Cheryl Blakely Barksdale was born in September of 1953. She graduated from Athens Bible School, and her daddy worked at Flanagan Lumber. In 1974, she married Wayne Barksdale, who spent most of his career working at PPG in Huntsville. For her part, Cheryl ran a day care service from her home for 25 years. “I am still in touch with lots of the kids,” she said, and added, “The kiddos are having kiddos, and I am a grandma to a zillion.” Cheryl lost her husband, lives with their daughter, and when I met her, she had just found out that she was going to be able to go home the next day. She had been at Limestone Health Facility for three months, and while she was greatly pleased with all the care she had received, she was more than ready to go home.
While we were in the day room, staff and residents alike came in to wish her well, give her a gift, or wave from the glass outside the room. Cheryl said that she had been treated just like family. “The food has been wonderful, the care has been wonderful, and every little thing that you need—you’ve got it!” She also had a roommate who was also going through physical rehab and has become a bosom buddy. They were due to be released the same day, and have promised to stay in touch.
Cheryl’s daughter tells her, “You have not looked this good in years.” Cheryl says that the therapy has been holistic, and has really helped her.
While Wayne was still alive, the Barksdales fellowshipped at Eastside Church of Christ, then Jackson Drive Church of Christ, and their church life was very important to all of them. I asked Cheryl what her favorite hymn was, and she told me a title I had never heard: “When All Of God’s Singers Get Home.” Her favorite scripture is “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths,” better known as Proverbs 3:5-6. Her favorite book in the Bible is Psalms, and we moved on to the topic of her other favorites.
Her favorite color? “Blue.”
Her favorite food to cook? “Spaghetti with a thick meat sauce.” She also made fried peach pies for Jiffy for about three years.
Her favorite actress? Maureen O’Hara. We talked about Maureen’s movies with “the Duke,” and how “they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.” It took awhile for us to remember the title of “The Quiet Man,” which is one of their most famous.
Favorite President? “Reagan.”
Biggest change in her lifetime? “The Internet.” We talked about the fact that in our homes when we were growing up we had encyclopedias, both World Book and the Encyclopedia Britannica, and now all we have to do is “google” something and we can find it.
Best advice to young people? “Be careful what you do and look out for others.” Good words from a woman with a grateful heart.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner