Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Holy, Holy, Holy

A holy weekend.  A holy First Communion.  A holy funeral.  Holy moly.

We spent the majority of our weekend in church.  With Tommy's rehearsals for First Communion,  the wake, the funeral, First Communion, just about all of our time was church related.  The kids were in nice dress clothes most of the time too.  They spent a good amount of time like this:

(I came downstairs from getting dressed and found the kiddos like this.  Too cute not to snap a pic.)

The kids were to get dressed in their nice clothes and then forced to try and sit, and not rough house, while they waited for us to go from one event to the next.  Don't feel too badly for them, though.  They lived on sweets and sugar this weekend so, in their book, it was a good weekend.  Lots of cake and ice cream and cookies and snacks at every event and I just wasn't in the mood to be the blow hard so they really had at it. Besides, the kids really were extremely well behaved and I think they deserved a bit of sugar.

Tommy's First Communion went swimmingly.  He was so excited and happy and it was easy to catch his enthusiasm.  My holy little guy.  Very proud of him.
That same night we had Todd's father's wake.  There were tons of people.  Jerry touched a lot of lives.  And the general consensus was that if you didn't get along with Jerry then you couldn't get along with anyone.  The man had no enemies.  He was a wonderful man.  

The funeral the next day was moving and special.  I know Jerry was very proud watching his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and the rest of his family and friends paying tribute to him.  Each of the grandkids read a petition (Grace got a bit of stage fright and decided she'd rather come back by mom), Cassie (grandchild- 12 years old) read a very moving tribute to grandpa, and Todd had everyone laughing and crying as he spoke about his dad.  It was wonderful.  

We honored Jerry's generous nature by having an open bar at the luncheon and enjoyed the wonderful meal.  The luncheon was on at a golf course restaurant and the sun shone warmly on the rolling hills and the sparkling pond. It was a beautiful day.    

It has been a very long, emotional, draining week.  With the rush of activity over the reality of it all sets in.  The void.

Thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts and birthday wishes.  I appreciate it all very much.  

Friday, April 19, 2013


Todd's dad passed away yesterday morning.  We are all so happy for him.  He is finally at peace.  

However, you always think it is going to be a relief but it isn't really.  There is such sadness, of course.  A big void.  And you can feel it immediately.  

Today was Grandparent's Day at the kids' school.  I went in place of Todd's mom and as I sat in church with my mom it was all I could do to keep the tears in.  Beautiful prayers were said in thanksgiving for wonderful grandparents.  Songs were sung back at school thanking the grandparents for their guidance, love, support, fun, wisdom, spoiling, and laughter. Grandparents make such a difference in kids' lives and it made me so grateful for the wonderful grandparents my children have, and have lost.

This weekend will be full of emotion.  The wake is on Sunday, which also happens to be Tommy's 1st Communion.  The funeral is on Monday, which is also my birthday. Happy and sad.  Bitter and sweet.  We remind ourselves that at least we know Jerry will now be able to be at these events celebrating with us, and he'll have the best seat in the house.  

I guess if I could say anything I would just want to say "thank you" to Jerry.  Thank you for being such a faithful, Godly man.  Thank you for your warmth, kindness, and gentleness.  Thank you for always having a welcoming smile and a hug to give. Thank you for sharing your love of the outdoors, animals, and the cabin with us. Thank you for your commitment to your family and to God.  Thank you for modeling what a true man is.  Thank you for being the kind of man and father that made Todd want to emulate you.  Thank you for laughs.  Thank you for your stories.  Thank you for all you are and all you gave.  You are loved.  And you will be missed.  But we will see you again.  

God bless you, Jerry!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013


This has been a heck of a week, as you can imagine.

Todd's father is still hanging in there.  He was so bad on Wednesday that no one thought he would make it through the night. It has been up and down.  An emotional roller coaster.  Preparing to say goodbye over and over again, making peace with it, then hanging on.  Waiting.

We don't know why.  Only God knows the plan.  I know suffering serves some purpose even though we can't see it.  Someone somewhere is learning something, growing from this experience.  But knowing that does not make it any easier right now.

And then there is the senseless.  Another tragedy.  Another random act of violence. Looking for motives and reasons when there is none.  Just evil.  Madness.

It makes me so angry.  So very angry that this is the world we are living in now.  My rage boils up and tears spill out.

I want to run away.  I want to throw away my tv, my computer, my phones, any connection to the outside world.  I want to take my children and move to the mountains and hide out.  Run. Away.  I don't want to be part of this kind of a world. I don't want it.  I don't want my children to see it.  So full of evil.

I have to remind myself that there are good people left on this earth. Sometimes I wonder.  But they are there.  And I have to pray that the good will rise up.  Smother out the bad.  I pray.

I pray.

It has been an emotional week.

I pray...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In God's Hands

The boys are home from school and the homework is done when I wake Ben and Grace up from their naps. Snacks are handed out and eaten while we watch a little Spongebob.  Then I begin.

"So, grandpa isn't doing very well, guys.  The pneumonia is causing his lungs to fill up with fluid and he is having a real hard time breathing.  They tried different medicines and procedures to get the fluid out and make grandpa feel better but nothing is working.  There really is nothing else that can be done."  I tell the kids earnestly.  

