As I complete another trip around the sun, I am compelled to reflect back on a lot of things in life. I was born into a poor family in Hobbs, New Mexico on August 21, 1951. And that makes me exactly 66 years old.
From all accounts, I was a happy child. I had no idea we were poor until much later in life. My nickname in school was Smiley.
My sister, Linda, was (and is) my best friend in the world. Even at a very young age, I was holding her hand.
I have a vague memory of the oxygen tanks that were delivered to our house on a regular basis because my Grandfather was dying of some sort of lung disease.
All of my siblings were born in a tent. I was the only one born in a hospital. Mama and Daddy built the house I grew up in. They didn’t have contractors to come in and do the work. They did all of it and held down full-time jobs. I have a vivid memory of my short round little mama on the roof nailing down shingles.
But, I learned so much from both of them. I learned how to control my emotions from my daddy. He had a terrible temper and many times I dodged flying tools when he worked on one of our old cars. From my mom, I learned how to be strong in the face of adversity and how to never EVER give up.
When I was probably four years old, my mom decided to join a Pentecostal church. Daddy went along with it because he loved her, but I’m not convinced his heart was ever in it. So I was raised in a strict fear-based religion.
And I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and explore the world when I turned eighteen.
I had NO idea!
But, when I was nineteen, I met Rick Sikes. And, oh my! How I fell in love. And, so did he. It seemed destined to fail from the beginning. Not only was he sixteen years older than I, but he was a musician and band leader and no stranger to the Texas honky-tonk life. Nothing could be farther from a Pentecostal raising. 🙂
And then…he was arrested on two counts of armed bank robbery and sentenced to 25 years and 50 years in prison. Not much hope of that love ever surviving.
But, it did and in 1985, we were married.
And for the next 25 years, we did a lot of living! I learned how to play guitar and write songs and perform on stage with him.
And then, his health began to fail. In 2003, he became confined to a wheelchair when he had to have his left leg amputated
But, we didn’t give up. We built a recording studio and recorded lots of our songs. Curious? You can see them all here.
And then on May 1st in 2009, he left me, to travel to the next world. I have so many memories and lots of regrets. There were so many things I could have done differently. But, once today is gone, there is no returning to it.
In 2011, I began the journey of writing our story, Rick’s and mine. It’s been a pretty incredible adventure and I have learned SO much since that first book, Flowers and Stone.
Many times, people ask me if I wrote all of these stories as a tribute to Rick and I quickly reply, “No.” I wrote them because it was a story that begged to be told. It encompasses everything from passion, music, crime, redemption, second chances, more music, and mortality. My hope from telling these stories is that they might inspire someone else.
It’s been a helluva ride and I’m not getting off the horse just yet. 🙂
Thanks for letting me reflect a little. This poem I wrote many years ago pretty much sums it all up. (Taken from the Poetry and Art book, DISCOVERY)
Comes the Dawn
After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
You learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security
Eventually, you understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
Then you start to accept your defeats
Head up and eyes open wide
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And learn to build your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
Futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight
After a while, you learn that even sunshine
Burns you if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you can endure
That you really are strong
You truly do have worth
And you learn and learn
With each goodbye – you learn
Happy Birthday to me! AND, I get a Solar Eclipse for my birthday.