Avon Broke the Great Gretchen Depression

I won’t lie to you – I have had a rough 2.5 years.  I have spiraled into a pit I thought I would never get out of.  Yes, times could have been worse, and I am grateful it wasn’t.  Terms like, ‘it could be worse’, in my opinion, cause a deeper spin into depression.  When people would tell me, “It could be worse”, well that made me feel worse.  Should I be in this deep of a depression because ‘it could have been worse’?  That would spiral me even further into depression.  But I would paste on a smile and present a semi-false persona to the world.

Yes, I know depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance.  I had a close relationship with my medical team and we have tried all sorts of medicine, but the depression continued.  You see, my depression was being caused by outside factors that affected me, and they went something like this (and in this order):

  1.  Certain family members acting out and misbehaving, wreaking havoc in my life.
  2. Losing my dream job at Stennis due to a contract change.  Fortunately, I was quickly hired by some awesome people, who I forever hold in my heart, but the travel time and pay could not sustain my household.  I got a call from the new contractor at Stennis, was re-hired, but it just wasn’t the same.  I was so thrilled to be back at Stennis, which is the most awesome place to work, but I still was depressed.
  3. I lost my beloved Frank the Faux Pug.  I had him 16 years, and I was his person.  His love was unconditional.
  4. The grief above all else, I lost my mother – the most stable, most remarkable person in my life, my biggest supporter.

In July 2017, I went to my first Avon RepFest.  I had been an Independent Avon Rep for four years, but never did partake in this oh so awesome festivity.  I had been working at growing my team, and my rewards paid off.  Avon nested 40 representatives to my team!  I titled upward, which means my team commission would be higher.  I was overjoyed and ready to work my business.  Between my first generation and second generation, G’Money Avon Team was 100 people strong.  I came home from RepFest pumped and ready to grow, grow, grow.  But I returned home to the same conditions from before my trip, and the depression set in again.

In September 2017, I received a call from a fabulous company in Memphis.  I had interviewed with them when I was losing my job at Stennis the previous year, but to no avail.  My daughter and her family were living up that way.  I had given all my time to helping my son raise my two oldest grands, I figured I could be near my daughter and get to help her with my baby grands.  I did not get any offers in 2017, but God knew I had to be near my Mom when we lost her.  Fast forward a year and I received an offer I could not refuse.  I would have to leave my beloved Spooky Hollow of Southern MS, but something had to give.

During this time of move prep, Hubby had an accident, totaled his truck and broke his neck.  This certainly put things in perspective for him while reflecting on the fact he could have lost his life.

I pack up my bags and head six hours north, by myself, to settle in.  Hubby had to stay home due to medical conditions and the fact I would be living with my daughter’s family.  There really was no more room at the inn, but they lovingly made room for me.  The depression was trying to lift.  I love my new job and I love my co-workers.  Could this finally be a replacement for the job I loved so much at Stennis?  Why yes, yes it could be.  During the three months I temporarily lived with my daughter, I had so much fun with my two baby grands, and another was on the way!  Those babies really got to know me, and this was an answered prayer.

On December 1, I think I was in a meeting, or working on a project with my boss.  When I return to my desk, I have many texts, phone calls and messages from Son and Hubby.  I thought what now.  I figured they were being Drama Queens over something.  This turned out to be a true emergency.  My husband had a stroke and was in the hospital.

Despite the car wreck and stroke, Hubby is functioning better than the doctors thought he would.  Life goes on.  There was still that nagging depression in my head.  I was homesick.  I missed my three acres of fun at Spooky Hollow Southern MS.  Several years back, the Family Unit (which consisted of me, Hubby, Son and two grands) was in transition.  We just moved back from Gulfport, and undecided where to live.  Son had a friend selling a place.  We drove out to look at it.  I said no way in heck was I moving there.  God has a sense of humor.  A month later, my husband lost his job and that spooky looking place was the only place I could afford for all of us on my salary.  I could have crawled in a hole and died.  My grandkids were depending on me, and this was all I had to offer.  For me, that turned out to be the biggest blessing.  Those on my FB page know all the antics we experienced.  We had so much fun on this piece of property, raising the grands.  I had such high hopes of turning this into a productive, and income earning, homestead.  That never happened.  By moving, I was finally giving up on that dream, and that hurt – hurt to the core.

