Category Archives: Mom

This is the Day

“This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.” ~Psalm 118:24

As many of you know, this was one of my mom’s favorite verses…one of her favorites even during her nine month battle with cancer.  I thought it was fitting for today.  This is the day that she would have turned 63!

 

While going through some photos around the time of Ben’s third birthday, I ran across this one.  I’d forgotten about it and was so excited to find it.  It brought back a fun memory of my mom…we sent it to her for her 60th birthday!!  Ben was only three weeks old at the time.  I thought it would be fun to share it with everyone today!

Another favorite…Mom with Ben when he was about a week old. 

Happy Birthday, Mom!  I can’t wait to hug you again one day and see your beautiful and smiling face!  I love you and miss you so much!

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Bill just sent this to me.  It’s a picture of the Saucer Magnolia that he had planted in his front yard as a memorial to Mom the April after she passed.  Look at the blooms!!  They are gorgeous just like her!!  And as Bill mentioned…perfect timing for her birthday!

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“We Weren’t Made for This World”

November 20, 2010 was the one year anniversary of my mom’s homecoming.  As the day approached, I really felt the need and desire to go home and be with my family.  So Jude and I packed our bags and flew out for a long weekend.  Thankfully Jake arranged his work schedule so that he could work from home and stay with Ben.  I was sad to leave them both behind, but I wasn’t up for the challenge of traveling by myself with both kiddos.  Ben was actually thrilled to have Daddy all to himself and they did lots of cool things together…of course the highlight…playing a few holes of golf. 

This was Jude’s first flight and first trip to Arkansas.  The flight was crowded so we didn’t have a ton of room to squirm around.  I think his ears must have hurt because despite my best effort to keep him drinking milk or chewing on his paci, he cried for the first and last 15 minutes of the flight.  In between those crying episodes he was pretty content to hang out on my lap playing with the airplane safety guide or attempting to chew on the barf bag (I know, icky, right!!) placed so neatly in the seatback right in front of us and just perfect for his little hands to grasp.  On one of our flights we sat between a high school kid and a grandma.  They were both wonderful especially since Jude kept trying to grab high school kid’s headphones and he was literally trying to jump into the grandma’s lap.  High school kid told me that I should never make Ben and Jude share a room.  He went on to explain that his mom made him share a room with his little brother when they were younger and he hated it.  I giggled to myself as I listened to this unsolicited advice.  Sweet kid really felt like he needed to be an advocate for all big brothers out there!  When Jude got fussy the grandma sang the “Pat-a-cake” nursery rhyme to him…she even held him for a brief moment trying to help out which only made Jude sob harder.  They were sweet and I was grateful for their kindness.

We had a babysitter watch Jude on the morning of the 2oth while Jill, Tim and I went out for breakfast at a yummy little place called Susan’s in Springdale.  As hard as this particular day was it was so special to spend it with them.  While we ate we talked about Mom…we laughed as we remember some of our fondest memories of her.  She was such a fun person…we never knew what goofy thing she might say (or do), or where we might find her missing coffee cup that she knew was “just right there,” or what surprise we’d find in the microwave after dinner because she forgot to put the dish on the table.  Her smile.  The way she’d say “hello” so full of life and energy when she’d answer the phone.  And, oh, how she loved us!  Sweet sweet memories.  

We cried as we remembered the pain of losing her and how difficult the past year had been without her.  Of course celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and special days like her birthday and Mother’s Day  were really tough as expected.  But other things were difficult too often catching me off guard causing a flood of emotions.  For example, on the one year anniversary of the date we received the phone call that Mom was in the emergency room and they suspected she had pancreatic cancer or when we learned that she was coming home from the treatment facility and that there was nothing more they could do…it was almost like reliving the sadness all over again.  Even days when I’d go to the mall and see a mom and daughter shopping and eating lunch together were really tough (okay, that one’s still tough).  I was sad that she didn’t live to see Jude’s birth day, although I know she gets to see him now anytime she wants.  =) 

