For the last eight years, I have been asked time and time again if it’s hard to live so far away from “home”, from my family. The answer has always, and will always be, yes. It is not easy to live so far away from my parents, sister, other relatives and many close friends (they are in Texas, I have been all over the place, but currently Tennessee). I miss them constantly, but I also choose where I live for so many reasons (that would be a whole different post). It’s hard, yes, but THANK GOD we make it work. Thankfully, we have phones, texts, video chat, Skype, email, Facebook, etc etc. We make it work, and more importantly, we still make lots of efforts to see one another as much as possible.
Last week, we were in Texas. Oh how nice it is to go home and be spoiled and loved on by your parents. That’s one plus side of living far away….lots and lots of love and attention when you get together! We drove all night so Luna could sleep and knocked on my parents’ door bright and early at 6:30am. My Mom immediately took over with Luna and told us to catch up on our sleep. If you insist! She was more than happy to get some much needed quality time with her Granddaughter. I retired to the living room couch where I lightly napped. Between napping, I spied. I spied on Luna and her Honey (my Mom). I spied because I didn’t want to interrupt or spoil the precious moments unfolding before my eyes.
The two of them ate breakfast together at the tiny Mickey Mouse folding chairs and table my Mom bought. Honey taught Luna to color, and Luna taught Honey the joy of taking the crayons out of the bag one at time, and putting them back into the bag one at a time…and out…and back in…and so on, and so on. They ran all over the house, keeping each other on their toes. They snuggled in the recliner and watched cartoons. Honey blew bubbles for Luna to chase around in her PJ’s. They loved on each other as if they lived next door to one another and played side by side on a regular basis. I can’t tell you how full my heart felt as I watched them bond.
There were many many full hearted moments that week. Seeing my parents be Grandparents is really special. I hate that I can’t see it everyday, but maybe it makes it even more special this way, more appreciated, no moment taken for granted. (Though, my fingers are still crossed that they will one day move to Tennessee!) I also got to see my nephew, who I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving! Having my nephew and Luna together was the best!
Then, there my cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, babies, babies and more babies! Every trip to Texas is a crazy whirlwind of visiting one person after another. There is never enough time to see everyone I want to see or see enough of the people I do get to see. Texas just has too many awesome people living in it! (That’s right, that Texas pride never fades, nor does its modesty.) While we may have been ready to get home and get Luna back on a normal schedule, we weren’t ready to say goodbye.
So, yes, it’s hard to live so far from “home”, but we make it work. While the distance may be hard, staying connected isn’t. Sure, it takes a little work, but doesn’t everything worth anything take some work?
I should preface this post by saying it may be a little sad, but it’s mostly happy and uplifting. It’s a story worth reading and a little comfort and closure for myself.
My Grandmother passed away last week. I just got home from Texas where I spent time with my family and dealt with all the unpleasant funeral stuff. I could write a book on how much losing a loved one sucks and the crazy roller coaster of emotions I have been on this week, but I have something much more special to share.
My Grandmother, we call her MawMaw, turned out to be keeping a secret from us the past 88 years. After she passed, my Mom found a journal, and a lot of other random writings, hidden around the house. We knew my MawMaw wrote every once in a while, but she always kept her writings private and told us she was a horrible boring writer. I assumed she wrote about gardening, building puzzles and watching TV dramas…regular Grandma life stuff.
What a liar my MawMaw turned out to be. Not only was her writing smart and entertaining, but every journal entry reads like a beautiful poem. Some parts are sad and hard to read… She wrote about caring for my bed-ridden PawPaw, losing 2 of her sons, dealing with another son’s cancer, losing a grandchild and many other hardships. However, in the midst of her depression she wrote about every beautiful aspect of her life, what she was thankful for and how she truly saw the world around her.
MawMaw was a Mother to MANY, a passionate Christian (possibly the most Godly person I have ever known), a strong-willed, not afraid to speak her very opinionated mind, kind of woman. She grew up in the south in a time when women were not seen as equals and should hide their real feelings. Depression and anxiety were shameful. She lived an honorable life and did her best to keep her sadness and anxiety to herself, which is why she wrote.
(Much of MawMaw’s words stem from her relationship with God. You may have a relationship with a different God, or no God at all. That’s okay. I believe there is a message in her words for each of us.)
The following words are bits and pieces of her daily thoughts over the last 19 years. (My favorite quotes) It’s the hills and valleys of her final years and a glimpse into the mind of a secretive and brilliant woman.
Life can be harsh and sorrowful. God, sometimes I need a little childish fantasy.
Joy and love and the awesome wonder of God are absolutely fantastic. It can’t be so hard to slip from the fantasy of elves, Santa Claus and fairies sitting on toadstools into the belief of God and all his angels, Fantastic!
Dec. 2, 1994 and it is almost sunrise- I venture out into a day of something. I do not know what is around the corner, but God grant, courage will be with me. Each thing I do will be new; each daily duty will not be a repeat of what was done yesterday but an adventure anew in itself. We shall see.