My son talked about moving up by me, starting a new life.  While that wouldn’t be ideal with all of us living under one roof again, I was thrilled at the thought of being near my two oldest grands once more.  I rented a house in a great school district, and figured we would be cramped for a bit until my son got on is feet.  Two events occurred that sent me spiraling downward again.  My son decided to stay south, and there was a possibility my daughter and family were going to be moving back home.  While happy for everyone to be getting on with their lives, I felt my world was really tumbling downward.  I drove home for an all too short Christmas Holiday visit.  This was the worst Christmas of my life, my first Christmas without my Momma.  The two oldest grands were with their Mom, so it was just me, Hubby and Son.  I left early Christmas morning to drive back north, alone.  I cried the whole way home.  I stopped crying long enough to buy boiled peanuts from a street vendor.  That was my Christmas meal – peanuts and Pepsi.  I was utterly miserable and depressed.

Time goes on.  My daughter gives birth to the most spectacular baby.  I was so glad to be living near them this time.  The other two births consisted of a mad dash for me and Hubby headed north.  But shortly after, daughter and family move back south, taking my three baby grands with them.  Hubby had to head back down for an extended stay for doctor visits.  I was truly alone.  I have been surrounded by people for many years, and now I was utterly alone.  I had not seen my sister or stepdad face to face in quite some time either.

If it weren’t for four things in my life, I would have gone totally mad.  I have my faith.  I have my family.  I have my job.  And I have the greatest Avon upline (the person that recruited me) that ever existed.  Karen stuck with me through this depression like she was blood family.  I would have given up on me long ago had I been her.  Karen’s mission in life is to empower women.  She is achieving that goal and living the life!  I kept looking at her and thinking I want to be like her.  I was letting my team down.  It had dwindled from 100 to 60 reps.  If I didn’t snap out of this, I was going to lose everything I worked so hard for.  The wheels were greased and starting to turn in my head.  I am in the process of reconnecting with my team, and growing my numbers.  Karen is with me every step of this way, encouraging me and having faith in me.

I was given an opportunity to return home, but I chose to pass that up for now.  God put me here for a reason, and I need to sit still (something I am not good at) and listen to what He is whispering in my ear.  I have a most wonderful job and co-workers.  After losing my beloved job at Stennis, I know how important it is to the psyche to work somewhere you love.  I know I can coast into retirement with this company.

And after retirement from Corporate America waits my Avon business and team.  I am building my business to be my retirement.  Avon isn’t work.  Avon is fun!  During the height of my depression, between August 2017 and May 2018, I almost quit Avon.  I disconnected myself from my team and my Avon sisters.  That was the worst thing to do.  This group is so much fun and focused.  I love these ladies and they love me.  I reconnected in June 2018 with our group and was uplifted and excited, waiting for the next RepFest.

In July 2018, I went to Columbus, OH for my second Avon RepFest and brought Hubby along.  He caught the Avon bug.  Hubby wants to do everything he can to help me grow.  He saw how much money I was leaving on the table by not excelling at what is readily handed to me, if we work for it.  I was able to walk across the RepFest stage with 200 other reps who had titled up to Bronze Leader since the last RepFest.  This was the most awesome feeling in the world.  I had tears in my eyes crossing that stage, especially thinking about what I almost gave up.  I was able to participate in a milestone breakfast, along with two members of my team.  We have all been with Avon for five years now.

As the history books say, WWII broke the back of the Great Depression.  Well Avon broke the back of the Great Gretchen Depression.

I had to give up my dream of living on a productive homestead, due to health issues and just simply getting older, and the family not putting its all into it.  I never have to give up this dream of Avon being my retirement.  I can work this business when I get home from my day job.  I can work this business when I am traveling with my day job.  I can even work this business from a hospital bed if that ever happens (oh Lord, please don’t let that happen).

Avon is a sisterhood (and brotherhood as the male presence grows in the representative ranks).  I am encouraged, and I plan on encouraging others.  Think you cannot make a living with Avon?  Think again.  Our top representative is a man.  This man had $117,000 in sales in 2017.  Come on ladies!  We need to step up our game.  We had a husband and wife team recognized for team sales of $13,000,000 in 2017.  Yes, that is thirteen million.  Can you imagine what their team commissions were?  My little team of 60 people has sold $110,000 year to date.  That was with me spiraling out of control and being a rotten leader.  Can you imagine what can happen when I pour my heart and soul into this?  Stay tuned and see what I report next year.

