In loving memory of Penry Ann Cockrum

Obituary in Benton Evening News

I have known my husband for going on 18 years. His family is from Southern Illinois. We made a trip to visit them after we had been dating for about 6 months or so. That is when I met most of his family. At that time his step mother, Penry was still working full time. She was the funeral director for the Poulson funeral home, which was her family’s business. We did not stay with them when we visited, we stayed a few miles away at Chris’s grandfather’s home. But we did spent a lot of time with his Dad and Penry.

I have a very vivid memory of Penry from that first trip. We were going out to dinner with them. We had parked the car, and were walking across the parking lot. I do not recall what Chris said to me, but it was something teasing, or sarcastic or something along those lines. And I gave him a rapid reply in the same vein. Penry turned and looked at me, and she said “Out of all the girls he has dated…. I think you might actually make it. You do not let him get away with crap, you give it right back to him. You are the first that I have ever seen do that.” And she was right! We are happily married almost 18 years later!

We generally visit Illinois at least once a year. We would love for it to be more, but it is a long trip. When we go we spend at least a week and a half to 2 weeks, and we spend as much time with family as possible. I have so many great memories of Penry, and I want to share some of them with you. I want to put down in words the kind of person she was, and what she meant to me.

I do not ever recall seeing Penry in a rush. She always seemed to move at the same pace, and with deliberation. I never felt like she did not have time for me. I felt like when I was with her, there was nothing else of importance, nothing else that she felt like she had to do. She still managed to accomplish a lot, and over the years I figured out that a fair amount of it was accomplished in the middle of the night, at least some of the time! I would come downstairs on Thanksgiving morning, and would find that she had been up in the night, preparing food, checking on the turkey, working on setting the table.

Speaking of table setting, Penry loved to set a fabulous table. She liked all of the dishes to match and to have flowers and other decorative items to accent and compliment her overall decor. She told me that growing up as a child, she always hated that none of their table settings matched. She also said that in retrospect, she thinks that they had Fiesta dishes and not just mismatched stuff that had been collected over time! But she said that by the time she realized that, she had already cemented her love of matching dishes and pretty table settings. Don’t get me wrong, Penry did not have to spend a lot of money to achieve the decorated table that she wanted. She could be quite happy with dishes from The Dollar Store and Walmart if she was able to put together a tableau that was pleasing to her eyes.

During one of our visits in the winter months, Penry noticed that all I ever wore was a heavy zipper sweatshirt as I did not like thick and bulky coats. She was very concerned that I was not warm enough. I told her that we were not spending much time outside, and of my dislike for coats that felt restrictive. Later on that week she gave me a coat that she had been wearing. It was super light weight, but somehow very warm at the same time. I felt so upset that she gave me the coat off her back, literally! Chris told me to just leave it on the coat rack when we left, so that I would not feel like I was taking a coat that she needed. But she noticed immediately, and came running out to give it to me as we were leaving. I wore that coat for many years, until it was totally worn out. It was a constant reminder of her generous nature. She gave me many things over the years, things that she had heard me talk about, or that I admired. She always wanted people around her to be happy, and have things that they wanted and loved.

However Penry could be very difficult to buy gifts for! She would say that she did not need anything, or that you did not need to spend money on her. One year we were visiting in late November, and we went out to a gift boutique that had many unique items. She fell in love with a lamp with kittens in various poses on the base. It was all black, with a neutral lampshade. It was also unique because it had a wide rectangular lampshade. I hung around in the store to make sure that she did not purchase it, and I snuck it up to the register and had them gift bag it for me. I told her that it was a large porcelain plate to hand on the wall that I had been admiring for my mom. I was so happy and excited to leave that gift in our room labeled for Christmas that year!

Ever since Penry retired, we have stayed with her and Terry in Sesser when we have visited. I have enjoyed this so much, as we get to spend so much more time together. Penry always tried to spoil us, she would say “this is your vacation, I want it to be nice for you.” One of the ways that she spoiled me was by always washing the dishes. At some point we were discussing household chores, and I had said that one of my most unloved tasks was hand washing dishes. I do not mind loading or unloading dishwasher. I don’t mind laundry, and I actually enjoy folding the clothes! I don’t even mind taking out the trash:) But I really do not like to hand wash dishes. I almost never washed a dish whenever I stayed with Penry and Terry. She would always tell me to sit down, that she knew I hated it, so she would do them. When we were at the house the week after she passed away, I spent time in the kitchen washing dishes. I was often alone in the room. I spent that time thinking of her, and how she loved to take care of people, and make them happy. It was not so hateful to do dishes while I felt like she was there over my shoulder.

