Cheryl, the Little Girl

by her mother, Mike Cushing

On Oct. 27, 1957 an Angel dropped into our lives and so many others, her name was Cheryl Anne.  She used her charms on piers as well as other folks, like when she first learned to walk at 7 1⁄2 months.  Our neighbor called her husband home from work to take movies of her newest accomplishment.  Later another neighbor, 85 years old, was afraid she was going to get hurt when playing with the bigger kids.  So he bought her a three-wheeled sit down scooter (what she called her Go Go) the bigger kids had bikes.  Adoring love, already, from outside the family.

Just before she was two, we went to the hospital to get a new baby brother, Michael.  She also came home with her own baby doll; his name was “Donny”.  He was equipped with a diaper bag, diapers, blankets, bottles, every thing a baby needs.  So whatever Michael did Donny did, a great source of joy for her in early age.  As they grew, Michael was always a very close companion and confidante while Donny was left behind. 

The most frustrating thing for her was not to getting it “right”.  We really noticed this when she started school.  She would come home with tears running down her cheeks, thinking that she had not done some thing “right” at school.  Her teacher became concerned and asked to talk with us.  It seemed as though when ever she, the teacher, came near Cheryl she would start to weep.  Then, Gerry had brought something home, from a trip, (red hot candies) which became “Happiness Pills”.  I started giving her a red hot every morning, as a happiness pill, it worked.  After Thanksgiving the “happiness pill” was no longer needed.  Learning was always fun for her even with her sensitive nature.  What a thrill it was to all of us when she read out loud the book “Are You My Mother?” with great expression.  We should have known then what reading was going to do for her.  She shined at school and her grades always showed it.  “Outstanding” appeared on reports and papers constantly.  

Barbie was truly the foundation of a great deal of her beginning creativity.  Cheryl and her neighborhood friend Sue Ann spent hours and hours living vicariously through their Barbie’s.  They loved all of the outfits they could put together.  Later she learned many sewing tricks from McCall’s pattern instruction sheets.  You never know when that reading is going to come in handy. 

She enjoyed T.V. at an early age, especially Whizzo’s (a clown) kids show; The Mickey Mouse Club; and Huckleberry Hound+Yogi Bear.  But music always won out, whether it was a 45 record, at Church, a musical on T.V. or theme songs from various shows.  As she soon found out, she could make this music herself.  Our home had even more melodies running around than before.  As time went by we added piano, ballet and tap dancing lessons, which were more music.  Then came the Cherub Choir, Jr. High Choir, Monroe H.S. Choir and Musical TroupeUse of music also opened up her fantastic fun festive flags adventure.  Her friend, Carol Simpson Jennings, joined her for her experiences with San Fernando Youth Band, as a flag twirler and then at Monroe H.S. Twirling those flags gave her great pleasure.

Every Christmas, we spent in Colorado with the Grandparents, Great Grandparents and many family members.  This tradition started for her at a little less than two months of age and went until she graduated from U.C.S.B.  This was her favorite time of the year, especially the music.  Also we nearly always had snow.  Gerry (her dad) took time off from work, we jumped in the car and headed for the mountains to play in the snow and slide around on big tire inner tubes.    Christmas eve we went to church, then home for the gift opening which was so much fun with all the silly comments. 

Her grandparents took her on a trip to Europe when she graduated from Jr. Hi.  Most of the Photos taken of her showed her “reading” about where they were going the next day.  There’s that word again, “Reading”.

Friday night was family games time.  Of course, it started with “Candy Land”, and went up from there.  The evening’s agenda was set up by Cheryl and the difficulty level changed often. More and more games ended up on the wish list for birthdays and Christmas.

Cheryl and her brother spent a number of summers in Colorado with their Grandparents.  Her aunt Cathy commented that Cheryl was the most grown up and inquisitive child she ever knew, smart as a whip with the ability to have an engaging grown up conversation at an early age.

It was clear even as a little girl, my Cheryl was going to grow up into an intelligent, joyful, and caring woman.