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....


grammitch said...

Lovely blog Linda. So glad your entire family could be together. Family is so important. So sorry for the loss of your mother. It is hard to give them up. Mine died 18 years ago on the 27th.

Ginny Hartzler said...

I just knew that the day would turn out this way! You are so blessed to have such a large, loving, and supportive family!! And I strongly agree that you should slow down. I want to do so many things so quickly, and get so frustrated when my body makes me stop. But we really do need to notice what our bodies and minds are telling us. You do have your still times, though! Blessings to you, sweet Linda.

Vee said...

Being with family and friends is so healing. We should all do it more often, though for different reasons. You certainly have a precious family. Imagine that you would not without all the particular pieces that brought it together. God has been Providentially Reversing situations in all our lives. Oh, yes, your family honored your mother well.

Whatever your year looks like, dear Linda, I know that God will lead you safely along and that you will be a happy, nurturing person just as you have been right along. Many blessings...

MimiG said...

Laughter - a great healer!
2019 make it your year.. joy and peace to you.
Still praying for all of you and hoping for more laughter..

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I'm so glad being with everyone was a good part of it all. I know you'll think back to everything and feel sad....and all kinds of emotions. Take care of yourself and know that we all care for you and Louis Dean! Sweet sweet hugs, Diane

Brenda said...

Thoughts and prayers
You and I have so much in common!!!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

My mother never knew her birth father either, and she’s an only child. Thankful you have your brother and sisters! Your family is beautiful and you all honored your mother in the best way - being together and loving each other.

Your changes sound right on. Self care is so important, and it’s not selfish, it lets us be better able to help others when we are rested and filled up in our souls.

Much love!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I love the expression, a celebration of life. Your mom's life with all the wonderful children in it, is a reason to celebrate for sure. Family is so important, all of it. Children, cousins, siblings, and friends that become family too. So glad you could all be together, it really makes a difference. We do have to first be good to ourselves if we want to be good for others. Take care and take it easy.

Heather said...

Praying for you Linda! With regard to not knowing your biological father, have you considered doing one of those 23andMe kits that test your DNA? Perhaps if your father had children or other relatives, they might be on there also? This has just been on my mind and I felt the need to share, I hope I am not overstepping here! Much love from Michigan. xoxo

Changes in the wind said...

A special time for all the family and remembering your Mom. I think as we get older we realize we too are worth taking care of:)

Nicki said...

I have been wondering how you were doing - it sounds like it was a good day, in spite of the sadness of the funeral - families are the best.

VintageCrafter said...

You have a lovely family, Linda. I lost my precious Mom too and thought your comparison to the tree was lovely. Thinking of you and yours. Take care of yourself!

Donna said...

Oh Linda, your story could become so much more! I didn't realize you did not know who your father was! You should do the Ancestry DNA test, you can discover a whole other side of family, perhaps several 1/2 siblings, and many cousins. So very, very interesting. Hubby found his father's identity after wondering for 60 years, and found a sweet new 1/2 sister!

Shannon Hopps said...

What an amazing, brave entry this is. I confess, I wondered about your other sisters in the picture as I have only seen pictures of you, your sisters and brother in the past. Thank you for being so candid to explain. You have the most remarkable family. I loved hearing that Leah took you right to the drink table. She is simply one of the best humans I know. No wonder she comes from such an outstanding tribe. Happy to hear you are taking care of you and wishing you some gentle days and softness as we approach mid-winter. it’s a good time to reflect and be still before spring. Love to you, Aunt Linda. You are such an inspiration.

Bluebird49 said...

This will be a year of healing for you, I just know it! The family pictures show that nothing has taken away the love between you and your siblings. May God keep His strong right hand on you as you and Louis Dean continue your adventures into 2019.

Cheapchick said...

Linda, hugs to you, I am sorry about your Mother's passing but not sorry that she is no longer suffering. I didn't read anyones blogs while away so just realized what happened today. You definitely need to take care of yourself first, they say you can't take care of others unless you do that. You may have already thought of this but if you truly wanted to find out your father connections you might try a DNA kit....maybe you have more siblings out there. But if you don't, I totally understand. Sometimes things are best left as is.

