Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Next 4 Days

Friday, September 8
In God's divine planning, Joel and Brandi scheduled this weekend to come to our house for a visit. The weekend turned out to be very different than we all expected, but having them here to help was a gift. So after sleeping just a few hours, I did the most minimum amount of cleaning for company and headed down to Mom's for a day of funeral preparation.

I arrived about 11:00 while Grandad, Mom, Dad, and Jay were still making arrangements at the funeral home. It was important to me that my children all go into their Great Gramma's house to know that it was still ok to be there and just to help them start dealing with the change of Great Gramma not being there. The children were really just amazing all day. They behaved well and handled emotions well.

Gramma had this saying printed and framed on a table, "We cannot become joy without seeing and encountering his joy." Gramma IS joy now. She has seen and, has not only encountered, but is in the presence of HIS joy. It was a day of intermittent tears and almost constant disbelief that Gramma was gone, but underneath I surely know that Gramma is in a perfect state of joy and health. 
My to do list for the day was to make a slideshow of pictures, coordinate printing of programs and bookmarks for favors and write my memories to share at the funeral. I also spent an inordinate amount of time communicating on social media and text. I want to remember the phone call I had with a second cousin who loved my Gramma dearly. I want to remember how a dear friend offered to design and print all of the programs and bookmarks. It took me all day to muddle through that and by the end I was crying because I didn't want to be done.
Saturday, September 9
I slept maybe 4 or 5 hours and woke up really early. I had not finished writing for the funeral and I knew I wouldn't have a remote chance of relaxing until that was done so I worked on that. Isaiah came down still half asleep so I held him and he fell back to sleep on me. By the time I had held a sleeping kid of an hour I was almost asleep myself so I stumbled back to bed and the next time I saw the clock it was 10:50am. I jolted awake and out of bed. The kids were in total disarray and there was no milk. Joel was out on a coffee run and I texted him in a bit of a panic to please pick up milk. He calmly texted back that he already had milk and was on his way back to the house. Thank God for Joel and Brandi! Brandi took care of all the dishes and who knows what else she quietly took care of. The afternoon was for grocery shopping and funeral clothes shopping with Brandi and the girls.

Sunday, September 10
Joel and Brandi agreed to stay until Sunday evening so that they could take care of our children during the viewing. The family had a private viewing from 4-5 on Sunday. All of the children had their emotions. Anna really cried for the first time. My Dad talked to his grandchildren about death and dying and then each child got to choose one of the teddy bears that Great Gramma had in her house. Joel and Brandi took our children to McDonalds, the park and Chesapeake Dairy for ice cream while Jeremy and I stayed at the funeral home. I want to remember all the people who came to greet Grandad, my parents and the rest of our family. I want to remember how strong Grandad was standing in front of the casket of his wife of 65 years and talking about faith--practically preaching to people who were there to comfort him. I want to remember my sweet friend and her daughter who came. I want to remember the family friends who just came and sat to let us know they were there for us.
Then we all went to my parents house for supper. It was exhausting and good to see people and good to visit...and exhausting.
Monday, September 11
The day of the funeral started with another hour at the funeral home for viewing. Family from Pennsylvania and Iowa arrived. This hour turned out to be a very important time for Aliza. The night before she did not want to get close to the casket, but on Monday she could not stay away from the casket. She wanted me with her and we would stand beside the casket and cry, then Aliza would be ready to sit down and a few minutes later she would ask me to go back with her. It was heartbreaking to watch Aliza saying good bye.

Because of logistics the graveside service followed the viewing. Janell had a pink rose for each of the children to carry to the grave and lay on the casket. Then they took a flower out of the arrangement to take home.
Anna and Renee ended up leaving the roses they took out of the arrangement tucked in to the cross from the great grandchildren.

I want to remember the amazing woman who came to each location and took care of my children. Isaiah was really done by the time we got to the graveside and she walked with him and looked for soybeans (there were plenty to find!). I want to remember life and death--Isaiah running happy and carefree and me facing the casket.

After the graveside we proceeded to Holly Grove Mennonite Church for the memorial service. I want to remember how much I liked having the service after the graveside. We had already said good bye and now to were remembering Gramma's life and the emotions were quite as raw. I want to remember how Aliza held her teddy bear all day. I want to remember how Aliza wanted to be involved--she wrote some memories for me to read and stood beside me holding her bear while I read them. She made mini no bake cheesecakes to add to the reception. I want to remember how Aliza interviewed Great Gramma on Aug 29 for a history assignment and how that essay was printed on the back of the program. I want to remember how the last question of that interview was "what do you want to be remembered for?" Gramma's answer was that she wanted to be remembered for her hospitality and how much she loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren and those words--hospitality and love--were the themes of the service. I want to remember my Dad's sermon and how he thanked his Dad for loving his Mom for 65 years. I want to remember how Dad suggested that Gramma's final act of hospitality is inviting all of us to answer the knock of God on the door our hearts. I want to remember how Holly Grove served and provided the meal after the service. I want to remember how beautiful I thought the flowers were on the tables. I want to remember the second cousin I met who has Down Syndrome. I want to remember going to Mom and Dad's after the reception--exhausted as we all were--because I wasn't quite ready for it all to over.

