Going Home

I sit here feeling a host of mixed emotions.  I’m tired, sad, heavy hearted, thankful, in awe of life, etc…grieving.  The past week we’ve all sat on edge wondering when her time would come. We each took turns sitting with her, sharing meals as a family, and comforting her and each other. Some family took long turns-gave up sleep to care for her around the clock.  Me? I was in between full time work, doctors appointments that we’ve waited for months to get, and still keeping my little family going at the same time. I was blessed to go when I could-I knew my grandmother wanted me to take care of her great grandbabies first.

I had talked to my dad earlier in the morning.  We knew we were down to hours.  I knew I still had to take care of things here so said I would come over in a bit.  We hastily worked to get what had to be done finished.  Larry & I were also juggling our emotions along with making sure we were helping the kids process what was happening.  The phone rang and it was a quick family meeting-we were not going to force the kids to go but gave each a choice-that also meant Larry would have to stay behind. Emily & I sprang to the car.  We were going down the I95 ramp but it was too late-traffic was stopped.  I wasn’t so upset that I would not make it for the final breath in as much as I just didn’t want to be trapped in traffic.  I called Larry, asked him to pray, and hung up the phone.  No sooner, cars started moving and when we got to the exit ramp-the road was clear for miles.

I had also been trying to get a hold of my mother.  Even though she and dad had divorced decades ago-my mother stayed close with the family.  She had been best friends with my Aunt Rita since high school.  The closeness is still a testimony to how my Grandmother impacted so many lives.  Granny was a second mother to my mom from the time she was a teenager on throughout her life.  The problem-I can’t reach Mom.

Em & I made it. We walked through the door & the first one to meet me-Mom:) Whew-“God is good”I think to myself quickly yet  rush past her to Granny’s room.  Her bed is encircled by family.  They part to allow me to get to my dad who is standing by Granny’s head. “She just past but she can still hear you”. I’m alright with her going. I had the sweetest chance to kiss her cheek and whisper “I love you” one more time.

The room has the greatest sense of peace. I take a moment to glance around.  The wall has wonderful family pictures spanning generations. I look around at everyone in the room.  “When you have to go, this is the way to do it-surrounded by those who love you dearly.” Next thing I know we each have a turn to say what we’re thankful for in that moment.  The tears are little as there is more of a sense of awe.  To think this was just a southern grown girl, who has had a huge impact on many many lives.  She was our anchor-the one person who stayed consistent in our life.  Growing up and still to this day-she’s has had all kinds of people stop by just to check on her-former bus riders (she drove a schoolbus when I was little), former teenagers (some in their 60’s now)that used to hang out at her house, etc. Fourth of July was always a reunion and she was known to many as “Mom” or “Granny” (Ethel for one person:) ).

Her real name: Inez Marguerite. Alright-that is how I spell Marguerite-at least on Emily’s birth certificate.  Both my cousin and I named our daughters in tribute to my grandmother 🙂 I think we both saw a strong woman and a legacy we wanted to continue. That is a sweet treasure-even though Granny is gone from this life-she continues to live in our children, our memories and our heart.  That is the sweetest treasure of all!! Thank you Granny. I LOVE YOU!!!

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One faithful night

I am shifting on the fly again.  Just got home from the final appointment in Columbia to go over results.  I’ll come back to that another time.  It does tie into why I’ve had to learn to drive across three counties and back by lunch time.  But that is not what I want to “write” about.  If I have made any sense at all, hopefully it will convey, my blogging is about how I am blessed to experience some simple things in life in the midst of not so simple times.  Today is one of those days.

One fateful night back in September, a friend of mine & I were driving down to see some other friends and hang out.  I didn’t realize until my drive back from Columbia this afternoon, that this one night would set into motion a life transformation.  Maybe I am blowing it out of proportion-or maybe not.

Back in September this car ride to and from was filled with lots of time to talk and catch up.  During the conversation, my friend was telling me of a book they had read during summer break.  It fit into the conversation we were having about work and my kids.  So I listened to what this book was about and the interesting things my friend had learned from their reading. The book interested me too and would help with “professional development”. So I borrowed the book.

I read to book a little bit at a time.  It was very informative, yet it broke my heart at times, because this book had input from parent’s personal experiences with their child and also the child’s view on the issue.  I have a very soft heart when it comes to these things.  In fact, it took me awhile to get through the book because I had a hard time trying to keep a clinical viewpoint on what I was reading. Usually, I love to devour books when I get the chance.  But this one was a little different for some reason.