"Does that mean grandpa is going to die?" Tommy asks nervously.

"Yes, honey.  Your lungs are just supposed to have air in them and grandpa's are filling up with fluid so that makes it hard for him to breath." I repeat again.

"I want grandpa to die because then he will get to go to heaven and I will be so happy for him.  It is much better there."  Joey wisely says.

"Yes!  That is exactly right, Joey. Such a smart boy. I am so happy for grandpa.  But the hard thing about death is that we are sad for us because we will miss grandpa.  So we are both happy and sad at the same time."  I try to explain. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was explaining all of this to the kids about my father?  Here we are again so soon.

"Grandpa is gonna die?"  Ben asks again.

"Yes.  We don't know when.  But grandpa has been having a hard time with Alzheimer's for so long and it only gets worse.  So really, we should be glad that grandpa won't have to suffer anymore.  Daddy is with him right now.  They moved grandpa from the hospital back to his nursing home." I tell them feeling the deja vu.

"Today at school when we were having our prayer circle I asked my class to pray for grandpa because he has ammonia."  Tommy informed me.

"It's pneumonia, honey.  That was so nice of you!  How nice for grandpa to be getting so many prayers!" I respond, giving him a hug.

"Mom, I really don't like Alzheimer's.  It's stupid."  Joey says.

"I know. I agree." I say as I put my arm around Joe.  "If you want we can go and see grandpa.  Let him know how much we love him.  Thank him for being a good grandpa.  Would you like to do that?" I ask the kids.

"Yeah!" "I would!" "I wanna see granpa!" "Yeah, let's go see grandpa!" The kids answer in unison.

We quickly get our shoes and jackets on and head out the door to grandpa's nursing home.

When we get there the rest of the family is in a meeting with hospice.  The kids and I go to grandpa's room to keep him company.  As we walk down the hall the nurse explains to the kids how grandpa is sleeping and has a breathing tube in his nose. She tries to prep them for what they will see.  Little does she know what wily veterans my kids are with Alzheimer's, nursing homes, and death.

We say "hello" to grandpa and let him know we are all here for him.  We talk about the various pictures of grandpa around the room and talk about grandpa's favorite subjects, the cabin, hunting, his dog Daisy, and his family.  Grandpa moves around a bit letting us know he is listening. The kids are so brave and compassionate holding grandpa's hand and talking to him.  I could not be more proud.

Soon the rest of the family is in his room with us.  We all say an Our Father together at Ben's request (and then a Hail Mary, The Guardian Angel prayer, and all the other favorites too) and grandpa wakes up briefly to look at his wife and hold her hand.  Seeing the love between grandma and grandpa is such a beautiful thing to witness.  She strokes his face and speaks sweetly and lovingly to him and you can see his desire to respond.  Love.  I say a silent prayer for God to give grandma strength. Peace.

Soon Father Jim arrives to give grandpa the Anointing of the Sick.  The minute Father begins the blessing grandpa's arms stop flailing and shaking and he folds his hands on his chest in complete peace.    Father's words wash over the room with such love it moves the whole family to tears.  What a blessing to watch such a sacrament.  A baptism into heaven.

Afterwards the room feels lighter.  

Later that night as the kids are getting ready for bed the finality of it all begins to set in.  The kids cry and say they don't want grandpa to die.  They ask how old they will be when we die.  There are tears and hugs. They want to be happy for grandpa, but of course, there is sadness and worry as well.

It is a waiting game now.  We pray for grandpa's comfort and peace.  We pray for strength, peace, and comfort for grandma as well, and that both grandpa and grandma may feel God's love and their family's love surrounding them at every moment.

And we wait.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Has Sprung

The temperatures rise
Slowly, slowly the snow melts
The sun has returned

Soon, April showers
Will be bringing May flowers
Green grasses and leaves

I'm planning away
A new raised garden for me
and the kiddos too

Peas, lettuce, peppers,
Tomatoes, basil, carrots,
A pumpkin or two

A seed catalog
Keeps me busy for hours
Dreaming of summer

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It Looked Like This

And that pretty much sums up our Easter.

The kids found their baskets bright and early on Easter morning and stuffed themselves with so much candy that I was fearfully awaiting mysterious vomit around every corner.  When the kids had sufficiently gorged themselves we all shined ourselves up for Easter mass and got to church early enough for very good seats in a packed church.  After church we took my mom out to brunch which was delicious and yummy (and loud- the kids were HYPED up on sugar and had to be quiet for a whole hour and a half during mass).  Shortly after brunch we changed into comfy clothes (except for Grace who refused to take off her pretty dress) and headed over to Todd's mom's house for Easter bingo, more fabulous food, and strange family competitions (who can do the most push-ups, who can hold their breath the longest, who can judge the distance from the front window to the neighbor's lawn ornament the most accurately- not that we are a competitive family or anything).  It all ended abruptly when the competition became a little too much and my 47 year old brother-in-law wiped out while racing my 18 year old nephew down the street.  Wet street + shoes with no traction = bloody hands and muddy clothes. Oops.  Nothing says "Jesus has risen!" like a little family rivalry.

All in all, it was a great Easter.

Thank goodness the school was wise enough to give the kids Monday off.  We needed the whole day to just sit around and recoup from our spring break.

Actually, I could use another week.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson