My First Baby Girl…

IMG_5833Many times when one of my children is having a birthday it doesn’t really bother me. We love celebrating each birthday and like to think back on how things have changed for that child over the years. But, this year was different. I can see how a 21st birthday might have some significance or maybe make a mother feel like her child was getting too old, too fast, but that was not the case with me. I didn’t have any trouble last year when Melissa turned 21. But this year was a little tough. I can’t believe my first baby girl is now 22 years old! That just seems ancient for some reason! I am so thankful for the sweet, beautiful young lady she has become, but sometimes I miss my little girl!

When I think of Melissa I think of determination. She has always been my determined one.   Although she has an older brother she always tried to keep up with,  I don’t think that is where her determination came from. I think she was born with it. There were many times through her growing up years that when she had her mind set on something it wasn’t easy to make her change it. But through the years she has become much more moldable and teachable. Even though determination and stubbornness can be interchangeable they are very different character traits.   There were times when Melissa had a little of both, but I believe both qualities come in very handy when it comes to making decisions in life. I use to worry about one of our children because they were such a follower that I

This is an example of Melissa's determination.  Shortly after I took this picture Bill took the training wheels off her bike. She was riding without training wheels at 2 years old!

This is an example of Melissa’s determination. Shortly after I took this picture Bill took the training wheels off her bike. She was riding without training wheels at barely 3 years old!

was afraid they might just follow along with anyone and anything and get themselves into a lot of trouble. I never had that concern with Melissa. When she was young, if she knew something was right or if we specifically told her to do or not to do something, a person would be hard pressed to talk her into doing differently. I have always appreciated that about her. So, even though her determination has caused me a lot of grief throughout the years I am very thankful for that character trait because it has also made her who she is today.  Another benefit of this character trait is that no matter what has happened to her in her life she knows God has a reason for it and she is determined to carry on and do what she feels He wants her to do no matter what.

Mommy and Melissa

Mommy and Melissa

This past Friday we had a lot of fun celebrating Melissa’s birthday. I am so thankful that at 22 years of age she still enjoys celebrating her birthday with her family.  I’m also thankful she wanted me to spend the day with her doing things she enjoys.  One of the things she enjoys is getting free meals for her birthday so we made the most of it. We went to Dennys for breakfast and Mama Maria’s for lunch. Nicholas was having a birthday/pizza party for her in the evening or I’m sure we would have hit another place up for supper! All in all, it was a great day.

I consider it a blessing to have Melissa in my life and I thank God for her every day. My life would be much less rewarding if it weren’t for her.   She has the most beautiful smile and I love the sparkle in her eyes

Melissa and Nicholas

Melissa and Nicholas

when she is up to mischief!  This year I found myself asking, “Where has the time gone?!?!”  Even though Melissa is no longer the little girl I fell in love with 22 years ago, she will always be my little girl in my heart.  As the years go on and she eventually becomes a wife and possibly a mother, I know things will change, but I am thankful for all the years I’ve had with her so far and I look forward to making new memories with her in the upcoming years.   I love you, Melissa, and hope you have another great year!

I hope you all enjoy looking through some of my favorite pictures of Melissa through the years.

Daddy and Melissa

Daddy and Melissa

Grandma let the kids make me this cake.  As you can see, Melissa is pretty excited about it!  :)

Grandma let the kids make me this cake. As you can see, Melissa is pretty excited about it!🙂

Playing in the closet.

Playing in the closet.

Family Camp

Family Camp

Flowers from Daddy

Flowers from Daddy

You can tell she loves her Grandma and Grandpa!

You can tell she loves her Grandma and Grandpa!

IMG_5342

Bethany and Melissa

Sophie andMelissa

Melisa Senior Pic 1

Lisa and Melissa on Melissa's 22nd birthday.

Lisa and Melissa on Melissa’s 22nd birthday.

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Family Is Important…

My dad’s parents – I love this picture of my grandpa.  The way he is holding his mouth is the exact way my dad held his.

