Saturday, December 5, 2009

and 2 months later...

Since my last post, and almost 9.5 months since mom's death, I've officially expeirenced the worst day yet. It didn't happy on Easter, not on my birthday, not on mom's birthday, not on mom and dad's anniversary, not even on Thanksgiving. It happened on a random innocent Friday. December 4 - my horrible, no good, very bad day.
They tell you in the grieving process that you go through a season of anger, having a certain level of bitterness at life, the situation, the death etc. I honestly thought too highly of myself, thinking that I had already experienced this bitterness, but quickly realized that God was good, and the bitterness left - UNTIL yesterday. I haven't been so mad as much as I was this day. So mad at God for having a brain tumor in the will of my mother and for hurting our family, so mad at mom for actually falling and dying to that tumor to leave us all alone to live and suffer without her. Because of her leaving so many things have changed, and I think that it's becoming harder and harder to deal with those changes. I was so mad I felt like going to her grave and kicking that ridiculously expensive piece of granite and knocking it into billions of pieces. Thankfully I didn't, because I'd have a super angry father and probably be in jail for defacing property of the dead. But I sure was angry. When we're angry, it just filters to everyone else and causes frustrations among everybody - raised voices, words misspoken, and hearts hurt. So that's how my morning started at 11 a.m. The tears began. Let me tell you how they kept going....
Most adults remember their childhood years around this time of year and recount the joy they had as they went and got their Christmas tree, or they decorated, or did this or that tradition. Well, decorating wasn't my most favorite thing, for several reasons: 1 - mom had a decoration for every piece of furniture in the house (even including the barstools) and we had to get it ALL out; 2 - the decorations never dwindled or stayed the same, they always got added to, because of sales or mom's change in taste; 3 - I didn't hang the ornaments on the tree good enough for everybody (maybe because I was shorter and didn't believe in putting them on the back of the tree for no one to see); 4 - the absolute chore it was to "clean up" after Christmas - we all dreaded it! Perhaps there was one good thing about decorating that silly tree - the tinsel! My sister and I used to fight over it, and it would make mom and dad so angry and would stay around the house for weeks after we cleaned up (kind of like Easter basket confetti - always everywhere). I'm certain they used tinsel to bribe me into their schemes of decorating. For that reason, all of Jeremy and I's Christmas decorations are kept nice and neat in one large storage container and a cardboard box that holds my hand-me-down snowman cookie jar. Our tree is 3.5 feet tall (the same one we used the first year we got married and have used ever since - we can't stand real trees with our allergies) and our topper - well, it isn't much of a topper. A good portion of our decorations are gifts from years past, mostly from church members (who, I say, have great taste). It takes typically about 2.5 hours to transform our house into "Christmas" and just over an hour to clean it up. I LOVE this - especially because Jeremy likes to put forth as little effort as possible in the whole decorating thing. This year was definitely difficult. I hemmed and hawed over ornaments that mom had given me, some that were her mothers, and I cried over my collection of Santa Clause figures (something mom had collected all throughout the years) knowing that one day my children would do the same, and it just didn't seem like the "spirit" was in me to decorate this year.
Well, on my horrible, no good, very bad day I was set to make it over to dad's. I had been telling him all week that I would help him with the decorations because I knew if it was hard for me, it would be tremendously even harder for him at his house. Thankfully, he had already set up the tree and put the lights on so all I had left to do was put the ornaments on and lay some other random decorations out. He had gone out for the evening, so I would be alone - something I thought would be a good thing. BAD IDEA. One look at the tree and I balled. I lost it, completely sobbing in the floor thinking of what a huge mistake I had made and how I couldn't leave without doing something. So, I finally got up enough umph to open up the first (of what would be at least 4 boxes) of ornaments. One look and I started laughing hysterically. I don't know if it was the amount of santa/snowmen ornaments, the silk red and white poinsettias, or the construction paper cut-out bell with a picture of me in my Coca-cola shirt when I was in Kindergarten (a season of the "rough years" when I had bangs and was missing my two front teeth). all of these ornaments (only 10 of which were just plain "balls") I had to handle and place strategically on the tree so that I wouldn't get yelled at for my skills. I did put some on the back (the most ugly ones :)), put mom's mothers' balls up front and together, and finished it off with plastic icicle like things and those silly poinsettias (which I give dad TOTAL permission not to use this year). WHEW - that was over. I had kind of gotten lost in it all, remembering the times as a little girl of dancing around the living room, waiting for dad to do the lights and sis to hang the ornaments (I don't have too many memories of mom actually decorating the tree), and carrying the tinsel ready to do my job. Some of those ornaments have been around for years, some I remember mom bought just last year. So then, it was on to the home decorations....
Holly garland - that always went across the entertainment cabinet, setting Teddy Ruxpin on the other side of the tree, then by the fire place, only to return him back to his original spot by the front door, searching through the 4 designs of table placemats to decide the "tablescape", and then the stockings. whoa - the hardest year! I hung each one up (probably not in the right place, so dad you can fix that - but you're probably glad I just hung them up!), thanking dad for writing the names of who's stocking belonged to who. See, a few years back, mom started buying the stockings for all of us with different "pictures" cross-stitched on them. The pictures were somewhat significant of who we were and that meant we didn't need our names on them - unless we couldn't remember which stocking was whos! Mom had one with the Santa and "ho ho ho!" on it because of her love for Santas, Sis's has doves on it (because she brings peace????) and mine had a beautiful violin, how fitting. Well, Grace and Jeremy and Jeff - they all have theirs too. So, I had 7 to hang up last night. But one was mom's and there wasn't one for little Sarah. The mantel felt so incomplete and I even took mom's down, then put it back up several times. I just couldn't leave it down. Mom's stocking had to still be hung with care. (I wonder if Santa will still fill it and then we can get all of the loot? Kidding, only kidding.)
With a little runthrough with the vacuum, my work was done, 2 hours later. I turned off all of the lights (with the tree still lit) and I ended my time there the way it had started. I sat down in front of the tree ("that didn't even have ANY presesnts under it" as mom would always say) and started to cry again. I miss my mother, and it's not getting any easier. I miss having her to talk to and I miss calling her when I'm sick. I miss "my favorite chicken" the way she used to make it and I miss the spastic-ness she had when Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around. Plainly, I miss her. Thanksgiving wasn't Thanksgiving this year, and I'm certain that Christmas will be just as different. We'll still have our usual traditions (Christmas Eve family fun at dad's, Christmas morning at dad's, breakfast with the family at the grandparents, etc etc), but those days already seem empty. But boy am I thankful that Christmas wasn't celebrated because I had a's because I have a father who's love for me is such a constant, that loves me when I'm angry, when I'm bitter, when I'm sad, when I'm frail - all of which I was yesterday.
I drove home at 7:15 p.m. last night after decorating to attend a neighborhood party, so I knew I had to dry up. I had officially cried (off and on, of course) for over 8 hours. Absolutely unstoppable. I can't remember crying like that - even in the midst of mom's death. Who knew 9.5 months later would host the most horribly, no good, very bad day yet?!
I was in Walgreens the other day waiting on some medicine and went to the card section - I found this one as I was browsing (don't ask me why I was looking at cards for my mother?!) Sometimes they're cheesy, but I liked this one. Merry Christmas, mom!
She believes in me, laughs with me, and helps me cope.
She advises me, inspires me to dream, and to hope.
She has touched my life in ways I can't begin to say
She is still a gift I treasure every single day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I guess I'm due another...

