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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Celebrating Life!


Daddy in Santa Ana, CA 
Today I'm celebrating Life!

Since Saturday, when our family lost our beloved Talmage Cook ... Daddy, grandfather, uncle, friend ... my thoughts and deeds have been centered around him.  Sweet thoughts.  Lingering memories.  Tearful conversations.  All good.  Then today crept up on me ...  

... how could it be that today is my birthday?  I wanted to keep it low-key, giving all my energy to my delightful daddy.  But this morning I thought I clearly heard him yell from heaven's golden gate, "Happy Birthday, Sharon! Go ahead and celebrate!  And while you're at it, shake a leg for me!"  

Yep, that's our Dad ... always joking, laughing and carrying on as if he could actually dance himself.  Parkinson's kept him from the dance in his later years, but nothing could keep him from honking the bicycle horn attached to his wheelchair (a subtle gift from my brother John), and playing Down in the Valley on his harmonica.

The Bible is so right.  There's a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to live and a time to die.  Our days here are numbered.  Eternity is not.  Let's dance while we can.  Laugh as much as possible.  Love all the time.  Because who knows, you might be the one at heaven's gate that is yelling down for your loved one to 'go ahead and celebrate!'

Thanks, Daddy, for giving me permission to celebrate the day I was born sixty-seven years ago in a little southern town in South Carolina.

Snowbirds skating around my Birthday roses

In memory of my father I'm posting the first paragraph of Chapter Three in Lady and the Sea, a novel based on my true story.  Serving in the Navy,  Daddy has finally returned home after a year in Japan and Korea:


   Rose was awakened by someone gently nudging her shoulder.  A deep, familiar voice whispered, "Rose, wake up, Daddy's home."
   She slowly opened her eyes.  In the glow of her night-light, a tanned, handsome man was kneeling next to her bed.  Am I dreaming? she wondered.  The uniform made him look like one of those movie stars she had seen on their black and white television.  The soldier took his daughter in his arms, and she clung to her daddy until her brother leaped out of bed.
   "Daddy!  Daddy!" Philip cheered as he jumped into his father's arms.  "Daddy, now we can play Geepo!"  Talmage loved hiding in closets and then jumping out with arms waving, yelling, "Geepo is going to get you!"  Daddy and Philip could run through the house laughing and screaming for hours.  Rose didn't like the frightful game one bit.
   "We'll play Geepo tomorrow, and next week we're all going to the San Diego Zoo."
   Finally, Katherine said, "It's late; Daddy needs his rest."  Rose caught her mother winking at her father, but she was too young to understand their secret message...


Memories are made of this.




2 comments:

Jennifer Richardson said...

this was the first time in a long,
long while
that your parents were able to celebrate your birthday together!
i imagine they just danced and laughed with joy over their
beautiful legacy....their sweet beautiful daughter who makes them so proud and grateful for the garden they tended on earth.
I imagine there was healing and hugging all around:)

And I hope you celebrate for days and days to come!
-Jennifer

Sharon Leaf said...

Jennifer, I am still celebrating! I say to all readers who still have their parents: give them a call, a visit, to let them know they are loved ... by YOU. They can be surrounded by friends, but no one can take the place of their children, young or old.
I wish you smooth sailing in the days ahead.