Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Daybook for June 17, 2014

Outside my window... dark.  It's after 10pm, so what do you expect?  No rain this week.  Tomato plants growing tall, blueberries beginning to ripen - yum!

I am thinking... about family and relationships.  I made a very quick one-night trip to Jacksonville, Florida, to visit my grandfather over this past weekend before he passed away.  He went into hospice care after it was determined that he was not strong enough to endure any more procedures to try to correct issues with a feeding tube and internal bleeding.  He was 99 years old.  My brother Mike drove down one day last week to visit him.  Once it was determined that he was entering hospice, my other two brothers, our dad, and I all went down to visit him one last time.

I met my dad and youngest brother, Tim, in Atlanta and rode the rest of the way down with them. It is amazing how some things never change... Tim challenged me to the Alphabet Game a couple times.  I pointed out all the old landmarks and which things were different from when we used to make this drive 20 years ago.  We listened to all my "songs that remind me of Florida" that I have since collected on five CDs.  And we listened to King Crimson, a band my dad liked back in their day and then passed on to us.  I accidentally brought his CD back home with me, whoops.  We were listening to my CD, The Compact King Crimson, and Tim had passed back our dad's CD... and it ended up coming home with me in my pile of CDs.

The Clothing Carnival, one of the long-lasting businesses along I-75 in Georgia.  There are billboards that list some of the clothing brands they sell... I texted this photo to my brother Stephen, who was driving a different route home to SC, telling him that none of the billboards mentioned "Fitzgerald underwear" anymore, an apparent brand they used to sell in the late 80s/early 90s and of course made us laugh as kids...
The "rocket" at Krystal's in Tifton, one of my so-called landmarks.  It is really a missile, but we called it a rocket as kids and our parents never corrected us.  so it is a rocket.  Just like billiards cues are "pool sticks."
It is touching to me to get to spend time with my brothers even though we are all adults.  We still all gather together when there are big changes in the family: weddings, ordinations, vacations, illnesses, funerals.  That we all felt the pull to visit our grandfather says something to me about ourselves as a family.  I want that kind of closeness and commitment in my own children as they grow into adulthood.

I am wondering... about all the little ways God reveals himself to us in the daily things.  When I see little connections, little coincidences, little reminders... I choose to believe that God is allowing these things to touch our hearts.  A few weeks ago, I wore my mom's old charm bracelet to our Little Flowers tea party because it has a charm on it shaped like a teacup.  I happened to think of that, and so I put it on.  She had collected charms on it in her teenage years, and when I was a young teen, she gave the bracelet to me.  I rarely wear it now, but did so that day because of the teacup.  Later that day, I got the call from my mom that Grandaddy was in the hospital, which would lead to the surgery to place the feeding tube that would lead to his failing health up until his passing today (I actually got a call while at the tea party and let it go to voicemail, then called my mom back afterward).  Later that day I was also picking up reprints of old photos to use at the reception following Tim's ordination to the transitional deaconate.  An unrelated photo in one of the sets of negatives pointed out my charm bracelet, drawing attention to it in the photo - the charm bracelet I was wearing that very day.  It was only then that I looked at the bracelet on my wrist and realized that my grandaddy, my mom's mom, had likely given her some of these charms.  One of them is specifically a charm of the Prudential building in Jacksonville where he used to work.  I didn't even make the connection until seeing the charm bracelet so obviously in the old photo, which caused me to pause and think about it.  I felt prompted to wear the bracelet this weekend and show it to Grandaddy when we saw him, specifically the charm shaped like his old building.  Whether he remembered it or not I couldn't tell, as he was getting tired at that point, but I am glad I had that chance of connection, to show him something meaningful from his past that connects me to him through my mother, and to show that I have something that will keep his memory alive into the future.  Perhaps these kinds of things are God's way of using our past in allowing Him to speak to us through it.

Current photos of the charm bracelet - you can see the Prudential building charm hanging down at the bottom.
I am praying... for my grandfather's soul, for his wife (my step-grandmother - he outlived his first two wives!), for my mother and her brother, and for everyone going to the funeral to have safe travels.

I am thankful... for the chance to be able to see Grandaddy one last time.  He is the only grandparent I have visited knowing that he was dying, knowing that we were there in the final days of his earthly life.  We all got to see him and talk to him while he was still responsive and alert.  I am also thankful for his long life that was filled with good health until the end.  My mom says that he commented to her a couple years ago when he was 97 that he didn't have any pain anywhere.  He only took drugs for reflux and nothing else - no chronic problems that are typical of older people.  I always remember him stressing healthy eating when we were kids... he'd bring a jar of sunflower seeds and packages of dried seaweed with him when he visited us, and he would tell us we should chew each bite 100 times.  He owned a juicer back in the day, he was sending my mother articles about concerns in rising numbers of childhood vaccines written by Dr. Mendelssohn, he brought us powdered barley greens to mix with water when I was having stomach issues in high school because it was a natural remedy... all before the "crunchy" era of today.

