My Valentine Story – 1989

Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow everyone! If you have a partner, I hope you take time to let them know how much you love and appreciate them. One event in life can take them, or you, away.

Image via Pixabay

My Valentine Story starts on February 13, 1989.

Rick and I were preparing for open heart surgery on this day. There were so many emotions, so many unanswered questions and so much fear of what was to come next.

Would he survive the surgery? Could it be that we waited so long to be together to have it all end too soon? How would I survive if he didn’t?

Here are a couple short excerpts from “Home At Last.”

Excerpt #1:

“Once the girls were tucked into bed, Luke and Darlina lay on their own bed snuggling close.

“Darlina,” Luke began.

Now, regretting her earlier insistence that he tell her everything, she put her fingers on his lips. “Sh. Let’s not talk anymore tonight. We need to rest.”

“But, I have so much to tell you.”

“Then tell me tomorrow. I just want to lie here beside you and pretend everything is like it was a month ago before all of this started.”

Luke gathered her closer. “I love you, sweetheart.”

A stray tear escaped and she buried her face in the covers. “I love you too, Luke Stone. Never forget that.”

Long after Luke’s breathing steadied into an easy rhythm, Darlina lay awake with thousands of thoughts racing through her head.

How was she going to hold all of this together and be everything for everyone who needed her? She couldn’t allow emotions to get the best of her. She had to keep up a happy positive front for Luke and for the children.

But, what if he didn’t survive the surgery? A gasp caught in her throat. She must not have these thoughts. Surely, he would be okay and they would have many more years together.

She looked over at him in the darkness and branded to memory the familiar silhouette of his face.”

Excerpt #2:

“Darlina stood quietly by as nurses helped him into a hospital gown, inserted an IV, then shaved his left leg and chest.

Her eyes misted as she watched him joke, and make light of the situation. Every time he looked at her, she forced a smile, but it was almost more than she could do.

She watched the clock and as each minute ticked away, her heart pounded so loud she wondered if others could hear it. She wanted to yank that clock off the wall and stop the hands that measured her time with Luke.

Finally, the nurses finished and left the two of them alone.

“Come here.” Luke patted the bed.

Darlina climbed up and stretched out beside him. He stroked her hair and she struggled to hold back the fountain of tears that clogged her throat.

Words were unnecessary. They’d all been said. They held each other tightly, dreading the sound of squeaky footsteps.

All too soon, the curtain parted and the anesthesiologist strode in. Darlina got off the bed, wiped her eyes and watched while he put medicine into the IV that would put Luke to sleep.

She leaned over, kissed him on the forehead and whispered. “I’ll see you soon, my love.””

The good news was that Rick (Luke) did survive the heart surgery and lived another twenty years. Of course, I wouldn’t want to spoil the book for everyone who hasn’t read it. 🙂

In honor of that special day in 1989, I have reduced the price of the “Home At Last” Kindle version starting tomorrow. I hope you’ll pick up a copy if you haven’t already.

Purchase Link

Thank you!

I ran across this – Reflection

I ran across this nugget today.

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And it prompted these thoughts…

For everything that we did wrong…

For everything that we got right…

For all that we should have done…

For all that we did do…

For all the struggles…

For all the victories…

Through it all – We loved.

We dared to love with all our hearts

All our souls…

AND, we managed to have some fun along the way.

Funny how the holiday season brings nostalgia.

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Reflection

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As I complete another trip around the sun, I am compelled to reflect back on a lot of things in life. I was born into a poor family in Hobbs, New Mexico on August 21, 1951. And that makes me exactly 66 years old.

From all accounts, I was a happy child. I had no idea we were poor until much later in life. My nickname in school was Smiley.

My sister, Linda, was (and is) my best friend in the world. Even at a very young age, I was holding her hand.

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I have a vague memory of the oxygen tanks that were delivered to our house on a regular basis because my Grandfather was dying of some sort of lung disease.

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All of my siblings were born in a tent. I was the only one born in a hospital. Mama and Daddy built the house I grew up in. They didn’t have contractors to come in and do the work. They did all of it and held down full-time jobs. I have a vivid memory of my short round little mama on the roof nailing down shingles.

But, I learned so much from both of them. I learned how to control my emotions from my daddy. He had a terrible temper and many times I dodged flying tools when he worked on one of our old cars. From my mom, I learned how to be strong in the face of adversity and how to never EVER give up.

When I was probably four years old, my mom decided to join a Pentecostal church. Daddy went along with it because he loved her, but I’m not convinced his heart was ever in it. So I was raised in a strict fear-based religion.

And I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and explore the world when I turned eighteen.

Jan 1970's  I had NO idea!