As far back as I can remember, family was very important to my parents. We went to visit our relatives every chance we got. I don’t remember one family vacation that we took that didn’t involve visiting family. We grew up knowing who our relatives were and knowing that it was important to keep that connection.

My dad came from a family of eleven children. Even though they were spread out in age, they got along pretty well. My dad use to say that when they were young, if they got mad at one brother or sister, they just went to play with another one! As the brothers and sisters grew up and got married, they started settling in different parts of the country and didn’t get to see each other very often. Therefore, they started having family reunions from time to time when I was just a kid. Even though some of the brothers and sisters disagreed on some major issues they seemed to make an effort to stay connected. These reunions were always fun occasions and an event that our family looked forward to.  It was always extra special if Uncle Sam or Uncle Jim and their families were able to come as they lived the furthest away.

This picture was taken at my grandpa’s funeral.  This is the whole family at that point including one half brother and two half sisters. Of the seven children in the picture (my cousins), three of them have passed away.

As the years have passed and our aunts and uncles have started passing away it’s come to the point that many of the events that the family gets together for are funerals. Out of the eleven children (not counting their spouses), only five are still living. Most of them are getting up in age and aren’t able to get around like they use to.

The brothers and sisters with their mother – minus Uncle Leonard who had already passed away.

A few months ago we found out that my Uncle Sam was coming for a visit along with one of his sons and children.   A few of my older cousins decided that it would be nice for the family to get together under happy circumstances so they organized a family reunion that would coincide with Uncle Sam’s visit.   It was so much fun!

The older I am getting, the more I appreciate my older cousins. My Dad was the eighth child to be born out of the eleven so there is a big age difference between the older

This is a picture of the remaining brothers and sisters and their spouses as of 2009 – minus Uncle Sam who wasn’t there.   My parents are the two in the middle in the back row.

cousins and the younger cousins. As I was growing up we had nothing in common so we didn’t do much together. Some of them were even married and had children close to my age so I felt more like they were my aunts and uncles instead of my cousins. Now, several of them are grandparents and have lost both of their parents. Instead of just ignoring the family and the younger cousins, they are stepping up to help organize family events and support us as our parents are starting to age and pass away. A few of my older cousins have made a point to come to every funeral.  It is such a comfort to see their familiar faces at such a sad time.

The brothers and sisters that are left as of 2012 – Aunt Arlene, Uncle Sam, Uncle Lyle, Aunt Janet, and Aunt Joyce

The older cousins are also the ones that know a whole different angle of our family history. It is interesting how things change over time. We had one particular aunt that all the older cousins called “Aunt Izzy”. I don’t think any of us younger ones called her that.  I’ve also found out that they called my Uncle Leonard, “Uncle Mike”! I have no idea how all that came about, but I find it funny that the older ones and younger ones are so different.

Some of the family at the reunion – 2012

As time passes, not only are the aunts and uncles dwindling, but sadly, so are the cousins. We have lost several of the older cousins in the past few years. At this last reunion my sister was commenting on how strange it is that WE are now the middle generation. Looking around it was obvious that we are no longer the “younger cousins”.

Almost the whole immediate family on my mom’s side – 2012

I don’t know how many more family reunions we will be having, but they sure have been helpful in keeping everyone acquainted and up to date on all the new marriages and new additions to the family.

A closer look at the other side of the table – 2012

My mom’s family is the extreme opposite of my dad’s family.  While Dad was one of eleven children, Mom was one of two!  Every time we went to see my mom’s side of the family it was like a family reunion as her sister and family always came to visit us while we were at my grandparent’s house. I know the parents are usually the “glue” that holds a family together, but I am very thankful that my parent’s siblings and families still get together even though their parents are long gone.