Do you need something new and exciting in your life right now?  If so, please consider joining my G’Money Avon Team.  We would love to have you.  You can do this by going to:

  1. StartAvon.com and typing in ghegwood as the reference code.
  2. You can also simply browse my website, YourAvon.com/ghegwood.
  3. You can also see my Beauty Page on FB. @BeautyBuzzwithGretchen

I am not saying I won’t have anymore bouts with depression, because I know I will.  But, God willing, I do not EVER plan to disconnect from Avon again.  God blessed me with this opportunity and I am going to hang on to Him and my business for dear life.  I have a plan.  I am a person that needs a plan.  I read my Bible more.  I need to make quarterly trips back to New Orleans to see my sister, stepdad, his family (which IS my family also – they are wonderful), in-laws, out-laws….  Brief visits to New Orleans re-energize me.  And guess what?  Avon RepFest 2019 IS IN NEW ORLEANS.  You can join us!  I have a plan for diligently working my business.  That is my story and I am sticking to it!

Stay tuned to see what happens during the rest of 2018!  This is me.  I am Avon.

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Reba, Daddy & Me

This trip was almost 40 years in the making.  Hubby wanted to see Reba since he heard her first album, several years before he met me.  As usual, life got in the way, and other needs took place over Reba tickets.  One day, the Heavens opened and granted a wish.  I was going to Avon RepFest 2018 in Columbus, OH and taking the Hubby along for the trip.  Reba would be playing at the Ohio State Fair at the same time.  Gold!  Struck Gold I tell you.  I surprised him with tickets.  I bought the tickets late in the game, so we were not able to sit together.  That was fine.  I knew my Man would be oblivious to anyone else in the room except for Reba.  For me, this concert was all about Hubby.  Little did I know that I would be the one walking down memory lane.

Turns out, I ended up on a row by myself.  People were either on the sidelines dancing, at the booth buying t-shirts, or I smelled because my vehicle A/C broke a few hours back and we were sitting in bumper to bumper Cincinnati traffic before hitting Columbus.  I was minding my own business, enjoying myself, when THAT SONG came out of nowhere.  THAT SONG I had not thought about in years.  Now, I was sitting in the audience, hearing THAT SONG sung in person and it had an even greater impact than it did years ago sitting in Hubby’s truck.  I sat on that row by myself, tears rolling down my eyes.  Memories started rolling in……..

Sometime in 1992, riding with Hubby in his truck, Reba’s beautiful voice came through the radio.  This was a new song, one we never heard before.  At the end, I was bawling my eyes out and said THIS SONG could have been written about me and my Daddy.  Perhaps you heard it – The Greatest Man I Never Knew…..  I cannot hear this song without crying.  I cannot write this blog without crying.

The greatest man I never knew
Lived just down the hall
And everyday we said hello
But never touched at all
He was in his paper
I was in my room
How was I to know he thought I hung the moon

Maybe it was the era of the WWII man, I don’t know.  Red, from That 70’s Show, reminds me so much of Daddy.  Dad did not have much interaction with us.  To me and my sister, our Dad just existed in the house.  We considered the Family Unit to be Mom, Sister and Myself.  We had two older siblings; however, they were already out of the house as we were growing up. Well meaning family members, who should have really shut their mouth, would tell me and Kris that our Daddy was different when Eric and Donna were growing up and he seemed closer to them.  Well thank you very much.  Kris and I had nothing to do with us being late in life babies.  We always figured Daddy, who was almost 42 when I came along, was just plumb tuckered out by the time we became active and needy.  We considered Daddy the grouchy, old German that lived in the house.

The greatest man I never knew
Came home late every night
He never had too much to say
Too much was on his mind
I never really knew him
And now it seems so sad
Everything he gave to us took all he had

Now please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad.  One of my first memories of him was on Saturdays, when Mom was working at the local A&P.  Dad would take a nap around 1:00.  Dad was rather round.  I would watch him in his room as his belly slowly rose and fell while breathing.  I would climb up on his belly and lay there riding the ride.  Never woke him up, or if it did, he never stirred to disturb me.  When I got bored, I would climb back down and go back to my Barbies.  Daddy also loved the Road Runner.  He would belly laugh at the antics of the coyote every Saturday morning.  He and I were the early risers.  We would get up and watch that cartoon together.  Later in the day, Sister, who was into hair and make-up (yet I became the Avon Lady), would want to wash Dad’s hair.  Why, I don’t know, because he didn’t have much to style.  Dad would obediently sit in the bathroom while Kris washed, rinsed then combed his 10 strands of hair.  At some point in the day, I would decide to iron Dad’s handkerchiefs.  I was probably only 6 at the time, and why they let me near an iron, I don’t know.  I would grab a can of starch, spray the kerchief like a maniac and iron, fold once, spray the kerchief like a maniac and iron, repeating each step until the kerchief was folded in the square Dad liked.  Never once did he complain about his handkerchiefs being scratchy on his nose.

