He Wore a Yellow Sweater

Six years ago the first time we met him, he was wearing a yellow sweater. No idea why I remember that. Six days ago he greeted us with a huge smile, a handshake for Rob and a hug for me, but wasn’t wearing a yellow sweater and rightly so. It was hot that day and the forecast for the next few days was for even higher temperatures. Welcome to Arizona, where “dry heat” is supposed to make temperatures of 90+ degrees more tolerable. It doesn’t. Trust me.

Once inside his beautiful home we immediately felt at home. It was as if we were visiting a family member whom we had not seen in a long time, when in fact, we had only met him briefly when our son married his niece. Warm, gracious, great sense of humor…many adjectives could be used to describe him but that will be saved for later. ūüôā

South meets Southwest. He recommended some wonderful restaurants, none of which disappointed us. On the way to his home, his recommendations of what to see and what to do were spot on. His knowledge of the area, the history of the area and its inhabitants was amazing. No matter the questions, he was able to answer them with details that were at times, mind-boggling. It was evident that he loved living in the Southwest. He was in his element here. His curiosity, his desire to know as much as he could about his surroundings and his willingness to share his knowledge with such enthusiasm, well, our visit could not have been any better.

Waking up to the wonderful smell of coffee has always been a favorite of mine. He didn’t disappoint. After drinking his coffee though, all other coffees are just coffee. I believe his mom introduced him to the way that he makes coffee now.

Wanting to be the perfect host, he made several phone calls inquiring about how we make sweet tea, real Southern sweet tea. Bless him for that. He surprised us, however, with a different kind of sweet tea that, as his sister-in-law would say, is “to die for”. Slightly sweetened black tea with ginger ale, with a ratio of about half and half. Oh my goodness! So refreshing! I will be making this for sure! Wish I had some now…dashboard pizza…yummy. Rented Mustang convertibles, yeah, you no longer fool us.

With Rob in the front seat and me in the back seat (my choice), he took us to places that could only be reached by going off road. Not mud bogging like many people in the south seem to enjoy, but OFF ROAD, literally. The phrase that “you can’t get there from here” would have been accurate without him and his jeep. Don’t think that we caught air but I wouldn’t have been surprised. “Not suitable for pregnant women or people with back or neck problems” could have been a disclaimer. ūüôā
Was it fun? Oh. My. Gosh! Yes! Robert, I’m sorry honey, but as much fun as I had with you when you took me off-road, well this was a different level altogether.

Walking in a river bed to see magnificent rock formations was an experience. Too bad there was no water in the river bed, only deep sand similar to the beach. Still a trip to remember though, water or not.

Experiencing the beauty of Arizona, especially Northern Arizona, was spiritual for us. The song “Majesty and Glory” must have been written for times like this. I found myself singing it to myself many times during our visit. The beauty, the grandeur, the sacred places of the Navajo that we were able to experience, the multitude of stars in the night sky. What a trip.

I could go on and on about our trip but I hope that whoever reads this understands that there are times when words are not adequate. Experiencing times like we did are the only way to fully appreciate what is out there for everyone to see, and to gain a better understanding of how this part of the world was millions of years ago.

Breathtaking, awesome, stunning, amazing, beautiful, spiritual…there are simply not enough adjectives to describe the magnitude and grandeur of what we saw.

Warm, gracious, loves to laugh, enjoys people no matter their background, interesting, talented, great sense of humor, intuitive, sensitive to others, yes, he is truly part of our family now…these words describe the man in the yellow sweater. These words describe Stewart.

Thank you, Stewart. We will return to the South with a little bit of the Southwest in our soul now.

Until next time…

.

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Our Son and Springtime in the South

It’s that time of year; the trees are beginning to bud, the flowers are slowly awakening, the grass needs to be cut, and overnight, a veil of yellow pollen has covered our nice, clean black car.

Springtime in the South is a favorite time of the year for me. I love the transformation from winter to spring. The short days and long nights become longer days and shorter nights and everyone seems to have a “spring in their steps”. (No pun intended. ūüôā). ¬†Neighbors are seen outside surveying their yards and deciding what needs to be done right away. ¬†Flower beds are cleaned out and an occasional snake is uncovered in the process, but no worry, our naturalist niece assures us that what we see are harmless brown snakes. ¬†I trust her…so far. ¬†Thoughts turn to planting a vegetable garden even though last year’s garden was going to be the absolute last garden for me. Too hot and lack of rain with poor yield in spite of all of the time and effort that was spent trying to have a successful garden…just not worth it; at least that’s what I’m thinking right now. If I don’t go to Lowes or Griff’s, just maybe I will not be tempted.

