Struggles

This past week was especially difficult for me and I do not know why.  Not a second passed that Jennifer wasn’t on my mind.  This is nothing new for me but the past week was different.  The longing to call her, to see her, was so strong that at times, I didn’t think I could continue to function. There were times when I just wanted to get in the car and ride because maybe I would somehow get a glimpse of her or hear her voice.

Every night I hug her baby pillow that is wrapped in the shirt that she was wearing the day she was admitted to the hospital.  I hug the pillow, kiss it, and tell her that I love her and miss her so much and then I cry myself to sleep, most nights anyway. I don’t sleep well anymore.  My sleep pattern is interrupted several times during the night.  I wake up and it takes me a while to go back to sleep and then I wake up again.

Two days ago we went to our son and daughter-in-law’s home to see them and to see our precious grandsons.  As I sat holding our 3 1/2 week old grandson I thought of Jennifer and how immensely thrilled she would be to have another nephew to love.  I thought about how she and I would not want to let the other one hold him.  I thought about the kisses and hugs that she would lavish on him.  I thought about how she would love his  beautiful, uuncontrollable hair and his blue eyes and his sweet little face. I thought about… everything.

I remember the laughter and the huge smile that she would have when Wesley would see her, run to her and give her a big hug.  He loved his Aunt Jenn and oh, how she loved him.  I pray that he will never forget her and I hope that Britton will come to know her through the many stories that will be told about her to him. Both of them need to know that Aunt Jenn is their guardian angel and that she is always watching over them.

I received a text from Doug yesterday and I was so thankful.  He is and always will be a very important member of our family.  I love him so much and I miss him.

My heart is broken and it will never be the same.  Most days I go through the motions because I have to in order to maintain some sense of normalcy and sanity.  Some days I would prefer to stay in bed or in a corner by myself and simply not think. That way, perhaps I would feel nothing and maybe there would be no tears, but I never see that happening. The loss and the pain is simply too great.  Unless a person has lost a child, there is no way that one can even try to understand the depth of the pain and the loss. There are no words that can be said to help ease the pain.  Sometimes simply being there when needed is all that is necessary. Presence without words.

I look for signs; I look towards the heavens; I pray for something, anything. Perhaps I am searching too hard. Perhaps I should just “be” but it’s so hard.

So. Very. Hard.

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Lent Is Coming; What Will You Do?

“…If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share…”

Borrowing these lyrics from “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, by The Hollies, I challenge everyone during the Lenten season to make a genuine effort to recognize our fellow man not as black or white, rich or poor, Baptist or Muslim, Democratic or Republican, and just love and respect each other. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Some people have become so focused on tagging others if they don’t share similar thoughts or beliefs, that they tend to overlook the fact that first and foremost, they are human beings. There needs to be some control and order that comes out of the chaos that we are currently experiencing.

Lent is a time for reflection. Many people sacrifice chocolate, sodas, etc. Lent doesn’t have to be a physical sacrifice. It can be a time to reshape your way of thinking, a time to stop judging others and a time to strive to be a better person. We shouldn’t need a special time of the year to make changes. That time comes everyday when you wake up. Don’t waste time. Be proactive. Pay it forward. Listen without interrupting. Strive to understand even if you don’t agree.

It’s not hard. Just do it.

Four Days in December

Up the steps and onto the porch they came as I wondered how was this going to be? Total strangers entering our home with plans to stay for four days and I was thinking, what have we gotten in to? It was the holidays and that time of year was stressful enough without having to entertain strangers. Oh well, there was no turning back now.

With a deep breath and a smile on my face, I opened the door to invite them in. They looked harmless even though they were from “up north”. Yankees in our house. For four days. Oh my! The things we will do for our children!

After the pleasantries were exchanged, coats and luggage were taken to the bedrooms and we were all settled in, the real test was about to begin. What would we talk about? Did they like football and the Tigers and everything orange? Would they care for some sweet tea? No unsweetened tea was allowed in this house. What would they think about our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of homemade biscuits with fatback gravy? Should I make a breakfast casserole? Did they like grits? Please don’t ask for oatmeal or cream of wheat, I thought. I had no idea how to begin cooking that. That wasn’t southern enough by any means. What kind of coffee and orange juice? Strong and black or with a little cream and sugar? With or without pulp? Hot tea? Yeah, I had some Earl Grey somewhere, just hoped that it had no expiration date.

