Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Remembering Mother and Celebrating Family....

Monday we got up and did our normal coffee stupor and Bible reading before we started getting ready for the visitation that night and Mother's funeral on Tuesday.
Deanie invited us to spend the night on Monday because she wanted to make sure I was not late for the funeral and that was such a blessing.
I may have had a melt down and then a Come to Jesus meeting after wards when it came to selecting my clothes. I have so many and yet I tried on one outfit and then another and they didn't FEEL right!!
WHY do I have SO many clothes in my closet if I can't bear to wear all of them?

I wanted to beat the traffic so we were sitting in the parking lot of Greenwood Funeral Home at 3:00.
Visitation started at 6:00.
My siblings and I keep a message thread going and Lonnie called me and told me how to get to Target....a mere two minutes away from Greenwood. Perfect!!!
As soon as we walked in the store, I could feel myself relaxing.
I wish I could buy a candle that smells like Target.
In the summer, it is cool and fragrant with the smell of fresh fruit.
In the winter, it is warm and cozy with the aroma of Starbucks coffee floating through the air.
Louis Dean and I did a little shopping and a lot of browsing.
Target has a deli section with sandwiches and such so we bought something to eat and took it over to the Starbucks there in the store and got coffee to go with it.

This tree was just outside the window where we were sitting.......
and as I looked at it......I started thinking how it reminded me of Mother,
She is the strong trunk of our family tree.
Her six surviving children are the bolder branches and the many grandchildren and the many more great grandchildren and one tiny great great grandchild are the smaller branches and twigs.
We are all who we are because of her.

Visitation was not the ordeal I thought it would be but a gathering of friends and family who love us and gave us comfort and joy.
We talked and visited together and I knew in my heart that Mother was happy.
Happy to see us all there because of her.
That was her last gift to us......
the gathering of family and friends.

It was good that we spent the night with Deanie and Charlie.
We slept well and woke early enough to visit over coffee and the good rye toast with butter and cheese that Charlie made for us.

Deanie's son, James, gave the eulogy and it was perfect.
I wish I could share it here because to hear it is to know who Mother was.....
and the most important role she played was that of Granny.
She was an excellent Granny. Or Grandma in the case of Amber and Benjamin.
Of all the 17 grandchildren......they are the only two who refused to call her Granny.
When Amber was old enough to talk, she said she was Grandma and Grandma she was! 

I love this photo! 
Look at all the strong godly men in this picture. 
Mature men like my son, Jesse, (5th from the left) and Benjamin (first one on the right) and Deanie and Nita's sons (3rd and 4th from the left.). 
Then another generation of godly young men in Deanie's grandsons.
God is redeeming so much in this one photo.
We did not have good men in our lives growing up, my siblings and I.
Neither did my four children.
It is such a blessing that our grandchildren have so many.

And speaking of grandchildren......the quads had been sick but were well enough to be here that day.
In the background is my oldest grandchild, Sam. He is on the upper left hand side with his dad next to him and my oldest granddaughter beside him.
Family truly came together this day.

So did our friends.
This is our dear June.
She and her daughter, Kimmy. have been such an important part of our lives for so very many years.
What a blessing they were to us on this day.
 Friends who are there for you through thick and thin are so precious.
That's Kimmy and June.
This is the one and only photo I took during the visitation and funeral.
Deanie took the first two and I thank her for that.
We were comforted by so many friends during the visitation and the funeral.
And by the prayers of others.....they were felt.

This is a memorable moment.
The first ever photo of all six surviving siblings of Pauline.
Never mind the last name.
That changed quite a few times but Ewing was the last name of Deanie I don't write her real given name, Lanita, and Lonnie. And Collins was the name for for Luann and Shari.
As I look at the photo ....and as you can plainly see......I am the odd one out.
The other five have similar looks but I am a bit different.
Shorter. Blond. For so many years I felt like I did not belong.
Shari and Luann are full blood sisters. Same mother and same father.
Deanie, Nita and Lonnie have the same mother and father.
Mother never told me who my biological father was.
I asked. Often. I never knew and I still do not know.
It's a little late in the game to even wonder now.
And it really makes no difference as I long ago accepted the fact that God shall be the Father to the fatherless.....

We all gathered at Nita and Mike's after the funeral......

As always.....everything happens around the table.

People circle around it to get their food - and there was plenty - thanks to Leah and Becky and James and Billy.  Family stepped in and provided a great meal and we all so appreciate them doing this. 
 I love how family make things work.

It was all so good!
What is it about funerals that make us so hungry?
Can you see Nita taking a photo......

This is that pic!!
Amber and her Uncle Lonnie!

Our sister, Shari, is on the far left and then Luann and Mike.
We mixed and mingled and visited and laughed and had a really good time just being together.

Mike, Michele, and our family fiend, Gary....

Mother was buried on Lonnie's 64th birthday.
At the funeral.....before it started.....I told Lonnie that all these people were there for him.
I said it was his birthday and we wanted to throw him a big party but we didn't have much money and this was already paid for! He laughed and I love that I made Michele laugh even harder!!!
I love her laugh and her smile and her eyes when they twinkle!

