Tuesday, June 29, 2010

from my draft files.....

(complelely unrelated images)

Summer days in Atlanta are usually hot & humid. Perspiration runs down the middle of your back within minutes of stepping outside. The sky is often a hazy blue gray color, the color of mugginess
But not today. June 30th, 2009. Grammy passed away one year ago today. Today it's unseasaonably gorgeous outside. The sky a bright blue, not a cloud in sight, makes the green in the trees pop as they sway thanks to a cool breeze. A rare low humidity day.

Her last night at home, June 2008. We were hanging out with her & PopPop. I usually have a horrible memory, but i clearly remember she had on a pink cotton blouse. She always looked so pretty in pink. Funny thing, originally in my minds eye I can see her with a head full of grey hair, but in reality she was bald, having lost all that to chemo. We were watching the Braves. She always loved to throw around baseball jargin & players names. I grew up listening to ballgames, especially riding in the car with my dad. The sound always brings me a peaceful secure feeling.

The next day she would go to hospice. Never to return home.

June 24 Poppop wanted to celebrate her birthday. He had ordered a small cake & brought balloons. One of her bestfriends had called me to share that she & some of Lil's friends wanted to come to visit her. I tried to prepare her for what she would see. Prepare her that Lil probably wouldn't recognize her or remember the other ladies names. She had begun that sad spiral, whether drug induced or from the disease where familiarity is lost and the faces of loved ones are difficult to discern.
When they arrived Lil began to cry and seemingly didn't recognize them. Yesterday Poppop shared with me that in hindsight maybe he shouldn't have allowed any visitors. I tried to comfort him and tell him that he was only trying to do what seemed best to him at the time. It was so hard to watch him back then. There were days when I wondered if he really understood that this "was it". Short of a miracle , she was soon going home...her heavenly home.

Lil had spent most of her days in & out of consciousness, her eyes might be open but it seemed as if she were elsewhere. Usually the only lucid comments were in relation to comfort & when her pain meds were due.
Dan & Caroline had come one morning to visit. As soon as Caroline walked in she just lit up, smiled and said in a perfectly clear voice, "Caroline!". She clearly recognized & was cognitively aware that her grandchild was there. Later that morning Dan stood by her bed, holding her hand and reminded her how proud he was to be her son. She replied back to him how proud she was to be his mother. As far as we know, that decleration was her last clear statement.

Between Dan & his dad, someone was always by her bedside. The afternoon of June 30th I was taking Caroline up to Gainesville ( about an hour north of Atlanta) for a special art class. That evening while we were there, Dan & his dad had left to head home for dinner. Within moments of his arrival home, the call came. She had passed. Having spent the majority of my nursing career in oncology, I have heard of that happening many times. As soon as the particular family member arrives from far away, or as soon as the family members leave, its as if the patient feels the peace to let go and spare the loved ones of witnessing the last breath taken.

Today is bittersweet. In the twelve months since her passing, sweet Poppop has aged exponentially. He will turn 88 this year. He is a bright blue eyed, silver headed and perpetually tan man. Never smoked , drank, nor said a cuss word. Loyal to his love for over 50 years. A member of the coast guard, born of swedish immigrants. A man who at one time could do & fix anything. He has wrinkles along the sides of his face formed from years spent smiling and seeing the good in people. He tells us that he kisses her picture each night before turning in. He has spent a great deal of this year with his own medical issues. We thought we were going to loose him a few months ago.

As soon as we pulled into the cemetary, i was able to see Poppop getting out of his daughters car-so frail, having just had a procedure the day before. I instantly felt the lump in my throat and my eyes sting with tears. I've done this many times before myself. Something so formal, so official about going to the graveside. I'll be honest, when the girls were tiny I seldom went to Gregg's grave. He wasn't there I told them. I was afraid it might confuse them, but maybe my motives were for selfish reasons. Maybe I just didn't want to go and face the reality laid out before me in marble & brass, that i was alone and that all they had was me. But something different about watching sweet tender hearted Poppop walk over to her headstone. I sucked it up and thought I needed to pull myself together. Caroline had talked to Dan the night before about how today was special. I prayed without looking to the backseat, that she was doing 'ok'. As she got out of the car, her little black patent mary janes shining in the bright sun, Pop pop gave her the honors of placing the flowers in the vase.

