Family Pictures: A Stroll Down Memory Lane

brothers and sistersWhen my ex-husband and I separated in 2012, one of the worse things to happen to me was I was unable to get Chef to give me most of my personal belongings. Along with jewelry, furniture, and clothing, which he either gave to his then-girlfriend, destroyed, or simply hid from me, were a lot of my mother’s things. He was severely addicted to drugs, and in his state, irrational and vindictive.

For quite a long time, I had a hard time forgiving him for that part of our break-up. I had never considered myself materialistic at all, but I had to re-evaluate when I found myself wrathful over my mother’s hope chest, my great-grandmother’s apple dishes, and so many of my family’s pictures. When it became clear to me I wasn’t going to get any of these things back, I had no choice but to let it all go. Over time, I had to deal with quite a bit of guilt for losing things that didn’t belong exclusively to me, but to my brothers and sisters as well. It sucked, but I eventually came to terms with it.

Then, about a month or so ago, Chef contacted me out of the blue. He and his newest girlfriend had broken up, and he was moving back to Tulsa. Long story short, he found a house fairly close to mine, and moved into it. In the almost 3 years of separation, this was the very first time Chef wasn’t living with a woman.

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My daughter Caitlyn

Chef had told me years ago that he had lost all of our things when he couldn’t pay for a storage unit. When he told me that, I remember actually feeling sick to my stomach. Everything was gone, now in the hands of strangers who would never know any of the stories behind each precious item.

When Chef was moving into his new house, and in an effort to extend an olive branch, he told me that he had not lost everything in a storage unit. He had been carting around a lot of the things I had been grieving for. For 3 years, he had carried my mother’s things, most of the apple dishes, and a ton of pictures that were of my side of the family. He showed me the neatly packed, marked boxes of things that belonged to me, and to tell you the truth, I was both pissed off and relieved at once. I didn’t grab them and run, as one would assume I would have. When he showed them to me, him thinking I’d be ecstatic and grateful, I was so angry, I turned around and walked out of his house and drove home, without saying one word to him. How could he do that to me for so long?

Mom
Mom

For a week, he badgered me to come get my things out of his house. I don’t know why I didn’t just do it immediately. I guess I felt like dealing with getting some of it back might reopen a wound it took me a really long time to heal from. Having just a little of my things returned to me might remind me of the lion’s share of stuff I would never recover again. But finally, I bit the bullet, grabbed the hope chest and my six boxes, all that was left of 20 years of my life.

The day after I took my things, Chef’s house was robbed, and the vandals wrecked almost everything he owned. Had I left my things one more day, my stuff would have been ruined as well. Crazy!!

The stuff has been sitting in boxes in my room for a couple of weeks now. I haven’t felt in the mood to deal with my past with so many other things going on; but this morning, I grabbed the first box, and began to take inventory of what I had been given back.

Wouldn’t you know it? I found so much joy in the small things I feel the Lord had given back to me, and no sorrow whatsoever about the stuff that is gone forever. In fact, the memories of what all the stuff was, and why I had been sad to lose it, has faded so much, I simply don’t miss most of it anymore — I don’t even remember what most of it was.

I’m putting a bunch of my mother’s pictures on here, Facebook, and in the cloud, lest I ever find myself in the position again of not having access to them.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us back so much!

~ Bird

My dad, Gary Mallicoat and my son, William aka DJ
My dad, Gary Mallicoat and my son, William aka DJ
Rebekkah and our dog Suzie
Rebekkah and our dog Suzie
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Toni Lee Meyn (Mom)
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Shawn, Richard, Elisabeth, and Dude the Dog
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My brother, Richard Aaron
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Ione Marie Antoinette Providensia Matranga Meyn aka Nonie. The dog is named Lisa. Every time one Lisa would pass away, she was replaced by a puppy who was also named Lisa. I thought for the longest time that it was the same Lisa, which at some point was beginning to creep me out. Nonie recycled the name Lisa over and over again…. Lisa?!?
My niece Brytni
My niece Brytni
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My niece, Chloe
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Uncle Michael, Aunt Beverly, Michael Jr, and Lana
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The Matranga/Meyn Line
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Rebekkah, my firstborn
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My nephew Titus
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Me, Michael, and Shawn. Elisabeth flat out hated Santa Clauses guts, and would scream bloody murder if he tried to touch her hence, she is never in any of these pictures.
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Michael and Shawn
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Shawn, Michael, Elisabeth
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Elisabeth and Shawn
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Rebekkah
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Shawn. She always dressed up like a princess. I believe this is her outfit for the first day of school.
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Shawn, Richard, Elisabeth, and Dude
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Michael Cheshire
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Elisabeth and our mom, Toni
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Michael and Shawn
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Michael, when he was a fireman.
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My niece Erin
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Shawn, Elisabeth and Richards grandmother, Neenee, holding Erin