It really was a big party! 
Birthday party for Lonnie and celebration party for Mother.

A true celebration of life!

Lonnie likes to put honey in his morning coffee and Michele uses honey in her morning oatmeal.
This should hold them until I can share some raw honey from the bees we hope to keep and harvest at the ranch this year.

It was actually a fun day!

I do love my brother!

That amazing cake was a red velvet and it was delicious!!

Nita had Mother's jewelry spread out on her bed and everyone was invited to take what they wanted as a remembrance of her.

Did I mention that all four of my children and 7 out of 8 of my grandchildren were there?
You know what two of my favorite moments were?
The first was when I came in and Leah led me to the beverage table.
She had brought a special bottle of peach wine .....knowing I would love it ....and poured a glass for me. Leah knows my heart.....
Then later we were all gathered around the table in the kitchen eating and Jesse brought me a glass of red wine. He asked, "Would you like some wine, Mom?"
I have not cried once and yet I am tearing up at this. Then he stood beside me for several minutes as I sat at the table. It was a comfort just to have him next to me.
My many of my heart has been blessed and comforted by the acts, words, gestures and the mighty prayers and thoughts of so many.

I haven't cried yet so I am going to move on in this journal post tonight.....

Meet Phoebe.....Gary's hairless cat.
She is about 13 year old I think. Such a sweetheart.
Gary is a childhood friend of Mike, Nita's husband, and a good friend to us all.
I said it has been so long since I had a critter and was reminded of the goats, chickens, roosters, geese, ducks and horses on the ranch. And let's not forget my opossums!

Andie kept the younger ones totally entertained!

Sweet Kailey!

My handsome guys!
Benjamin and Mike....

Precious Levi, Jesse's youngest.

All too soon the day was done......and it had been a good day.

I love this sign that's in Deanie's kitchen.

I'm doing good.
We came home last night and I went straight to bed.
I slept well and long.
Today I have been taking down Christmas and making some decisions in my mind about some things.
2019 is the year when I slow down.
I am taking notice of what gives me stress and what makes me happy and making some changes in my life. This is my year to take care.....not only of others but of myself.
It will be a journey and I am 30 days into it....

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Our Saturday.....

I am still processing things and I think my siblings are doing the same.
Deanie and Nita have shouldered the brunt of the burden in dealing with all the arrangements and the many things to do that you don't think about until the time comes.
We have kept our messenger thread humming the last few days.

Louis Dean and I will be going home tomorrow.
This was our last full day to be here at the ranch this month.

As always, Louis Dean had a job he was doing.
The wind from a few days ago had blown out some of the insulation he had put up along where the camper meets the front room. Today he put it back and then covered that section with 1 X 4's so that won't happen again.

I worked in the front room while he was up on the roof.
I told him that was so I could hear the thud if he fell off but I was only teasing.
I was out there so I could hold the ladder steady as he was going up and down.

It was a beautiful day ....and I find that I continue to watch the sky.

It has been a special weekend because Crystal is here!
That's Dean and Sherry's daughter and she is an awesome young lady.
It's always a treat to get to see her.

We had lunch together......

I roasted some veggies with rosemary I brought from home.

Dean and Sherry cooked up some tasty brisket and we put everything together and had a feast!

After we ate, they went back to work on their projects and we went back to ours.

The work room Louis Dean built has certainly come in handy!
My son, Jesse, gave us the storage system - with the colored tubs there behind him.
Originally used for children's toys, it is just perfect for Louis Dean's plumbing and electrical parts.
While he did his projects, I did mine.

Sine it was a pretty day - although a bit chilly - I took my divider out to the picnic table and worked on the other side. It was getting dark when I was winding up so Louis Dean turned on his flood light with a flick of a switch right by the front door. He is so proud of that light. It is LED!
I used wine themed calendar pages for the other side but it was too dark to take a picture when I finished.

The I started another painting.
Using a good bit of paint and large sweeping strokes to cover the canvas felt good.
Details will come next time I work on it.

We had another great meal together - Louis Dean, Dean, Sherry, Crystal and I - and it was like a party!

This time Dean had cooked ribs and they were delicious!!

Crystal is one of the coolest people ever and it's like we are with a celebrity when she's here.

I don't think Dean realizes just how much I love him.....
he is as good as gold and as loyal a friend as you could ever find.
Being with Dean and Sherry and Crystal this weekend has been a comfort and blessing to my heart and soul.

And guess how we ended the night??

With fireworks!

It was a wonderful celebration of life today.
Celebrating Louis Dean as he was doing work that most 82 year olds aren't usually doing anymore.
Celebrating with family meals and talk and laughter.
Celebrating all the friends and loved ones who have sent messages of love and comfort to me and my siblings this day.
It was a good day.

We will close up the camper and go home tomorrow.
All the arrangements have now been made for Mother.

Her funeral will be Tuesday morning at 11:30 and she will be buried alongside her mother and daddy, her sister and brother in the family plot at Greenwood Cemetery.
Visitation will be Monday evening from 6:00 - 8:00.
All six of Mother's children will be together as we say our final goodbye.
Words fail me as to how to express what I am feeling now.
Somehow I think it is poetic that - even though two of the six of us grew up separately from us and from each other - we will all be together Tuesday.
Only God.....