It's been quite a while since I last posted, mainly because life just hasn't stopped going. We've been so crazy busy I never get time to sit at the computer outside of my work (which has been somewhat consuming as of late).
But tonight, I'm up late and can't sleep ...

February 19 was re-lived tonight in such vividness.....

Last Thursday, we found out that Jeremy's grandfather (PawPaw) was being sent to a hospice home with advanced stage of pancreatic cancer that had metastasized all over his body. The doctors there gave him on a few short hours - so naturally, we all began to worry and rushed to be by him. After last Friday, I don't believe that he was able to respond to much of anything. Pretty much sedated by morphine every 9-12 hours. This past week brought back so many memories of mom's last few weeks with us, especially the last 36 hours - it was the EXACT SAME THING!!! It made it very difficult to witness at times, and at others, oddly comforting to remember how it all unfolded.

I spent the wee hours of the morning with him yesterday to allow some of the other family members to take a break for losing sleep. I even took my violin and played for him twice last week just like I did for mom (boy was that hard!) I had studied his breathing pattern every night, learned how to check his pulse without anyone knowing what I was doing, and would wipe the tears the built up in his eyes from being closed for 7 straight days.
But tonight was different.
I couldn't take my eyes off him. I couldn't even pay attention to folks talking to me. It's like I sensed the nearness of his life ending, right before my eyes. Jeremy's parents had some folks visiting so they began to make their way into the hallway, and I felt pushed to be by his bedside - and there it was....I watched those last breaths. Just as peaceful as mom's were. I couldn't believe what I was watching! To have gone 26 years and never witnessed death in its moment, and then, within 7 months - twice have I felt that sense of emptiness.
I couldn't help but be reminded of the season of life that immediately followed mom's death. Confusion, anger, happiness, sadness, all of those things -
So pray for Jeremy, his dad and the other siblings, and for the other friends of PawPaw - for we will truly miss him. May he meet up with mom in the days to come...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The BEST book ever...