 

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Elisabeth and Shawn
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me and Michael
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My brother Richard
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Shawn and her prom date.
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Me
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Silas, my nephew
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Mom in the USMC – Holding the flag
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Toni Lee Meyn
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Caitlyn, William, Rebekkah
Titus
My nephew, Titus
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Proof that mom gave Michael and I the mad writing skills. 🙂

 

Living The Successful Footnote Kind of Life

bird for fivrr traffickingI’m in a weird place emotionally these days. I get up, go to work, focus on getting results, come home, listen to Rebekkah’s day, clean my home, and the whole process starts again the next day. I can honestly say, I work hard to maintain an outside veneer of pleasant calmness, but inside, something feels off. And despite my herculean efforts to hide my personal battlefronts, people can always tell when I am internally freaking out anyways, because I break out in hives. The more stress I’m carrying around, the more hives I get.

Even worse, I’m just a shade darker than a cold glass of milk, so anything remotely resembling any form of the color red stands out on me like a conquering army’s flag. For two weeks now, I’ve been breaking out here and there with these stress bumps, but today was the final straw. I look like a small pox victim. I have no choice but to start rooting up some of this crap growing in my mind, and tossing it into the incinerator of brutal honesty. So here goes. I’m getting ready to lay down some embarrassing truth about myself. I’ll do this in three parts. Today, I’m addressing my envy.

I.               Comparing my life, and finding it worth less.

I have written before of the successes my brother Michael Cheshire has found as a writer, speaker, and humorist. I have not written much aboutmichael my half-sister, Shawn Cheshire, who is a Paralympic gold medalist. I am the eldest of my mother’s children, while Mike is second, and Shawn is third in birth order. In all of my years growing up and living decades away from my childhood relationships, I would never have dreamed I could be the kind of person who would find myself subconsciously comparing the value of my life with someone else’s. And yet, here I am.

Albert Einstein had a sister named Maja. No one talks about Maja because compared to Albert, what could anyone say? She blew no one’s minds with theories of anything. She was probably wicked intelligent, but it wouldn’t have mattered much. Albert would have outshined her without even trying. I feel like Maja sometimes. Unknown, probably slightly insecure, average little Maja. A footnote in the great life of Albert Einstein.

I know that what I am experiencing is completely normal, and I imagine every person who has ever had overachiever siblings make it into the spot light has felt the same way at one point or another, but that doesn’t make any of this feel better to me. I hate feeling like my own life’s worth has anything to do with anyone else’s successes or failures, and I refuse to allow myself to remain in this strange place emotionally.

majaWhat is even more mind boggling is I’m massively introverted, and having people constantly follow me around with a camera while I’m exercising, or being bombarded by emails, letters, phone calls, or anything else of that sort would make my head explode. I would hate it more than I can put into words. Still, I have a feeling when I die, I might only end up being a quick footnote in the lives of two people who made an impact on the world in a big enough way to get people’s attention. No one sets out in life to end up a footnote. Footnotes are boring. Footnotes suck. I don’t want to be a footnote.

The brutal truth is that I can write too, like Michael, but I probably will never be a tenth as successful with it as he is. He has that spark of magic some people have that can’t be mimicked. His own scars have healed in such a way, he’s able to take the dark parts of life and make them endurable with laughter. That is a gift God gave him, and I do not begrudge him of it. I am proud of everything he has been able to accomplish, and none of it has a thing to do with my own successes and failures. He’s earned his successes.

Nor will I ever be any sort of athlete. Shawn has always had the physical self-discipline to push her body into shawnrunning and exercising. I hate physical crap like that, and it comes as no surprise to me, she took something she loved and made a career out of it. She has always craved the attention and approval of others, and the fact that she was able to find all of that in one neat, tidy package is something I am glad for her about. Unlike me, Shawn’s extroverted nature has always been most comfortable on an invisible stage, living life for an audience. She’s a lot like our mother when it comes to that. I wouldn’t take that away from her either.

My life is my own to make, whether I do anything noteworthy with it or not. A sure-fire way to make it suck, though, is to set unrealistic goals for yourself based on someone else’s life. I’m finished with that. Maybe I’m destined to be a footnote. If I hate the idea so much, then it is within my power to change that. Nut up, or shut up.

Hopefully, this will relieve about a third of these itchy hives.

~ Bird