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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Location: United States

Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Greatest Love of All

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to some of my favorite songs; songs with heartfelt words that have helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life. I remember my childhood and my life very well. I’m not perfect and I’ve never claimed to be as such, but I know all my decisions came from my heart and my heart has never led me down the wrong path. With each trial and tribulation, no matter what the adversities, I’ve picked myself up, brushed myself off, and continued on; hoping the experience gave me the wisdom and the strength to be a better person and share what I’ve learned with others—to help others.

I have my parents to thank for that piece of wisdom. No matter what I’d been through, my parents were there for me, and through the years, they know I’ve always been there for them—just as I am today with my mom in her battle with Alzheimer’s.

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for showing me the greatest love of all.
Greatest Love Of All

I’d like to think that I raised my children with the same morals, respect, and love in which my parents raised me. Some people may say I was spoiled and that I spoiled my children, but I look at things differently; I look at everything as an experience and give honor to my parents for allowing me to be myself and experience life, make decisions, while helping me meet my dreams by their words of encouragement.

As my parents encouraged me, I encouraged my daughters. In 1992, my daughter Angel decided she wanted to enter the Miss Teen Of Pennsylvania Pageant. I encouraged her along the way and my parents did as well. They made the trip to Altoona to watch the pageant and share in what would be just one of her many decisions and journeys in life. All week before the pageant, Angel seemed very distant to me. I remember thinking at the time that she was nervous and staying in her room with the door closed was her way of sorting out her thoughts. It was, but it was also her way of keeping something from me that she didn’t want me to know. Our family had gone through some hard times for a few years; I’d had a stroke, my dad had a stroke the year after mine, among other things that seem so far in the past now that they don’t require a mention. Again, music and the meaningful words of those songs lifted my spirits and reminded me how important life is and how somewhere out there is someone for everyone.

During the talent section of the pageant, Angel walked on stage with the brightest smile, looked at me sitting in the audience and said, “This is for my mom.”

Somewhere Out There

The tape that she’d had the background music on stopped just after a few notes. The pageant coordinators tried restarting the tape again, but it didn’t work. The second time the tape was started and stopped, Angel stood proud, and sang Somewhere Out There A Cappella. When the song was complete, she received a standing ovation for her song and her ability to continue on without the use of the music. She dashed off the stage, in tears, and ran into the hallway. I met her there with the brightest smile I’d smiled in years. She said, “I’m sorry, Mom. I wanted you to be proud of me and surprise you.” As I wiped her tears and mine, I said, “Honey, I am proud of you. You stood there and sang your heart out despite the problem.” I was surprised that she’d picked that song to sing for me, but I wasn’t surprised as to how she handled the situation. She picked herself up, brushed herself off, and she kept going. She did make me proud and she continues to make me proud everyday. Thank you, Angel, for being you and learning that being stubborn and gracious can go hand in hand.

I’m not sure why so many memories are flooding my brain lately. Despite the fact that some memories are a bit hard to swallow I still know that I wouldn’t change anything in my life. Everything I’ve been through, and every person I’ve met along the way, has made some type of impact on my life. Whether good or bad, those impacts made me who I am today.

Friendships come and go, but for some of us, we treasure them forever. Thank you to all my friends who’ve been an important part of my life and made those impacts. You all know who you are! My mom has always been my best friend my entire life. This song goes out to her and all those I hold close.

You've Got A Friend

There are many songs that have come and gone yet the words seem to have so much depth for so many. I can’t think of how many times my daughters’ Angel and Stacey have stood beside me through thick and thin. Angel, though we are so much alike and have butt heads in the past, you’ve never needed to try to make me proud, pride is a natural instinct that is built in the heart of mothers. I think you know that now that you have your own little girl. Stacey, who always kept to herself and still pretty much does, has always been my sounding board and still is. “Beaches” has always been one of her favorite movies, and its theme song became one of my favorite songs. I want you both to know that I love you very much and always will and you both make me very proud. This song is for both of you because you are the wind beneath my wings.

Wind Beneath My Wings

Through all the years, through all the good and the bad, I’ve listened to the words my dad once spoke to me during one of the most difficult times in my life. He said, “No matter what, don’t let anyone ever use you as a doormat. You deserve more than that. I don’t say it often, but always remember I love you and I’m here for you.” My dad didn’t say “I love you” often. He didn’t need to, but through the years he was always there for me as was my mother. They never let me down. In many ways, my dad is still there for me now. This song is for Mom, Dad, Angel, Stacey, and Two Feather. Thank you for being there for me. I’d like to think I’ve been there for you too.

Through The Years

And just to throw in a real oldie, for old time sake, here’s one that’s always been special to my heart, not because of the words, but because of the memory. My oldest brother, Bob, and I were very close at one time. He and his friends had a small band and would practice in my mom and dad’s basement. He’d practice before the guys came over and he'd let me sing the background music for him. When the guys were there, I knew not to bother him. I’d sit on the steps and listen; smiling the whole time, knowing that he’d let me sing with him when his friends weren’t around. Yes, I do remember, Bob, even though those times happened in the spring of our years. By the way, did you ever finish that book? Thanks for those memories, Bob. I’m still pretty good in the background.
Come Softly To Me

Hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down memory lane. There’s plenty more to come. Get ready, because I spent Friday going through all my old pictures and my uncle’s albums. I’m sure I’ll be able to piece together a beautiful new memory album for Mom. As soon as I have time, I’ll share some pictures from the good old days.

Have a great day everyone, and remember finding love inside yourself and sharing it is the greatest love of all.

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Blogger Frank Baron said...

Lovely Jo.

The post too. :)

10/28/2007 7:14 PM  
Blogger nancy said...

what a wonderful heartfelt post. i sat and listened to each and every song and they brought back many memories to me as well. thanks for sharing. you had a wonderful life and a wonderful loving family!

10/29/2007 12:49 AM  
Blogger flintysooner said...

The story about Angel gave me goose bumps.

10/29/2007 8:36 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Awh, Thanks Frank! :)

10/29/2007 7:44 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Hope they brought back good memories for you, as they did for me, Nancy. ((HUGS))

10/29/2007 7:45 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

That day, it gave me goose bumps too, Terry. ;)

10/29/2007 7:46 PM  
Blogger Lori1955 said...

What a beautiful post and a wonderful tribute to those you love. Thank you for sharing that with us.

10/29/2007 8:28 PM  
Blogger Cinnamin said...

Yes, thank you for sharing these memories with us all, Joanne!

10/30/2007 3:54 AM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

Family, whether going through good times or bad, are so important in the fabric of our lives. They certainly do make us who we are. Thanks for the great post.

10/31/2007 9:48 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thank you, Lori, Cin, and Betsy. All of you, along with Frank, Nancy, and Terry are among those who I posted the song for friends. Thank you all for being the wonderful people you are.

11/05/2007 5:18 PM