Appetizers anyone? Hickory Farms to the rescue that first night! Thank goodness it was the season for their kiosks to be well stocked. Would boiled peanuts be too much? Probably should wait a day or two to share this southern delicacy with them. That was as close to caviar as we would ever have unless I served redneck caviar with those fancy little crackers. No, Hickory Farms would get us through the first night.

Then the sleeping arrangements. Being the southern hostess, of course they would have the biggest bedroom and bathroom which happened to be ours. Would the bed be too soft or too hard? Please, Lord, let it be just right. And the pillows; did they sleep on just one or would they need two? It really wouldn’t matter because we had plenty of pillows, but these were important things to consider. Our best towels and washcloths were laid out with little soaps nearby. There was lotion, shampoo and conditioner. The toiletries were all there. Extra toilet paper was placed in the bathroom; sure hoped they liked Cottonelle because that was our favorite. Couldn’t bring myself to have an assortment of toilet paper. That seemed to be a bit much even for me.

I made sure that I got up earlier than anyone else so I could be dressed properly for our guests. Makeup wasn’t optional, sweatpants and sweatshirts had been put away and the nicest jeans and shirts that I had were ready to be worn. I even made myself wear shoes in the house. Oh goodness, the things we do for our children.

Thank goodness the lake was 26 feet below pond and there was a bridge that mysteriously rose up from the depths of the lake. That would be something to see, something to talk about and they could hear about the time that Lake Hartwell was being built. Farmland, once rich with everything “farmy” was now underwater. Trees looked up towards the sky and with the lake level being so low, the trees didn’t have to look too hard. The weather was cooperating so far and that was good.

Roasting two big turkeys and making dressing, not stuffing, was underway. Did I have enough cheese for the macaroni pie or as some people called it, macaroni and cheese? Should I make two kinds of gravy, one with giblets and one without? How did they eat these things up north? Did they eat them at all? Well, when in the South, do as the Southerners do, so the preparations continued.

The family began arriving with food and gifts and little ones. Our house was big enough for us but was a little crowded with almost 50 people present. Again, thank goodness the weather was cooperating. The kids loved playing outside. Whew!

Christmas Eve dinner was over; leftovers were placed in the refrigerator and finally, the shoes came off. I could wear them no longer. My feet hurt but they didn’t smell so there should be no problem there. It wouldn’t have mattered though. Not now.

Up early on Christmas morning, fatback frying, biscuits being made and yes, the breakfast casserole was in the oven. The Christmas china adorned our dining room table, our silverware was polished and the linen napkins were in place. Nothing but the best for our guests and I think they even liked my gravy!

Gifts were exchanged, more food was eaten and thoughts of a nap kept running through my mind. Would that be rude? Didn’t they want to take a nap? Were there enough appetizers on the table? Sure hoped they liked hot spiced cider…why was I worried? A good hostess would never run out of food, in fact, there was enough food for the neighborhood that day, but they weren’t invited. Maybe next year.

Many more stories could be told about those four days in December when three total strangers walked onto our porch and into our lives but I will stop right here. We knew our future daughter-in-law was a keeper and we loved her so much. After four days in December in our house, those three people from up north were no longer strangers. Chris, Kathy and Grandma Bootsie had become family. The sweatpants and sweatshirts were brought out again and the makeup was put away. That’s how it is with family; you don’t have to stress and worry about appearances. We are what we are. It was that simple. Now where were those boiled peanuts?

Wesley and Britton, this story was written for you so that you would understand how Mimi, CC and Grandma Bootsie met Namma and Papa, and why we share such a close bond with each other. Most importantly, always remember that Mimi, CC, Namma and Papa love you both very much. Forever and always.

Namma

Would I Have Enough Love?

As a grandmother, “Namma”, loving our grandchild is easy. Nothing brings me more pleasure than when our 3 1/2 year old grandson comes running to me and gives me a big hug, or wants to snuggle, or looks at me and says “I love you, Namma.” In fact, everything that he says or does just makes my heart smile. I didn’t understand when other people would talk about how different life and love is when there is a grandchild. The moment I saw our grandson, however, I immediately understood what the other grandparents meant. A whole different kind of love that can’t be explained. It must be experienced.