I’ll admit there were times that I just wanted to wallow in my own sadness and I did.  On many days I was just angry.  Why couldn’t God just heal her here on earth?  Earth is where we are and we miss her.  And then it hit me one day.  I am sure it had been said to me a million times before but I must not have been listening or better yet, I just didn’t want to hear.  I was driving when I heard a DJ on Z88.3 say, “We weren’t made for this world.  God didn’t plan it this way.  He planned for us to live in a garden, a perfect garden” [and we all know what happened there…thanks Adam and Eve].  So there in the car driving to Micheal’s with the boys in the backseat, I lost it.  This time my tears weren’t of sorrow and anger, but more like peace and healing.  So of course I still miss her and of course I still get sad about it, but I heard something else that really resonated with me.  The person said, “The pain we suffer after losing a loved one doesn’t get smaller over time as if to diminish who they were, but that we just grow bigger around the pain…that it makes us stronger.”  Cool, huh!  Not long ago I also heard a person’s interpretation of Matthew 5:4 that says, “Blessed are those who mourn…”  He explained, “We mourn because we were blessed by the person we lost.”  We were blessed to know Mom and call her our mom!

After breakfast the three of us went to visit mom’s gravesite at the national cemetery.  Each of us added our own bouquet of roses to the two that were already there.  While we were there we spent a lot of time just being quiet and it was nice.  I wish I could go there more often to visit.  When we first got to the cemetery there was a woman visiting another gravesite not far from Mom’s.  She was lying next to the grave.  We could hear her talking, but couldn’t make out what she was saying.  Every now and then we’d see her gently stroke the grass with her hand and by the look of the gravesite I could tell it was fairly new.  Before she left she asked us whose gravesite we were visiting.  We  shared with her about Mom’s story…that she had passed away a year ago from pancreatic cancer at the age of 62.  She said that her husband had recently passed away from cancer too and that he had lived with it for quite sometime.  I think he was in his 70’s when he passed away.  You could see the pain in her eyes as she talked about how much she missed him and about how she wished she could go now to be with him but knew she’d have to wait her turn to see him again in heaven.  We shared a hug there in the cemetery that day, two complete strangers both grieving for loved ones.  I was really touched by her.  The way she laid next to her husbands grave was so moving.  It was such a beautiful and refreshing expression of love.  

And on a much much lighter note, when we returned home the following day Ben asked, “Mommy are you and Jude going to leave again so that just me and Daddy can hang out?”  The little stinker makes me smile even if he was trying to get rid of me.  It was good to be home again with all of my boys!

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Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is a very special day.  My mom would have turned 62!  It is hard for me to believe that this time last year she was here.  Yes, we were all grappling with the recent news of her diagnosis at the time (she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on February 13, 2009), but she was with us.  We celebrated her birthday last year with dinner at her house followed by her choice of angel food cake and strawberries.  What a sweet sweet memory to hold on to!  I’m thankful for it!

While thinking about my mom’s birthday this week, it brought back a very fond memory from when we were growing up as kids.  For our birthday dinners she would make us feel extra special by letting us use her beautiful china dishes!  I always felt so fancy on these special occasions!  Every now and then you’ll even catch me drinking something as simple as water from my own china glasses just for fun!  (You should try it sometime…turn your ordinary day into a fancy one!  ha ha)  I can’t wait to pass this tradition along to my kids…I think I’ll just wait a few more years until the whole throwing things from the high chair has passed! 

Last night I went back through several old photos my mom gave me and found this one!  I wish she was in it with me, but I thought it would be fun to share anyway.  I’m not sure how old I was but you can see how pretty the table looked with her china!  Oh, and it reminded me of a couple more things.  She always had a candle burning on the table.  And she would also break out a bottle of the finest sparkling grape juice!  This was like over the top fancy to me!  What a great mama!  (This is a picture of a very old picture (well, not VERY old…I’m not THAT old after all)…hope you can see it okay.)