Penry loved to watch TV, she had her favorite seasonal shows, and she loved lots of movies. She would watch them over and over as she was moving about the house doing laundry, cooking and cleaning. She would always be shocked when she would find out that I had not seen so many of her favorite movies, or that I had never seen one of the TV shows that she was fond of. She would always marvel at the fact that “you say that you and Chris watch too much TV, but I can’t figure out what you watch?!” And then I would list our favorite shows and most of them she had not heard of! Even though we did not seem to have the same taste in TV shows, we could always find things to talk about. I look back so fondly on the hours that I would spend laying across her bed in the evening while Chris and Terry were watching their shows in the other room. I would often knit, and we would visit with the kitties, and watch movies and talk. I treasure that time that I was able to spend with her.

As you can see in the photos that I have included, Penry had a beautiful smile. I think it was because she had so much practice, because she smiled a lot. My only regret is that I did not get to go back to see Penry when she went into the hospital. I never in a million years imagined that when we left after Thanksgiving in 2016, that it would be the last time that I saw her. Even with all the time that she spent in the hospital, I thought that she would recover. When she had her surgery, we were in Las Vegas, and that is the first time that I realized that I might not see her again. I am so very grateful for the wonderful relationship that we had, and for all the time that we got to spend together. She was an amazing person, and I miss her very much.

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Yarn Along

I have been working on these socks for a while now… and they are actually looking like socks! That is if you know which way to orient them! Even though I miss working on tiny DPNs, (or as unknowing strangers have called them “pins”), I am loving working these on 2 circulars because when I am done, there will actually be a pair! Not just a single with some vague hope of another…. someday…

I decided that I am giving them to my sister, as she loved the yarn, and they are coming out nice and stretchy which is good for her as she has one ankle that is larger from being broken many years ago.

As for the book, I am in the first section. It is a book that has been sitting on the bathroom shelf for many years. I had another on the same shelf that I opened a couple weeks ago, looking for an inspirational quote, only to realize that I didn’t like one thing that was written in it! So into the donation bin it goes. So I figured I’d give the next one on the shelf a whirl! Thus far it has been better!

I was looking for inspirational quotes because I have been posting a few on Facebook here and there. Trying to offset all the craziness I see in my feed these days. A fairly simple way to make me feel a bit better!

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Yarn Along

Hello! This is my first post in eons! But I am going to try once again to get back to blogging, and this post is a fairly easy one! I am sharing what I am knitting, and what I am reading!

I am knitting Shaelyn. It is a fairly simple shawl, but I wanted something that would work well with the self striping yarn that I am using, and something that I could actually get done in a reasonable amount of time! I missed Christmas, as I had a couple rather large trips to the frog pond that set me back, but I am back on track, and doing pretty well!

I am reading The Borrowers. It is a book that I read many times in my childhood, and I was just in the mood for a light and easy read!

I am excited to be back to blogging, as well as being creative. I am hoping to stay on track with both!

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Before I get started, I have to say that I missed a few days! I knew that I had some work deadlines looming, but I really wanted to do this challenge. I had hoped to prepare some in advance, but work was kicking my butt, so I did not get much accomplished ahead of time. The clincher was when I sat down to write a post real quickly, and I could not remember my password to log on to WordPress!! It is not such a huge deal to re-set it, but I was just so tired that I gave up.

I completed the work tasks, so I am going to give this another go!

This is sort of putting the cart before the horse, but this is one of the things that really hooked me about Buddhism, so I really want to talk about it sooner rather than later. This will be a very simplistic synopsis of the basics. Books upon books have been written about Buddhism, I would not begin to touch their depth in 31 days, so I figure I might as well just jump into one of the biggest things that I love!

Buddhists believe that we are all reborn into this life many times. (And not always as a human!) As a matter of fact, they believe that we have been through so many cycles that they have a concept that we have all been each other’s mother. The idea is that since the beginningless beginning of time we had moved through the cycle of birth and death leading a countless number of lives. If our previous lives are numberless, so too are the mothers who have given us birth. Nagarjuna said, “If we divided this earth into pieces the size of juniper berries, the number of these would not be as great as the number of times that each sentient being has been our mother.” (Source)

This cycle of rebirth and death is called Samsara, and the purpose of the practice of Buddhism is to become enlightened so that you can break out of this cycle and enter Nirvana. A Bodhisattva is a person who has attained enlightenment, but does not leave Samsara, but rather continues to return again and again to this world, so that he or she can assist other beings to attain Nirvana. The Bodhisattva will continue to do this until all other sentient beings attain enlightenment.