Then the days turned into years
And the memories to black and white
He grew cold like an old winter wind
Blowing across my life

Looking back now, Daddy did pay attention to us, but just not in every detail like our Mom did.  Kris and I wanted more.  We wanted hugs.  We wanted loving, undivided attention.  Dad was rather cold.  And loud.  Dad, for the most part, always seemed cranky and yelled a lot.  That is what I remember most – him yelling.

Fast forward several years when I was a pre-teen and Sister was a teen.  The chasm really grew between us and Dad.  We wanted him to take an interest and look at our report cards like Mom did, and have conversations with us.  This rarely happened. Looking back now, during this chasm, I see that I grew selfish and snobby and probably did more to push Dad away instead of trying to draw him in.

We didn’t have much in common with Dad at all.  The biggest bond he had with Sister was his love of fruitcake (Gross!).  Kris could bake anything and everything she put her mind too.  I remember for many years, several months before Christmas, Dad and Kris would work in the kitchen together assembling a fruitcake.  Kris would bake, Dad would soak the finished product in alcohol, then they both would carefully wrap this disgusting concoction, and put it away in a cabinet to let mature.  The Family Unit never touched this stuff.  What we didn’t know was Dad would bring the fruitcake to work to share and would brag on his daughter’s baking abilities.  I heard he bragged on me too.  About what, I don’t know, because Sister sucked all the craft talent out of the Family Unit.  I can’t even draw a stick man.

Fast forward to when I turned 14.  Our oldest sister FINALLY had a baby.  This little package was so welcomed into our family.  Dad, the grouchy, old German, turned into a puddle of mush.  We had no idea who this man was.  He invaded the Family Unit with a vengeance.  When my niece turned one, Dad drove home from work with the biggest stuffed teddy bear I had ever seen.  He had it sitting in the front seat of his truck when he pulled into the driveway.  I blew a gasket.  I made a big scene about the fact he never, ever did anything like that for me – and I was his baby – the baby of the family!  Six months later on my birthday, he rolled into the driveway with the same teddy bear for me.  I saved that thing until a few years ago when we downsized. I had no more room for this big blue and white stuffed monstrosity, and stuffing was leaking everywhere.

Over the next few years, the grouchy, old German started changing.  He became human.  Old Woody was yelling less, he loved our friends – our friends actually came to our house to see him!  He would sit in front of the TV and laugh his head off watching Three’s Company.  He came to parades to see me march with my high school Flag Team.  Who was this man?

And then we learned just how cruel fate could be.  Dad was gone in a blink of an eye.  He died one month before I turned 18, 4 months before I graduated high school and 4 months before my sister’s wedding.

The greatest words I never heard
I guess I’ll never hear
The man I thought would never die
He’s been dead almost a year
He was good at business
But there was business left to do
He never said he loved me
Guess he thought I knew

Dad has been gone almost 40 years now, about the time Reba was breaking into the country music scene, about the time Hubby was first hearing of Reba.  Full circle – closing the gap with me hearing THAT SONG live.

My Dad was once a grouchy, old German, but he was my grouchy, old German.  He was my Dad.  He is MY DAD.  And I love you.  Guess I thought you should know.

Spring, Harmful Sun Rays & Bugs are in the Air!

Spring!  Spring is in the air.  And so are harmful sun rays and pesky insects.  I really dislike both.

Fortunately, we no longer live in medieval times and have modern ways of handling this.

I am no sun worshiper, but I do not want to look like a porcelain doll either.  Did you know that in Medieval times, women wanted to look ghostly pale.  Laborers were naturally tan from doing manual labor in the sun.  These were the lower class people.  Women of means wanted to show off their social hierarchy by going out of their way to NOT look naturally tanned, proving they were above having to work outside.   This meant using a very white make-up on their face.  Unfortunately, this make-up consisted of lead, which lead to poisoning, facial deformity, sores, and sometimes death.  EGADS!

Today, we have almost equally dangerous fads, but we use these to look tanned – golden – sun kissed.  Indoor tanning (tanning beds, booths and sunlamps) can be just as dangerous as outdoor tanning.