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Wreaths Across America

On December 12, 2009, family members and friends joined together for a special ceremony in honor of my mom and other loved ones that have passed away.  Here’s an e-mail from my step-dad followed by pictures from the day.

Dear Family and Friends,

Here are a few pictures that were taken today at the Fayetteville National Cemetery as part of the Wreaths-Across-America ceremony.  It was a privilege to place a wreath in honor of Judy…not only as a distinguished Army WAC, but also as my precious wife and my best friend.

Blessings to all,

bill

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Life in November

(I know, I know…it’s February already.  I’m still playing catch-up from last year!!)  Jake, Ben and I returned to Arkansas in early November to help celebrate my niece’s first birthday.  Our plan was to stay for only a long weekend, however, upon our arrival we learned that my mom’s condition had declined rapidly during the two weeks we’d been back home in Florida.  Jake and I decided it would be best for Ben and I to stay indefinitely to spend time with my mom, so for most of the month of November we lived in Arkansas.  Although we endured many difficult days (click here to read more about my mom) there were also several exciting things that happened during the month that helped brighten our lives.  Here’s a recap of a few of them.

November 7th – Laci’s first birthday!

November 13th – Jake and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary (apart).  Even though we couldn’t be together it was still a very special day.  He’s my rock and my knight in shining armor.  I love you, Jake!!

November 14th and 15th – Jake’s sister, Amanda, celebrated her 31st birthday on the 14th.  The next day she married her fiancé, Joe!  Congratulations to the newlyweds!  We CANNOT wait to celebrate with you in Hawaii later this year!

November 23rd and 24th – My sister-in-law, Candice, turned 30 on the 23rd and my sister, Julie, turned 38 the following day.  Happy Birthday, Ladies!! 

November 26th – Ben turned 21 months old on Thanksgiving Day!

From the mouth of Ben:

You know I can’t do an update about Ben without sharing some of the funny things he says.  Here are a few things I wrote down from Ben’s 21st month that made me chuckle.

He had gotten something in his eye at lunch one afternoon and turned to me and said, “Mommy, wipe my eyeballs.”

I was driving him to Mother’s Morning Out (MMO) when he started calling out from the backseat to all the other cars around us, “Get off the road, get off the road!”  I’m not entirely sure where he’s heard that before, but I’m going to guess Jake.  =)

One day he came up and told me very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, I like cool trucks.”

Anytime he’d leave the room I was in at our house he’d wave and say, “Bye bye, Mommy.  Have a good day.” 

The same goes for his trucks.  When we’d leave the house for the day he’d say, “Have a good day, trucks.  I’ll miss you.  Bye bye.”  And when he’d go to bed at night he’d tell them, “Night night, trucks.”

We were driving in Fayetteville one day when I heard Ben call out from the backseat, “Mommy, turn left right here.”  Sure enough…he was correct!  Good guess or maybe he memorized our daily route!?!  He certainly must have inherited his daddy’s navigation skills because we all know how lacking mine are!!  And to think that mom and I used to talk about trying out for The Amazing Race.  Can you imagine the two of us trying to navigate our way through foreign countries…ALONE??  Well, it would have made for some very entertaining television that’s for sure!

They taught him the “clean up” song at MMO and he taught it to us.  Anytime we’d tell him to clean up his toys he’d start singing (and still does), “Clean up clean up everybody everywhere.  Clean up clean up everybody do your share.”  I LOVE this song…he actually seems to enjoy cleaning up when we sing it!

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Filed under Anniversary, Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Health, Holiday, Mom

Carving Pumpkins and Raking Leaves…All in a Fall Day’s Work

We rounded out our visit to Arkansas in October with a fantastic fall day outside at Grandpa and Grandma’s house in Fayetteville.

While Ben napped that afternoon, the rest of us got started on carving our pumpkins.  Mom was even feeling good enough to sit outside with us.  We didn’t know it then, but this day turned out to be the last time we took pictures with her.  It was a special day and I’m so thankful we got to share it with her.  It will be one I’ll never forget.

