And now you want to know why, don't you?
Laura Lillian (Billie) Sloan Chesley could be described as rambunctious as a child. Or hellion. Sure, she was beautiful, but watch yourself. She had some sass. (I ought to know, it seems to have rubbed off on her granddaughters.) I'm sure she gave her momma fits in her teens.
Her sons remember one time trying to hide her "whipping stick." About halfway through the endeavor,they decided the punishment would be too much and put the stick back.
She told off doctors. She did what she wanted. She loved with abandon. She lived a LOT of life in her 71 years, even if she spent the last 15 confined to a wheelchair.
And she has always been absolutely, utterly, and wholly supportive of me. No matter what I was doing.
I cooked. And she loved it. I had kids. And she loved it. I sewed. And she loved it. I wrote. And she loved it.
A few weeks before she died, my husband was visiting her and casually mentioned the trouble we were having with my laptop. What he really wanted to do was buy me a new one, but we can't afford it. "Get me my purse," she said. "I'll buy her one."
Of course he turned her down. She didn't need to buy me a laptop. All that mattered was she absolutely wanted to. Billie is one of the few people in this world who accepted me completely for who I am and never once second guessed my decisions (to my face anyway) or belittled my choices. I can't begin to describe to you how very valued that made me feel.
Now, getting back to that fateful morning when I had to decide whether to wear my black and silver "pirate" socks or go barefoot in my shoes so as not to offend anyone. I couldn't help but think how ridiculous Billie would find that problem. "Why are you worried about offending anyone? What difference does it make what they think?"
I want to say,as a Chesley woman, I've done what I can to carry on the proud tradition of being my own person, marching to my own beat, and not following the crowd. I go where my heart leads me.
It's what Billie did, and probably what she's still doing. :) I love you, Mom.