What I am going to enjoy this year is watching our son teach our grandson about gardening. ¬†He is only 3 1/2 years old but he is so curious about everything and wants to be doing whatever his daddy is doing outside. ¬†I remember the times when our son could care less about gardening, certainly didn’t want to mow the lawn or rake leaves or do any kind of yard work. Times have changed, though. Now that he has a family and his own home, he takes pride in having a well-manicured lawn. He wants to change the layout of his flower bed in front of the house to make it more attractive. He is already planning his garden and has decided where the garden should be this year. He has built something in which to have a herb garden. The son who didn’t seem to have any interest in these things at all has discovered a fondness for working outside in his yard. When we are visiting them and he is doing some yard work, I sit back, watch and smile. Our son, who used to watch his dad and learn from his dad, is now teaching his son the lessons that have been passed down from generation to generation. ¬†I watch and my heart fills with pride. He really was listening, at least some of the time, and it shows. He also has become quite good at making things using the tools that he has gotten over the years. He is his father’s son; a little thought and ingenuity and soon, something will be built. ¬†He makes his dad very proud, too.

We will most likely complain too much in the days to come. Allergies will be a bother for a while with everything blooming. The pollen especially from the pine trees will create havoc for many of us but it’s ok. It won’t last forever but we know it’s time to stock up on antihistamines and Kleenex because they will be needed sooner than later.

Pollen, allergies, gardening, yard work, etc.; it’s that time of year. It’s a time for renewal and that is a good thing. ¬†Watching our son teach his son the lessons that he was taught as he was growing up, well, that is priceless.

i love you, Robert. You are a wonderful son and an awesome father, and we thank God for you.image

 

Emptiness

When I am certain there are no more tears to be shed, I am wrong.  When I lie down and think I can go right to sleep, I am wrong.  When I wake up and think that I will be able to concentrate better, I am wrong.

There is a hole in my heart that will never close. ¬†There is an emptiness in my spirit that will never be filled. ¬†My arms ache because they can no longer hug you and there are adventures that won’t be taken because you are not here. ¬† There is a feelng of loneliness that cannot be described even though I may be in the midst of a crowd. ¬†There is a part of my life that will never be the same because you are gone.

I love you and I miss you so much.

Mom

A Family Blessing called Mom, Grandma Jack and Margaret

The youngest of 4 girls, she married Jack, the youngest of 6 children and the only son. Jack and Margaret were reminded many times I’m sure, that it would be up to them to carry on the family name. Not wanting to disappoint the family, they had not 1, not 2, but 6 boys! The family name was safe. No more worries. Today, 19 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren later, ¬†the Sexton name has certainly been etched in the annals ¬†of time. Papa Jack and Grandma Jack, you did good. Your legacy will live on.

How Margaret raised 6 boys all of whom were 2 years apart until #6 arrived 4 years after #5 and kept her sanity is nothing short of a miracle. Feeding, clothing, nurturing the boys AND working a full-time job is mind boggling. Can you imagine the laundry that she did every week or the meals that she prepared every week? There was no such thing as fast food restaurants then so she had to cook. Sandwiches sound better and better when I think of this daunting task. I just can’t imagine…

She and Jack realized the importance of building a solid spiritual foundation for the boys and to church they went every Sunday. It was important that the boys learned about Jesus and the Bible. It was important that they participated in MYF with other young people their age. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Jack and Margaret did just that.

In the blink of an eye, the boys were teenagers and had jobs after school. They were taught the importance of a good work ethic and the importance of making and saving money. They all waited anxiously for the Sears Christmas catalog to come each year so that they could decide what they wanted for Christmas but with one string attached. There was a $20 limit for each boy. Stories that have been told over the years have been quite interesting,  Some would stretch their $20 and get multiple things while others would only get one big thing. I imagine that there were times when there was some envy when one brother had more gifts than the other, but they made their own choices and they had to live with it, at least for that holiday season.

Picking up pecans after church, caddying for their dad at the country club, raking leaves, cutting grass…Margaret and Jack taught them the meaning of responsibility.

In addition to raising their 6 boys, she worked as a secretary in a textile plant and in a high school. She loved to sing at church. She was the church pianist at one time. She was a church secretary at one time. Her last job was at the Martha Franks Retirement Center where she had the distinction of being the first employee in the early days of Martha Franks. She ended her career as an administrative assistant at Martha Franks. Working outside the home, she worked in an environment where she could have a positive impact on people of all ages. In her jobs she was able to be a messenger for Christ. She lived her faith and she shared her faith without hesitation, not always with words but often with her actions. Margaret was a kind, gentle person and she treated everyone with respect. Everyone was important.

She was proud of her family. They were her greatest achievements, her greatest blessings. I am certain that never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined that from their 6 boys she would have so many grandchildren and most assuredly she never thought she would have so many great-grandchildren. There was never any doubt, however, that she had enough love to go around. It was obvious that she loved her family very much.

As her health declined she developed a fondness for Wendy’s Frosty and she looked forward to Thursdays when she knew that a frosty would be coming her way. It was the little things that made her happy.

A favorite verse, Micah 6:6-8, defines her. ¬†“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

You lived that everyday and it showed. People loved you, admired you and respected you but your greatest fans were and will always be your family.

Go rest high on that mountain. Your work on earth is done. ¬†You, Jack, Jennifer, Louise and Ed watch over us as we continue life without you.¬†We love you and we will miss you but we know that one day we will all be together again. Until then, God bless you now and forever. “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

And all of Jack and Margaret’s children said “AMEN”

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.

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. ūüôā 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)! ūüôā 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. ūüôā 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