Cheryl Maberry Blacklidge

Cheryl Blacklidge


“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.

“Even longer,” Pooh answered.  ~A.A. Milne, author of  Winnie-the-Pooh

Dear Mom,  You have received a special message from the daughter of some special friends.

Cheryl (Maberry) Blacklidge grew up in Ft. Scott. Now she lives with her husband and son in Mississippi.  Enjoy her birthday letter to you, Mom!  Love, Marylin



When I realized that it was your 95th  birthday, I decided it was way past time to write to you and let you know something that has been on my mind for quite some time now.  Recently I read Debbie Macomber’s book God’s Guest List.  It is about all the guests that God sends to each of us as gifts though out our lifetime.  You are certainly one of those guests/gifts he sent to me. I hope you somehow know what a wonderful gift you have been to me.

My first recollections of you are from some of my earliest days at First Christian Church.  I love to hear the story mom tells about how you and she were the first two women to break the “hat rule” and attend church hatless. Thank you – I never have cared much for wearing hats.  I also  remember you always going out of your way to welcome, with that beautiful smile of yours, everyone who came to church. There were also those great CGF dinners that you helped us cook and then enjoy, as we talked about God, church, and life – not always in that order, but all three were always included.

Our families have had such a close connections since our first meetings through the church.  You and Mom worked together on so many projects, from VBS to painting the Sunday School Rooms to working in the kitchen to prepare Sunday church dinners. I know Daddy and Ray always felt a close connection through the church and through the Masons.  I’ll never forget hearing Daddy and Ray visiting together not too long before Daddy died.  Their conversation was mostly about memories, but shortly before Ray left that evening, they hugged and agreed that they had felt like brothers throughout their friendship.   It still brings tears when I remember the closeness they shared that night.

Because of you, I know Marylin and David (as well as their families) and consider them to be dear friends.  David has been such a strong and faithful leader at First Christian Church, and in Fort Scott.  He has also “been there” for me when I needed any kind of help – like the Sunday morning when I called him in panic to tell him that someone had hit and seriously damaged my car in the night and I didn’t know what to do about it. He calmly assured me that he would see to it that the body shop would take good care of it.  David convinced me that it wasn’t the end of the world.

Marylin has been there for me many times, also.  Marylin welcomed me into her home so many times and then even invited me to live with her and Molly the summer that she and I attended classes at Colorado College.  She is the kind of friend that no matter how long it has been since we visited, our conversations start off as though we have talked just the day before.  I know I could go to either David or Marylin if I had a problem and they would be there for me, just like you and Ray always were.

Happy Birthday, Mary. Love from my family to yours.  Cheryl

Cheryl's retirement picture

Cheryl’s retirement picture




Filed under birthday celebrations, Debbie Macomber's GOD'S GUEST LIST, Dementia/Alzheimer's, First Christian Church, Fort Scott Kansas, friends, lessons about life, Madison Mississippi, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for


  1. how beautiful! it’s good to see this connection to mississippi, my home state (bolivar county) though i lived in yazoo county, closer to madison!

    of course i enjoyed this loving tribute! z

    • It’s amazing how these posts trigger connections. Cheryl and I grew up together in Ft.Scott, KS. I moved to Colorado and she moved to Mississippi–close to where you lived! It’s a small world!

  2. Such a touching letter to your mother Marylin! She sure touched a lot of people’s lives and hearts! Such a wonderful gift – to be raised by a woman who obviously has a huge spirit,, warm heart and loving, kind and generous soul!
    Blessings, Robyn

    • Thank you, Robyn. You described my mother perfectly: huge spirit, warm heart, loving, kind and generous soul. The dementia has confused her memory, so receiving letters like Cheryl’s means very much to me. And it will mean more to her great-grandchildren, as we are saving all these posts and comments for them and having them put in a keepsake book for each of them.

  3. How lovely. I hope you’re saving the actual paper/ink letter for the next generations to treasure. There’s something about the object itself that is so meaningful…

    • Actually, I have saved the actual email, so what I posted on the blog will be with pictures, comments, etc., for them. Even with technology, Cheryl taking the time to write the letter meant so much.

  4. Carol Stoffel

    Very sweet. How nice she took the time to share. So many times in our busy lives we don’t.

  5. What a beautiful letter, Marylin. Thank you so much for sharing it with us…as you share all the special memories you and your family created when all were younger. I’m not surprised that this friend took the time to write…from what you have told us, your mother was just that kind of amazing woman who made a positive impact on all she touched. I, too, wish her a Happy Birthday!

    • What a lovely compliment, Vivian. Thank you. One of the joys of this blog is the surprising, touching things shared by people in Mom’s past, as well as my friends from grade school through high school in Fort Scott.