One time, pre-cruise, I wanted to by-pass the boring task of laying in the sun, or spending a month in a tanning bed, and decided to try a spray on tan from a local business.  Really?  What was I thinking.? I am highly claustrophobic.  I stepped into this little booth as instructed, wore eye protection, and put the little plugs in my nostrils.  As soon as the spray started (down by my feet), I got so nervous anticipating this hitting my face that an elevated anxiety level kicked in.  I started hyperventilating and blew those nostril plugs out of my nose.  The plugs flew clear across the room.  I stepped away from the spray to retrieve the plugs because I knew I was going to die if I didn’t put them back in my nose.  I stepped back into the spray, got confused about when and which way to turn that I ended up looking vertically striped on my cruise.  Never again.

In addition to the harmful sun rays, we have to protect ourselves against insect bites.  Insect bites are no longer just an itchy annoyance.  We now have to worry about West Nile disease, Lyme disease, and the Zika virus to name a few.  That’s right – summer is not as carefree as it was in the days of our youth.

These days, I simply garden (not during the hottest part of the day) and use sensible sunscreen and Bug Guard.  Thank God I am the Avon lady.  I have tons of products at my beck and call.

My first deet-free pick is:

Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535® Expedition™ SPF 30 Pump Spray

Now at nighttime, especially if you are in a swampy area, my favorite pick for then is:

Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Pump Spray

Now for my grands, my favorite is a blue disappearing lotion.  I know where I covered the skin on their squirmy little bodies, and I know they are protected against harmful rays and disease carrying insects.

Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535® SPF 30 Cool ‘n Fabulous Disappearing Color Lotion

What I really like about our Bug Guard protection is no longer being bugged by those pesky no-see-ums.  Have you ever been attacked by no-see-ums?  You can feel the bites, see the whelps appearing, but do not see something to swat at.  Please!  You cannot go wrong with our Avon products.

Best of all, after a day of being in the pool, or the muddy garden, and you are ready for shower or soak in the tub, you can now treat your skin to our fresh herbal smelling, soothing, tried and true product that is celebrating its 50th birthday:

Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil

Our most iconic brand, with the quality and benefits you love. It’s America’s favorite bath oil, and sure to be yours, too! Moisturize your skin while you bath with Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil. This jojoba infused bath oil is perfect for daily use. Its fresh herbal scent is made to both awaken and relax your senses. This luxury bath oil is made to open your pores for maximum moisture absorption. Turn dry or rough skin silky smooth faster than you thought possible. This 16.9 fl oz bottle is great to use while bathing or for direct application afterword.

Check out our products, you will not be sorry.  Feel free to contact me at AvonGretch@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

Visit my website to shop Bug Guard and other great Avon products:  www.YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

First Month Without My Momma

The first thing I had to learn to do in this life without my Momma’s support was to mourn her loss.

Growing up, Momma was my entire center.  Sure I had my dad, but he was a typical WWII survivor dad – the old time era dad.  My dad worked and supported his family.  That is how he showed his love.  Red, from That 70’s Show, reminds me so much of my dad.  It’s not that he didn’t love us – he just had a different way of showing us.  Mom, on the other hand, was our center – strong and soft at the same time.  Momma brought home the bacon also, and still managed to have supper on the table at 6:00 every evening for my dad.

After Mom died, memories, long ago buried, started re-surfacing.  On my way to work this week, listening to the Jesus radio station as I always do, the preacher was teaching the power of praying – really praying – as taught to us in Matthew 6:9-13:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.'”

Listening to this is when I remembered a long ago buried memory, having to learn my prayers when I was a young student at St. Anthony.  I remember reciting this over and over to Momma right before bedtime.  I got tired of the repetition, and said something like, “Give us today our daily bread, and all that other junk.”  Whoa.  That did not sit well with my devout, Catholic Momma.  She admonished me lovingly, but sternly, and I never said something like that again during prayer.

So now I return to The Lord’s Prayer for comfort – your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.   Oh how I look forward to the day I get to see Momma again.  Next time will be in heaven.  My Momma had such a strong faith and truly believed John 3:16:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Friends, if you do not understand this verse, I beg you with the strongest urgency to seek someone to explain this to you.  It is literally the difference between heaven and hell.

In the meantime, time passes slowly for me here on earth.  Every Saturday I am paralyzed.  I go to bed on Friday night, and do not resurface from my room until Sunday.  Saturday’s since Mom’s death, have been deep, dark mourning for me.  I probably should have been reading my Bible, but I am being mindless, sleeping off and on and watching Hallmark Channel movies.

Next Saturday, my Avon business will break this pattern.  I have a booth in the Picayune Spring Street Fair and I must get up to work.  I am dreading leaving my bed and having to be social again.  But, in the end, this will probably save me and get me back to the land of the living.

The month mark approached of Mom’s death.  I went to bed early on Friday, but woke up around midnight.  I did not want to be up at 3:00 a.m. Saturday, marking the time of death.  I tossed and turned and finally fell asleep.