Mom -
Do you remember that book that I'd read stories out of late at night during those last few nights...

In January, I found possibly the best book ever to share with all of my children and families at the church - The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and phenomenal illustrations by Jago. This amazing book shares all of the same cute Sunday School Bible stories that we've always heard growing up. But instead of stopping at the rainbow with Noah, the Red Sea with Moses, or Zacchaeus without friends....the story continues and literally breathes the name of Jesus, our wonderful Savior, in every single story!

Since discovering The Jesus Storybook Bible, I have added it to our "MUST HAVE" resources list at the church and for all of the families and I encourage them to read these great stories instead of the "fairy tale princess-dragon" stories. I've also bought several copies for the children in my family, so that they can experience the great name of Jesus. In all of my Sunday School classes and Children's Church times, I am always carrying the Jesus Storybook Bible with me. It's becoming such a "sword" for me and the children around me - we love it!

Please check it out at and order one today!! Even though they say it's for children ages 4-7, I believe any infant can be captured by the colors in the illustrations and every adult can rejoice with the culmination of every story - a quiet whisper of the name of Jesus. I strongly recommend you add this to your library as soon as possible!

Monday, August 24, 2009


It was quite a weekend of celebrations, fellowship, and even some tears as Jeremy, Dad, and I drove to Georgia to see my sister, Jeff, Grace, and SE. The occasion - Sarah Elizabeth's baptism on Sunday (what would have been mom's 56th birthday celebration).

Our time together was so wonderful. All 9 of us (sis, Jeff, Grace, SE, Dad, Jeff's parents, J & I) stayed at the Hopewell Manse Inn - providing as much "donutness" as we could ever want on Sunday mornings (haha). Saturday, the fellas snuck in a round of golf, while the girls did the shopping thing. Then, sis and Jeff went out to dinner to celebrate their 9 year wedding anniversary. I gave my first bath to SE that night and we had a blast splashin in the water!

Then Sunday came. It was a hard day, but Praise the Lord, there was celebration to be had. Sunday came after this past Wednesday (which marked 6 months since mom's passing) which was probably an even more difficult day. i was just so thankful that we had something to celebrate on mom's birthday day this time. We all were able to worship together at Hopewell ARP (Jeff's the pastor) and witness the beautiful baptism of SE. We then had lunch at our favorite local joint, Mongolian Grille (or Mongos as we refer to it) and celebrated with a yummy Publix cake (hence the picture) - - when they went to get the cake, they were quite puzzled - what exactly do you write on a cake that's in honor of a 3 mth old baby baptism? So, "Go Jesus" was the only answer they thought - the covenant family was gaining another member. Funny, though, the cake decorator didn't know how to spell Jesus, which led into an interesting attempt to share the gospel...none the less, the baker now knows a "Jesus" and we can only pray that this funny incident will bring her to know the true JESUS!

Here are some pictures from our time together.

Don't we look like a cute family?! Jeremy and I are surely blessed to have 2 wonderful nieces!

Here's Papa and his two sweet girls!

Perhaps the most adorable 3 month old baby girl I know right now!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Mom, it's really happening - or at least it has to now.
Today, registration for the 2nd annual Jackson Classic golf tournament is officially open. I've got to figure out how to get the form to where you can get a hold of it - any help??
Here's a pic from last year's tournament with mom and all of the volunteers. Too bad you're going to miss this again mom - what fun we had that day!!

I think if you try page 1 and page 2 are at least a way you can get to see the brochures... i think:)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Congratulations, Kyle and Michelle!

Jeremy and I, along with two sets of neighbors (the Whites and the Adams) got to have fun and throw a party last weekend for another set of neighbors, the DiEduardos. We found out shortly after the new year began that they were expecting and then later, that it would be a baby girl. Since then, they've been trying to figure out a name, but they've already got a nursery together, enough clothes to outfit her for the rest of her life, and 3 sets of "babysitters" that will be willing to help ANY TIME!!
We got really excited because we had a great reason to have a party! We hosted about 30 folks for a cookout in our backyard, and had a great time!
I got a little crafty - I matched up the paper design (toille, milky sage, and pink gingham to SLD's bedding and made a poem:
"We were so happy to celebrate, when we heard your fantastic news...
That you have a little one on the way, be expecting lots of pink instead of blues.
Stella, Sophia, Sarah Sabra, her name we do not know. She's sure to be a cutie, and we're ready to watch her grow. So here's to your family, our prayers, support, and love, we're excited to welcome SLD, a gift from God, a blessing from above." - I though that was pretty good:)
The invitation is sitting beside the poem - it only took hours of lining up the print, but thanks to the Adams, the day was saved!!