We had a lot of fun getting to see both sides of the family on our last trip.  There were some sad moments because this was the first family reunion that my dad was not there to enjoy it with.  But, I am very thankful for all the great relatives God has given me and for all the fun times we have had together.  I am also very thankful for all the great memories I have of our loved ones that are no longer with us.

Here are a few more pictures of our family reunion weekend.  My mom, all three of us kids and our families stayed at the same motel across the hall from each other.  It felt like we had our own little vacation getaway!  We missed my sister-in-law and two nephews that couldn’t come, but we sure had a great time!  What a blessing family is!

The remaining aunts: Aunt Joyce, Aunt Janet, Aunt Arlene, and my mom, Carol. 2012

The remaining uncles: Uncle Paul, Uncle Lyle, Uncle Mernie and you can see a little bit of Uncle Sam in the cowboy hat on the right side. – 2012

A family tradition: My cousins Janie, Sandi, and Jeanne singing and playing the guitar.

My nephews, nieces, and girls at the family reunion – Joshua, Kendra, Nathan, Bethany, Lisa, and Melissa – 2012

My kids, nieces and nephew by the lake at the reunion – Joshua, Kendra, Bethany,Nicholas, Lisa, and Melissa – 2012

Me with a few of my cousins. Several had already left before we got around to taking pictures. Not all of them were there, but it would have been nice to get a picture of all the ones that were able to make it – 2012

My kids, niece and nephew – Lisa, Bethany, Nathan, Nicholas, and Melissa – 2012

Nicholas and Sophie drawing

Sophie, Nicholas, and Jason along with the finished artwork – 2012

Listening to music and soaking in the hot tub! 2012

 

Playing in the pool at the motel – 2012

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My Own “Little” Ice Princess

Melissa in her ice show costume.

Melissa has wanted to take ice skating lessons ever since she was a little girl.  We looked into them once or twice when she was young, but it never worked out.  When she was older, school took up so much time that we couldn’t work it in.  Last year Melissa decided that even though she was 20 years old, she still wanted to take lessons, so she signed up for a class and private lessons so she could learn faster.  She said it was funny to watch the little girl’s expressions when they asked her how old she was.  After she started her lessons she came home and said she felt like she was on Ice Princess.  I had never seen the program, so for those of you who haven’t seen it either, it is a show about an older girl who is skating with a bunch of younger girls and she was much taller than all of them.  When I went to watch Melissa at practice one day, I had to agree that she was taller than all of them, but thankfully, there was another girl there who is between the much smaller girls and Melissa, so she kind of blended in.  This is one time Melissa is thankful that she looks no older than 16 instead of the almost 21 that she is!

Melissa and her group performing at the Ice Show – March 31, 2012

When it came time for the ice show, the costumes her group was going to wear were not anything she would be comfortable wearing.  She asked if she would still be able to participate if we could make her something more modest that looked as close to the costume as possible.  Thankfully, the lady said, “Yes”.  We went to our one fabric store to see what we could find.  There were things that would work, but nothing as similar to the fabric as Melissa had hoped to find.   So, we decided to go to Walmart to see if there was anything in their limited selection that would work.   As we were walking down an aisle on our way to the fabric department we saw shirts that were made out of fabric that looked really close to the costume.  We were so excited!  Melissa bought 5 shirts and we went home to see what we could do.  It took all five shirts, but we were able to make a costume that looked pretty similar.  The ice show was this past weekend.   It was really fun watching Melissa out on the ice fulfilling one of her childhood dreams.   She made a beautiful Ice Princess!

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My Special Christmas Present…

This Christmas was very different.  Not only was it the first Christmas without my dad, it was also the first time in a long time that we celebrated Christmas without my brother and his family.  Plus, half of my sister’s family wasn’t with us either as they were either sick or out of town.  To make it even more unusual, we didn’t have a bit of snow!  It was so warm outside most people weren’t even wearing a coat!  I’ve always thought I would be really disappointed if we didn’t have a white Christmas, but I must say, I rather enjoyed the nice weather and not having to fight the snow.