I am hearing... my dad's King Crimson CD.  Figured I might as well listen while I have it.  We didn't listen to it in the car because he and Tim said it wasn't one of their best ones.  I agree; for some reason The Court of the Crimson King is done to some blues tune and is only 48 seconds long... huh?????  Apparently it is a live album.  Maybe I should listen to the second disc and see if I can endure 45 minutes of 21st Century Schizoid Man...

The Florida Welcome Center - rebuilt in the mid-90s but still a landmark.  And they still give out free orange juice samples.  It is all modern inside, and I couldn't get Tim to stand on the image of the state of Florida on the floor for a photo.  The vending machines are also still tempting, as I passed them and was sad to find I did not have enough change for a Chipwich.  Tim had bought something from the machines when he passed, and then as we were pulling out, my dad decided to pull back into a space and go buy something himself from the machines.  All that willpower of saying no to kids begging for money for junk food on long trips wears off when they have all become adults with their own money, apparently.

Learning at home...I'm trying to get a lot of reading time in with Cecilia.  I have checked out a bunch of good picture books from the library for her.  Caroline has a bunch of good chapter books to work through.  I found a great list at the back of a book I am reading, and it is easy to pull suggested titles from there by age.  I also checked out audio books today of some favorites of Caroline's that Cecilia has not yet heard: Trumpet of the Swan, The Secret Garden, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

From the kitchen... not much, as we prepare to go out of town.  I am thinking I will make some egg "cupcakes" tomorrow to take in the van when we leave Thursday morning, and maybe a batch of lemon-almond biscotti as a snack on the drive.  We had chicken gyros last night, yum!!!
I am reading... A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for your Child's Mind.  I just finished it today, actually.  Very thought-provoking.  Very good information on a serious topic.  It is the book that has the excellent list of suggested children's literature at the backNext I will either go back to Charlotte Mason's homeschool series, or perhaps some lighter reading on the drive: Pope Awesome and Other Stories.  I also just finished an excellent magazine that I never knew existed until finding it a couple weeks ago at the checkout at Wal-Mart!

To live the liturgical year... still slacking on this one.  We went to the Tennessee Aquarium with lunch at Mellow Mushroom to celebrate Pentecost... that makes sense, right?  Right?!?!?  This month is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so maybe we can figure out something special to do for that.

Not part of the liturgical year, specifically, but we will be practicing the corporal and spiritual works of praying for the living and the dead, comforting the sorrowful, and burying the dead in a couple days.  These are important works that leave a powerful impression when lived out during childhood.  Again, all my brothers will be gathering in Florida for my grandfather's funeral.  Being raised Catholic gives you an unexplainable drive to live these things out.  You feel obligated to attend funerals, to visit and pray at the final resting places of those who have gone before you, to light pray candles in memory of deceased family and friends... and it is not a bad thing, this obligation.  It is like a reflex, a second nature thing, that just comes intuitively as the right thing to do.

One of my favorite things... how Lucy says "one."  It is pronounced as "yun."  Very cute when she is counting.  Somehow the kid has one-to-one correspondence down pat yet fails to recognize the urge to eliminate until it is all over the floor.  We are trying the bare-bottomed approach to see if it gives her some awareness, but so far no luck. 
I am creating... a list of stuff to do this summer.  And I will soon be creating next school year's lists and schedules.  I have already started ordering books for next year, and we got several in the mail today!  I love good books!

Around the house... laundry so we can pack a suitcase.  General cleaning and tidying up.

The old-style Y-shaped picnic shelters at Georgia rest areas along the interstates. 
Gonna have to stop and show this to my kids on the drive this time... see if they can guess what it is, ha.

Pondering these words... "True religion is the search of the soul for God in order to surrender itself to him, the search for his will in order to fulfill it, the search for truth in order to conform to it.  False religion is the inverse.  It makes a god out of oneself; it makes one's own will supreme; it attempts to reshape reality to fit one's own desires.  True religion is about surrender, while false religion is about control." -Michael O'Brien

A few plans for the rest of the week...

* Pack
*Attend out of town funeral
*We were going to see old out of town friends for a local baseball game, but we will be gone then, so we are going to try to catch them when they get into town tomorrow evening and visit for a bit and have dinner together!
*See if I can pick up eggs before we leave

A picture thought I am sharing...

The "airplane on a stick" was one of the old landmarks... this one is an imposter, but at least they replaced the old one with another instead of taking it down altogether and not putting another in its place.  This is near Warner Robins at old exit 45 (I refuse to learn the renumbering system of the exits!).

1 comment:

Carrie said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I was present when my grandmother passed last year, it was such a surreal thing so see a person move from this existence to the next. Bless you all as you travel and mourn together.
We struggled with potty training for a year off and on. I was convinced she would never ever do it. But turning three was like a light switch and she's just suddenly been DONE and perfect at it.