Friday, April 18, 2014

Someone to look up to

**this blog is dedicated to my beautiful cousin, Teressa Sloan Chambers.  She has been the definition of strength and courage as she has battled cancer these past 5 years.  She is at peace now in heaven with God.  Join me in praying for her amazing husband Tony and 2 incredible kids, Tara and Tyler- and all of those who are still battling this terrible disease! 

For as long as I can remember, I have looked up to my cousins, Sherrie and Teressa.  I don’t recall the day I realized they were not twins with their long flowing hair. 
All I know is I wanted to be just like them.
Teressa with her beautiful family

Every few months my family would pack up the car in our little Ashland, Ky town and head to the big city of Louisville to visit Mamaw (my mom’s mom), Uncle Paul (my mom’s brother) and Aunt Carolyn, Sherrie, Teressa and “little” Paul, (once he came along).  The visit to their house was always the highlight for us kids.  Sherrie and Teressa were the coolest in my sister and my eyes.  We would dream about what Aunt Carolyn might have made for us and especially hoping she would have a box of clothes that her girls had grown out of.   Squealing in delight, we would piece through the hand-me-downs.  Being the oldest, I was proud to get to wear them first.
As I grew up, we continued our trips to Louisville and being with our favorite cousins.  Teressa was just 4 years older than me, so I watched her with special interest as she moved into the teen years.  I marveled at her and Sherrie's make-up collection and the smell of Noxzema.  Of course, that is what I promptly chose to use when my mom would finally allow me.  I am pretty sure I watched my first scary movie with Sherrie and Teressa because they had all the best TV channels. 
And I know they were the first ones to take me ice-skating.  I remember the patience and never leaving me or my sister behind.

The Sloan Family Reunion started up when I was around 10 and then all of us Sloan cousins from all over got to be together once a year.  Unless you have ever had the pleasure of going to a Sloan Reunion, it would be hard to describe.  For me it was hours of being with my Mamaw, Aunts, Uncles and cousins playing charades, 
laughing at crazy jokes, 
coming up with skits and showing off our talents, 
long games of Uno and Rook, 
hikes, and football games.
And then crying because we had an amazing time of devotions, sharing, praying and singing together.  
Memories that are forever etched in me and today, 
sustain me when I miss my family because I can pull on those times.
As I see it, the Reunion time was a little piece of what heaven will be like. 

It was at the Sloan Family Reunion that Teressa first brought Tony around.   I was in High School, so they couldn’t of been too much beyond that.  Well, all I know is we all fell in love with Tony.  How could you not?  He was the perfect match for Teressa.  It was beautiful to see and to have the honor of being in Tony and Teressa’s wedding.   
As with everything else  I looked up to in Teressa,  I knew that this was the kind of guy I wanted to marry one day too. 

As our lives unfolded, I did find the man of my dreams and all of us Sloan cousins grew up, having our own family and finding ourselves scattered about.  
Life moves on and while we were not able to be together like we used to, bonds had been formed.  
Heritage built.  
Foundation set.
Now as I reflect on it, having Teressa as a role model was easy because she made it easy.   I wonder now how many of those weekends she gave up being with friends to be with us younger cousins.  
Knowing her, I don’t think she minded. 
It was who she was.
Ever Loving, Compassionate, Caring, 
full of joy and always putting her family first.

I can close my eyes still today and hear us all laughing together.

I am forever grateful……
I love you Teressa.

Your cousin,