This year I got a very special Christmas gift.  I didn’t realize how special it was until I opened it.  Just looking at it brought back a whole host of thoughts and feelings from so very long ago.

Our house on the farm.

I think I was about six years old when we moved to a farm north of town.  I will never forget walking into the house for the first time. It was so BIG!  The kitchen was spacious and the living room looked really long.   In the living room there was a large picture hanging on the wall.  It was of two children picking flowers on a bridge with an angel watching over them with his wings outstretched.  I’ve always thought it was a beautiful picture and couldn’t figure out why someone would leave it behind when they moved.   I remember both my mom and dad telling us kids that God has a guardian angel for each of us and that the picture depicted God’s protection on those children while they were playing somewhere that wasn’t safe.

Our house had only one bedroom and we were a family of five.  My mom partitioned off half of the living room with curtains to make a bedroom for my sister and me.  My parents got a sofa sleeper for a couch so that my brother would have a place to sleep.  Every morning, he put the blankets in the drawer and pushed the bed back in so that we could have a couch during the day, and then he pulled it back out at night so he would have a place to sleep.  This never seemed unusual to me.  I thought our house was one of the nicest and prettiest houses I had ever seen.   My mom hung up plastic curtains in the living room and when the floor by the kitchen sink started to feel like it was going to fall apart my dad attached a large sturdy board over it so we wouldn’t need to fear that we would fall into the basement.  My mom got a nice rug to put over it so you didn’t even know it was there.  We had a cistern for our water.  During winter storms we ran out of water more than once, but we then learned that we could melt snow for washing dishes and we could even boil snow water and drink it if we had to.  During these storms, when the heat would go out, we would block off all the rooms by shutting the doors or hanging blankets over a doorway if it didn’t have a door.  Then mom would start the kitchen stove because it was gas powered and we would huddle around the kitchen table and play games, praying in our hearts that God would keep dad safe and sound out on the roads in the blizzard.  My dad was a courier driver and had to go on his route Monday through Friday in all kinds of weather.  I will never forget the horrible feeling of looking out the window and not being able to see very far and know that my dad was out there somewhere, trying to get home.  My mom would play with us and we would visit and she would try to pretend that she was not worried.  But, I saw her looking at the clock several times and could see in her eyes that she knew he should have been home by then or have called if he were safe.  It was always a huge relief when Dad would finally pull into the driveway, safe and sound.  I only remember one time when he did not get home.  I think it was the time he had gotten into an accident on the icy roads in a town and had broken some ribs.  I don’t remember if he had to go to the hospital or not, but I do remember being so relieved when he finally called.

Barbie and me playing with our cat, Topsy, on a table outside our house.

As we got older and needed more room, mom tried to make a nice bedroom in the basement so that either my brother or we girls could have a room.  But we lived near a river and we got flooded many times so that didn’t last long.  When it flooded, we usually got water in the basement.  My parents would try to pump it out but there were times the pumps couldn’t keep up so the water kept coming higher and higher up the stairs.  I use to have dreams where the water would just keep coming further up the stairs to where it seemed like it was going to swallow me up.  Each time the water went down, my mom would be downstairs cleaning it all up again so we could use it. (I’m sure my dad helped, but I only remember my mom doing it).  One year we even got flooded twice!  My parents always had us help with many things around the house, but I don’t remember ever helping them clean up after a flood.  I don’t think they wanted us working in all the sludge and mess that the river left behind.

