Change of Heart

Do you wonder why you’ve been given this life?  What it’s all about?  What are we doing here, anyway?

I’ve come to the very uneducated conclusion that it is to change as many hearts, thoughts, and words from fear back into love as we do what we are naturally drawn to and enjoy.

Do you agree?  Do you have what it takes to do that?  Do you really matter?  Does anyone really care about what you have to offer?  Are you really the change you wish to see?

My thoughts:  You do matter.  What you have to offer matters, your simple talents and small gestures matter, every smile, every hug, every vote of humble confidence, every droplet of creativity, every thought and word-all of you matters.  I wonder how many go to their grave never realizing their impact, their worth, their value.  And, I wonder how many people live out the mundane day to day-never realizing all of the opportunities around them to make simple but powerful impressions in order to live a more meaningful life.  How are we going to make the world a better place if our own corner looks a mess?  A question I’ve made friends with.

So, when I asked myself how I was going to make a difference in my corner and what I was going to do in this life to leave my mark I decided to ask myself who has impacted me most?  Who around me embodies what I hope to express in this life?  What are my most treasured gifts from this person?  The answer is and was, Alice Lucille Atherton, and it’s because she grounded me in faith so I could let go of fear.

I want to leave a legacy as gorgeous as my grandma’s.  You’ve probably never heard of her, but she changed this world, I am certain of it.  So, I took a good look at my Grandma and who she was, I dissected her piece by piece to discover what it is about her that made her love and memory so lasting to me and so many others in our community.

I wanted to know exactly what it was about this earthly angel that made her so magical, because I want to give what she gave to me to the world.  She made me feel safe, loved, secure, faithful, hopeful, healthy, warm, and like I was all that mattered when I had no reason to feel any of those things and I watched her do the same for so many others.  People came to her scared and lost and left loved and hopeful-that’s magic.

Are you looking for who you are and where you’re going?  Are you wondering what to do to help in today’s times?  Are you looking for a change of heart in this life?  Maybe a simple story of Alice can help mold your heart like she did mine, and guide you into the future more secure in who you are becoming like she still does me:

She was dirt floor poor as a child and young woman, severe burns on her legs from a chemical accident as  a young girl; she married a man of war who came home a traumatized vet, and  who happened to be a severe work and alcoholic, raised 5 mischievous boys and lost her only daughter, Alice Fae at birth, then her husband, Dallas to liver cancer.  I know there are more hardships and details to share, but I won’t share any more, and she wouldn’t either.  She would tell you she had a good life filled with love and joy.  She’d tell you that her blessings were too many to count.

You may think someone who lived with so little, and had so much loss, and hardship might resemble a bitter old hag that you’d rather steer clear of but not my grandma.  She had a glow, a feel, she had faith, and it radiated from her to me and to all who knew her.  She knew how to make the most of what she had.  She knew how to give life all she was given even if it didn’t seem like much.  I’ve never spoke about my grandma to ANYONE and NOT seen their face light up as they reminisce of her.

Growing up I remember she drove an old dumpy station wagon, lived in a trailer, wore Wal-Mart sale rack clothes, and not a stitch of make up.  I still feel her warm hugs and wet kisses and the way her wrinkly thin skin felt-not interested with how she looked only curious who she could love and how she could help.

I remember how she hollered, “yellow” when answering the rotary phone, and how she asked you to close the “winda”.  She whistled like the trains and various birds, loved to fish in the pond, take her loyal pup, Daisy Mae for walks, and just be.

Grandma spent Sunday’s at church with her grandbabies, and the rest of the neighborhood while listening to 20 or so children bicker over who got to sit on her lap at story time.  She loved and called every singe one of us her baby.  You felt like Jesus himself told you that you were special when she hugged you.

Stockings were all she could afford for Christmas each year:  the way the cotton pink ribbed socks felt on my tiny feet, my little heart lit up knowing she gave them to me.  It wasn’t ever about what she gave it was the love infused into it that mattered.

She was a cook in a small town restaurant and a care taker for family, friends, the elderly and anyone who asked.  She loved everyone the same, because that’s what real hero’s do.  She never wondered if this is where she was suppose to be-she loved to fill up bellies and hearts and so that’s what she did, knowing it would never fill up her wallet, but that wasn’t her goal, any way.

She took in neighborhood kids and others in need through her years, my mom and us 3 kids being some of them.  After 7 long years in a domestic violence home my mom left her abuser with my grandmas help.  She moved us into her 2 maybe 300 square foot house and I’d still live there today if I could.  I was safe, warm, loved, and nourished with her faith, and the best chicken and dumplings you’ve ever had.

At 15 I saw her struggle to take some of her last breaths.  I’m still trying to understand why or how we’re supposed to live without her.  There was no safer place in the world, then on my grandma-ma’s lap.  I cry, actually I sob as I type this, so many tears I can barely see the screen, because her love was so profound that I’m still unsure of how to live without it.

Then, the tears dry and my head clears and I remember it never left.  It’s in the eyes and hearts of people who have met her and knew her, and, so I rest a little easier knowing pieces of her heart are sprinkled all over.  I feel grateful to know that my grandma gave me and so many these memories, morals, and manners to live with.  I am thankful that because she lived and believed that she and I mattered, because she knew when to stand up, speak up, and be strong I am here happy, humble, and healthy ready to embody her spirit now more than ever.

Grandma Alice changed her corner of the world, she changed my heart, my life, and many in our community as well, and she didn’t even have enough change in her empty wallet to do so, she did it with a kind heart and faith.  She did it to make sure the good got done.  Her heart inspires me to be better to this day.  Her love calms me and nourishes me still.  This is the love, memory and legacy that I will try to create one day, one neighbor, one good deed, one helpful hand, and one kind word at a time.

I hope my sweet grandma’s heart inspires you to change your heart and those around you daily.  I hope you understand that your name can carry a vibration of love long after your gone if you realize your worth and value now, and work to give it away a little at a time no matter what your next step may bring.  I hope you ground down in faith that good will prevail if you just continue to let good and God work through you.  I hope you let go of the doubts, worries, expectations, and fears so you have space to breathe in the love that is here for you to experience, and then I hope you pass on the good vibes to all you pass.

Twenty years later and I still feel her heart beating in mine, I still come alive with love when I sit with my thoughts of her.  I only hope more of us strive to leave such an imprint.  What a wonderful world it could be…..

With Love in mind,

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge

Change of Heart

A penny for your thoughts a nickel for your kiss?

But, I haven’t money to spare for things such as this.

Your thoughts could calm me, and your kiss could cure me, please Mr. or Miss,

Could you spare just one thought and one kiss?

I know you’re busy, and that you’re worth my dime

I wish I could buy your love all of the time.

But, my wallet is empty, and so is my heart,

I was hoping you’d be the one to help me start

Loving my life and doing my part.

Your thought could bring me wisdom.

Your kiss may help me come alive.

Just 6 cents and I could begin to thrive.

For under a dime you could change my life,

Could I pay you back another time?

Your thought may change my mind

Your kiss may help me find

Loving ways to make a dollar out of a dime.

Danielle Atherton-Rutledge