You’re a Good Man Charlie Goodwin

Recently, my precious Daddy was laid to rest. It happened suddenly, even though looking back, there were signs. His service was this past week, and it’s hard to believe he’s really gone. Hundreds of family and friends came to pay their respects for this one-of-a-kind man.

Earlier in the week my family was discussing his service, and one by one announced they weren’t able to speak. I knew, I was the one that would speak on behalf of the family. Both my brothers and sister didn’t think I would be able to pull it off without breaking down. It was a challenge I needed to master….for him.

In honor of my Dad I’m sharing my tribute:

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Charlie’s youngest daughter Sheryl, or lovingly referred to by my Dad and family as Buzzy, even though this past week he referred to me and my sister as waterworks one and two. I’m going to try and get through this without going into the ugly cry. I’m guessing my sister and brothers have placed bets on whether I do.

You know my Dad as an uncle, cousin, neighbor, farmer, fellow-racer and friend. You called him Charles, Charlie, Chuck, Chuckles, Chas, Chazy-Moto and the High Priest. He was as a man’s man, that had the greatest handshake, was humble, tender-hearted, generous, fun-loving, had a fist pounding laughter, knew how to keep someone in check, wasn’t afraid to shed tears, and the expert at planting the straightest of rows.

Everyone loved this man. He was a mentor and father figure to many. I know you have plenty of stories about your lives together that I would love to hear someday. When friends and family came to visit during his final days, he made sure to tell each and every one he loved you. Most left the hospital or home in tears because you loved him equally. I often heard “he was my guy.” That brought great comfort to the family even though we already knew it. For those that weren’t able to make it to see him, he knows your heart.

Today, I thought I would share a little about what it was like to be one of his children. He was our rock, mentor, and hero. He taught his children many life lessons we carry with us today. He taught us the importance of a good firm handshake and always said “shake it like you mean it.” I would bet if you shook any one of his children’s or grandchildren’s hand, you’d find a firm grip that had Charlie’s name written all over it.

He taught his boys and girls how to tie a tie. We never had training wheels on our bikes. He taught us about hard work. In the late summer, he let the kids sell his yearly crop of sweet corn, and what we made in sales was ours to keep.  His only condition was we had to do the work. From painting the signs on big scraps of plywood and strategically placing them down the road, making sure they were visible from both directions, to gathering the bags, setting up the stand, picking the corn and loading up the #80 wagon and hauling it with the John Deere 110. Charlie was famous for his sweet corn and shared it from his heart to family and friends. He’s asked Jeff to keep the tradition alive.

We had plenty of chores like, weed pulling, hay bailing, grass mowing and everyone’s dreaded “rock picking” in the farm fields. He loved his children equally, but treated the boys and girls differently. The boys were all about racing, speed and treating women with respect. The girls were taught the importance of being respected. He treated us like we were special in every way, like buying corsages at Easter which included mom, and of course, the girls weren’t allowed to race.

One winter day I was trying to show off a bit for a boy and jumped on one of his favorite sleds, the Ski-doo TNT 400, I went speeding through the woods. As I came over the hill, I saw him sprinting from the farm, across the road and into the woods to meet me at the bottom of the hill, he yanked me off the machine and yelled at me for going too fast and how I could have crashed. I retorted “I feel the need, the need for speed.” I was grounded!

We had wonderful family traditions that included:

Sunday night suppers made up of homemade popcorn and his famous chocolate malts

Saying grace before family meals, connecting our hands and hearts in a circle while he prayed with grace and humility.

My Dad had a tradition of taking each child out for their birthday; just the birthday boy or girl and him. We got to choose the restaurant. He and I used to tell the family we went one place, but actually went to another, it was our secret to share. He always stopped at the nearest Fannie Mae to bring home a treat for the children left at home.

He kept his children in check. If you got out of line, you would feel his hand rest along your shoulder or base of the neck and give it the “you better wise up” grip, which always stopped us in our tracks. Mom had a wooden sorority paddle that was perched on Dad’s bureau, ready if needed. It was our reminder to behave, even though he never used it on any of us.

I’m a Daddy’s girl through and through and years ago I gave him a song from me to him “the wind beneath my wings.” He was and will always be the most important man in my life.

Beside his faith, his three loves were farming, racing and the greatest of all, his wife and family. He was the happiest when we were together. He loved his family unconditionally.

As I close today, most of you will remember, anytime you asked him how he’s doing, his answer was always “Damn near perfect.” Daddy, you are perfect now and forever.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

And everything I would like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle,

For you are the wind beneath my wings.

Now……I’m pretty sure someone owes me a buck and a shot of Patron.

I love you Daddy.

xoxox…..your baby girl

Trolley-ing we go

A few weekends ago, I was able to join 15 other girls on a Christmas adventure in the city. I was invited to take a ride on the holiday trolley in Chicago. The evening was brisk and filled with a cold and windy atmosphere; kind of the perfect weather for enjoying a holiday celebration.

