Monday, June 22, 2015

A Sad and Emotional 1300+ Miles

From Texas to Kansas and Back
May 25-30, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015
It was Monday, May 25th and it was Memorial Day. Chris and I had a great day planned of getting stuff done around the house and just taking it easy as we approached the last 2 weeks of school. I started out to do my 2 mile run and I was just not feeling it at all. I had planned to do at least the 2 miles but for whatever reason I could barely do my usual 1-1.5 and had to stop multiple times. I got home from the jog and got ready for the day. Around 8:50AM Chris got a call from my dad on his phone. Chris said "Hmmm, it's your dad. I wonder what he wants?" I knew that my dad, mom and sister, Allison, were in Boston on vacation so almost immediately knew what the phone call was about. In fact I said out loud as Chris answered "This is it... This is THE phone call". Sure enough, Chris handed me the phone and the very 1st words I hear my dad say are "Kellie, I love you honey but..." and I knew how the rest of the phone call would go. My dad and I talked and cried on the phone together as he told me how it all happened and what the plans were going forward. I was very emotional and upset but almost immediately I went into "Mom Mode" as I will call it and tried not to cry too much in front of my kids and was careful about how I would present this new situation to my kids, especially Natalie Grace who is 5. Oddly enough, as I was on the phone with my dad Chris took her aside and told her. She had absolutely no clue what it meant but the 1st hard part was over. 

I tried to grieve but oddly enough I kept it all bottled up and didn't think or talk about it too much. I was selfishly thinking more about my school work, the long list of to-dos and so much more. I privately went out on my own around lunch time to clear my head and found myself just walking up and down the mall crying as I reminisced about the time I had with Grandma Pat. I came home and Natalie reminded me that I had promised her a hair-cut so we went and got ourselves a hair-cut. A word to the wise... DO NOT GO AND CUT YOUR HAIR ON AN EMOTIONAL DAY SUCH AS THIS! I am usually pretty specific about how I like my hair but on this day I was very nonchalant about it. "Sure, whatever you think" and "I trust you". Yeah... I am not liking this hair-cut! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Monday ended with crying myself to sleep and looking through pictures I had on Facebook or on my computer. As I got to school on Tuesday several teacher friends gave me hugs and words of encouragement. I was truly touched and humbled that so many people thought of me on this day as we are all feeling the stress and pressure of the end of the school year. Houston was experiencing MAJOR flooding during this time and oddly enough Chris's school was cancelled. He was able to stay home with Luke all day whom he later told me called Grandma Pat multiple times to tell her "I Love you Grandma Pat". Thank you Jesus, I was not here to have to experience that. By this time I knew that I was going to be playing my saxophone for the memorial service so I practiced that evening. I do not know if it was the devil or The Lord himself but I was not able to get anything done as both of my kids were whiny and needy all evening. I wanted to grieve at this time but I bottled up again and just kept being MOM! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 
This day was much of the same as Tuesday and once again my kids were very needy, fussy and yet hyper all at the same time. I tried to stay in touch with both my dad, who was in Wichita already, and my mom/ sister , who were flying home from the vacation in Boston on this day. I spent most of my planning time and all of my lunch time looking for funeral songs for the saxophone and a good arrangement of Amazing Grace of which I would be singing at the memorial service. I was not satisfied with any of the arrangements and spent that evening trying to find a song to play out of my own stash. I ended my saxophone practice session with Great is thy Faithfulness, as I always do, and it was then I began to feel the spirit tug on my shoulder. I knew this was the song I was supposed to play! Grandma Pat was such a woman of Faith and the words of this song, while not a typical funeral or memorial song, spoke to her Faith and her life. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015 
We are loaded up and ready to hit the road for the next 10 hours!

Both Chris and I took this day off to make the 10 hour trip up to Kansas to be with the family and attend the viewing/ wake and the funeral services. We left our house at 9AM for the long trip to Wichita, KS. Before leaving we had both of the kids go and get a "baby" (stuffed animal) to take with us on the trip. Luke originally brought down a massive Easter Bunny that Gigi Jackie gave him. Both Chris and I told him it was too big and to go and get a smaller one. He then brought down the smallest one he could find and it was a blue Gingerbread Man that was given to him by none other than Grandma Pat. This was a God thing and as emotional as that was I did not shed a tear. I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with me.

After sending him to look for a smaller "baby" he came back with this gingerbread man from Grandma Pat! 

We made an extended stop at Buccee's in Madisonville. We usually stop here on our way to Dallas but rarely to we spend a large amount of money like we did this time. I swear we got "one of everything". This is where the coping= shopping trend began. We made it to Dallas in a record time and decided to eat at In-N-Out Burgers before meeting Mom and Allison at Allison's apartment in north Dallas to caravan with them.