Months past and I found myself pulling out the book again after one of the kids had been hospitalized.  I found some parts fit what I was trying to learn-devoured the whole medicinal chapter.  Then the treatment chapter.  Then I ordered the newest edition of the book. Finished reading it.  Excitedly, I lent the new book back to my friend and in turn, they didn’t have time to read it and gave it back.  The book went back on the bookshelf.

So….how does this all fit in?  The test results from today matched the title of the book.  Who would have known one fateful night, a car ride, conversation, and a book would transform a life?? How’s that for a simple treasure!?!

Preparing to say Goodbye

“It is well with my soul”.  My heart, on the other hand, aches. Last week was one difficulty after another.  The final blow came when I was called about my grandmother.  My Granny. At 89 years old, her body is giving out.  Hospice has been called in. We’ve known for awhile that our time with her was growing short-just not this short.

The hospice is like no other.  It is being led by my very own father-my hero! I went to Granny’s Friday night and watched in awe at the strength of my dad who is a hospice nurse himself. He made sure all of the medications were ordered and delivered to help ease Granny’s pain and help her to leave us with dignity.  We met together to love on Granny, care for her, and care for each other.  I watched my father graciously explain each of the medications with detail like no other health professional I had met.  He taught how to give the medications, when to give it, and signs of things we needed to be aware of.  I’ve watched his strength and compassion-but if you know my Dad-that is what embodies him.

Our family was pouring in from North Carolina to New Hampshire. A bittersweet time to celebrate life, say thank you for being such an incredible mother, grandmother, and how much each of us love her. It was a sweet time to be with my cousin, Kelly, who is like my sister. I found myself having to be called out to go back to Granny’s at 1 Sunday morning. I delivered a baby monitor so my aunt and one of my cousins & his fiance could try to rest in between giving medications.  Kelly mentioned she was hungry.  None of us had really felt hungry at dinner.  My aunt’s face lit up and she said “lets go to breakfast”.  We joked about when the last time we’d been to breakfast at 2 in the morning.  Together, the three of us realized this was a special time-sieze the moment. It was a sweet time to make a memory-to be with one another and refresh one another.

Sunday was most difficult-Larry & I had been concentrating on shepherding our kids through the process of saying Goodbye on this side of life. Larry has been wonderful- knowing my number one priority is my children and making sure my babies are handling their grief. I have been proud of them, as each one made the decision to go see their great-grandmother when they felt they were ready. My daughter showed much grace as she said she would rather hold on to the memory of sweet visit 3 weeks ago.  It really was a blessed time. Granny was a bit more clear headed and so happy we had come.  We took her flowers, pies (her favorite chocolate cream), and watched part of  the 17 innings of the Orioles game.  Emily said that was one of the best sweetest visits we had had in a few months. I totally agree.  Matthew got up the courage to go Saturday, he stood in front of her telling her he loves her.  Granny’s eyes opened wide and she said “I love you too” with much clarity and strength in her voice.  What a sweet comfort and grace.  Thomas stayed near her as much as he could. I was blessed to see him talk to her.  Patrick also surprised me as he stayed around the family as long as he did.  An extra special gift to him was his cousin Noah.  The boys were born exactly two weeks apart.  Noah&Patrick were good medicine for each other. Other blessing were my nephews, Tony&Justin (Tony just happened to be in town for a wedding:) who stopped by.  Sweet reminders of times invested in two boys who have grown into fine husbands&fathers.  Larry& I showed these boys the same love we had learned from Granny.

Today we went by and now my Great Aunt Eleanor has joined the care team-she is also a hospice nurse.  What a blessing to be surrounded by so many who love and care for my grandmother.  The hugs from relatives and the promise I would stop in tomorrow to visit are sweet.  These are hard times yet we have been reminded to think about the legacy this woman is leaving. What kind of legacy will we leave?  I have more than just a simple treasure in this woman!!

 

A New Perspective

As I said in an earlier post, I need a new perspective. A refreshing of my soul.  As I’ve blogged about looking back-here I am a little more than a decade later, with a child who has the stomach virus.  Oh that’s right I didn’t blog about the stomach virus of 2000. That will be for another time. Alas, with all of my previous experience, I can tear through a house disinfecting it in no time. I’ve learned all the tricks to keep them hydrated. I know all the danger signs too.  This time around it is almost a blessing to be forced down again. I’m weary. Just a little too much shifting on the fly.