So the 4th Saturday rolled around.  I had been looking at this date on the calendar since Mom’s death.  What did I expect?  Did I expect to feel differently after a month of her being gone?  Well I don’t.

I miss my Mother.

This has been the longest month of my life.

Is God a Man?

The day started with my usual routine, driving my baby girl to school while on my way to work.  Some days we ride in silence, some days we sing Christian songs at the top of our lungs, but today, Sophie was inquisitive.

The first question posed to me was, “Is Mark Twain still alive?”  I wanted to giggle, but I seriously replied, “Well, no, my sweetheart, but he lives on through his stories.”  I was thinking what a goofy kid, until God popped a long lost memory into my head.  Probably close to 50 years ago, I was on vacation with my BFF, Celeste.  Her mom was telling us about Methuselah being a man that is reported to have lived the longest, 969 years.  I was in awe and asked Mrs. Lee if he was still alive.  I guess the granddaughter apple did not fall far from the grandmotherly tree.

So we are merrily riding along when Sophie poses the next question to me.  “How do we know that God is a man and not a woman?”  Well, I guess that is a good question on this International Women’s Day, but she should have known the answer to that.  I replied, “the Bible refers to our Father (not Mother) in heaven, as in this verse:

‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  –Luke 12:32″

She was satisfied with both answers so far.  But then, she drops the strangest on me by far.  “If Jesus walked on water, did He swim on the land?”  I had to shake my head on that one.  I had to think of how to reply to this, but God provided the answer.  Matthew 14:22-33 popped into my head.

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

So I told Sophie that Jesus did not have to swim on the land.  Jesus walked on water to teach a lesson of faith to his disciples and that was sufficient without adding the extra step of swimming on land.

Sophie was quiet a moment, probably contemplating her next question.  Fortunately for me, we turned into the school yard and I deposited my inquisitive, precious little package in the drop off line, wishing her a great day and giving her all my love.  As I drove off, I said a silent prayer for her teachers.

A Mardi Gras Memory

The setting was Mardi Gras day on St. Charles Avenue, sometime over 46 years ago.  I do not remember my exact age.  But I remember the incident, and I remember it well.  I was sitting on the family blanket, in the family area my family staked out, probably eating fried chicken.  I was people watching.  The neutral ground was quite crowded with revelers.  I saw a man with a concerned look on his face approaching people and asking a question.  I saw the people all shake their heads no.  He wondered off and I continued whatever I was doing at the time.  Eventually, I saw the man again with his hand holding on tightly to a woman’s arm, pretty much dragging her behind him.  In my little child mind, I am thinking these people were old, but looking back, they were probably in their very early 20s.  The girl was beautiful and I liked her wavy hair.  (As I got older and remembered this incident, I compared her hair to Scarlet O’Hara hair.)  The man shoved her against a utility and pole and pushed her hard against it several times while he was telling her something in her ear.  I will always remember the look on her face.  No one in their group said anything to the man for doing this.  The girl sat on a blanket with other women and was quiet for the longest, while the man circled close by behind her.  Eventually, she was drawn into their conversation and started looking normal, so I quit watching.

In my active imagination, over the years I wondered about this woman. Did she stay with him, endure years of violence, bringing children into the fold and crippling their little minds?  I always hoped she escaped from him and moved on to a normal relationship.  Why didn’t anyone from their group stop the man from doing this?  Why did they sit by watching this woman be abused?  What happened to the man?  Did he grow out of this abusive phase and become a loving husband to someone?  I doubt it.  In my meanest thoughts, I hope someone dished out to him what he had probably dished out to that woman.

I never forgot this, and I was not even a part of this incident.  I only saw this one time.  To think, little children who are in a family of abuse have to witness this repeatedly.  My heart breaks.

I am thankful to have partnered with a company in which speaking out against domestic violence is part of the corporate responsibility.  In 2004, the Avon Foundation for Women launched the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program.  Speak Out builds awareness, educates, and develops and implements prevention and direct service programs. Some of these projects are global, focused on ending gender-based violence and strengthening domestic violence laws.  Nearly $60 million has been raised globally by this foundation to support its goals.

Did you know 1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence in her lifetime?  This staggering number shocked me. Does this number shock you into action?  You, too, can join corporations that are socially responsible.  I urge you to do your research and join the fight.  Your efforts are multiplied exponentially when you combine efforts with a socially responsible corporation.

