October 26, 2010

In Christ, There Are No Goodbyes

Wednesday, October 13th. Matt came home early and I was so excited...til I saw the look on his face. He informed me that my dad and his siblings had been called to go home and see Granddaddy as quickly as they could. What happened to 3 or 4 months?! I was in denial. They must be wrong. This was too fast - he was only diagnosed with cancer a little over a week or so ago. But it was real. It was happening. Of course, being the amazing husband he is, Matt told me to go. I worked out the details in my head, packed, and left.

On the trip to Ashburn, I received several phone calls of opposition to my coming. At 34/35 weeks pregnant, I knew traveling was risky. But how could I not?! I had to see him 1 more time. I had to see him for myself. On the way there, I listened to a sermon on the radio that dealt with death of all things. (Isn't God amazing?! You can't truly think that's a coincidence!) The sermon was about the rich man and the poor man. It's a parable Jesus told his followers. The preacher went on to explain how the rich man was in hell before the "coroner" had been called. The poor man was in Heaven before his body could be thrown into the garbage pile outside the city walls. What a contrast to the lives they lived on earth! I remember later telling my dad how I thought it's the coolest thing that Granddad was blessed to be "rich" on earth AND in Heaven! You don't see that much these days. Matthew 19:24 says, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Yet he did it!

When I arrived, Granddaddy was already asleep and I was NOT going to be the person to wake him! I wouldn't even touch his arm I was so afraid of disturbing him! I could barely leave, knowing anything could happen overnight. Somehow (thank You Lord) I slept well that night. Just knowing I was there and I could get to him 1st thing in the morning was comforting.

I got up bright and early the next morning to the sound of Granddad's cows mooing outside (I was at the farm house). Best sound in the world. I got ready and went directly to the house in town. He was still asleep. I was literally itching for him to wake up! Ate breakfast. Talked with family. Finally, he woke up around 9am. He was having trouble breathing and couldn't really respond to my words (I'll keep those for myself for the most part). It was a precious time. He squeezed my hand at several points when I would mention something he liked or remembered. I just thanked him for a million things. I helped him put his hand on my belly and this sweet lil' butterbean kicked him! That got a hand squeeze :) I knew I had talked his ear off and I knew it had to be frustrating for him to be unable to respond. I had not made out a single word he had uttered...til I stood up to kiss his forehead and with tears rolling down my cheeks I said, "I love you, Granddaddy"...and he said, "Love you, baby" as only he could. It's that southern "baby" that comes out more like "behbeh" :) It took everything in me to hold it together. Thank You Lord for allowing him to get that out and allowing my ears to hear it. Those minutes went by too quickly, but there were others who wanted to see him. That would be the last time I would talk with him.

I left a few hours later, there was nothing more I could do. The Hospice nurse said he expected him to go on a few more days and that would be it. I called my aunt to let her know I'd made it home around 7pm that evening and she informed me that he had just passed. I hate to say it, but I was relieved. How many more days could he have gone on like that? While I was driving home, pouring over hundreds of memories with this sweet man, he was meeting Jesus face to face.

At his funeral, it was amazing to see the number of lives Granddad touched. From his buddies at the stockyard, to business owners in town, to friends who traveled many miles to honor and remember him, they all had the same thing to say..."We just lost an honorable man. A gentleman through and through." And even more than that, I knew that we had lost a true man of God. As is typical with his generation, he wasn't overly vocal about his faith. It came up from time to time. But it was always evident in how he did business and how he dealt with personal relationships. His church surely knew it. I've never seen so many grown men cry as I did that day. Tough, rugged "cowboy" types, just sobbing. I tried to save my tears for private, I don't know why. I wanted to celebrate him more than mourn our loss. But it was so hard.