I spent spring break running to too many appointments. This past month has kicked my butt. Even the neighbor’s kids commented on our busyness. We’re adjusting to Larry being back to work, a little further away, and the changes in schedules once again… Lacrosse is fun and a wonderful outlet. The backyard is still full of kids every time I turn around.  Last night, one of the neighbor kids had been given baseball bases. Next thing I knew a kickball tournament was underway.  They played until 8:30 🙂

As the weather season changes, it brings us a bigger season of life changes.  We have major life decisions to make. Our oldest will be a senior next year. We’re continuing to work on the transition plan and living arrangements.  Our daughter will be starting high school. Our middle son will be in 7th grade, and our youngest will be leaving elementary school. Where has all the time gone??

My red bird friends haven’t been around lately. I’ve been swamped with endless needs and countless meetings. I’ve advocated till I’m undone. And there are still so many miles ahead of us. I put myself in timeout this past weekend.  I had a severe case of the grumps and holding back the tears was getting harder and harder…What was the matter with me?  I have a keen way of critically evaluating myself.  My husband told me the other day to stop having a pity party.  There have been 3 distinct times he has said that. He’s only said it 3 times in all these years but each time he is dead on.

It caused me to go back & look at the root of what is bothering me. I lost my aunt unexpectedly five years ago.  She was one of my biggest cheerleaders. Her birthday would have been just a few weeks before mine. I miss her. With all that we’ve been through-I know she would’ve done everything she could to cheer me on.  We’re also thinking of my grandmother a lot more-especially as her health is quickly declining.   These past four years have dealt us some heartbreaking blows and along with it severed relationships.  Larry had put together that video album for my birthday-I love it.  It reminds me of the good times and the people that I love. The root of my sadness is I’m mourning what I had and having to make changes.

My timeout and the stomach virus has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve been yearning for a refreshing. In these past 6 days, a calmness has settled over us. Larry & I have actually had time to talk. I was relieved to hear he is thinking through the same issues I am.  Oh hello again best friend! I’ve been comforted to know I am not alone.  It still saddens us deeply to have lost some of our relationships with others. We’ve come to the conclusion we still have each other and we’re still a family-just a little different. We have major decisions to make but looking back does help you see that you’ve made it through tough times before and you can do it again.  It makes you appreciate those around you a lot more. It also gives you the opportunity to examine the lessons you’ve learned along the way and apply those lessons to what lies ahead.

Life can be difficult but in the difficulty you learn the beauty of living. My red bird friend showed up today 🙂 My husband has called to check in on us. I’ve spent hours blogging. The laundry is getting done, the house looks great, and I feel better. I told Larry I think I have adult onset ADHD-I keep jumping from one thing to another- he said  my humor is coming back 🙂 I’m thankful for the simple treasure of taking time.  The opportunity (grace) to reset my focus and priorities. I’m grateful for wisdom that comes through living 🙂 I’m grateful for the simple treasure of a time out and a stomach virus. I’m beginning to feel refreshed 🙂

Looking Back Part 2

I have forgotten how much life I lived since getting married some 18+ years ago. Adventurous to say the least.  Friends have said I should write a book.  Sorry, you’re stuck with this blog for now. Blogging is my way of holding on to my sanity-what’s left of it anyway 😉

Let’s see-some more stories. I remember when it was just one baby. My bouncing baby boy named after a  family member. I remember his first pair of shoes-Grandma started buying them at Stride Rite to carry on the tradition of how my grandmother took me shoe shopping at Stride Rite 🙂  His were white little walking shoes.  Of course we added the shoe string bell too 🙂 We lived in a gorgeous apartment complex with a wooden bridge in the common area that our porch overlooked.  We loved to take Thomas for walks. He was just about one.  He would get to the wooden bridge, go half-way across, and stop to stomp dance.  He loved the sound of the bells on his feet and how the wood sounded when you stomped on it.  Larry & I would laugh until we cried at this precious sight. Loved learning simple joys&treasures from my baby:)

Another family favorite is known as” The End of the Easy Bake Oven”.   Another Bunckin had a knack to stealthiness too.  This one, in particular, was gifted with ninja like abilities to drop off the radar.  This child was very quiet & moved at the speed of light. I think this one took notes from his sister.  And this one’s preferred mode was being a minimalist-no clothes or diaper at all-forget pockets.

One day I was nursing the youngest. The other three were playing together. Before I knew it, there were only two kids playing. I lost one. I thought I had heard a small sound in the large country kitchen. I figured the missing one was playing with the little tykes kitchen set. I listen and sure enough the sound matched kitchen set.  Until I heard something spill and roll across the floor. I quickly went to investigate.