As we stood there, Poppop talked about how we would see Grammy again one day. That he believes she was looking down from Heaven as we gathered . That 70 or 80 years seemed like a long time but it would be nothing compared to the forever that awaits us there. We circled around the grave, all 8 of us holding hands. Dan prayed. As soon as I heard his deep voice begin to crack the tears started. Pooling at the rims of my oversized faux Chanel sun glasses. With my head bowed, I opened my eyes. The breeze was blowing, I was again aware of this glorious unusually nice Atlanta weather. I was holding both Savannah's and Caroline's hands. What struck me at that moment was how Caroline's little shadow was cast over the marble headstone. Her hands outstretched on either side yet in the shadow she looked as if she were standing alone. Taking photographs allows me to capture & hold onto the memory of a moment. As I stood there I asked the Lord to help me store that visual photograph in my heart. The shadowed image of a spiritually sensitive 8 year old little girl, who deeply loved her grammy & who was equally adored by her. The image that Jesus asked that we have the heart of a child. Innocent and pure, uncomplicated, simple, and close to His. The image of the tender heart of a child.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

just like you

i'd love to give a shout out to my daughter madison
she has been an absolute delight this summer and a huge helper to me

i feel like i have a built in mommy's helper

madison is always cheerful with me & always asks how she can help

savannah has been lifeguarding this summer & working her tail off

emily, well-lets just say... sweet emi has quite the relationship going on with facebook & is a social butterfly. since she's only 13, i'll cut her some slack

but madison has been the helper extraordinaire

let me roll it out for you....yesterday i had to work all day, as did savannah. dan was visiting his dad in the hospital ( long story for another day). & emily was off with friends. so that left madison & caroline home together. madison is a natural in the kitchen & loves to cook. she googled a recipe for double chocolate chip muffins & made them from scratch. no lie, they may just be the best muffins i've ever tasted. she texted me a photo of caroline licking the bowl, followed by another photo text of their table scape, cute plates & napkins with huge perfectly baked muffins topped with powdered sugar.

they played & had spa time~ each sporting a fantastic manicure. then she covered caroline in sunscreen & packed a picnic lunch. off they went to the pool. monogrammed lunch tote, green tea, peanut butter & marshmallow fluff sandwiches , wheat flavored crackers, cute napkins and silverware, of course.

i came home from work to a spotless house & happy children.

madison has whipped through all the Harry Potter books multiple times. caroline wanted to read the first one this summer. so to help encourage caroline to persevere, madison offered to have a little book club for her where each week they review a chapter together. fantastic!

the list goes on & on

i received a couple calls this week from adults complimenting madison's cheerful disposition & her helpful spirit while helping at bible club and at her cheer practice

thank you sweet girl for everything you do
for me
& for sister

i'm so proud of you

i never had a big sister
but i would have loved one




Wednesday, June 23, 2010

all over the place

yesterday i finally tamed the beast
referred to as "my inbox"
next task=
organizing my photo files
which are taking over valuable real estate on my hard drive
so i thought i'd use some random photos
& do an entry catch up style

lately i have become obsessed with taking photos of flowers
they sit still & don't complain
while i'm playing around with aperture
they don't mind me taking 700 images of them
in an effort to get it right
{no subliminal message intended for my daughters-wink}
please tell me this is normal behavior

florals give me endless opportunities
to play around with actions & textures

dan & i on Father's Day
the little metallic flats are currently on sale at the Gap
for something ridiculous like 7 bucks
& are super duper comfy

my sweet bff Kristin sent me this rockin cuff bracelet for my birthday
she's so awesome
she remembered that i had posted months ago how much i wanted one
made by carissa

i stuck some candles in the uber cool packaging just for fun

don't we all love trader joes?
even their packaging makes their already yummy food
even more yummy

they don't sell mayfield
but it went with my lemon theme that day

seriously yummy pasta sauce

my current pedicure fave
essie's chinchilly

i love lapis of luxury & main squeeze too

found this ginormous fun beachy print
on sale at hobby lobby for less than &10
& the barnwood style frame on clearance at micheals for $20
scored the red lantern at pottery barn after christmas for 1/2 price

i started collecting these vietri dishes a few years ago
each trip to the beach i would come home with a new piece
love these little cuties
but sadly i think they are discontinued

love it when he wears his ballcap backwards
i call him slugger

when i bought this home
one of the big selling points for me was the back porch
we live on a busy road & sometimes
i sit outside listening to the sound of passing cars
& pretend it's the sound of crashing waves
i'm weird like that

we just planted peonies along the border
how incrediblely blissful that will be
if they can survive the africa heat down here in georgia

this little wren has been our little sleepover guest lately
she flies in at twilight
& flutters away around sunrise
her little mate serenades & visits her multiple times before she turns in each night
it's the most precious thing

we're praying, meditating, hoping, wishing, crossing fingers
& sending all the good thoughts and wishes we have
to the gulf coast
where we still plan to head
in ten sleeps!!!!!!

the end

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the natural

i had always known you were a man of integrity
a kind , gentle and loyal man
but during Gregg's illness
i saw a man with a self-less heart for others
a man who would lay down his life for those that he loved

when Gregg was sick
& often felt too poorly to interact with the girls
you would sit on the floor for hours
tea parties
you would be Demetri while Savannah was Anastasia
you melted all of our hearts

a few years after Gregg's passing
our friendship deepened

i remember the moment i fell in love with you
sadly , we were attending the funeral of one of the most amazing women
Carol St. Clair
i was so broken hearted that she had passed
you went with me to the funeral
the first funeral i had attended since Gregg's death
tender & protective
you knew my heart was reliving all the grief from a couple years prior
i felt so safe with you