The day our grandson came out of a room wearing a “Big Brother” T-shirt, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’m sure he didn’t have any idea why I was crying, laughing and hugging him so tightly when the message on the shirt finally registered in my brain. Sweet little boy, he kept smiling and looking at me in amazement but said nothing.

Another grandchild! Another blessing from God! How excited all of us were…but would I have enough love for this grandchild? My heart was filled with love already. Was there room for more? This question never entered my mind when we were expecting our second child. One look at our son and the love in my heart doubled immediately. He and his sister were/are our greatest blessings. Nothing, absolutely nothing would ever change that.

Throughout our daughter-in-law’s pregnancy, I marveled at her and how well she was continuing to go through each morning, afternoon and evening even though the nausea was horrible at times. Nothing really helped and it continued throughout her pregnancy. Our son was awesome. He was always right there with her, trying to help her feel better or at least help her to make the best of things. He had a good role model. 🙂 We marveled at how well our grandson was being prepared to be a big brother. He was included in so much throughout the pregnancy and every night, he would kiss Mommy’s tummy and tell the baby good night. He was going to be such a wonderful big brother.

Mommy and Daddy didn’t want to know the sex of the baby before the birth. They didn’t know with our grandson. I thought that was great. So few surprises in this world these days and this one could be controlled. Would there be a baby brother or a baby sister? One thing that we did know was that the baby would have lots of hair; Mommy’s heartburn was awful.

During the last couple of weeks of her pregnancy, there were times when everyone thought that labor was imminent. We brought our grandson home with us for the weekend just in case…nothing happened though. This baby was going to be a strong-willed baby ( we don’t have stubborn babies in our family)! 🙂 Mother Nature wasn’t quite ready even though our daughter-in-law was. Oh well, a few more days and surely the baby would arrive. Easier for me to say than our daughter-in-law who was growing more miserable by the moment.

Finally, the day came and it wasn’t just any day. It was baby’s paternal great-grandmother’s 92nd birthday! What a gift! What a blessing! We waited and waited. The baby was born and our son came to the waiting room with a huge smile on his face. “It’s another boy!” We hugged and cried tears of joy. He told us the name which brought more tears. Two grandsons, both with very special family names. We were so proud and so blessed.

As Papa and Namma went to get the now official “Big Brother”, my thoughts returned to the question that had been on my mind for many months. Would I have enough love for our second grandson? I couldn’t imagine loving another child as much as I loved our grandson. What would I do?

When we returned to the hospital with “big brother” we still had to wait for about an hour before we could go to Mommy and baby’s room. We only knew his name and that he had lots of hair. (Told you so, didn’t I?) We didn’t even know baby’s weight yet! Now we were getting impatient. Grandson #2 was waiting on us!

Finally, our son came to get us. He scooped big brother up in his arms and gave him a big kiss and a huge hug. “Let’s go see your baby brother” he said. Just sure that he wasn’t ever going to tell us, I asked “How much does he weigh??” With a huge smile on his face, he proudly said, “9lbs. 5oz!” Wow, I thought!  Dabo, put him on the watchlist for a position on the football team! Poor Mommy, I thought…

Ok, the moment of truth was now. There was no turning back. Would I have enough love for this baby? My question was answered the moment I saw him. His fingers, his toes and all of that beautiful hair. He was a beautiful baby as we knew he would be. He was perfect in every way.

The moment I took our precious grandson in my arms and began reading  his first book to him, I fell in love all over again.  My heart was overflowing with so much love for him. How silly of me to even wonder. A grandmother’s heart and love knows no boundaries!

Britton, Namma loves you so very much. You and your brother are my heart forever and always.

With love,

Namma

 

More Than A Diner

We all have favorite places to eat. Some are upscale restaurants with ambiance and atmosphere; others are simple, home style diners with a warm, family-like atmosphere and food that can best be described as Southern comfort food.  The food is prepared for and shared with people who feel like family.

Dyar’s Diner is the perfect example of such a diner.  Located on the outskirts of town which some would refer to as “in the country”, Dyar’s is a meeting place for many churchgoers on Sunday.  Many friends from the Baptist church hurry to Dyar’s after church and a table is reserved by whoever gets there first.  Most of the time, a table for eight is required; sometimes an extra table has to be added.  Then in comes the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the young and the elderly from all walks of life.  The coach of the 1981 National Championship College football team comes in to eat almost every Sunday and speaks to just about everyone as if he knew them by name. He is one of us. Coaches, professors, ministers, pharmacists, grandparents, parents, children, farmers…we all are drawn to Dyar’s not just because the food is good but because it is like having a big family gathering.