We had a huge pantry that was gated off.  I forgot to mention this missing child also had monkey climbing abilities too.  I sprinted to the kitchen to find little colored sprinkles across the floor. As I traced the source, I found the missing child had climbed up the gate in their usual minimalist attire.  Before I could grab the minimalist off of the gate, I felt a warm splash on my feet.  A perfectly aimed stream went right into the easy bake oven and all over the sprinkles.  Talk about sprinkle when you tinkle 😉 That was the end of the Easy Bake Oven.

Like I’ve said before….all in day with the Bunches 🙂

Looking Back Part 1

I’ve spent some time looking back-thankful to my husband who made a video collage of my life for my 40th birthday. In these turbulent times of raising pre-teens and teens, I am constantly evaluating my abilities of being a wife and mother.  Lately, I have found myself lacking. I have been sanctified by having my sponge squeezed so hard that I thought I was having a heart attack last week. In my personal evaluation of myself I felt as if I had fallen flat on my face in the areas of raising a family.

What I need is a fresh perspective. Like I mentioned my husband made a video collage for me-in it were the pictures of my precious babies. I look back& remember the times of having a pre-schooler and a cute little girl that gave me a run for my money. I remember my stint as a single mother while Larry was stationed at Ft.Gordon for a few months.  I was so enamored with my two little ones-then almost 4 and 9mos. that I wasn’t the least bit disappointed to find myself pregnant again shortly after Larry’s return home.  My oldest was the sweetest most compliant little guy-led me to believe future babies would be the same. My daughter came&quickly set the record straight but before I could figure out what was going on, I had two more little boys all within a very short time (while on birth control none the less- what is meant to be will be).

Some of my favorite stories were Emily living out Harold and the Purple Crayon on her bedroom walls during naptime-she was a stealthy one who would hide little things in her pockets.  Then there was the Desitin incident-having learned to give her a pat down before nap time, she learned how to climb out the crib. Since her pockets were empty Desitin became her new tool the color her bedroom walls with.

Now who paid attention to this-the younger brothers.  But what they managed to smear on their walls was much much worse. I had learned my lesson from their sister. .  I had every drawer safety latched and every thing they could possibly smear hidden.  BUT they made their own stuff to smear-I’ll leave it up to you to imagine. That is when I learned to disinfect and clean (with all organic cleaners mind you- an entire bedroom) all while making grilled cheese and reading to the older two.  My first born never dreamed of doing any of these things his younger siblings were doing.  The worst he ever did was have a reaction to a decongestant that made him delirious and wired.  I woke up to bananas squished all of the house one morning because he couldn’t peel a banana…ahh the memories 🙂

A Quick glimpse at Coffee Origins :)

I remember when I first started drinking coffee.  It was after I was the mother of two.  I had been on my own, with two kids, while Larry was stationed at Fort Gordon for a few months. I found it hard to keep up with a pre-school schedule, working full time (I was blessed to work for my parents and take my kids to work with me), and running a household on my own.  Somehow I developed the taste of coffee and that was it.

I can also remember the days of having four kids (umm yeah after #3 child I no longer worked outside of the home) and crawling to the coffee maker just to keep up with them.  I remember having a kindergartner, a 3 year old, a 16 month old, and a newborn.  Somehow I can’t remember how on earth I ever did it.  We lived in a townhouse with 13 steps up to just the front door.  I used to carry the babycarrier and tons of plastic grocery bags up those steps- all in one trip (with my kids you’d never leave them alone for long enough to make a few trips to get all of your groceries in). Never mind how I went through the commissary with four little kids-it was like having an octopus in the grocery cart. Trust me-everyone knew the Bunches were at the store 🙂  I always thought it would get easier as they got older.

Now a days I guzzle a pot of coffee and practically lick the grinds:) as I try to keep up with pre-teens and teens.  I cringe when I see the school number on the caller ID wondering what has happened this time. My hair is falling out along with my eyebrows (never knew that could happen-thank God for a brow pencil). I had to re-organize my day planner twice this year (and it’s just now May).  I’ve learned how to get the kids off to school, get ready for work, drive across three counties for an hour long appointment&back to work before lunchtime. I’ve been given mutliple times to perfect this skill. I’ve learned GPS is like my BFF as I have a tight schedule to keep, a to do list a mile long, and some kind of urgent matter that will require me to drive somewhere inconvenient, not close to home, and during rush hour. I have learned to shift on the fly. My simple treasures are coffee, a day planner, and GPS 🙂