But, when I was nineteen, I met Rick Sikes. And, oh my! How I fell in love. And, so did he. It seemed destined to fail from the beginning. Not only was he sixteen years older than I, but he was a musician and band leader and no stranger to the Texas honky-tonk life. Nothing could be farther from a Pentecostal raising. 🙂

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And then…he was arrested on two counts of armed bank robbery and sentenced to 25 years and 50 years in prison. Not much hope of that love ever surviving.

But, it did and in 1985, we were married. Luke_Darlina_Wedding.JPG

And for the next 25 years, we did a lot of living! I learned how to play guitar and write songs and perform on stage with him.

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And then, his health began to fail. In 2003, he became confined to a wheelchair when he had to have his left leg amputated

Amputation.

But, we didn’t give up. We built a recording studio and recorded lots of our songs. Curious? You can see them all here.

And then on May 1st in 2009, he left me, to travel to the next world. I have so many memories and lots of regrets. There were so many things I could have done differently. But, once today is gone, there is no returning to it.

In 2011, I began the journey of writing our story, Rick’s and mine. It’s been a pretty incredible adventure and I have learned SO much since that first book, Flowers and Stone.

Many times, people ask me if I wrote all of these stories as a tribute to Rick and I quickly reply, “No.”  I wrote them because it was a story that begged to be told. It encompasses everything from passion, music, crime, redemption, second chances, more music, and mortality. My hope from telling these stories is that they might inspire someone else.

It’s been a helluva ride and I’m not getting off the horse just yet. 🙂

Thanks for letting me reflect a little. This poem I wrote many years ago pretty much sums it all up.  (Taken from the Poetry and Art book, DISCOVERY)

Comes the Dawn
After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul
You learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security
Eventually, you understand that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
Then you start to accept your defeats
Head up and eyes open wide
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And learn to build your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
Futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight
After a while, you learn that even sunshine
Burns you if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you can endure
That you really are strong
You truly do have worth
And you learn and learn
With each goodbye – you learn

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Happy Birthday to me! AND, I get a Solar Eclipse for my birthday.

Http-www.jansikes.com

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Family – Broken pieces

We all have issues within the makeup of our families that don’t always play out the way we’d like. This seems especially true with adult children and spouses.

No family is perfect

But, in the story I’m writing, my character, at the age of twenty-six, discovers the man who raised him and whom he believed to be his father, isn’t. He meets his real father for the first time at a rock concert. His real father is a rock star.

So, here are the emotions he deals with.

First off, SHOCK!

Second, disappointment, hurt and anger that his mother would withhold something that important from him. She’s raised him to be an honest and forthright person, and to keep his karma clear. So, she loses his trust with this shattering revelation.

How do they move on from here?

My character has to find a way to forgive his mother. But, will things ever be the same between them? Probably not. (At least it wouldn’t in real life). And, what are the underlying issues?

Family wounds

Then, he has to begin to build a relationship with this stranger, his real father. He’s admired the man and his music his entire life. But, things look different on this personal level. Where do they start?

First off – they have a common ground – a love and talent for music.

Second, they share a love for his mother.

It’s a place to start. And in real life, isn’t that all we can look for to repair a relationship or build a new one? A place to start.

Quote_Baldwin I love this quote from James Baldwin!

I’d love to hear your thoughts – your own experiences with family situations and how you moved forward from them. You might help give me deeper insight into my story. 🙂

 

#Writing Journey

I am often asked the question, “When did you first start writing?”

To the best of my memory, I was around eight when I wrote my first string of words that made sense. I had an alcoholic uncle whom I adored. He lived with us off and on throughout my growing up years and occasionally he’d twist off, so Mom would make him move out. During one of those episodes,  I was worried about him, so I wrote a gospel song about Uncle Luke finding Jesus.

But, before that, I can remember loving anything written. I loved the Dick and Jane books in first grade. I loved fairy tales. I loved reading and devoured books of all kinds. In fifth grade, I checked out the Grimm’s Book of Fairy Tales so many times they had to make a new library card.

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Ah, the smell of libraries. I still love them. I never outgrew my love for reading. It was my entertainment, education, and adventure. And it still is!

Fast forward many years where I found myself in a serious songwriting vibe. My late husband, Rick, was a singer/songwriter and several years after we’d married, he pulled his vintage Martin D35 out from under the bed and returned to writing and playing the music he loved.

I wanted desperately to join him. I loved singing harmony with him, but I wanted to play. We had a second-hand/antique store, and some guy stopped in one day and sold Rick an old banjo. He took the instrument apart and put a guitar neck on it to create a Gitjo. And it was on that instrument I learned my first chords.

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When he saw  I was dead serious about learning, he bought me a 3/4 size Applause guitar for my birthday. I was fifty years old. So, NEVER let anyone tell you are too old to learn something new!