And I want to remember that I had the sensibility to take the whole week off of school.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Thursday, September 7

It's time for me to start writing. When I know that something is written, I can start to let it go--as in there are parts that I don't have to keep replaying in my mind over and over. I seem to write in chronological order by event so I'm just going to write as I can, as much as I can remember, about the day and days following my Gramma's death.

Thursday started out tough. We were slugging through our 4th day of school in our first full week of school. It felt like we were hitting a pretty good routine, but Anna was just being difficult. I had a feeling of heaviness and discouragement over some other things so I decided we would go to the library and pick up McDonald's for lunch.

In the car we ended up having a really great conversation. Josiah commented that it was hard to believe in God when we can't see Him. He and Aliza were going back and forth and then they started speculating about what hell is like. I joined the conversation and talked about how hell is eternal separation from God and that being separated from God is the single worst thing that could possible happen. We talked about how God created light and keeps the universe is motion and without that there is only utter darkness. We talked about how God is love and without God there can be no love and no good thing and how horrible that would be.

As that conversation ended I just admitted to the children that I was just feeling really discouraged. Anna immediately prayed for me. Aliza, in her wonderful 11 year old wisdom, told me that the best thing to do would be to only focus on the next thing instead of the whole day. That's what I attempted to do.

We pulled in to the library. I went to get Isaiah out of his seat and managed to bend my thumbnail back almost halfway down the nail. It hurt really bad and was bleeding. It didn't help my mood. We got our books and went to McDonald's. Somehow my order was misunderstood and I ended up with a bunch of extra fries and paying more than I usually do which annoyed me. Jeremy is so gracious though. He didn't get upset.

The afternoon went as planned. The kids watched their library DVD. Anna continued to refuse to do her schoolwork to the point that she was going to be working with Daddy after supper and I was getting supper ready when the phone rang. Called ID told me it was my Mom. I answered and she said, "Carla, Gramma just passed away."

The backstory: Tuesday morning my Dad told us that Gramma had fallen in the bathroom. She was taken by ambulance to PRMC and there is was determined that she had a break in her pelvic bone and that she shoulder was pushed into the socket. Surgery was not needed. The plan was that she would be moved to a rehab facility. I talked to Gramma on Tuesday and on Wednesday. She was in a lot of pain, but she was very happy to talk on the phone. Wednesday the nurses had moved her to sit on a chair the pain of which was almost more than she could bear. But she said, Carla, I'm going to pull through this. Thursday my Mom had visited Gramma for a few hours in the afternoon and after Mom left Gramma just slipped away. No one saw it coming or expected it.

So when I got the call from Mom I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. Over the matter of about a minute  it sunk in and I slumped to the floor sobbing. One of my first thoughts was that I had not visited Gramma in the hospital. I felt regret, but then it was the first moment that I reminded myself that Gramma is in heaven and doesn't care at all that I didn't visit her. Of course the children were with me and I told them right away that Great Gramma had died. Aliza cried. Josiah was tough. Anna didn't know what to think. Isaiah started acting out. Jeremy came home and the next hour was one phone call and text after another.

I chose to go to the hospital to see Gramma. I can't tell you why. I just knew that that's what I wanted to do. That is the time that keeps replaying in my head but I'm so glad I went. I sobbed. (I am now too, not sobbing, just tears falling!) It was my Dad, Mom, Grandad and Laura there and when the rest were ready to leave I couldn't go. Mom and I sat in the hospital room until the funeral home arrived. There was some miscommunication so it was a long time that Mom and I sat there. I arrived at the hospital after 6:00 and it was after 8:00 until the funeral home arrived. It was hard to walk out of the hospital room.



By 9:30 that night all of my siblings, my parents, and my Grandad were sitting in Grandad's living room together. I went straight for Gramma's camera. I wanted to see her lasts--the pictures that I will never order for her. The very last picture in her camera was her youngest great grandson (no surprise there!).
 The last picture of her and Grandad:
 And the last picture of Gramma that Renee took after giving her a bouquet of silk flowers.
Gramma always sat the the far end of her dining room table to write letters. Her address book and piles of cards and pictures were always there for her to work on. That was my second stop. The last batch of pictures I ordered for her didn't quite make it out. We found all of the September birthday cards picked out, ready to be signed.

And there was an atlas on the table opened to Texas. I know she was following that storm and the places that were affected by it. My last conversation with Gramma in her house was about the hurricane and how she could contribute to the cleanup effort.

So we sat. Mom and Dad read to us Gramma's wishes for her funeral service. We talked and brainstormed and sat. And then I was utterly exhausted. I got home at 11pm to find Aliza still awake waiting for me. I slept very little that night.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Never Expected

I never expected to place three orders for BJU curriculum in the last week and a half. It was so close to school starting that I figured that the buying season was over. I got one phone call and then another and I thought for sure that was it.

Then we were invited to a BBQ last weekend at the home of one of Jeremy's friends.