  6. Kindness begets kindness ….
    Good folk always attract goodness …
    Creating Happiness and comfort seems to be a family gift
    And Friendships created by Kindness, Goodness and Selflessness will always last longer than forever

  7. What a wonderful comment on your Mum and all your family Marylin. Quite an outstanding tribute to an outstanding family. xx Hugs xx

    • Thank you so much, David. I’ll be visiting my mother again very soon, and I’m going to print out all these sweet comments and read them to her. I can almost predict that she’ll listen and smile…and then ask who they were writing about. But her daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandchildren will know who you were writing about, and we’ll appreciate the tribute on her behalf.

  8. A lovely tribute to your darling mum and belated happy birthday wishes to her. P

  9. It’s great that Cheryl has written this to your mother while she is still here – even if she doesn’t grasp everything. Too often, this kind of tribute gets left until the funeral …

    • Oh, I know. So often at the funerals of our friends’ parents, that’s the one regret: all these lovely comments would have been wonderful for them to hear while they were still alive. It’s a good reminder for me to let people know how much I appreciate them NOW.

  10. A precious tribute to your wonderful mother. I am also laughing at the idea of your mother rebelling against the church hat. I am sure she didn’t do this, but I have an image of her throwing her hat in the air and away into the trees 🙂 with great gusto and joy.

  11. Jim

    What a beautiful birthday tribute to Mary and the family, Cheryl. Much appreciated. I side with Pooh-Bear; “forever” never seems long enough. And in my childhood church women HAD to wear a hat or they couldn’t go in. If a woman forget her hat, she would have to use bobby-pins to hold a handkerchief on her head. I remember thinking to myself, “That’s dumb. What if she had to blow her nose?”

    • These “church hats” are getting a lot of smiles, but none beats your story, Jim. Bobby-pinning a handkerchief on her head?! Almost makes me wish I’d known you then, honey, so I could have seen that!

  12. Such a beautiful letter, Marylin! You’re mother has obviously made an impact on many people’s lives.., the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree! Thank you for sharing.

    • Oh, Jill, if it weren’t for the dementia, my mother would smile at your sweet comment, think for a minute, then giggle and tell you at least one story about me (the apple) falling very far from her tree!

  13. juliabarrett

    The hat-less comment is so precious! Your mother has been quite the trailblazer in her life. Plus she’s been the best mom.

    • Julia, with your cowboy boots post, you would have gotten a kick out of some of my mother’s hats. She found a how-to article in a magazine, and for awhile she was Mary-the-Milliner. (Just for herself, but that was plenty.) I used to have a framed picture of Mom posing with my grandmother and Mom’s two sisters, and she was wearing this “creative” netted affair with little beads holding the net in place. Funny, no one can find that picture…

  14. Amy

    Thank you so much for sharing the letter with us, Marylin. The letter is beautifully written, and very touching.

  15. I love the idea that your Mom started the no hat rule. Good for her!

    • My generation NEVER wore hats to church, Jenny, except maybe when we were preschoolers and also wore patent leather shoes, so it’s nice to know that our mothers rebelled and changed the rules.

  16. What a beautiful letter. It’s a wonderful reminder that we shouldn’t wait to make that call, write that letter or reach out. The time is now … and it’s always appreciated.

    • Amen to that, Judy.
      And if we’d known dementia would do this to my mom, Cheryl and I could have taken our mothers to lunch, and talked and laughed and thanked them for these things. I would have been so much fun, and both of our mothers would have loved it.
      But you never know. Which is our lesson to do it now, right?

  17. dianabletter

    I like how Cheryl wrote that when she meets up with you, she always picks up right where you left off. That is a beautiful tribute to friendship and making sure to say what we need to say…before it’s too late!

    • It is one of the best, most enjoyable traits of true, long-time friendships, the catching up right where we left off. Before the dementia, my mother could do that with friends and cousins she hadn’t seen in a long time, and they’d laugh at enjoy all the memories.

  18. This was a wonderful letter with all the fun facts that we needed to fill in the blanks about your mother. So special and quite a nice gift for her, along with you! I liked the fact they ‘broke the rules’ by not wearing hats, among the memories!

    • The hat revolt seems to ring true with all of us! My generation should applaud our mothers who broke that social requirement.
      Each generation makes changes for the next–we can only hope they’re positive changes.

  19. molly

    Cheryl, what a wonderful “letter” to my grandma…my kiddos and I appreciate it immensly! I still remember you staying with us and you and mom doing your hair ( highlights) in the little bathroom. Good times!

  20. I got this website from my friend who informed me on the topic of this web page and now this time I am visiting this web site and reading very informative posts here.

  21. A truly heartwarming birthday tribute to your mom! I believe that we all ought to show our gratitude to others while they can enjoy the sentiments and Cheryl did just that for your mom.
    May Mary be blessed with good health!

    • It really was a special gift from Cheryl to my mom. I’ve read it to Mom twice now–especially the part about when she and Cheryl’s mom decided not to wear hats to church–and each time she laughed…but she never did understand that she was the woman who did this. More and more, the dementia does this, but if my sharing the story makes her laugh and enjoy the moment, then that matters, too.

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