No matter the roadtrip... Buc-cee's is a MUST!

We all loaded the cars and headed towards Oklahoma. We stopped for dinner in Guthrie, OK at a local Braums. Chris and I LOVE Braums and miss both their ice cream and their burgers. Even as we sat there and ate our burgers and fries I was reminded of Grandma Pat and Grandpa. They used to take us to the Braums in Derby EVERY TIME we came to town. We would go and get a double scoop of ice cream or a milkshake. Poor Luke did not want his fries and mom says "Look Luke, GiGi is eating HER fries". I think both Allison and I felt that one a little because Grandpa Pat always said "Look girls, Grandma is eating her broccoli (or whatever the veggie was we weren't eating). Again, I felt a small tug but no tears or grieving. We continued to Wichita and arrived around 9PM to my other grandma's house, Grandma Juanita. Here I saw my dad for the first time and tears began to fall and I was feeling the loss but once again, I then had to stop and go and take care of a kid who was screaming. 

We made our way back to Derby to the Hampton Inn where we would be staying and had a funny time of getting the kids to bed in the hotel. They have stayed at many hotels on vacations with GiGi and Poppy but not with us. Natalie immediately decided that the kids would be in one bed and the adults in the other, which was MORE THAN FINE with Chris and I. Both Natalie and Luke whispered and talked and giggled for about an hour before finally settling down. Luke would start singing "Jesus Loves Me" and Chris would tell him to be quiet only to remember that Luke sings himself to sleep. Eventually, around 11:45PM or so, we all fell asleep. 

Friday, May 29, 2015 
I did not sleep very well the previous night, as to be expected, but got up and went jogging anyway. It was a gorgeous 60* in Derby and I did 2 laps around the hotel to a 1.6 mile run. Unfortunately I had to stop because it was beginning to rain and I just didn't want to get soaked. Ironically, shortly after I got back, we all went into the indoor pool for about an hour. 

We went back over to Grandma Juanita's house around 10:30 and I told Allison, I was just not satisfied with my funeral attire that I packed and asked if she would go with me to pick out something new. Of course, she said yes and frankly almost everyone in my family needed something or another. Chris too did not sleep well and wanted to take a nap. Grandma Juanita came and showed Chris the spare bedroom in her house and turned down the bed, pulled the drapes and quite nearly tucked him in. Chris said "Wow, it has been a long time since anyone acted like a Grandma to me like that". Thank you Grandma Juanita, he needed this reminder! 

Allison and I then went back into Wichita to get all of our items we needed and do some coping shopping only to decide that we wanted to go and see Grandma and Grandpa's old house just one more time. We both knew we would not be back into town for quite some time so we ventured back south 12 miles to Derby. We made it down to the far south end of town to Pointer Lane where we saw the house Grandpa built with his 2 hands but it looked NOTHING like we remember. We shared a few memories and tears and then headed back to Grandma Juanita's house for the family lunch.

My grandfather designed and build this himself and Allison and I had SO MANY memories in this house! It looks TOTALLY different but the memories are the same! 

Afterwards we went back to the hotel to get ready for the family viewing or "wake". As we pulled up to the Funeral Home it hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn't want to face that grief. In fact, I told Chris "I don't want to go in" but like the AMAZING husband that he is and was during this time he opened the door for me and got me out and took me into the chapel where Grandma Pat's body was. Allison on one side and Chris on the other I made my way to her body and all of the grief I was missing all week hit me. I cried and cried and cried thinking about Grandma Pat and her life and legacy as well as the memories we shared. 

I had my moment with Allison and Chris viewing Grandma Pat and was amazed at how good she looked. We then went to the table of pictures where I saw a picture of Grandma Pat and Grandpa on their 50th Wedding Anniversary and it was at that moment that it all hit me. The lyrics "Reunited and it feels so good" came to me and I knew ALL WAS WELL! 

Natalie and Luke did EXTREMELY well at the viewing and both had moments of sorrow. Natalie said things such as "Did she die because of all of those boo-boos" (sores on her hands) or "Wow, she was pretty in that picture" and my favorite was Luke "Wow, that guy (Grandpa) looks like Poppy". Natalie, especially, went down to the casket multiple times and would say things like "I love you Grandma Pat" or "I miss you Grandma Pat" which made it hard for me but I knew those were the times I had to be the mom. One of the last times Natalie went down to view the casket she said "This is Grandma Pat but she is not here. She is in Heaven with Jesus. This is just her body". The last time I took Natalie up there she was very emotional and stared at the body for what felt like an eternity but NEVER CRIED! 