It seems some people think they have reason to be miserable. They pick up on every word or happening to analyze it and extract all the misery like squeezing a dishrag and seeing only dirty dishwater instead of the clean dishes in the drainer. I want to enjoy life now; all the good, happy and beautiful things now so when I get to Heaven the transition won’t be so jolting. From joy to joy will be like sliding on a satin ribbon. Poor miserable Christian what a jolt you will have. There was joy all through life and you missed it.
When I reach 80 I want to remember ten years of feeling the wind in my face, rain so refreshing, blue skies and stormy nights. I will find the big dipper; enjoy things that grow and children at play. Sad times will only be remembered as that by which good times are measured.
Right now there is just one thing I know of that makes sense and that is simplicity.
When bad times come it is hard to bear; but when it is past, replace sorrow with beautiful thoughts just like God said, “whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are beautiful, think on these things.” What a wonderfully easy way to cover yourself with His love and comfort. And it doesn’t cost anything; cheaper than a nerve pill.
As I grow older music touches me deeper to elate emotions that were always stifled by others but now I really feel the beauty of melody and movement.
Just imagine to what melody the limbs of trees sway in the breeze; unheard by the ear but felt in the heart.
(Her thoughts on depression and healing. She often wrote about “moving up the ladder” and reaching that “second step”) I’m convinced that I will never be without problems of all sorts, but still I must never see the dark pit again. Only an idiot is continually happy, joyous and has no problems; but stupidity is another thing. A stupid person hangs onto that first step and enjoys all that muck he is in. Boy, this second step feels better all the time.
The only good I see from this anxiety and stress is that it gives me understanding of others in similar situations.
I feel like a little girl going around and around a tree with one hand touching the tree trunk. Going nowhere but so tired of just going around and around. Depression is real. It’s a dark place, which seems so hopeless, no way out.
[My MawMaw’s 10 Steps to lead a successful life]
I. Never be satisfied; for therein is danger, you may rust like a tin can in the rain and the weeds will grow over you. The only time to be still is when you listen to God to receive His instructions for moving on.
II. Never take criticism at face value. Examine the critics’ remarks closely. Look in the “mirror” for a true picture of yourself. If need be, correct yourself then smile and go forward.
III. Pick a goal that seems a little more than you think you can attain. You will work harder to get there. Put lots of prayer into choosing a goal.
IV. Don’t wait to be chosen. Volunteer. Choose your own friends and associates. The only way to be ahead is to step out and move. Go with God always.
V. Read much.
VI. Be quick to give a compliment, especially to children.
VII. First thing every morning look out the window and smile. It’s all God’s world – rain or shine. Last thing at night smile even if it’s through tears for He can wash away tears.
VIII. Don’t be overshadowed by fears, feeling of helplessness, guilty feelings. Remember that you are a real person, better than some, and as good as most. No one has the right to put you down or categorize you according to their ideas. Stand up and be counted.
IX. Be straightforward. When you are sure you are right, say so and don’t back down. “Well if that is the way you want it” is out! Especially if it affects you.
X. Be kind, gentle, nice, clean and a real lady or gentleman. Leave a legacy of good memories.
And, the very last line in her journal…
When all hope is gone heaven has been attained.
This wonderful woman will be very missed, but never forgotten. What a legacy she has left behind.
With all my love,
P.S. I want to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, kind words, flowers and food sent to the family. The amount of love shown to us has been incredible and I am oh so grateful. Thank you.
Alright, let me give you the reader’s digest of my day yesterday, Thursday, March 14th to be exact….
I slept for exactly zero hours. That’s right after a dose of hydrocodone and NyQuil I NEVER went to sleep. Instead of sleeping I coughed all night, coughed until I had to puke. At 6am, our landlord called to say there was water leaking in the apartment below us and it was probably coming from our apartment.
6:30am, the super came up to check our pipes.
7am, the plumber came over, and left, and came back, and left, came back, left, etc.
7:30am, groceries were delivered.
8am, I called in sick.
Around 1pm, I decided I felt better enough and stir crazy enough to go to work. (I was obviously delirious.)
After teaching a few classes I felt sick enough to leave and go straight to the doctor (and you know I must have felt really sick to go to the doctor!)
Then, my obnoxious Aunt Flow decided to make a surprise appearance at the most inappropriate time possible. She’s famous for surprise visits. Just lovely.
This day appears bad, but it’s missing one very important detail. I will remember absolutely none of the bad details from this day. Nope, the one thing that I will remember is that my very first nephew was born. That’s right, yesterday morning Micah Liam graced us with his presence. Turns out that being sick and up all night was a blessing in disguise. I got to FaceTime with my sister while she was in labor at 5am, and tell her how much I love and miss her! Once he was born, I was able to watch as he lay on her chest and looked straight into the iPhone as if to say “Hey there Aunt Hilarie!” .
I saw my parents become the most adorable and proudest Grandparents ever. Seriously, at 2 hours old they were already bragging about how smart he is! They are so in love with this little man. I saw my Brother-in-law hold his son for the very first time, and I saw my sister become a Mother! It was magical, and thanks to the flu and FaceTime Husband and I got to be a part of it all!
Congratulations Sis, Bro, Mom and Dad! Our world will never ever be the same! I’m just a big ball of cheese and love today!!!