The years that we got flooded, but not flooded out, the water still covered part of our driveway.  The driveway had a hill that went up to where the water never reached.  My parents would leave the car at the top of the hill and then Dad would load us all into the tractor scoop and take us across the water filled driveway.  The part of the driveway that flooded was also the part where the driveway curved.  My dad and mom use to put stakes along the road to show him where the road was so he wouldn’t go off the road and down into the ditch.  That was fine until the water got so high that it covered the stakes.  I thought that would be a perfect time to just sit at home and not go anywhere.  But, that didn’t stop my dad.  He would still load us into the tractor scoop and from memory drive us up to the top of the hill to get to the car.  I remember being very scared many times, and my mom would tell me not to worry because Daddy knew what he was doing and that he would keep us safe.  Of course, as she was saying this, her face was white as a sheet!  But, Dad never did go off that road and I don’t remember the tractor ever stalling.  I remember it being close a few times as the water was very high.  Many times I was trying to plan how I would get us all to safety if the tractor ever slipped off into the ditch or if for some reason the tractor tipped over or was swept away.  I never did get very far in my planning because I knew Mom couldn’t swim and was scared to death of water, and I couldn’t swim either, so my thoughts were pretty much a big blank!   🙂   One of the biggest impressions my parents made on me during these times is that going to church was just as important, if not more important than going to work.  I remember being surprised that my parents would load us into the scoop to go through the water on a day that we “really didn’t have to go anywhere”.  I knew my mom was deathly afraid of doing it and that it wasn’t easy for my dad to drive through the water, but yet I don’t remember ever missing a church service because it wasn’t easy or convenient to get there.  Finally, we had one flood too many, and it totally ruined our house.  We had to live in town for awhile until our new house was ready to put on the ten acres of land that my parents had bought out of town.

Barbara, me, and Arlin standing in our garden next to Barbara’s tall sunflower plant. Our driveway is shown in the background. This part of our yard and driveway flooded everytime there was a flood.

A few years after we had moved away from the farm we got a chance to go back and take a look inside the house.  I couldn’t believe how small it was!  I felt like my head was going to touch the ceiling in the kitchen. I also couldn’t believe that we use to use the little living room as TWO rooms!  I don’t know how my mom managed to make such a small, little house, into a large, wonderful home.  I was amazed at how much smaller things were then I remembered them being.   I’m so glad that I had parents who focused on the important things in life.  They never once complained about how small our house was or how much they might have thought that we were lacking.  I just remember them talking about how much we had to be thankful for.

A few years ago as our family was talking, the subject came up about kids fighting over their parent’s possessions after they had died.  My sister and I told our parents that we would never do that.   In fact we didn’t even know what we would want as we hadn’t even thought about it.  Then we both said something like, “The only thing I can think of that I might want would be that guardian angel picture”!  We thought it was funny that we both wanted the same thing but we just laughed about it. Throughout the years since, my mom would mention something about the picture, or my sister would suggest that maybe she could have the picture for six months and then I could have the picture for six months.  In all these years, none of us have ever seen that picture anywhere else except on a very small plaque.

Our little ducklings following Arlin and me wherever we went.

A couple weeks ago my mom called me.  She was so excited because she had gotten something and she couldn’t wait to show it to my sister and me.   She wanted to show it to us at the same time, but she didn’t really want me to have to drive into town just for her to show me something.  Mom had never acted like that!  I couldn’t figure out what in the world she had gotten that she was so excited about!  It worked out that my sister and I could both go to her house that afternoon, so we did.   When we got there, mom presented each of us with a gift.  We opened it up and there was a copy of the guardian angel picture for both of us!  My brother in law had found a place that my mom could get it copied for us.  Mom then took us to town and we were able to pick out a frame for it.  We had so much fun looking through all the frame selections.  Out of about 300 choices, we both picked out the exact same frame!  I couldn’t believe it!  This was a custom frame shop so we had to leave the pictures there and wait for them to get the pictures finished.

Our special family picture.

When the day finally came to pick up my picture, I was not prepared for how I would feel when the lady at the shop unwrapped it and let me look at it.  It was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes.  I felt so stupid standing there half crying.  I told the lady I was sorry, but it was a very special family picture.  When I look at it, I can still hear my dad telling me that God has a guardian angel, just for me.  I can remember feeling scared or lonesome out in the country at times, and seeing that picture and knowing that God was there and that He would never leave me. I did not realize all the special childhood memories wrapped up inside this picture. I am so thankful to have a family that loves each other and parents who taught me about God and made Him a very important part of our everyday life.   I am also thankful that I now have my very own picture that I can look at any time I want. What a blessing to have so much to be thankful for!