Arlene @Nanaland said...

So glad you siblings were able to be together and enjoy that time remembering. I like what you said about God is the Father of the Fatherless. Isn't that good to reflect on, no matter your situation. You always encourage me in my faith Linda as I see how you have reacted to things that were hard. God Bless you in the days to come.

Sandra said...

you have a very large and wonderful family, and all of them are blessed to have YOU in their lives. you may be the short one and odd one out, but you are the most adorable of all. I did not realize you are small until I saw the siblings photo... I know your mother smiled all the way through all this family gathered to celebrate the birthday and the going home of yourmother

Jan said...

I've been keeping you and your family in my prayers-I'm so glad that the day was a good one. I remember being surprised at the funerals of my parents that what I thought would be terrible, stressful days, turned out to be wonderful celebrations and a precious time to visit with family and friends. Take care.

Nonnie said...

I haven’t been up to date and now I’m reading about your mother passing. I’m so sorry for your loss. Linda, your family is beautiful and it looks like you had a really good gathering for celebrating her homecoming. I do like that you plan to take care of yourself. Amen to God being a father to the fatherless. May the Lord bless and keep you and give His peace in the days and year to come.

Susie said...

Yes, my dear friend, take care of yourself. Funerals are not always sad. It is a time to celebrate the loved one , gone on to heaven. A time to celebrate your big family of love, from the strong tree trunk of your mother. You do indeed have a handsome family. A good strong loving family. You are blessed Linda. I am sending hugs and blessings to all of you. Love you, xoxo, Susie

Chatty Crone said...

You are so blessed to have such a great family! And a big one. I am sorry your mom is gone - but she is happier now. I think the visitation and funeral turned out really as nice as it could be for the situation! The six of you are all different sizes - height - and weight. Cute. Love, sandie

Wanda said...

What a wonderful post and celebration of life. So precious to have your family all together. Thanks for sharing so much of your day with us. I could comment on every picture, but instead I want to fast forward to your last paragraph. Yes, 2019 is the year for you to take care of Linda, and remove anything that hinders that goal. You have been a tireless and faithful careiver for your mom...that's all we can ask for, and then we leave them in the arms of a loving God. Hugs and kisses dear friend.

Joye A. WOMACK said...

Joye said..
So sorry to hear of your mom,but what a blessing for all your siblings to become close to each other. I wrote you a few years ago but I think my remarks
were misunderstood and a little forward, I apologize for that. At that time we
had suddenly lost our older daughter on Christmas night(natural causes). No parent should have to bury their child_ we should go first. Your daughter Summer reminded me so much of Mel that I got comfort from hearing about her on your blog.I hope she finds some relief for the pain she's experiencing.
Think on all your good memories with your mom and family. My feelings about
Summer are very sincere as are your other children. Louis Dean is a keeper!

Nancy Chan said...

So sorry for the loss of your mother. Such a beautiful family gathering. You are indeed blessed, Linda with so many love ones surrounding you. God bless!

Linda said...

Dear Joyce, thank you for writing and I’m so sorry for the loss of your daughter. I can’t imagine how hard that has to be. I don’t remember a message from you but I don’t have the best memory. I would reach out to you but I can’t find a way to contact you. My email is on the side bar if you’d like to send me yours.
Yes, God blessed me good with Louis Dean!

Carole said...

It's ironic that it is funerals that often bring families together - and are when you learn lots of things about the person that is gone. Thank you for sharing this with me (and us all) Cheers

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

It's been said that many times the only times that family gathers are for weddings and funerals. The first event is generally happy and the second much sadder. But knowing that family and friends surround you makes even the sad occasion more bearable. Glad your loved ones gathered and made your mother's passing memorable in that her family was together to remember her.

Diana Ferguson said...

Thoughts and prayers for you! What great family pics as you all celebrated your precious mother.