Monday, June 16, 2008

Looking Back

*** I started this a couple of weeks ago, after dealing with everything with Jesse's grandfather, it made me think a little and reflect on some things that I had been dealing with as well.***

As I read the post on Shannon's website, I realized that my eagerness to jump up and rush to see Jesse's grandfather was out of pain for not having that opportunity with my grandfather, or my grandmother. In both situations we were scheduled to fly out that day to visit with them, to sit with them, to have the ability to say our last goodbyes.

On April 20, 1999 I remember my dad walking into my room, very early in the morning. With a cup of coffee in his hand, he opened the door and said "Hey, kid". As he handed me the cup, I sat up, when I looked at his face I saw something that I had never seen before. I saw sad eyes, and reality.

I truly believe that as kids we led very sheltered lives, our parents protected us from all kinds of sadness and hurt. This time there was no escape, dad said "It's not good kid, we are going to leave this afternoon. I need you to get up and get ready, pack your bag before school, we leave at 2:30 for the airport".

My grandfather had been ill for sometime, my dad had been up recently to visit him and had taken my younger brother Joe with him. This time mom was up there visiting with the youngest Jake. She had called that morning to let dad know that my "papa" had gone into another coma. From what I remember this was happening quite frequently around this time. Mom had made arrangements for us to fly out that day and she and my aunt Paula would pick us up from the airport that evening.

I remember going to my first two classes letting my teachers know that I would be leaving and to have any work I would need while I was gone. We knew that we would be gone at least a couple of weeks. As I sat in my second period class, it was Health, I remember the door opening and the office aide walking through the class staring at me while handing the teacher a note. She read it, and asked me into the hall. I knew that was my cue to gather my things, and leave. as she stood in the hall and handed me the note, she gave me a hug and asked if there was anything she could do. No, there was nothing. I proceeded to head to my locker, gather my things and then go talk to coach and let her know I would be out and would miss the state track meet. As I walked out of Coach's classroom I could hear my sister crying down the hall. I was still holding onto a glimmer of hope that we were just able to get an earlier flight. When I looked at my sister, she handed me the paper in her hand.

Report to the Assistant Principal was checked at the top. Underneath the section for reason it read "Grandfather died"

I don't remember being sad, I remember being furious with the man who wrote that! I remember yelling at him while he told my sister to calm don and stop all that crying, I remember wanting to reach across the desk and pull his tie so tight that his face would turn shade of blue and purple.

I don't remember the drive home, or the drive to the airport, I remember we had a direct flight, yep those were the days of direct flights from Houston to Syracuse in just under four hours. I don't remember much of any of it, not because I was too young, I was sixteen, I should remember, but I don't. It all plays in my head like a movie, bits and pieces scattered and jumbled. I remember the TVs playing and all the drama of the Columbine shootings, it was that same day, April 20, 1999. So many lives were changed, all across the United States. I was just learning what it meant to be a Christian, I think that God gave me peace those two weeks, actually I know he did!

I know I cried and mourned, but I also know that I realized that my grandfather was a man who could do anything, in my eyes he could move mountains, he could do no wrong. He was not perfect, he never professed to be, but to me he was. He taught me so much, I know I was very lucky to spend the time with him that I did, we spent many summers up there with my grandparents, I remember them so vividly, but I honestly do not remember the last time I saw him alive.

This past Christmas my dad received a phone call from one of his sisters. Oblivious to it all I did not know what was going on. Jesse knew something was up, and I think he knew it was not good. My grandmother had a severe stroke Christmas afternoon. They took her into the hospital and she was transported to a larger hospital that would be able to accommodate her medical needs. Sometime during the transportation she had another stroke. After about a week of doctors going back and forth over what they felt was the “right” way to move forward, the family decided that grandma would want to be at home. Regardless of what was going on we all knew that whatever amount of time she had left her wishes were to be at home in her own bed.

This was understandably a very difficult situation for everyone involved, and honestly I think we all thought that a woman with that much spunk and fight would out live us all by years! They brought her home to her own bed. I know that made her feel more at ease, more at peace and less restless.

She arrived home on December 29, and we were flying out the next day. We literally had a day of travel from hell!! I left the house just before 5 am, and we flew out just about 7 am. We were scheduled for a small lay over in Dallas – because it makes sense to fly from Houston to Dallas and then to Syracuse, I guess – and continue into Syracuse. I believe we were due to arrive around two thirty or so, and that would have put us pulling into my grandmother’s driveway around 3 or just after.

Well, the plane we were supposed to board in Dallas was having some sort of mechanical difficulties and we had to wait for another one. There was something said about the doors being shut and the crew could not get out, um try the handle??? At any rate we were there for three hours in the Dallas airport. I admit that my sister and I probably were a little more unruly than our younger brothers, at one point my mom told me that I was going to be arrested. Ha, I was trying to entertain my nephew, who was almost 5 months at the time, and it just so happens that his favorite past time is hanging upside down like a little monkey. So, I was happy to oblige, I was not going to be known as one of those people with the crazy baby that won’t stop crying, after all, it is much better to be known as the crazy lady who has that baby who won’t stop laughing!! Needless to say, our flight did not land in Syracuse until about four and we pulled into the driveway just around four thirty or so.

Walking into that house it was so somber; I could hear all the noises that I was used to hearing in that house. All the laughing, playing, joking, I could hear it all, and at the same time, I could hear the silence. The silence was so loud, so uncomfortable, all I wanted to do was turn around and walk right out. At some point in saying hello to everyone, I realized that she had passed away. Minutes before we got to the house she really went home.

Initially I was angry, why could I not have one more minute with her, and a minute later I realized that He could not stand one more minute without her. She was home, and she was with her husband, and her son. She is home to watch over all of us. The days that followed are all kind of a blur, I know that I was sad, I know that I was grieving, but I know that I knew she was not in pain, she was happy, to live eternally with her loved ones that had gone before her.

I guess my point is that we all think we have one more day, truth is we don’t know, our days may be numbered already. I know that it is important to love the people around you everyday like it will be your last. That was my New Year’s resolution, never let a day pass that you don’t thank God for, and appreciate all he has given you, even the breath you just took, the hug you just gave to your baby, the kiss your sweet husband gave you as he walked out the door.

My dad’s parents were such a big part of my life and my learning, from thousands of miles away, they would teach me. The process of their deaths, and the days that followed taught me so much as well.


The Van Fam said...

This was a beautiful post. I loved it. And you are so because there is no promise of tomorrow, at least of an earthly tomorrow.