We ended the night with a family meal at one of Pat's favorites... Village Inn. That night when we got back to the hotel Luke and Natalie both were exhausted and fell asleep almost instantaneously. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015 
I woke up at 6AM and started to pack and get ready for the day. The memories started to creep in and I had to re-do and fix my make-up 2 separate times. The kids were very fussy and needy, especially Luke, and I could tell that the weekend was paying it's toll on them. We loaded up the car and headed to the church early so I could practice with my Aunt Connie who would be accompanying me on the piano. We were the 1st to arrive at Pleasantview Baptist Church, even before Grandma's body arrived. Luke was still having a bad morning so Chris went across the street to get him some food from Dillon's. 

Connie arrived and we went through Great is thy Faithfulness and it was perfect. She has played for me many times and it just gets better with each performance. I was feeling emotions but held it together. It is easy to cover up tears on the saxophone. Not so much while singing. I then started to practice Amazing Grace and that is when it all came rolling in. Every tear, every emotion, every memory. I just wailed and wailed down in the basement and choir room of that church. Then I got down on my knees and asked for The Lord to help me perform this song for Grandma Pat and for His Glory.

Taken from afar as my two kiddos say goodbye to Grandma Pat one more time!
This makes me cry every time I look at it!

I went back upstairs and saw more family members and even friends who drove all the way from Arp to be there for my mom and dad. Allison and I said one last goodbye to Grandma Pat before the closed the casket. As the time approached to line up with the family, Luke was still fussy and only wanted ME. Not daddy or even Poppy but ME! I had to hold him and carry him in as we walked in with the family. Throughout the entire 1st half of the funeral Luke was eating his Fruit Loops daddy got him from Dillon's and holding on to my hand as tight as he could. Of course he was also repeating things from the sermon and prayers like "Amen, Amen" but it did in fact distract me. I knew I had to hold it together during this service as if I didn't, I would not be able to sing Amazing Grace for Grandma! 

The time had come for me to sing and my childhood Youth Minister and my dad's ministry partner, Bro. Tommy, came up to accompany me and he said "Take your Time sister... take your time". That encouragement was all I needed. I was able to sing Amazing Grace for my Grandma without losing it and breaking down (of course I never looked at my family). The moment I stepped off stage I was bawling my eyes out and so were all of my family members, including my husband., Chris loved Grandma Pat and this hit home for him too. 

My dad preached a wonderful sermon and testimony of Grandma Pat's faith and life and here is where I got to be the grieving grand-child and not the professional musician. Afterwards as I hugged my only living Grandparent, Grandma Juanita, I knew the finality was happening. 

We made our way to the family car/ limo and went to the cemetery. Here we all got out and sat under the awning and wrapped up in blankets (it was 55* in MAY so none of us saw that coming nor were prepared) and as the seriousness of the moment began to sink in Luke shouts out "I have been to a baseball game with Poppy" and the whole crowd laughed. It lightened the mood enough for my Uncle Mike to request me to play "BOOMER SOONER" on my saxophone as that is what I did at my grandfather's graveside service back in November 2005.

Natalie got a rose from the casket centerpiece!

Natalie and Luke at cemetery!

We said our goodbyes and made our way back to the church for the family lunch before we made the trek back to the great state of Texas. In true Grandma Pat fashion the pot-luck dinner was one of the best I have had and she would have been so proud. She served on the "Care Committee" for years serving others in this situation so it seemed fitting to have a wonderful pot-luck meal in her honor.

We left Derby around 1PM and as we kept driving south the memories and smiles kept coming and coming. I think I spent the entire state of Oklahoma wiping up my tears and sharing stories with Chris and the kids. We made it home at 11:30PM that evening and as I was helping Luke get ready for bed and Chris was unloading the car, Natalie came into the hallway and was weeping with tears. I asked her what was wrong and she said "I miss Grandma Pat". She never shed a tear the entire weekend until that moment and there we were in the hallway both crying and weeping. I eventually put her to bed and then went o my own room to cry for a few more hours.

Before we even made it to Oklahoma he was out!

The Red River at the highest I have ever seen it! 

I'm always glad to be back in Texas but especially this weekend!
I just wanted it all to be over!
Home Sweet Home!

It was an emotional few days and 1300 miles but I am so glad that we made the trip AND that both of our kids came along with us. It may not have been the best for them and their routines but they needed this. I am so glad that my kids got to meet and know my grandma. She is truly a HERO of mine and I am glad Natalie and Luke can have memories of their own with her too. 

I love you Grandma Pat and I WILL see you again! 

God is good.. ALL THE TIME!

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