As old and new friends gathered together, the Jingle Babes, as we named our group, headed out by trolley into the brightly lit city sky. People were gathered all around and everyone was in the Christmas spirit. We spent the next four hours exploring the city in all its colorful splendor.

First trolley stop was the Christkindlmarket, an open market bustling with shoppers and would-be vendors selling beautiful handmade items. From the market we decided to walk to State Street and to the store front windows that were decorated for the holidays and displayed so beautifully.

The next stop was the Christmas tree at Millenium Park, that lit up the Christmas sky. It was both majestic and regal. People gathered around to admire and create Christmas memories and holiday photos. Children were bright-eyed as the magic of the season shown on their sweet little faces.

The evening ended with the Zoolights display at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The atmosphere was festive and cheerful. Twinkling lights in every color of the rainbow lit up the grounds and animal cages. It was a treat to share in the holiday celebration of the zoo.

As the evening came to a close, and our adventure was winding down, it was wonderful to appreciate the new and old friends that were gathered together on a chilly night in December. An evening of trolley-ing we go was the perfect way to celebrate the season.



Breaking of tradition

This past Thanksgiving season, my family broke tradition for the first time I can ever remember. We had the usual: family gathered, the dining room table was set, wonderful smells filled the air, food was prepared with love and displayed in the regular serving pieces, however, there would be no turkey to carve this Thanksgiving. For whatever reason my Dad wanted beef tenderloin to the replace the traditional bird, and so it was.

We also broke tradition with the family dinner prayer. When I arrived at my parent’s home, my Dad asked if I would say grace this Thanksgiving. I had no response other than “of course I will”, but what my Dad didn’t suspect, I was a bit nervous to have that responsibility. Whenever he says grace it’s filled with tenderness for any heartbreak or situation that needs additional prayer of healing or thanksgiving, and he always ends his prayer uplifting those that are less fortunate. That is one tradition that has never been broken.

My family also has the tradition of forming a circle, connecting hands and hearts while the prayer is spoken. It is a ritual I love, as it connects us together as one for those brief moments. At the end of the prayer I always squeeze the hands I am connected with; letting them know the love pouring through my body into theirs; without a spoken word.

As I began to say grace, my voice was shaky as I struggled for the right words. I wanted them to be meaningful for everyone that was gathered within the circle. At the end of the prayer, without breaking tradition, I also lifted up those less fortunate, and finished by asking each one to share one thing they were thankful for. Then one by one, around the circle of family, connected by hearts and hands we shared. Some were sentimental, some funny, but one thing was a common thread; we were thankful for family.

Then we broke bread together and shared one of the most heavenly Thanksgiving meals I can remember. The beef tenderloin was so tender and delicious you could cut it with your fork, then it melted in your mouth. My brother Jeff beautifully cooked and seasoned it with love and care.

Later that afternoon while we enjoyed the delicious assortment of desserts, we happened to be discussing the menu for Christmas and the breaking of tradition this Thanksgiving. Most wanted an exact repeat of the meal shared earlier, but decided we would mix it up and have turkey….LOL, and so it will be. Are you mixing it up this year, or will you go with tradition? However you celebrate, may your family be blessed this holiday season.


Number 918

Earlier in October, my friend reached out to me to see if I would be interested in seeing a Food Network personality we both follow. The evening would be complete with a book signing and then a couple hours of listening to her story and answering questions. Even though it was almost ninety minutes away and on a weeknight, I was excited to go.

Four girlfriends in all were committed to attend the event, however, due to the proximity of where we live/work, we had to take two cars. We decided to meet at a nearby restaurant for dinner prior to the event.

As we headed to the hall, parking was a nightmare, but we knew that going in. I pulled into a nearby church and decided to take a chance; I didn’t see any signs saying I couldn’t park. As we walked on the college campus and to the hall the event was being held at, I was surprised at the small number of people outside waiting to get inside.

Upon entering and inspecting my ticket prior to handing it over to the woman taking tickets, I had remembered my friend commenting on having assigned seating. I couldn’t see any seat or row number, and the only number I noticed was 918. The woman heard me mention the lack of seat/row number to my friend and she commented, “The number listed is your signing number.” Signing number, I thought….hmmm.

Once we found sparse open seating in the balcony, the hall was full, as everyone around me were thumbing through the cookbook they received at the door. Patiently, we waited and thumbed through the book as well.

Shortly after, a woman came on stage and explained how the evening would go, Ree Drummond would come on stage and answer three questions before she was ushered into another room to sign the cookbook. The audience would be released fifty people at a time to get their book signed, and since there were more than nine hundred people waiting, to please be patient.  LOL…..WHAT?

My friends and I were numbers 917-920…..we were probably the last group to be called….HA! OK, let’s see how long it will take for numbers 1-50. About fifteen minutes later they called the next 25. At this rate we would be there late into the night! Seriously, all we could do was laugh.

We decided not to wait several hours and opted to head back home. At least we were able to hear her answer a few questions, and see her in person. On the upside, four girlfriends enjoyed a fun dinner together, good parking, a new cookbook on an unseasonably warm November evening, and just going with the flow. As a result, number 918 would be getting home at a decent hour.