After Ben woke up from his nap he was ready to play outside with the rest of us.  Grandpa Bill bought him a little rake just his size and he was beyond thrilled to get busy raking leaves!

And what good is raking leaves if you can’t play in them…and play they did!!  Here’s Ben with his cousins, Khloee and Kayla.

Snuggling with Grandma one last time.  Sweet memories.

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Remembering Mom

“The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.” –Unknown

It was sometime after 3:00 am when I heard my brother call out my name waking me up from my sleep.  “Bill just called…Mom went to be with the Lord at 3:20 this morning.”  It was Friday, November 20, 2009.  I had a restless night of sleep.  I, along with many others, had prayed fervently that night that God would take Mom home.  After watching her suffer over the last nine months, knowing that the doctors had done all they could do and especially watching her suffer those last few precious days…I just couldn’t bear the thought of her suffering any longer.  So I prayed that God would work swiftly, that He’d take her home and that when I woke up the next morning I would be told she was with Him in heaven…completely healed.  I know it seems strange to think about praying fervently for your mom to pass on, but at some point I began to look beyond the fact that I’d miss her and realized that it was best to let her go.  So when I heard the news I remember feeling both a sense of relief and great sorrow.  She was no longer suffering and completely healed, but at the same moment my heart ached and I missed her so very much.  That morning we all gathered at my Mom’s house to see her one last time before her body was taken to the funeral home.  It was somewhat comforting to see her lying there so peaceful, her face no longer drawn up in pain and she even had a little smile on her face.  We all thought that it was just like Mom to give us a smile…to let us know that everything was alright and that she was in good hands…our Father’s hands…I can’t imagine a place better.  A few days later we attended the visitation for her followed by her celebration service and burial the next day.

The celebration service was just that…a celebration of my Mom’s life and it was absolutely perfect.  We laughed and we cried.  I know I’ve shared a few of these things with some of you, but to me they are worth writing here and sharing with everyone.  There were two things the pastor talked about that day that have continued to give me peace, comfort and encouragement.  He shared with us about how not long after my Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer she and my step-dad, Bill, claimed this verse from Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  She was not only willing to praise Him in the good times but in the bad times too.  The pastor also shared about the time when someone mentioned that Mom was losing her battle with cancer and she corrected them and said that this was not her battle to fight but that it was God’s and that he had already won the battle over death. 

Earlier this year in May our pastor gave a sermon titled, “If God is Good, Why is There Suffering?”  Here is a quote from our bulletin that day from Oswald Chambers, “The picture of God in the Bible is of One who suffers, and when the mask is torn off life and we see all its profound and vast misery, the suffering, sorrowing God is the only One who does not mock us.  ‘He was desposed, and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.’ ”  So I’ve asked God many times during this journey of suffering with mom, “Why this road, why this way?”  This is the answer I keep hearing, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8) and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  So here’s what I think…there is evil in the world because there is an evil one.  I don’t think it was God’s plan to ever have it that way.  I believe that He understood Mom’s suffering and cared for her very much…He never left her side.  There is comfort and healing in that.

So as not to mislead I should say here that things have not been easy since her death.  Sure, I absolutely believe the things that I wrote above and I do take great comfort in them, but it is false to believe that Christians don’t grieve.  I’ve felt great sorrow and most recently a lot of anger.  I’d like to stomp my foot, cross my arms and say, “I want my mom, NOW!”  I remember my college roommate telling me once, “It’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel, He wants you to be honest with him.”  And in those moments of great sorrow and anger I remember another story our pastor told us that Sunday in May.  He talked about three pots of boiling water (the boiling water represented suffering) and each pot had three different things in it (we could be represented by any of the three).  One pot was filled with carrots, the next an egg and the third coffee.  And he said that the choice was ours, that as we suffer and come out on the other side we can choose to be wimpy, hard or have things brought out of us that we didn’t know were there.  My prayer is that we would all choose to be the coffee.

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