I'll never forget how he taught me to drive (starting at age 7 or so, and really letting me sit alone and take the wheel around 12!), how he sang so loud in church, stopped on the side of the road to help me pick blackberries, knew everybody's name everywhere we went (they all knew him, too:), the funny things he'd say to the cows as we'd drive through the pasture, how he chewed a toothpick and then fell asleep in his chair after a big meal (and they're ALL big:), smelled good whether he was going to dinner or going to the stockyard, found a little orange paintbrush for me so I could keep the stockyard office clean (it stayed there year after year), took a second to wink or wave when we'd make eye contact at a cow or pig sale, played basketball with us in the driveway, baited my hooks (Lord knows I wasn't doing it!:), came to events of mine in high school and made it to my college graduation, drove to SC to meet Livi and Brooks soon after their births, how he'd always ask if we'd "washed our feet" before a meal, how he'd just stand up out of nowhere in the middle of a conversation and motion for me and Matt to go with him (knowing we were kids and we'd probably rather be at the farm:), how he stood to salute Papa's casket at the funeral, let me comb his hair and fix it up just right (I have a picture of this somewhere?!), he always had to pay for everything and couldn't let us leave without checking our tires and finding something wrong with the car, and how (later in his years) he would tear up and eventually just wave us off and have to go into the house to avoid us seeing him cry.

Well, now we're the ones crying. But just as he'd cry temporarily, knowing we'd come back soon, our tears should be temporary. They'll be spread out. Some now, some later, some for years to come. But knowing I'll see him again makes them more bearable. Love you, Granddad. Miss you already.

October 12, 2010

Living Out John 16:33

Nothing could have prepared me for this news. I'd always thought my granddad was invincible. He'd weathered storms before, medically-speaking. He was always out and about in his big truck - shaking hands, visiting others who were ill in their homes, checking on the cows at the farm, making sure things were running right at the stockyard. Then one day, a doctor walked into the room and put an approximate expiration date on his life. Months! Not years? My family was just down there at the end of August and he was doing ok...not great...but he drove us out to the farm (telling us every piece of precious history he knew about the passing roads and pastures)...he played with the kids, allowing them to empty a box of toys and pile them one by one in his lap. So to hear how quickly it was all fading, I just couldn't comprehend. I didn't even cry at first. It didn't seem real. But when I'd had a few minutes to replay the conversation, and in the context of knowing I shouldn't be traveling long distances this late in my pregnancy, I lost it. Bad. I knew he wouldn't take treatment in place of going home and living out his days in his own house. But it just broke me.
I've spent a lot of time searching scripture for uplifting words...not for him, as he won't take many phone calls or visitors right now...but more for me. I'm gasping for words to make me feel better, to help me cope with the thought of losing the man who'd spent so much quality time with me through the years - fishing, driving around town and country, sipping Mt. Dew at the Huddle House with his buddies, hanging out at the stockyard...proudly showing off me and my brother every leg of the journey. He'd made the trip to SC twice to meet my kids soon after their arrival - that's HUGE for a man who loves nothing more than the simple life in a simple town.
The scripture I've rested on is John 16:33..."I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." God never said it would be easy. He promises trials. He guarantees heartache. Those things are the results of a fallen world. Before sin there were no trials and there was no heartache. But He promises, too, that He has overcome those things. He has defeated death - and we can, too, if we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. I can't put into words what a relief that is! My pain on earth won't end when my sweet granddaddy goes to be with the Lord, I will miss him immensely. But knowing that Christ has overwhelmed the grave and we have victory in His name, how can I not rejoice?
Snuggling w/Livi - Christmas 2007

Playing outside w/Livi - Christmas 2009

Meeting Brooks - April 2009

Hanging out w/Brooks - Christmas 2009

October 9, 2010

Happy Fall Y'all!

We're trying to take advantage of every day we have with Livi and Brooks before our lil' Butterbean gets here! Can't believe we're 7 weeks (or LESS) away! Here are some pics to show what we've been up to lately!
 Auburn vs Clemson = Heartbreaker!

 Weekend in Charleston - courtesy of Aunt Fox!! :)

 Cheering on (some) of the WA War Eagles @ Homecoming!

 10 year high school reunion!

 Swinging @ the park :)

 Brooks' favorite thing to do :)

 The boys!

 Ballerina OR Karate master?

 33+ weeks!!

 Harmon's Tree Farm

Squinty kiddos :) 

Off for another adventure! 

 Time to rock! :)

 Taking a breather!

 Ready for the hayride!!

 The girls :)

 Great beginning to a GREAT game! USC 35 - Alabama 21

Butterbean's 1st USC game! :) Go Cocks!