Saturday, September 27, 2014

Goodbye Sweet Mama

It's been the roughest of weeks for me as I said goodbye to my dear sweet Mama. Russ and I had just gotten back from our Jekyll Island trip and were just sitting down to relax for the evening of September 23, when Angie called to tell me Mom had passed away. It hit me hard because I'd just talked to her the day before and she'd told me she was doing well so I guess I really wasn't expecting it so soon. She died in Angie's arms which was a great comfort to me although Angie will probably be haunted by that for a little bit. Angie was an excellent caretaker and it was nice to know that if Mom was scared as she passed from this life that at least she knew that Angie was holding her and helping her up to the very end.

I had a tearful evening as I reflected on the past year. Russ was in one of his weird moods that night and kinda deserted me to grieve alone. It was not one of his finer moments. I think he figured that I knew it was coming so I shouldn't be too upset or surprised. Maybe he wanted me to be tougher but I wasn't. She was my Mom, my biggest fan, my person that had been with me from the beginning. I loved her dearly and it will take me a little while to sort through all the many phases of grief. If I could change one thing about this week, it would have been to have a more supportive husband that night. I called each of my kids and Hannah sat and cried with me on the phone. Cory and Amber were both working but sent messages through the night checking on me. Later I talked to Kara who also cried with me. It was a lonely night. All my siblings were together and had each other and I was here grieving alone.

The next day Russ and I packed our bags and drove towards Akron. We spent the night in the Cincinnati area and arrived mid-morning on Thursday at Angie's house. The church group had already begun bringing food. Angie and I cried together and she told me all the details of the night before. I told her about my night. Kara and family arrived a few hours after we did and we all had lunch at Angie's and then got dressed to go to the funeral home for our family viewing time. I have to say that I was quite impressed with the quality of care that went into fixing her up for the viewing. She looked very natural and true to her. She looked like she had just fallen asleep. They dressed her in one of her favorite pink dresses. She looked beautiful and I think all of us found comfort in seeing her that way. They had her set up in a private viewing room and allowed us as much time as we needed to be with her. We each took some time to say our goodbyes and Bobby Kara and Neal and I stood around and told Grandma/Mom stories. There was a little laughter and a lot of tears. Mom would have wanted it that way. She loved watching us joking with each other. Before we said our final goodbyes, Angie suggested that we sing to her. There was only one song that fit the occasion. I asked Russ to lead "God Be With You Til We Meet Again". It was beautiful to have the whole family standing around her casket singing and harmonizing together. It brought chills up my spine as one of the most beautiful moments of the whole week. I can't say we all made it through the song without crying but we were each strong for part of it and it was awesome.

Yesterday, (Friday) we had a graveside service for her and Don Wright officiated the event. My cousin, Tim Boyd came in from D.C. and Tina and Kim (Aunt Myrtie's girls) and Kim's husband, Donald came in from Florida. They had five chairs set up for us and we sat in birth order. As I sat and listened to the sermon, I thought about what an awesome gift that Mom had given us by living a faithful Christian life. We knew that she was now onward towards her reward that she'd spent her lifetime working towards. I felt a sense of happiness for her that day and I felt a sense of calm as I sat there knowing that her suffering was over and she was with Dad now. I could picture in my mind him standing at the gate to take her hand and say "I've been waiting for you". None of us knows what truly happens at the point of death but it's comforting for me to picture in my mind her joining my Dad and all her siblings and cousins and parents in singing praises to our God.
She was buried in the same grave as my Dad. They used to joke that he got the bottom bunk and she gets the top bunk. We stayed until they lowered her down into the grave with him. Her name was already put on the grave marker. I looked at my sister as they lowered her down and said "I guess we are now orphans". No matter how much you think you are prepared, it's always hard to lose a parent. In a sense we'd lost her the year before when the dementia kicked in but we could at least still give her a hug, say I love you and hear her say I love you right back. Although they called it alzheimer's I'm not sure that's what she truly had because she just went into a silent world. She knew each one of us until the very end. She could also identify every relative in any pictures I showed her up until my last time with her at her birthday. My siblings may have been together the night of her death while I was alone but they all described to me how hard it was to see her after she died. I, on the other hand, was blessed to have my last memory of her as a beautiful vision. She was laying in her bed as I was leaving Angie's that night and she raised her hand and waved to me and smiled. I ran into her room and hugged her and told her I was leaving. I told her I loved her and she said "I love you too hun."(honey). We waved one more time and I walked to my car crying because in my heart I knew that was my last time to see her alive. But oh what a beautiful memory to comfort me this week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Happy Place

Russ and I have spent the weekend at our favorite place...Jekyll Island. Sadly, tomorrow we will have to venture home to Fayetteville but we always leave refreshed after relaxing at the beach. When Russ first made the reservations we were expecting beautiful weather but as we got about a week out we checked the forecasts and it was calling for rain the entire weekend. We were a little disappointed and thought we'd be spending the weekend reading inside.

As we got closer to our departure, we started seeing better forecasts with rain on Saturday and nicer days on Sunday and Monday. Rain was expected to return on Tuesday. Russ put both bikes in the car so that we'd both have one to ride and we left on Friday afternoon arriving around 6 p.m.  Russ decided to take off on his bike that evening even though it was raining. lightly. I stayed in the house and unpacked all of our things.

Me - before the rain

The cloud build-up

Drenched me
The next day I slept in rather than doing my normal "watch the sunrise" because I figured it was going to be too wet. The skies started clearing up by noonish so I took off on a long walk after lunch. Russ left around the same time for a long bike ride. I had gone about an hour out walking and when I turned around to head back towards the house I realized that the clouds had been building up behind me and were looking quite dark. I picked up my pace but it wasn't fast enough because about half way back (still a 1/2 hour walk) it started pouring down rain. I made sure my camera and cell phone were protected and then just enjoyed the rain. I hadn't played in the rain for who knows how many years but it was fun to just get totally drenched, stomp in puddles and have rain dripping off my hair. My clothes were pretty heavy when I hung them out to dry. I squeezed a lot of water out of them. Russ returned about a half hour after me and he was equally soaked. He'd been at the other side of the island when it hit. It's not often you find a good "play in the rain" storm without lightning and thunder.

After that day we had two days of beautiful sunshine and we walked on the beach, watched sunrises and sunsets and went on bike rides. I enjoy the solitude of the Island when it's not tourist season and I love sitting on the deck with a good book and the music of the waves crashing against the rocks. I love watching the sun rise in the morning and walking the beach in prayer. I love the sunsets over the bridge, humting for sand dollars and chasing the sea gulls. The Island has captured my heart because of the peace I feel when there. Yep, it's my happy place for sure.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Recipe for a Happy Nana

Nothing puts the smile on my face quite like spending time with my grandkids. We just returned from a trip to Colorado to see Liam and Ryan. (We saw Cory and Stephanie too but the boys were more fun than them.) We picked a great week to go because the weather was gorgeous the whole time we were there. Cory just built the play set we'd helped them buy for the boys and so it was fun to spend time outside with them in their new back yard. They moved in June to one of Stephanie's parents' houses and they now have more space inside their house and more play area outside. The boys seemed happier there with plenty of room to run and play.
I found some "Cars" themed computers for them at a flea market and I was anxious for them to see them. We always bring some kind of fun toy and at least one book every time we visit. I knew that these would give me "way cool Nana points" when they saw them. I was right. Liam was mesmerized by them and wanted to spend all day playing the games. We sat down with him and showed him how to play a few of the games and he was playing several of them on his own by the time we left. Seeing their eyes light up when they saw them was pretty fun.
The Mater computer was made for a younger child than the Lightning McQueen one was but they both liked just hearing them talk to them. For $5 each, I was thrilled to find them in basically new condition.
Even though they loved the computers they still love the books I bring too. They've got quite a collection now of favorite stories from Nana and Papa. I hope they will both grow up to be readers. I sure do cherish having them sit in my lap for story time because I know one of these days they'll be too busy for Nana and reading books together. 

I love watching them interact with each other and I love their individuality. Watching Liam is like seeing Cory grow up a second time. They look so much a like and even have similar personalities. Liam is more timid to try new things where Ryan is more brave to try things and then form an opinion. They make me smile and always have. My heart is full when they call my name and ask me to come and play or read. They are one of my best recipes for a happy day.