i remember how she could make a bike hike even just to the dairy barn to buy milk sound like an adventure. joy.IMG_2785

today i am grateful to my sweet momma for teaching me how to lean into joy. this doesn’t mean i am always joy-filled. like everyone, i have my moments when i can be a raving …ummm… or i can feel sadness or grief with every fiber or i can be worried or disgruntled or fed up or overwhelmed by the details of life. but i truly think it was my momma who showed me, by her lifelong demonstration, how to pluck a joyous moment from a day and memorize it. IMG_2784how to write it down or pick up a rock (or a feather or a stick or a leaf) to remember it. how to notice joy and how to save joy. how to be thready about joy. how to lead with joy…in anything. how to own joy. how to be. joy.

there are too few days, i now know, over and over again, for each day not to be find-the-joy-in-today day.  it may be the smallest of things in a ridiculously complex, sometimes-driving-you-to-your-knees challenging world, but it’s there somewhere. i know it’s so. my momma taught me.