Tim Dyar helped to make Dyar’s what it is today.  Always at the cash register with a huge smile on his face, he made it a point to ask how everyone was doing, how was the church service, etc.  He celebrated the special times in our lives and mourned with us during the darkest of times.  He was a businessman and owner of a successful diner but he was much more than that.  He was a friend to everyone; he was like family to many of us.

Friday, January 20, 2017, was a day to remember.  It was a very busy day in Washington, DC and most people around the nation were watching or at least keeping up with the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States.  In our little corner of the world, that day had a much different meaning.  Early that morning, Tim woke up, was talking to Meg, and died as he was talking.  Meg told me this just a few minutes ago at the funeral home.  Waking up to another day, making plans and suddenly the plans changed.  In the blink of Meg’s eyes, her world and that of her family changed forever.  Tim was 51.  It doesn’t seem real.

Arriving at the funeral home 30 minutes before visitation was to start, we waited in the chapel for about an hour before we could go through the line.  People kept coming in and quietly took their seats as they were requested to do.  Time was not important.  Being there for the family was important.  There is no question that Tim was loved and respected.  The sheer number of people who were waiting in line or waiting in the chapel was proof of that.  Tim never met a stranger, was kind to everyone and loved everyone.  He will be missed but he will live on in our hearts and minds.  He will never be forgotten.

Vince Lombardi said that “the true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good”.  Tim, you were a man among men.  Rest in peace, our dear friend.

 

Another New Year Without You

Well, honey, we said goodbye to 2016 last night and woke up to 2017. We went to church and with today being the first Sunday, we had our usual covered dish meal but it was a brunch instead of a lunch. I made 4 pans of homemade cinnamon rolls and of course, I had to cook collards because some traditions can’t be broken. I learned that from you. 🙂 They must have been good because all we brought home was an empty bowl. We also had communion and this time I was able to take communion without tears flowing.

Not a moment goes by that I don’t think of you. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing, you are always there to help guide me or to be my voice of reason. I find myself asking so often, “What would Jennifer do?” As close as you and I were, it just comes natural to me. I always valued your opinions even if we didn’t always agree. How I wish we could have some of our mother-daughter times again.  I miss them so much. I miss your phone calls, your texts, your walking into our house with that big, beautiful smile of yours. I miss your asking me to make some chicken and dumplings for you and I smile when I think about how you always wanted Dad’s pound cake to fall so you could have the “smooshy” part. I miss seeing you and Doug together. You were such a beautiful bride and he smiled from ear to ear as you walked down the aisle. The love between the two of you was real and so obvious to anyone around y’all. I couldn’t wait for y’all to tell us that we were going to be grandparents again, but it wasn’t meant to be. God had other plans. Just wish I could understand and not question why.

Clemson won the Fiesta Bowl yesterday and I can only imagine the amazing view you had from Heaven. I also bet that you were loud and proud during the game. Since our house was clean from the holidays, I didn’t have the house to clean during the anxious times, so I actually watched the entire game. There were times when I was almost touching the TV with my nose trying to encourage the players to run, block, tackle, etc. I think that I must have scared Sadie because she disappeared into another room. As usual, Dad was the calmer of the two of us throughout the game. Now on to the National Championship on the 9th to play (and beat) Alabama. I really feel that this is our year to do so. We are counting on you to help them out from Heaven, honey.

Dad and I went to the West End Zone tonight to welcome the team back into town. There were around 2,000 people there or so the news reported. It was cold and wet but that didn’t stop us from standing outside for about 2 hours. The players seemed to appreciate all of us being there; you could tell by the looks on their faces. Bless them all.

We had Christmas and Thanksgiving at our house this year. We really liked it better and the family did also. Of course we had the bouncy house for the little ones and for the little ones at heart. The weather was perfect. You would have had a good time with all of your cousins. Dad told me that one time during the afternoon when most of the kids were outside playing in the bouncy house, he could have sworn he heard you laughing. He said it was the sound of laughter that only you could make. Wish I had heard it.