Friday, January 25, 2019

Mother Went to Heaven This Morning.....

We were up early this morning.

So early that when I went out to the front room to turn my coffee on, I could see the sun rise.
I don't see many of these. The light was pushing the darkness away.
I listened to the birds as they were tweeting, chirping and welcoming the day.

Louis Dean and I had coffee together and were preparing to leave for Fort Worth when my sister, Nita, called me with the news that Mother had passed away this morning....she left at 7:20.

We have known Mother was going to be leaving. 
She had no quality of life and was ready to go.
At the end she was in pain and suffering.
The booklets I read when Reaoma was ready to go explained that dying was hard work.
Just as hard work as being born.

Summer had been with her Granny on Thursday evening and when Mother saw her, Nita says she lit up like a Christmas tree!

Mother was a very good Granny and every single one of her grandchildren and great grandchildren were special to her. I am so grateful that Summer was with her last night.

We didn't go to Fort Worth. 
I didn't cry or fall apart.
I haven't cried even yet - but I will. I know I will.
I felt numb.  I still feel numb.
I found myself watching the sky all day.

I decided to go in to Mart and pick up a few things and maybe shake off this stupor.
The sky was so beautiful.

I didn't really need to go to town but I just wanted to get out and be alone a little while.
I stopped at the Dollar store and bought a candle.
I have three burning right here at the table by the by the kitchen sink and one in the bathroom. All different scents but they blend nicely and together they smell wonderful.

Then I went to Leon's Junction - a really cool funky little shop right on Texas Avenue in Mart.
I found a treasure - a rusty rustic Texas garland - for just $5.
I stopped in at Virginia's Vintage - she has a flea market style thrift shop.
Then I went in to Read's Grocery Store to buy hamburger makings....meat, lettuce, tomatoes.
Louis Dean is going to grill some tomorrow. 

Still watching the sky on my way back to the ranch.

I stood on the front porch this evening and watched the clouds as the sun set behind me.
This was where I watched the sun rise this morning as Mother was going to Heaven.

Sunrise and sunset.
Birth and death.
Our mother is gone now.
You know what one of her greatest gifts to us was?
You will think this is strange.....
Mother suffered a massive stroke on September 25th, 2005.
We were told she would never be able to feed herself, walk, dress, or talk again.
While she never recovered her speech, she was able to do everything else.
The gift she gave us was the last 13 years.
If she had died in 2005, we would not be the family we are today.
We worked together to take care of Mother and by doing this, we all became very close.
We weren't close before this. At least I wasn't close to Nita, Deanie and Lonnie.
We weren't estranged or anything. We all had our own lives and dramas and such and we would get together from time to time - but we weren't close like we are now.
Taking care of Mother taught us about each other.
I'm very grateful for that.

I set up the art table this afternoon because when I paint, when I do art, I don't think.
My mind is on the brush and the paint and I relax.

So that's what I did today.
I finished up the two Santa paintings and thought about what to paint next.
Jutta suggested I paint something to remember this day.......

I decided to paint this morning's sky.
I spent a few minutes basing it in and will continue to work on it.
I used a lot of paint and it needs to dry a bit.

I want to thank you all for your prayers and condolences.
For your kind words and thoughts for us.
Mother leaves behind six children.....

Today has been hard for all of us but you have helped so much.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Stupor Thursday.....Thinking of Mother.....

Today has been hard.
Mother is in the final stage of her life.
Deanie was with her for much of the day.
Summer stayed with her this evening as did Nita.
I have spent the day doing therapy.
I cleaned.
I organized my tea towels and dishcloths.
I vacuumed.
I potted plants - mint for Sherry I brought from home and onions I bought in Groesbeck last week.

I strung up a string of cool white lights in the front room window.....
and thought how bright some lights are shining even as others are fading.

I personally don't like the cool white as much as I do the warm white bulbs.

I had three strands of lights on this tree and two of them had gone out.
I undecorated the whole tree and added two 100 count strands of LED warm white bulbs.

For some reason, lights are important to me.

I must have them. 
Not brilliant blinding lights but soft comforting ones.

I am thinking tonight that people are like lights.
Some are really my grandchildren.
I thought of my youngest ones.....Rayne, Trystan, Kailey, Harrison and Logan.
They are the brilliant white lights shining all young and bright.
Then there is the white lights of my older grands....Sam, Faith and Levi.
Bold and steady lights.
I think of the new LED lights reflecting my children....Summer, Jesse, Amber and Benjamin.
They have been shining for a good while now and will shine for many long years more.
I think of myself as an older warm white light.
Still glowing as the white fades into more of a soft amber glow.

Mother's light is fading tonight.....and it is time.
"Our times are in His hands."
Mother's time.
My time.
Your time.

We're going to bed early tonight so we can get up and leave first thing in the morning.
I plan to spend the day sitting with Mother,
Deanie requested 24 hour hospice care and there is a LVN with Mother tonight.
Life is a journey.
We are all on this same journey - just at different stages.