UPDATE:  My daughter was just looking through a book I’ve had for years and came across this exact picture!  I couldn’t beleive it!  It stated that the artist is Harry Anderson.  Mystery solved! 🙂

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Flash

We have one excited young lady on our hands!  Lisa has wanted a Husky for a long time. Imagine her excitement when the day finally came that she was able to get one!  Here are a few pictures of her and her new Siberian Husky, Flash.

Lisa with her new puppy, Flash – October 22, 2011

Flash getting his collar and leash on for the first time.

Playing at Grandma’s house.

 

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Life Goes On…

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal, a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Eccl. 3:1-4

Nicholas by his new house – Sept. 2011

My dad has been gone now for over four months. There are many days when he is constantly on my mind and the thought of him still brings tears to my eyes. I know these things will ease over time but for now they are a constant presence in my life. I am so thankful that I had my dad for as long as I did.

There have been a lot of changes in our lives since Dad died. The biggest is that Nicholas bought a house and now lives in town. He hasn’t liked living in the country for quite some time.  The long drive back and forth got to be tiring for him.  He has wanted to move out for a long time but with going on mission trips and then to South Africa he didn’t have

Nicholas’s kitchen before it was redone

the kind of money he would need to strike out on his own. When he began getting serious again about moving out and started looking at apartments, he noticed that rent for an apartment was more than what a house payment would be.  He decided that it would be wise to consider buying a house instead of renting.

We were with him when he went to look at one particular house.

Nicholas’s kitchen after it was redone.

The first words out of his mouth when he walked in the door were, “This is it. It is exactly what I’ve been looking for”.   As he continued to look at the rest of the house he knew it was the one for him. When he started doing all the things that needed to be done in order to secure a loan, he found out that since he didn’t have enough money in the bank he did not qualify for a loan. He had run himself dry by being in South Africa for seven months without a job and he hadn’t been back long enough to build up his savings. 

Nicholas’s kitchen before it was redone.

Nicholas and his friend, Ian, have talked about rooming together for a long time.  When Nicholas wasn’t able to get the house Ian decided that he would see if he could get it. Ian has a full time job lined up for when he graduates from college, but since he hadn’t actually started it, he couldn’t get the loan either.   That was a big disappointment, but they know things happen for a reason

Nicholas’s kitchen after being redone.

so they figured God didn’t want them to have the house so they started looking at apartments again.   This went on for a few months,  but nothing seemed right or it was too expensive.   In the meantime Nicholas would periodically check on the status of the house.   It was still for sale.   I wondered if God was saving the house for Nicholas.

Melissa and Mom looking at paint chips and fabric.

A couple months after my dad died my mom had us over for dinner.  After dinner was over she handed each of the kids an envelope. Inside the envelope was a beautiful letter from my mom telling the kids how much their grandfather had loved them and how proud of them he had always been. Also, inside the envelope with the letter was a check.   Mom had given each of the kids a small inheritance from their grandpa to do with as they pleased.

Mom’s kitchen before being redone.

It wasn’t a lot of money by some people’s standards, but it meant a lot to each of the kids. It was also enough for the bank to see that Nicholas had a little savings so he was able to get the loan! When Nicholas went back to make an offer on the house, he found out that they had just dropped the price by $3,000! What a blessing! He now owns his own home and it is only 2 minutes from work.  That sure beats a half hour drive!

Mom’s kitchen after it was done.

He immediately “hired” his sister to redo the kitchen. For some reason he didn’t want his kitchen to be yellow and white with lacy curtains!🙂 He chose the colors and Melissa did the rest. I’m her chief “grunt” so I got to help.  We also made curtains to match the new decor. His kitchen now looks more manly and turned out very nice. We are so happy for him!

