Friday, February 26, 2016

My Granny

I said goodbye to my dear Granny this week.  She had lived a beautiful 91 years, but the blow of her passing was still just as difficult.  She was my last grandparent and we definitely held a special relationship.  She was an amazing person as evidenced by all the people in the last week who have reached out to let us know how she impacted them.

I was honored to be able to speak a few words I had written about her this week at her services.  I just wish I could have shared them with her while she was still here.  I'll share with you what I wrote:

A Grandmother’s Hands

I woke up the other night thinking about Mamaw’s hands.  I wanted just one more chance to hold them.  They were beautiful hands, though she would definitely disagree with you!  They were thick, strong, firm, but also soft, warm and delicate.  They were no dainty Grandma hands.  

Those hands had reared four children, harvested fields, worked the Kentucky and Indiana soil, laundered clothes, cleaned the house, mended the worn, made countless meals for countless bellies, held the hand of her beloved Harold, hugged each of her grandchildren, cradled all her great-grandchildren and clasped together in prayer every night.  Hers were hands that bore the marks of life in all its joys and difficulties.  91 years of a life well-lived.   

I will miss holding those precious hands, turning them over, running my fingers over the veins and thick wrinkles, but find so much peace knowing that Saturday night she reached them out and was greeted by the hands of Jesus, welcoming her into her eternal home.

I actually wrote that the night she passed, though I didn't yet know she was gone.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about her hands and pieced this together in my head.  The next morning, I received the news that she was in heaven and thought that this piece wasn't enough for her.  There was so much more to her that I wanted to share.  So I wrote this,

Velma Jane

You’ll notice on her obituary that it says, Velma Buchanan Albertson.  Her maiden name wasn’t included.  It should have read Velma Prather Buchanan Albertson.  Now looking at that, one might think she wasn’t short on names, but to her, her whole life she was missing a name.  A middle name.  I guess that’s what happens when you are the last of eight children.  Mamaw had unofficially given herself the middle name of Jane for as long as I can remember.  My sweet little Velma Jane.  She had so much personality packed into that tiny little frame, there was no room for a middle name and perhaps her parents knew that the name Velma was all she needed.  

Gosh was Mamaw a fireball.  For my 31 years, my Mamaw always made me laugh.  She was full of spunk, quick wit, laughter and even embraced her southern-hollers-in-Pulaski-County-Kentucky hillbilly ways.  She would do anything for us as kids to make us laugh.  This included taking out her dentures on request, showing us her latest exercise contraption, telling us stories of her childhood, wearing her hardhat in the basement during thunderstorms and being scared of everything.
This leads me to the list of things she “disliked”.  Mice, snakes, storms, red hair, her hands, bodies of water, flying in airplanes, unlocked doors, her grandchildren having too many children, being hot in a car “Harold!  Shoot that air on back here”, her family travelling anywhere from home and people telling her what to do.  

Which then leads to me the things she loved, Jesus, Harold, her family, pecan pie, sunshine and clear skies (with no chance of bad weather), Kentucky, Wheel of Fortune, basketball, antiques, gospel hymns,  and people.  She loved people.  Granny never met a stranger and if technically, they did happen to be a stranger, she talked to them long enough to figure out someone she knew who knew them or that she was actually related (this mostly happened in Kentucky).  Everyone who knew her loved her.  I adored her.  

She was the true leader, the root of our family.  She instilled in each of us the only things that matter are faith and family.  In fact, the last time I saw her she said to me, “Family is everything, without it, what do we have?”  She loved us all fiercely and prayed for every member of her family every night.  She had lived her life loving Jesus and she knew where her eternity would be spent.  I’m certain that her greatest prayer was that we would all live our lives for Jesus and be reunited one day in heaven.   There will forever be an enormous hole in our family.  We will miss her, her prayers, her love, her humor and her fire.  All that packed into the tiny little four foot something, no need for a middle name, Velma.  We love you, Granny.

She truly was one-of-a-kind, and I somehow knew that all my life.  Saying goodbye to her, was just as difficult as I imagined it would be but what a promise that we have that I will again someday have her wrap me in her arms and usher me into heaven.  

My beautiful Granny with her brand new triplets in 1947.  My Mom came along 14 months later!

Had these special photos taken in 2012

She told me often that she prayed for Elena many times a day, every day.  

One of my favorites, Granny with Elena in October 2011.

The last picture I took with her, October 2015.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Little Loves

Since my blog inspiration is lacking of late, I thought I would share with you about the kids lately.  I've been telling myself for several days now that I need to post but either I run out of time or I'm not sure what to post about!

But anyway, Elena is finally getting back to her silly self.  We had been battling something the last month or so and are glad to see her on the mend.  She is totally in love with school and continues to let her personality shine through there.  In fact, last week her teacher sent us two videos of Elena with her friends.  One was during music class, where she was quite vocal about how much she loved the groundhog song they were singing and the other of a little boy singing her song, all the while she grinned from ear to ear!  Both of these brought tears to my eyes.  As a parent you always want your child to fit in, but when your child isn't physically able nor can talk, you wonder about the level of interest their peers will have in them.  For us, seeing the children love Elena regardless of her abilities not only makes my heart swell, but reminds me that I wish all people could be as loving and inclusive to those who are different than us.  Elena is such a social little girl and especially loves when other children interact with her.  I pray all the time that Elena's light will always outshine her disabilities so that other's can love her the way she wants to be loved.

She still keeps us on the go with her schedule, but are looking forward to next week which brings us a day off school and a break from the Jackson Center.  Though I wish we were headed to sunny Arizona for a visit with Gramma and Grampa, I just wasn't brave enough (nor had enough hands!) to handle flying with both kiddos alone!  I'll just have to keep suffering through the winter :)

Now about our other wild one!  Boy, Cal just keeps us laughing.  I mean this kid is joy.  He is such a good boy and we are loving watching him grow and his personality emerge.  At almost 22 months, he loves puzzles, blocks and all his sports stuff.  He loves our family dance parties at night, keeping us laughing at his dance moves and his new attempts at singing the songs.  It's pretty hilarious.  About a month ago, he became obsessed with guitars and trumpets.  Any time he hears a song with either, he announces "tars" or "trum-pits".  He says lots of words, but his favorite right now being "no way".  Not just no, but no way.  He has strung together a couple of sentences, my favorite being "I oh you" (interpreted, I love you).  Ever my little helper, he loves putting things away, sweeping, dusting and helping me put on Sis' shoes of a morning.  Cal has the sweetest, gentlest spirit but knows he can be funny, giggling to himself and uttering "oh gosh".  I swear every thing he does I try to take mental picture of it because he's growing so fast.

Our family has our challenges, but I tell you, I have two of the sweetest kids on the planet.  Life can be cruel, uncertain and just plain old mean sometimes, but I'm a firm believer that it's how you react to what life throws you that counts.  I was reading a story the other day of a Mom with two little girls with severe special needs.  This is what she said:

"For the first year of Claire’s life, Hartley said, she and her husband lived in a state of perpetual panic and sadness. The vision of their perfect life had been shattered, and they had no idea how long they’d have their baby girl. But Hartley’s priorities shifted in those 12 months. Perfect was in the eye of the beholder, and to her, she still had the perfect family. She was going to stop mourning the life she didn’t have and celebrate the one she did."

I couldn't help but know exactly what she meant.  I remember coming to that exact conclusion.  That the life I thought I was going to have evaporated, but once I stopped mourning that loss,  I was able to see everything that our family is.  Our beautiful kids bring perspective and joy into our lives every single day.  I'm just so happy that I can realize that and be done mourning my imaginary life.