when we married
you became an immediate daddy
to three little girls
all four of us, completely smitten
you were a natural
you never skipped a beat
& i don't think they did either

i think the greatest character quality you have
is that you show the girls & i
the tender heart of God
slow to anger
quick to forgive & quicker to mend
strength & gentleness all wrapped up in 6 foot 4
& selfless
thank you for telling me you love me 734 times a day
for cleaning dishes after every meal
& mailing me love letters
for taking me to my favorite place in the world, every year
for living in home full of white furniture, white towels & white sheets
for never leaving the toilet seat up
or dirty clothes on the floor
for agreeing to take me out to eat when i don't feel like cooking
& letting me choose where we'll go

sweet dan, thank you for saving your heart & your soul for me
i don't deserve you

i'm truly convinced
that when we are all up in Heaven
Gregg's gonna give you a big high five
& thank you for raising his 3 baby girls
no finer man
the natural


happy fathers day sweet man
& happy fathers day to my own dad
thank you for loving mom for the last 45 years
& for raising me in a godly loving home
you were the first man to show me a loyal heart
& a steadfast love for the Lord

happy fathers day to pop pop
who was married to sweet grammy for 52 years
a kinder gentler man i have never known
i think my sweet dan learned everything he knows
from you

i love you guys!

(for those of you who aren't familiar with my story...i lost my first husband , gregg to cancer. a few years later dan & i married. gregg & i had three girls. they were each under the age of 3 when he passed away. dan & i married and we had caroline. dan adopted my three girls. he has always been daddy to them. they are blessed to have the godly heritage of two wonderful men. one biologically & one by choice. but loved immeasurably by both men)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

i've come a long way baby

we come from a long line of women
who have slow growing hair
i think i looked like a little boy until i was in middle school
which conjures up very ugly unpleasant memories
in & of itself

i never understood why my mom
always kept me in a short cut
not until my own girls were trying to grow out their own hair style
did i understand

caroline often talks about wanting long hair
long hair like sissies
i try to explain to her that right now
her cute little hair just won't grow that long
it will one day
just not yet

so we maximize what we've got
& once she actually needed a hair cut
which i think was around 5 years old
stacked bob was the plan

the other day
she told me
"mama, i want to get a new hair cut"
i tried to explain that there wasn't a plethora of options
so she did what any self respecting woman would do
she went to google
& came up with her own idea

she wanted a spikey look in the back
"you know, like kate gosselin's other hair"
&"with bangs"
let me tell ya
we have 5 round faced girls in this home
& bangs are not the way to go

i explained how rockin her stacked bob was

and reminded her we were only weeks away from our

dream trip to the beach

where i've been known to take thousands

yes you heard that right

thousands of photos

she said she'd be disappointed if we did the stacked bob

but that she knew that her stylist & mom knew best

with that sweet attitude going on

i had to do it

we walked in & her stlyist asked what the plan was for today

i let caroline & kylie come up with her new cut

i sat down & let them pick out what would look sweet on a little girl

but maximize her short little hair

i didn't say a word

i even had my own good attitude

the older girls were like mom....you let her pick out her hair cut?

i know

crossover moment for mom

& miss kylie
at $40 a pop
explained that we could have bangs
OR sweep 'em over to the side
she could spike her hair in the back
OR i could still turn it under for that bob look

its not a huge difference
but different enough
& different enough
because little bit was the one calling the shots

i left with one very happy little girl
when we got in the car she told me
"mama, it looks better than i even imagined"

& she gained a little independence
& i was happy for my baby girl
& proud that i really could let it go

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

so sad........

i don't have an eloquent post today
no deep thoughts
no words of encouragement
no funny stories
just my thoughts first thing this morning it looks like we may need to cancel our july 4th trip to seaside

i wish i had a crystal ball
i wish i knew what to do

please don't send me hate mail
(not that anyone ever has...)
but i am well aware of the bigger picture here
men lost their lives in the explosion
the impact on the ocean life & coastal wildlife is devastating
major economic loss for those whose income depends on tourism
overwhelming sadness....

the Lord gave me a heart for nursing
a heart made to take care of children, very sick children
but this heart can not take sad animal stories

i really can't
i can't look at the news
i can't see the images of the oil soaked pelicans

i would love to go to paris one day
i would love to travel to boston, seattle and new england
but truth be told
there's a little spot on the gulf coast
that i'm completely smitten with

the white sand & the crystal clear water
is my heaven on earth
if i never went any of those places
i'd be perfectly content with my yearly trips to the gulf shore

my first visit to Seaside was with Dan
on our honeymoon

we came back a couple months later with the girls
& have come back every year since

we love it here
we have our favorite restaurants
favorite shops
favorite beach things

i've been to plenty of beaches
but none as breathtaking as the beaches along the gulf

i'm not trying to be a big baby
or a self absorbed narcissist
but honestly pulling up these images
leaves me here with tears in my eyes
will the beach look like this again?

i know we can take our deposit & call it a loss
pack up & head elsewhere
i know that

but today i'm just feeling sad

& heartbroken
about the whole situation....