This just seems so amazing and wonderful to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect, I am as flawed as the next person. But I really do enjoy helping people. Being a Bodhisattva seems to me to be the epitome of helping others, through lifetimes. There are so many layers to this, so much depth to it that I have a lot more to say about it. But this is the basic thing that I love the most about Buddhism. To me it is not about large flamboyant gestures. It is about the day to day reality of helping others, where you are, with what you have. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that this is the way that each of us can make the world a better place. It will look different for everyone. We do not all have the same resources, the same passions. But we have something that we can share with others, something that they need.

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Taking it easy today!

I have had a long and tiring day. So this will be short and sweet. I remember hearing this precept fairly early on in my study of Buddhism. I really liked how it says to test things for yourself, not to believe “just because”.

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The 4 Noble Truths

The Buddha’s first sermon after his Enlightenment centered on the Four Noble Truths, which are the foundation of Buddhism. The truths are:

The truth of suffering
When you hear that all of life is suffering, it does not sound like life it much fun! But part of what the Buddha was saying is that all of life is temporary, ephemeral, not permanent. This does for the bad things, as well as the good things. If we look at the Sanskrit word for suffering: dukkha, it actually translates to “incapable of satisfying”.

The truth of the cause of suffering
We suffer because we grasp at things, we try to grab onto them and make them permanent. This always causes us pain, because we cannot stop things from changing, no matter how much we try.

The truth of the end of suffering
Through the practice that the Buddha teaches us, we can end our grasping and desire to keep things permanent.

The truth of the path that frees us from suffering
There is a path for this practice, it is called the “8 fold path”. Every action of body, speech, and mind are addressed by the path. It is a path of exploration and discipline to be walked for the rest of one’s life. It is a way of living your life to end suffering, to become enlightened and to attain Nirvana.

For me, when I heard the the first two Noble truths, they made such perfect sense. They were very scary, because I could not visualize life without things that I love, that I am attached to, that I cling to. But at the same time, I wanted my life to change, to be better. The other thing that really drew me to Buddhism was some of the people that I met. They had such a peaceful way about them. I wanted to hang out with them and find out more about them.

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A bit of my spiritual history

Something that I recall from a very young age is that my maternal Grandmother taught me to pray every time that I heard a fire or police siren. She told me that hearing a siren meant that someone was in trouble, injured, had some sort of need that we should pray for. I took that advice to heart, and prayed for many years whenever I heard a siren.

I have always had some sort of “spiritual” bent to my nature. I attended Sunday school classes, catechism classes, church youth groups etc. It was not just something that my parents sent us to, I really loved the time I spent at these activities. In college I was a member of the Christian group on campus, and attended many events. At some point I became a born again Christian. This gave me much support and enjoyment through my college years. I joined a strong Bible teaching church when I graduated. Part of this large church was small groups, which we called “house church”. We met on a weekly basis, switching to each member’s home on a monthly basis. I had wonderful times with my house church, and grew in my faith as a Christian.

But there was always something that really bothered me: the teaching that people who do not accept Christ are not saved, and that they do not go to heaven. I just cannot accept that there is only one “right” religion in the world, that people who may have never had an opportunity to know Christ cannot go to heaven. So as the years passed, and things in my life changed, I fell away from my strong attendance at that church, and began to explore other paths. When I came upon Buddhism, I felt like I was coming home.

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Buddhism & Why I love it

I am trying this blogging challenge again this year. I did not do very well last year, but I am trying to prepare a bit ahead of time this year, in the hopes that I will be more successful. I am also trying to write on the same subject every day. I have chosen “Buddhism & why I love it”. Hopefully I will manage to write some things that people will want to read! I even made my own button. I will link to each post in this post so that all of my posts for the 31 days can be found in the same place.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 7

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Papertreyink Build A Bouquet Challenge

Here is the last card that I have to share for the PTI Anniversary challenges. I really wanted to get a couple more done, but my craft room is a COMPLETE disaster, and I am only so good at coming up with designs quickly!

This card used flowers from the set Life, and the 2010 Anniversary set Botanical Silhouettes


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Papertreyink Spring Into Action Challenge

Here is another attempt at a card for a PTI challenge. I am a little happier with this one than the previous one. It is actually rather sad how many stamps sets that I was able to choose from that have not seen ink!!

Because I do not know where the die for this, as well as my die cutter is still in a bag from when we went away in November, the flowers were fussy cut.

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