I was born in Mobile, Alabama, June 11, 1956. My mother and daddy were, and still are, awesome parents and I grew up in a home filled with lots of love, even among the rivalry, arguments, and loudness of two other siblings, and often four other cousins. Both sets of my grandparents were hard working individuals where neither of the wives worked outside of the home. Not until my maternal grandfather passed away early near the age of 65, that is. He died suddenly of a heart attack and it truthfully broke my heart. My four grandparents and parents all had a strong faith and it was at the death of my grandfather that I first realized my need for God. I had yet to make a profession of faith, as we called it, and the loss of someone I loved so dearly confronted me with the first thoughts of my eternity after life on earth. But that is another story.
The three of us on our front porch in Semmes, Alabama, early 1959: older sis Kaye in the background, younger brother Tim chewing on his wooden playpen, and me in the foreground running for the camera.
I loved to hear the sound of the car tires as they rattled across the cattle gap at the end of the lane that led to Grandma's house. The gravel crunched as the heavy Oldsmobile we drove lumbered towards the house. Many times we would get out of the car and run in three different directions. If Granddaddy was in the field, I would usually run to get a hug. He would come walking up, sunhat in hand, handkerchief wiping the back of his neck, wearing a big smile just for me. I would wrap my arms around his waist and press my round little cheeks to his overalls. They were always damp and had a familiar scent. Not a bad one, just one that smelled like Granddaddy when he was working in the field. Later, as I aged, I learned to recognize that scent as perspiration, but a fond memory just the same. Granddaddy would squeeze me and ask, "How is my little Sunshine Girl doing"? I would always laugh and say in my very southern drawl, "Gooood." Both he and Grandma called me their Sunshine Girl. I never really got it until after Granddaddy died and Grandma Brown was left to live alone. She was 58 and she lived until just shy of her 93rd birthday. For the last 10 years of her life, my mom cared for her. She touched our lives very deeply.
Grandma Brown looking good!
My Autograph Book
Her message goes straight to my heart every time. I think it is something she and Granddaddy spoke into my life. They gave me a legacy to live up to without even knowing it. Or maybe they did know. Lots of times I share things with others and later find that it was a word they needed and it came at just the right time. Just like I need a ray of sunshine in the dark winter months to lighten my heart and strengthen me with the hope for spring days that will eventually come, we all need an encouraging word in due season. A kind word at the right time is like a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day.
Grandma's Definition of a Sunshine Girl
It is amazing to me how we are all gifted in different ways. Your gift may be sending cards, making phone calls, giving sacrificially to others in secret, or making a meal for someone who could really use it. Sometimes life is not easy. Sometimes everything is not all perky and happy. Sometimes we may not feel like smiling or spreading sunshine and love. But we need to stop and think: it isn't always all about us. Sometimes someone else needs something more than we do. When we put others first instead of ourselves, we will find that we can be Sunshine Girls and Sunshine Boys. Just like Granddaddy said...How are you doin'? We are always busy doing something. And when we do right for others, we can never go wrong. Who needs your sunshine today?