Should you decide to partner with Avon,  you can do so in two ways.   You can shop Avon Empowerment products, in which a portion of the proceeds are donated to the foundation.  You can check this out at http://www.YourAvon.com/ghegwood.  (Search ’empowerment’.)

Or, you can join me as an Avon representative and spread the word.  Go to http://www.StartAvon.com and type in ghegwood as the reference code to join my team.  Our mission is to improve the lives of women globally. In our core cause areas of Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence, we aim to accelerate progress, accountability and discovery, while also reducing the social stigma that sometimes keeps these issues in the shadows.

I am sure when I titled this blog “A Mardi Gras Memory”, you certainly did not think this would be about domestic violence.  I do have many wonderful Mardi Gras memories, but this one really sticks.  I want to help decrease incidents such as this so that children can fill their heads with better memories, such as doubloons, beads and marching bands.

 

Funeral for a Strong Woman

This day has come.  And it has come too soon and suddenly.  I should not be surprised, after all, since you are 95 years old, Mom.  The day has come too soon because you told me you were going to live to be 100.  The day came too suddenly because you have never had a terrible sickness in your life, Mom.  Your strong will finally had to succumb to death.

But this has truly turned into a celebration of life – your life Mom.  You would not believe the people who’s lives you have touched.  You would not believe the support your daughters had because you raised us to be the people we are, and our friends care deeply about us.

When I first walked into the parlor, Kris was sobbing uncontrollably.  I was oddly calm.  I knew this strength came straight from God because of all the people praying on my behalf.  I hugged Kris and reminded her you told her to take care of me, because I am the baby.  We had a little giggle about that.  Kris and I walked hand in hand to your casket.  Oh Kris helped pick out the most beautiful coffin.  You so loved roses and Paw always flooded you with the most beautiful rose bouquets throughout your marriage.  Your coffin was rose colored, with roses engraved in it, and roses embroidered in the lining.  You look beautiful wearing the wedding dress you wore almost 32 years ago to marry Paw.  Your fingers are beautifully manicured in that red nail polish you always liked.  You are holding your treasured rosary, and Eric’s cross is lying beside you.  You look beautiful, Momma. More beautiful than anyone else I have ever seen in a coffin.  In my opinion, most people look terrible in death, while mourners look down and say, “Oh doesn’t she look pretty?”  I always want to yell, “No she does not – she is dead!”  That is why I made my husband and kids promise to cremate me.  But you are different, Mom.  You are truly beautiful and look at peace.

Mom, the parlor started filling up with your friends, Paw’s friends and our friends.  Mom please do not worry.  Kris and I work with some fabulous people and they were there to support us (and mine had to drive quite a ways to get there).  We also have fabulous friends, old and new, that were there.  I even had an Avon sister that we have only talked online, but she came to your funeral because she felt like she knew you through my stories.  Kodi’s in-laws came all the way from Purvis to New Orleans, at the height of Mardi Gras season, to see you one more time.  Your Theta group was there to honor you and gave a wonderful little ceremony on your behalf.  Two ladies from the group said I sounded like you.  They said they heard my voice and laugh from the hallway (meaning I am loud like you) and both were astonished at how much we sound alike.  I was truly honored by this.  Kris and I have had hundreds of messages from well wishers that could not attend your funeral, but they were thinking of us.  This was beautiful, Momma.

Of course, Kris had to tell my co-workers about the time I came home drunk at 15 and you were horrified.  Oh big sisters!  What am I going to do with her, Momma?

And I want to thank you, Mom, for marrying Paw.  You knew what you were doing marrying into that wonderful family.  Kris and I gained a sister, brother, nieces, nephews-in-law and great nephews.  These are truly wonderful, loving people.  They honored you so wonderfully.  They mourned as if they were actually born to you.  They knew your love for them and you have touched their lives tremendously.  And you might get a priest out of one them, Mom.  Little Sammy is definitely touched by God.  He is so pious and grounded in God’s word.  Even though he is not blood related to my brother, I think he just might join the Seminary, just like Eric.

I was calm until the closing of the casket.  Wait, you are taking my Mommy away.  That was rough, very rough.  I cried until I thought I was going to throw up.  We got into the vehicle to follow your hearse to church.  I was almost to the point of hyperventilating.  Guess what was on the radio?  Vince Gill’s Go Rest High on the Mountain.  That supernatural calm returned.  This was another gift from God.  Then Collin Raye’s In this Life.  Yes, in this life, I was loved by you.  Being loved by you is the most precious gift God has given me.

