Saying goodbye to my Mamaw

I’m struggling to blog these days, even though I have a lot of words in my head and things I want to get typed out and posted. I’m in the middle of yet another Rheumatoid Arthritis flare and am struggling to walk – for the second time this year – so I’m not in the best headspace. BUT it’s Christmastime (specifically, it’s Christmas Eve by the time I’m getting this posted), and I will always seek to find the joy in this beautiful season.


First and foremost, though, I’m mourning my wonderful grandmother, Lila, who passed away on Sunday, December 4, at 88 years old. I was able to finally go home to Indiana in mid-November (more on that later), and I got to see Mamaw while I was there. She was almost immobile, struggling to walk, and was so frail and weak, but her dementia allowed her to have a “good” day and she knew who I was, which was a blessing. She went into the hospital the day after I flew home, and then she moved into hospice a week later due to renal failure. She passed away peacefully with my mom, grandfather, and uncle by her side. I was able to attend her funeral via livestream, which I appreciated. Mamaw was from a different generation – deferring to my grandpa for decisions and going along with them even if she disagreed – but she was a model of the kind of person to be. Kind. Caring. Loving. Gentle. Addicted to Dairy Queen ice cream 😄. A excellent cook. A woman of deep. Deep faith. She was a lovely human, and I will miss her forever. I also can’t stop thinking about my grandfather, who is now alone for the first time in almost seven decades. They would’ve celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in late January.

Second, I’m thinking a lot about how my grandparents were so influential, even without my realizing it, in choosing the Church of the Nazarene as our denomination. My grandparents were Baptists when my mom was a kid and even when I was born, but they joined the Nazarene church well over 30 years ago now. I remember it causing a minor scandal in the family at the time since nobody really knew what the Nazarenes believed and assumed they were “holy rollers,” but my grandparents found happiness and spiritual support at their Nazarene church. Part of the reason I explored the denomination was due to their influence. So now that Mamaw is gone, I’m feeling blessed and honored that this, too, is my denomination and where we’ve found happiness with deep spiritual support.

Finally – it’s Christmas Eve! Here’s this year’s Christmas tree (pretty similar to last year). Despite our sadness, I still very much love this holiday and the beauty of the season!

I have some exciting news to share, and lots of thoughts stored up, so I hope to blog more in 2023, although I’m about to get A LOT busier (more to come!)

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL WHO READ THIS!

Our tree – 2022

Waiting

My dad believed in visitors from the afterlife. He was also a man of stories, and one of his frequent stories was a memory from when his younger brother, John, died as a teenager in the early 70s. The story goes like this: John was in his hospital bed, comatose in the very last minutes of life. My dad had rushed to his bedside from several hours north, barely making it in time. Right before John succumbed to cancer and died, my dad looked up and saw, floating near the ceiling in the corner of that hospital room,  ethereal versions of his grandmother, grandfather, and an aunt. Dad said it was as if they were there to greet John’s spirit on the other side. Continue reading

Three weeks, one day

Three weeks, one day.

These days, I measure the passage of time based on my father’s passing. In these subsequent 22 days since his death, grief has taken its place in my life like a shadow. My only real reprieve is for a few hours of work each day when I’m so immersed in the crazy world of employee relations that I can compartmentalize my pain.

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I’ll never feel normal again

My dad holding newborn me in late 1978.

My dad died nine days ago after having suffered a massive stroke two days prior. He died in a hospital in southeastern Indiana while my connecting flight was sitting on the tarmac in Salt Lake City, getting ready to take off for Indianapolis.

I didn’t get to say goodbye.

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Holidays that were

When November rolls around every year, there are always two dates on the calendar that matter – my birthday and Thanksgiving.  The first grows less significant each year as I reach the age where I start to pretend that I don’t have birthdays at all.  The latter, which is a holiday that’s supposed to be filled with gratitude and love and familial closeness, leaves me empty.

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1 year

It’s been a year, Kyle, since I kissed you on the head for the last time and watched as you drifted into a peaceful death.  I know that you’re finally free from pain but a year later, I’m definitely not.  Our family isn’t the same without you, buddy, and I’d give anything to have you back.  I know I can’t, though, so I have to deal with the pain and trudge on.  You were the most wonderful companion and I hope I did right by you.  I hope you knew I loved you right until your very last breath.  I’m sorry I didn’t know how sick you were sooner.  A year later, I realize that I was in denial.  I refused to accept that my Kyle, my baby boy, my shadow for the past 13 years wasn’t doing well.  In the end, I know that we couldn’t have stopped the cancer and that it was your time to leave me but it doesn’t make the hurting any less acute.  I’ve shed many tears, and I’ll shed many more in the years to come because you’re gone.

21Dec (44)

05Jan (9)

Kyle vs toy 008

Kyle1