Aunt Jane told me that she had a very vivid dream about you the other night. She said that you had come to visit everyone and that you were very beautiful and very happy. She said that you wanted us all to be happy. I’m glad that Jane had such a wonderful dream about you. I pray every night that you will come to me in a dream but so far, you haven’t. I know that you will but I wish it would be soon. I just need to see you, hear you, touch you, and feel your presence. I need to know that my baby girl is ok. Is God keeping you so busy taking care of all of the little ones that you can’t visit me? Tell Him that you need a day off…I don’t think He would mind.

It won’t be long until the baby will be here; about 6 more weeks. Wesley keeps saying he is going to have a baby sister. Is that true? I know you must know. Just like when they were expecting Wesley, Robert and Caitlin didn’t want to know the sex until the birth. I understand; it’s one of the few surprises that can be managed still. I know that you have already seen the baby and I imagine that you will give the baby a big kiss before he/she makes her appearance. You have watched the baby grow and I bet you will be right there when the baby is born. I don’t see you “letting go” very easily. One thing is certain, though. Wesley and this baby will have the best guardian angel ever. You loved Wesley so much and he loved his Aunt Jenn.

Honey, I have begged for all of this to be a dream and that I would awaken from it and you would be here. I have cried out your name so many times wanting to just hug you and tell you how much I love you and need you. A parent should not have to bury their child. It’s just not right.

God doesn’t make mistakes, though, and I know that we are not supposed to question, but being human, that is very hard not to do. I pray for guidance everyday and for peace in my heart to help fill the void that is there now that you are gone. Some days are harder than others but I am trying. Your sweet brother always seems to know when I need to hear his voice and I love his phone calls. He misses you, too.

And so, a new year has begun. A year that will be filled with new birth, new beginnings and new adventures. We will take each day as it comes and will always honor you in whatever we do. You are no longer a physical presence in our lives but your loving spirit remains and is with us every step of the way. We find comfort in that.

I need to go to bed now; maybe tonight will be the night that you will visit me. Until my next letter to you, remember that I love you so much and that I miss you even more.

Mom

A Different Kind of Numb

It was one year ago today that our Jennifer left her earthly home for her heavenly home.  Only a year ago but it seems like a lifetime.  Only a year since I have been able to hold her hand, stroke her pretty hair, sing to her. Only a year…

We are told that “it will get better with time “.  What will get better?  Our lives were changed forever last December 19th.  We lost our daughter, Robert lost a sister, Wesley lost his Aunt Jenn and sweet Doug lost his wife.  We all lost a part of our heart and that will never be restored.  There are no bandaids or quick fixes for a loss of this magnitude.  Everything is different now.

The numb feeling that I felt last year was intense.  Getting through the holidays was almost robotic.  Being surrounded by family and friends certainly helped but the memories of the days immediately following her death are fuzzy.  Is it because my grief was so overwhelming or am I trying to block those days out of my mind?  The pain that was felt not only by me but also by family members is a pain that defies any explanation.  It is a deep, raw pain that takes your breath away.  The heartache is real and indescribable.  Unless you have experienced this yourself, there is no way that you can even begin to understand.  Losing a parent or a sibling in no way compares to losing a child.  The child that you gave birth to, nurtured and loved as much as was humanly possible, is suddenly taken from you and no matter the age, your child is your child.  Jennifer is and always will be our little girl; age makes no difference.  Robert will always be our little boy.

Today, one year later, the numb feeling remains but it is a different kind of numbness.  We know where Jennifer is.  We know we will see her again one day.  We go about our daily lives doing the things we must do, meeting deadlines, getting ready for the holidays, but it’s different now.  Some things are not as important now.  Having the perfect decorations for Christmas doesn’t seem to matter as much.  Does it really matter if  we don’t have enough food at Christmas to feed the entire street?  It’s not about the food or the decorations anyway.  Being with family is what matters.  Spending  time with those you love is what matters.