I didn't know anyone there, but it is pretty rare that we get an invitation for the whole family so I thought it would be god to take advantage of it. We arrived and there were dogs which meant that our children would not take a step away from my side. No one made any effort to greet me--the one person who did strike up a conversation started with asking if I was Catholic. He wondered because we had *so* many children. That made me laugh inside. I told me we were Protestant. lol. After that I just tried to fade into the background!

There was one lady, though, that started talking to Jeremy. I overheard homeschool, but that isn't uncommon since it is pretty much part of my identity right now. This lady then made her way over to me. (I did like her immediately.) The end of the story is that public school was going to start in less than 2 days and she had yet to decide what she was doing with her 7th grader. We had a great conversation. Everything that I told her about BJU resonated with her. The next day (Monday) she and I met so that she could preview the 7th grade books and she ordered on the spot. That BBQ turned into a divine appointment that I never expected. But no one every *expects* divine appointments, right?

I never expected that a market for BJU for emerge on this little peninsula of Maryland. I am so very thankful for the opportunities that I've had to talk to moms who are contemplating home education. I never expected that my 6 years of experience would translate into being able to confidently field questions about starting, organizing, and a whole range of other topics. I may have hoped, but never really expected that I would be able to contribute to the curriculum line in our budget. For all of those unexpected things, I am so very thankful.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Joy Dare::August

4619. Friend morning
4620. Sang and rocked Isaiah to sleelp
4621. Filling up hungry tummies for lots of littles
4622. Cousins digging potatoes with Great Grandad
4623. Smile face drawn on bandaid
4624. Free ways to talk to a friend internationally
4625. Josiah diving
4626. Parenting pep talk
4627. Finished scanning
4628. A morning of serious cleaning
4629. Solidifying a new friendship
4630. First cousin slumber party
4631. A day with my mom and sisters
4632. Jonah was an amazing play
4633. The best sticky bun
4634. Jeremy capable and willing to care for 6 children for 13 hours today
4635. Aliza's calls just because she wanted to talk to me today while I was gone
4636. Baby clucks
4637. A very peaceful day with 6 children
4638. I should have been scared, but I wasn't
4639. The $ make my hands shake and my heart beat hard, but Jeremy takes it all in stride
4640. Yard mowed before the rain
4641. Started the next painting project
4642. Isaiah's attempts at doing exercises with me
4643. Little boys being brave for their Mommy
4644. Aliza helping with corn husking
4645. Being able to help Mom
4646. Busy butterfly
4647. Our happy place this summer
4648. Jeremy got to stop by to see all the new swimming skills
4649. Sitting down and answering all of Aliza's questions about school
4650. All the projects crossed off my summer list
4651. The rain stopped when we came out of the store with groceries
4652. Family ice cream trip to Dairy Queen and all the family silliness
4653. Some blue sky today
4654. Organizing school is mostly fun for me
4655. Aliza has some pretty great teachers
4656. Sore muscles means I'm exercising
4657. The British make a good baking show
4658. Finished my 2016 family scrapbook
4659. Josiah and Renee are best buddies today
4660. I cold honestly compliment Josiah's handwriting
4661. Laughing
4662. Everyone integrated with new friends at the pool
4663. Afternoon chai waiting for me
4664. Aliza reads my blog books over and over
4665. Sometimes faith is scary!
4666. Everyone together for Bible study
4667. Josiah thrilled to show me his rock fish
4668. Coco's and pizza
4669. Aliza was too old for the bounce houses but she had a great attitude
4670. Enjoyed the water slide at a 2nd party this afternoon
4671. Brandi phone time
4672. Buying Josiah some things to help him feel ready for school
4673. Anna says these two words never go bad: unicorns and princesses
4674. Fresh air helped my mood
4675. First day of school and I'm proud of everyone's hard work today
4676. Got to see the eclipse
4677. Krispy Kreme--hot and watching the cook
4678. The perfect hot tea for fall
4679. Pretty flower colors
4680. I was sitting right by the pool to rescue Isaiah
4681. The joy of watching a child obey
4682. Book in the mail
4683. Isaiah singing along in the car
4684. Going over plans with Aliza
4685. Freezing more corn
4686. Helping Josiah stick with the job after he got cut
4687. A handmade garland suprise
4688. The sweetest, more heartfelt Mommy love note delivered in a beautiful gift bag
4689. Josiah is excited about learning to mow
4690. Get to call my mother in law every day this week
4691. A most lovely morning with my Aliza girl
4692. Just a hint of season change in the air
4693. The sweetest snuggle time with Isaiah
4694. Hard work and fresh air
4695. Josiah likes the huge cucumbers I found when I cleaned up the garden
4696. Pears straight from the tree
4697. Inconsistent WIFI led to wonderful hours of play
4698. Successful science experiment
4699. Maybe we should be doing more schoolwork this week--but we're not
4700. Jeremy and I spending time with each other's parents alone
4701. Successful first 4 hour drive alone with the children
4702. Rainy day calls for cookies
4703. Finished another good book
4704. Playing in the stream
4705. So many different kinds of pumpkins
4706. Train driving
4707. Muffin eating
4708. Trampoline jumping