Mom’s kitchen before it was redone.

Even though this was a very exciting time, it was also a little sad watching him walk out our door for the very last time as he moved out for good. The date was one day shy of his leaving for South Africa last year. It is amazing how much things can change in one year!

Since Dad died Mom has done a lot of rearranging at her house.  There are some things that she won’t need anymore and there are other things that she’s not going to use anymore because it’s too hard for her to make them work by herself. We kids are always willing to help her, but she doesn’t want to have to rely on having help any more than she needs to.

Mom’s kitchen after it was done.

The wood stove will be one of the first things to go. I’m so thankful for all the memories we have of doing wood with my parents. I know life has to go on, but sometimes it is a little sad saying goodbye to things you’ve always done, even when you know it’s best.  Mom decided that a pellet/corn stove would be much more practical for her. So, now instead of doing wood together, we will be making new memories as we haul pellets or corn and unload it into her basement.  I’m so thankful we have a lot to look forward to so we don’t have to be stuck in the past with nothing but sad memories of what we have lost.  

The basket Melissa made for Mom’s kitchen table.

Mom will use up the wood that she already has and then my brother will be taking the wood stove for his place. Dad designed and made the wood stove himself so it holds special memories to my brother. My dad was always inventing or designing something.  Growing up during the depression and not having much money really helped a lot of people learn how to improvise and make things out of what most people would call junk!

Lisa, Bethany, Bill, and Skip unloading pellets – Sept. 2011

Mom has wanted to redo her kitchen for a long time. The only thing they had changed since they moved in around 1980 was the flooring. Melissa was excited when Mom asked her to redo the kitchen. It was fun watching the two of them as they were going over paint chips and fabric trying to decide what colors to go with. It was also a lot of fun going shopping with Grandma’s kitchen in mind!  Melissa would

Nicholas catching bags and Michael stacking them in the basement.

bring back items she thought Mom would like and then after Mom chose what she wanted Melissa hung them up. The kitchen has a totally new look and Mom is very happy with it.

Although Mom is slowly getting many things organized and done around the house, there is one job that no one is looking forward to doing. Sometime, someone is going to have to go through my Dad’s quancet and do something with all of his things. Just walking in there you can feel his presence.   Everywhere you look you can “see” my dad.   His writing is everywhere and in your mind’s eye you

Bill, Mom, and Barbara

can see him standing there in his white t-shirt, smiling as he is excitedly telling you about something he was working on.  Or you can see him sitting there welding, building, or fixing something. It’s a really strange feeling and affects us too much to even contemplate doing that job yet. I think my mom and brother will do it together when they are ready.

Lisa catching the bags to stack

Another change that has taken place happened to Melissa.  After watching what her Grandpa went through with cancer and witnessing all the things that the nurses did,  she decided that she wants to be a nurse and work with children with cancer.  Just the thought of seeing little children suffer is hard for me so I don’t think I could ever do a job like that. But, if Melissa gets to the point where it is too tough for her, she can still be a nurse in a number of different fields. I think Melissa will make a great nurse.  She has always been good with children and she is so sweet and kind.  I think she

Skip getting the last few bags of pellets stacked.

will do an excellent job helping others in their time of need.  I know I’m a tad prejudice, but that is what I think! She has since changed her major and is now working towards that goal.

Although we still have a ways to go to get use to life without Dad, I would say that we are all progressing nicely. It is nice seeing Mom doing things and going places and not sitting around the house feeling sorry for herself. I know she must have some tough days, but she is doing well accepting her life as it now is. It helps a lot knowing that when a Christian dies they are really just going home to be with the Lord. What a comfort that is to those of us left behind!  Those of us that are saved will see my dad again one day!