With that being said though, some of the joy is gone.  The anticipation of wondering and waiting to see her face light up when she opens that surprise gift and then hearing her squeal and laugh with delight is a memory now.  Seeing her look at me like I had lost my mind or hearing her say, “Mom, seriously??” when I would suggest a certain gift for someone or actually buy something that I thought was a great idea, only to return it and buy something else. Listening to her or watching her stress over finding the perfect gift for Doug, Robert, Caitlin and Wesley was at times a form of entertainment and at on occasion, a time of frustration.  Did the color really matter?  Did it have to be as perfect as possible?  For her, the answer was always a resounding yes.  Nothing but the best would do for her beloved family.  She loved her family so much and tried to show that in so many ways.  She loved her aunts, uncles and cousins.  She always looked forward to spending time with them, telling stories on each other and laughing.  Jennifer truly loved to laugh.

Today, Rob and I have been overwhelmed with the many phone calls, text messages and gifts of remembrance.  It is obvious that Jennifer was loved by many and touched the lives of many.

Why did she have to leave us at such a young age?  Did God really need her more than we did?  As sad as I am today, as many tears that I have shed today, I manage to smile a little bit when I think of all of the little children that she is taking care of in Heaven.  I can see her hugging little children like Lachlan and laughing that special laugh of hers and I smile.  I’m sure the little children are running around, holding her hand and playing as hard as they can.  She is running, too.  Her legs are healed, her body is healed and she is whole again.  When I think of that even in the midst of numbness, I manage to smile.  Love has no boundaries and is not confined to a particular area. Love is everywhere.

As this day comes to an end, we grieve and will continue to grieve for you.  No matter how much time will pass you will always be our little girl.  We will always love you and we will always miss you.

Give Mama, Daddy, Bobby, Billy, Nancy, Papa Jack and Louise a hug for us.  We love them and miss them, too.

Three Generations

A multitude of emotions have been experienced by our family since this time last year. So many emotions often experienced on the same day could be overwhelming at times.  The thought of giving up crossed my mind on occasion but only for a second.  It is easy to want to give up in the midst of extreme sadness and I can see how some people would want to do just that.  There have been times when I had to make myself get up and do things and not give in to the desire to “just be”.  On those days all I had to do was look at pictures like the one that accompanies this post and a smile would always appear and often times, a laugh would exit my mouth.

Three generations.  Father, son and grandson.  “He is his father’s son” rings true for our family.  Our son, who is the most wonderful son a mom and dad could ever hope to have, has become a wonderful father to his son, our grandson.  It is so fulfilling to watch Robert interact with our grandson now.  I see so many familiar things between them that I saw years ago when Robert was a little boy.  Always energetic and inquisitive, I really don’t know how we had the energy to keep up with him.  Now we just sit back and enjoy the ride and smile.

Robert was our laid-back, free-spirited, “no worries” child.  Sometimes he was too laid-back.  He found joy in absolutely everything; he would get upset if he stepped on a bug because the bug wasn’t hurting anything, for instance.  If there was a water puddle anywhere in our yard he would find it.  He loved to splash and play in the water and the fact that he might have on his good clothes and shoes were of no concern to him.  He was having a good time and that was all that mattered.  Climbing trees, playing in the creek, looking for buttercups in the middle of his soccer game…he and his imagination never had a dull moment!  These traits have followed him into his adult life.  He can find joy in just about everything.  Sometimes I am very envious of this ability.

“No worries, Mom”…how many times have I heard that?  Why didn’t you finish your homework?  Why are you late?  When are you going to finish that project?  “No worries, Mom”….He had the ability to test us to the limit always with a smile on his face and oh, how hard it was for us not to burst out laughing at times when we were trying to discipline him.  Now we get to watch him as he teaches his son and we wonder how hard it is for him not to laugh or smile when Wesley gives him that “no worries, dad” look.  We are enjoying the ride.

Robert has a love of music and it is obvious that Wesley is developing that same love.  How many 3 year old kids can recognize the music of Bob Marley or the Beatles and actually request to hear a particular song at any given time?  His little head will move to the beat of the music just like his dad’s often does.  I imagine that he may not even realize that he is doing this.  It has become ingrained in him.

Like his dad, he loves boiled peanuts.  Watching him eat boiled peanuts at our tailgates this fall, I just sat and marveled at him.  It was like looking back in time.  He really is a mini-Robert and that is a good thing.  His energy, his determination, his love of life and the joy that he brings to anyone who is around him reminds us of his daddy when he was the same age.  Keep it up, Wesley.  You are on the right track.  Listen to your dad, watch your dad, learn from your dad.  Let him be your hero just like your grandfather was and still is to your dad.  You are destined for greatness, at least in my eyes, if you do these things.