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And it took off from there. I played on that little guitar every day and we wrote songs every day. When I’d get home from my day job, I’d hurry to put supper on the table so that we could toss around ideas, chords, melodies, and lyrics. It was an exciting part of life for me. We booked gigs and I got to play and sing on stage with him.  We built a recording studio so that we could record our songs, and we published our own music.

But, now those are simply fading memories with pictures and CDs to prove it all happened. And I moved on after his death, in another direction of writing.

Compelled to tell our story (his and mine) I began to write books.  And, I decided that I would continue to promote our music by releasing a music CD with each book that matched the time period of the story.

The first book, Flowers and Stone, was a HUGE learning curve for me. I am often tempted to pull it down and rework it and I may some day.

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Set in 1970, this is the beginning of an epic love story with a musical twist as Luke Stone and Darlina Flowers (our fictitious names) travel the roads of Texas with Luke’s band. It is real and raw with a devastating conclusion.

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The second book in the series, The Convict and the Rose, is not only the story of Luke’s determination to survive many years behind prison bars, but Darlina’s own struggle to survive in a prison of her own where the bars were invisible. It is inspiring with a lesson in turning a negative situation into a positive one. This book garnered my first writing competition award – First Place in the Biographical Fiction Category from the Texas Association of Authors!

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Ah, the reunion. Finally,  Luke and Darlina earn a chance to build the life they’ve always dreamed of. But, the struggles are real and the price of love is high.  Home At Last won two First-Place writing awards.

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Then, all too soon, it’s over. Twenty-five years seemed like nothing. But, this is not a book about death. Instead, it is a book about living and wringing the most out of every moment – ‘Til Death Do Us Part.

I never stopped learning as I moved through this writing journey. I always strived to make each book better than the one before, while continuing to tell this true story. Thank God for my older sister, Linda Broday, who helped guide me along the way. I took classes. I learned about POV and head-hopping, sentence structure, show-don’t-tell, and passive voice vs. active voice. And guess what! I’m still learning and still striving to be better.

I released one more book, a beautiful expression of poetry and art. It is a combination of poems from both Rick and myself and pieces of his amazing artwork accompany them.  Discovery is available in hardback, paperback, and eBook.

Is my writing journey over now that I’ve told this story? Oh goodness, NO! I’m almost done with my first fiction novel, which I’ve entitled When Two Worlds Collide. It has been so much fun to create and live vicariously through these fictitious characters. I’m fully invested in them and their story as it unfolds in my imagination.

I also write for two magazines. Buddy Magazine is the Original Texas Music Magazine for which I interview artists, review CDs and feature innovative, creative, and talented musicians. The Oklahoma Farm and Ranch Magazine has a music section and I have the honor and privilege of filling it each month.

Will I ever stop writing? No. I don’t think so. 🙂

For more, visit my Website

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I am a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB where I sit on the Board of Directors

I am a huge fan of The Texas Musicians Museum, where I also am a board member.

The Texas Author’s Institute of History is a place where Texas literary works are preserved and I am a board member of that organization as well.

 

 

To Celebrate Valentine’s Week!

This is something I rarely do, but in honor of Valentine’s Week, I have made HOME AT LAST free on Amazon Kindle!

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With empty pockets, a heart full of love, and hope for a new beginning, Luke leaves behind the horrors of prison and embraces a bright future. In this book, he and Darlina are finally united after fifteen long years apart. Their tenacious love is what carries them through struggles that seem insurmountable.  Journey with them as they learn to live as one unit, facing difficulties head-on. Lessons learned the hard way and belief in their undying love is their strength!

An epic love story.

Get your copy today! CLICK HERE

AND, I’d be thrilled and honored if you’d pick up the music CD that accompanies this book. I’ll Be Home When The Roses Bloom Again” is a compilation of songs from the heart of Rick and Jan Sikes.

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THANK YOU FOR YOUR AWESOME SUPPORT!

It’s Finally Here!

I am thrilled beyond words to announce the Pre-Order Sale for the fourth and final book of this series of true stories, ‘TIL DEATH DO US PART!!

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH TXAuthors.com

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Luke Stone has cheated death more times than he cares to remember. And now, with a chance for a second music career, he knows he won’t fill the Texas dance halls and honky-tonks as he’d done in his younger days, but is determined to give it his all. Darlina, his rock and anchor, longs to see his dreams fulfilled and vows to do everything possible to help him find success. But, will time allow Luke to sing his last song?

GET YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY TODAY!

THE FIRST 20 ORDERS WILL RECEIVE A FREE CD – ETCHINGS IN STONE BY RICK SIKES

Estimated delivery date 4-20-16

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