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14

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Saying Good-bye…

Melissa, Lisa, and Bethany during the visitation – May 27, 2011

When my dad first died, everything seemed so unreal. Even though I could see his body lying in the casket, it didn’t really look like him. He looked so thin and old. Nothing like the vibrant, smiling man he was before he got sick. I was still so surprised that he had died. I had had high hopes that he would get well.

My mom is a very strong woman and is a great example to us on how to deal with a loved one’s death. She knows nothing happens that God does not allow and she is handling herself very well.  We all know we have to accept my dad’s death, but it is hard not having him here. As time goes on, the huge hole where he is suppose to be is getting bigger and bigger. It doesn’t help that it is almost father’s day and everywhere you go you hear or see ads reminding you to buy your dad a gift. It is a constant reminder that I will never see my dad again on this earth.

At the funeral – May 28, 2011

There are so many things that remind me of my dad. I was startled when the day after my dad died,  I almost picked up a big bag of black licorice while I was waiting in line at the grocery store thinking, “Wow, Dad would love this!” Also, something as small as trying to hit a fly with the fly swatter brings flashbacks of my dad sitting in his chair with his orange fly swatter, ready and waiting to hit any fly that dared get too close to him! It seems like everywhere we go or almost everything we do, there is something that reminds me of my dad in one way or another. I know life will never be the same again.

My dad’s mom did not have her memory for many years before she died.  My Dad had always said he hoped he would still be in his right mind when he died. We are very thankful that God granted that desire. I am also glad that we all got to say good-bye to him. I feel sorry for people who don’t get that opportunity.  My one regret is that I didn’t get one last good-bye kiss from my dad. When mom told us that dad had requested the smaller oxygen mask I was afraid to go into the room in case it was harder for him to breathe. I knew if that happened I would not be able to handle it.  I now wish I had gone in.  I found out later that my dad gave everyone one last kiss and then slipped away. I am so thankful that he went fast and didn’t have to suffer. What a blessing that is.

Nathan, Eric, Skip, Bill, Joshua, and Michael (the men on each end work for the funeral home)

As soon as my dad died my mom asked Nicholas if he would do the funeral service. I was very surprised and wondered if he would be able to handle it. My dad loved his grandchildren very much so it was fitting that they all participated in the funeral in some way. There was a special song my mom wanted the grandchildren to sing but most of them knew they wouldn’t be able to do it without crying. Someone suggested they sing it on tape so that is what they did. My brother in law then added pictures of my dad’s life to the song they sang and then played the video at the funeral. It turned out very beautiful! Joshua read the obituary and Michael led the singing. Bill, Skip, Nathan, Eric, Joshua, and Michael were all pall bearers. At the service, Nicholas said the exact words I’m sure my dad would have wanted said. My dad would have been so proud of his grandchildren! They all handled themselves very well. It was also a blessing to have so many friends and family take time out of their busy lives to be there for us. The place was packed.

Nicholas getting ready to do the graveside service.

My mom thought of a great way to keep my dad’s memory alive. My dad always had a desire for children to get the opportunity to go to Bible Camp. The church my parents attended when they went south for the winter has several children who would love to go to Bible camp, but their parents can’t afford to send them. They hold fund raisers throughout the year trying to make enough money for all the children to go to camp. My mom is starting a fund in my dad’s name to help send these children to camp. She is going to add to it every year on his birthday if needed, to ensure that these children will continue to get to go to camp if they otherwise would be unable to do so. What a perfect way for my dad to be remembered! Plus the spiritual benefits will go on for many years to come.

The Honor Guard giving my mom the flag after the Military part of the ceremony.

Even though we all miss my dad very much, I am thankful for all the happy memories I have of him. My dad was not perfect and we had some pretty tough times growing up, but I always knew he did his best to be the kind of dad that God would want him to be. I hope that when I am dead and gone that my children will be able to look back on our lives and know that their mom’s greatest desire was that they would grow up to serve the Lord and that they will be able to remember all the good times we had and that the not so pleasant times will dim in comparison. I love you, Dad!!!!

 

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