As we walked into church, behind your casket, I had to concentrate on the man (from Mothe’s Funeral Home) walking at the head of your casket.  He was walking backwards, holding onto you.  I had to concentrate on this for two reasons, (1) That he could walk so well backwards, and (2) concentrating on him walking backwards kept me from thinking that your little, lifeless body was laying in that casket.

Mom, your Mass at St. Cletus was beautiful.  Your favorite song, Ave Maria, was sung.  Father Tuan Pham gave a phenomenal sermon all about your goodness.  He made us laugh.  He said after every Sunday Mass, you would kiss him on the cheek and call him Junior (because that is what he was called in Seminary).  That sounds just like you.  Dana, your granddaughter, gave wonderful readings.  Her voice was clear, steady and paced perfectly.  But what I was most impressed about was that Dana could walk up and down those steps in high heels without tripping or falling.  You know I could never do that, Momma.

But I must admit, me, Scooter and Jay kind of misbehaved in church.  It has been quite a long time since I sat through a Catholic mass and some of the wording was changed.  I said Amen at the end of everything, but some of the replies were words such as “Thanks be to God.”  Scooter told me to stop.  So every time I said Amen I turned to him to make my point – gosh darn it!  He said if I keep it up he knows where I am going.  Then he spiraled his hand downward.  We giggled.  Father Pham came down from the alter to shake our hands and I almost missed it because I was goofing off with the family behind me.  I turned around in time to give him a kiss on the cheek and call him Junior.  When Father Pham began the Eucharist, and retrieved the host from the sacred place, Jay said “Well that’s the man who had the Holy Grail all this time.”  Mom, that kid is so funny and it was all Scooter and I could do to not burst out laughing.

This reminded me of another time in church, probably about 45 years ago.  You, Kris and I were sitting in our usual area.  There was a tiny ant crawling on the back of the pew in front of us.  You did not see it because you were intently listening to what Father Poche’ was preaching.  Kris and I, on the other hand, were quite entertained by the ant.  The ant crawled onto the back of the lady in front of us.  Kris and I looked at each other, giggled and watched the ant crawl circles on her back.  Then we had to stand.  The ant crawled downwards and starting crawling circles on her rather large backside.  As it is in the Catholic Mass, sit, kneel, stand, sit kneel, stand.  She sat.  Uh oh!  Kris and I waited with bated breath to see if the ant survived.  We were elated to see the ant crawling up her back again.  This tiny entertaining creature got back onto the back of the pew.  It crawled past Kris and she moved her hands so the ant could march on.  It crawled past me as I moved my hands away.  And then – you spotted the ant and squashed it with your thumb.  The end.  Kris and I looked at each other horrified.  We had quite some time invested in that ant!  What a memory to pop into my head during your Mass.  But this reminded me of good times, such as leaving church to head to McKenzie’s Bakery for a ‘sweety’, then heading home to eat the wonderful Sunday meal you cooked for us.  Such fun, innocent, carefree times for me and Kris.

Back into the car to follow you in your final ride to the cemetery.  You are riding in style, Mom, like the Queen of Mardi Gras.  We arrive to your final resting place.   You are being reunited with my Dad.  Kris, Cindy and I are sitting holding each other.  I start rubbing their necks because I can feel how tense they are.  Father Pham is saying beautiful words – I think – because Cindy and I were busy battling gnats.  Good grief, can we have a moment, please?

We now head to the house you and Paw have shared all these years.  Cindy’s church bereavement group have been busy setting up food.  We had a wonderful time celebrating you with family and friends.  We were missing your presence terribly.  You would have loved being a part of this.  All the great grandchildren were outside playing, running, laughing, having such fun.  It was good to see children in the old neighborhood again.  Mrs. S. had been at the funeral and she came to the house after.  I know this was so hard for her, so soon after losing her son.  But she loved you so much she was able to push past this pain.  The chocolate brownies didn’t hurt either.  You know Mrs. S. and her love for chocolate.  She taught me how to make a chocolate sandwich – remember that?  Well I poured her a tall glass of chocolate milk to go with that chocolate brownie and we shared stories.

Life goes on and things already start happening.  Your microwave broke, my washing machine breaks – all of this to remind us that we cannot melt into a puddle and stop living.  Life goes on and we will carry your memory with us.  We will draw on the strength you have exhibited your entire life.

Night time comes.  I do not give in to tears and self-pity.  Instead I thank God for all the wonderful years I have had with you.  I am thankful that you now get to spend time with Eric and Donna.  It is their turn to have you.  I will see you again one day, due to God’s promise of eternal life.  And I thank God so much that in this life, I was loved by you.