Laid-back, free-spirited, “no worries”…three generations of awesomeness in our family.  We are blessed beyond measure.  Thanks be to God.

By the way, Wesley loves the water, also.  I hope that he finds those random puddles in the yard. 🙂

image

 

Alone in a Crowded Place

Yesterday while your dad was at the audiologist, I was at the mall; the one that  you and I grumbled about every Christmas season yet we would still go and then would always vow never to go back there again.

I am pretty sure now that I will not go there again. As I walked up and down the mall, so many memories came to me. The Walking Store where you got your favorite shoes. Coach, where we had to go in and “just look” and where you would drop a not-so-subtle hint when you saw a purse that you liked. The calendar kiosk, the jewelry stores; the memories came so quickly and I wasn’t prepared. The noise of the people talking and walking past me became overwhelming. I felt like I was going to scream or burst into tears or fall to my knees. People were everywhere but I was so alone.

Nothing is the same anymore. The things you and I would do together during the holidays were so special and so much fun. By now you would have reminded me several times that it was “cheese straw time”. You would have already called me to tell me what Christmas movies you had watched so far and what you would be watching next. You loved everything about the holidays and could hardly wait for our adventures to begin. I could hardly wait for them to begin.

I miss you so much, honey.  I never knew that one could feel so alone in such a crowded place but I know now.  I never realized how precious memories could hurt so much but I realize that now.  As grateful as I am for those precious memories, I never imagined that we would stop making more memories.  There was so much that I wanted us to do.  There were so many more mother-daughter adventures in store for us.

Why did they have to stop?  Why does life have to throw us curve balls?  It just isn’t fair. You should still be here.

I miss you so much, honey, so very much. And as Grandma Taylor would say, I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, forever and ever.

Mom

Simple and Sweet Louise

Sweet Louise’s funeral was today. She was married to Rob’s oldest brother for over 50 years but the last several years had to be spent apart because of her declining health.

Louise did not have a college education but she was much smarter than many people who have degrees. She was a wonderful cook and kept a meticulous house. In the summer she would have a huge garden until it became too much to handle. One of my first memories of her is going to their house and seeing her outside shelling butter beans. I believe she had a kiddie pool full of beans to shell. What an undertaking and how sore her thumbs must have been, but with each bean that she would shell, she did it with a smile on her face. Always a smile.

She was a hard worker and she worked for many years at 3M and at the WalMart Distribution Center in Laurens. I doubt that there were many employees who could keep up with her. She was a determined lady who not only did what was expected of her but went the extra mile to be sure everything was done right. Again, with a smile on her face I’m sure.

In their earlier years, she and Davis would ride his Harley to wherever the wind took them. As time moved forward, the Harley was replaced with a camper. A pop up camper was replaced with bigger campers and their last camper was a pretty luxurious 5th wheel. Their camper was always as clean and organized as her house was.

She loved camping because she loved the outdoors but she also loved meeting and talking to people. I doubt that she ever met a stranger and if she did, that person was a stranger for only a moment. Her infectious smile would put anyone at ease. Her laughter could be heard by many. She had so much joy in her heart and she loved to share that joy with everyone who crossed her path.

A tiny lady with a love for food, she could eat more than the rest of us and not gain a pound. So unfair! One of my fondest memories was when we took her and Davis to the Beacon one Saturday. Each one ordered their own slice-a-plenty and not a morsel was left on her plate…Rob and I always split a plate because we couldn’t eat a whole one. After her food was gone, she then ate a whole banana split! Like everything else at the Beacon, it wasn’t just a little banana split. Where that food went, I have no idea, but I know where it didn’t go. She kept that petite figure until the very end.

Louise. A very sweet, simple, no frills lady. A jewel many would agree. A diamond in the rough that would shine no matter what was going on around her.

Life isn’t about the diplomas on the wall or the position held in the employment world. In the end, those things don’t really matter. It’s not about social status or impressing people or having the biggest or the best of everything. All of that can be lost in a second.

Life is about family and leaving a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. Louise left such a legacy. Her love for life, her love for her family and friends new and old, and her generous, caring spirit is what people will remember about Louise. All of that and her smile will forever be her legacy.

We love you and will miss you. Give Jennifer a big hug for us please. I know she was waiting for you with a big smile on her face the minute she saw you.