Then I got crafty again with the pink gingham. I picked up a yard of this fabric (on sale for only $2/yd) and lined one of my baskets for the buns. I then tied some ribbon with pink hand prints and foot prints to gather the corners - yay!
The Ghents with the expecting DiEduardos, the Whites, and the Adams.
We had a blast and are soooo excited! Keep praying for Kyle and Michelle in the last 7-8 weeks of their pregnancy. We're sure to take care of them all when little SLD arrives!
Check out if you want to follow their story.

Sarah Elizabeth - the newest member of the family..

Papa loves him some Sarah Elizabeth!
Kimberly, Aunt Manni's friend, soaking up some baby love...
My attempt at a "Penny" shot...

and another one...

"Jujie" holding a sweet sleeping baby - she just looks so natural, we think she should go for # 3 to see if it would be a girl:)

Happy 60th Dad!

July 12, 1949 was a day in history - the birth of my father. I probably know more of his childhood than i do of moms. I remember some of his stories - running through the thunderstorm holding his belt buckle, watching the same movie ALL DAY LONG for only a nickle, going off into the navy, having mom pull his shorts down at a basketball game before they started many funny things.

We were so excited to be able to celebrate with him this year, as he turned 60. Madeline, Jeff, Grace and Sarah all came into town....and so did my friend Kimberly! So, all 16 of us headed to the Cracker Barrel for dinner on the Friday before his birthday, then came back to our house for desserts and gifts.

One of Dad's favorite cakes is carrot cake - mom used to make it for him for special things. I knew that I wanted to have one for this celebration, so I thought I'd buy one. In talking with my sister one evening before she said this "No offense to mom, but if she could make one, you DEFINITELY can!" So with that encouragement, and a little help from Kimberly (and Mrs. Kelso), I was the most domestic I've been in a while - down to grating the carrots with the food processor, using the stick of butter to "grease" the pans, and making the cream cheese icing from scratch...this is how it came out:The best two-layer carrot cake I've ever tasted - and apparently one of the best for the family. There were only 2 slices left! Here is the best recipe - enjoy!

Preheat oven to 325* and grease and 'lightly' flour cake pan - I used 2 8" round pans.

Mix the following together in a large mixing bowl:

2 cups cake (or all purpose) flour

2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon (or more if you like)

1 tsp salt

Then add 1 cup veg. oil and mix well.

Add 4 eggs (one at a time) and mix after each.

Stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3 cups of finely shredded carrots (you MUST shred them from whole carrots - pre-shredded will make your cake flop - thankfully I knew this and didn't learn from experience:)).

Pour even amounts into pans and bake fro 35-45 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on wire rackes for 10 min, then remove from pans and cool thoroughly.

After cakes comeout of oven, make the frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 to 2 sticks of butter, softenend

1 box or 5-6 cups of powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)

1 tsp of vanilla

Mix well together, frost cakes and taste a bite of paradise:)


Oh geez...

I'm a few posts I must update:
1-Dad's 60th Birthday /the best carrot cake in the world
2-Coolest Couples Baby Shower ever!!
2-Nieces & Nephews visit - July 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Press On

Okay okay...I'm sorry - but I have tons of reasons why it's been as long as it has!
1-Vacation before the 2 biggest weeks in my life in the summer is not the best of ideas. You come back all relaxed, only to get more uptight. And then you get to run around like a chicken and look all kookoo and people laugh at you. At least, that's what has happened to me since our glorious 9 day trip to the beach.
2-I became an aunt again - so playing Aunt Manni is much sweeter with a newborn. She spent too much time in the NICU, but is now at home. And now, playing "aunt manni" to the oldest, Grace, is a full-time job this week. She's staying with me and "Uncle Jeremy" for the week to give her mom and dad some rest at home with the baby. We went from no babies, to having a 6.5 yr old - interesting. Apparently, my meat is "chewy," I make the bestest boston cream pie toaster strudels, and my stories are good. Nice....
3-2 busy weeks essentially away from the office don't lend much time to type out my thoughts - first it was the missions trip to Atlanta - Jeremy and I led the trip with 6 middle school girls, and 3 freshmen girls this year. This was our second time on the trip, and everything was great! We ministered to about 16 children (all under age 12) and a few moms. Oh yeah - there was very little English spoken! Have you ever tried sharing the story about Moses, the Pharaoh and the 10 Plagues in English to children who couldn't understand you? Or better yet, try to put all of that in another language?? It had its share of difficulties, but we had a great time!
4-VBS - I've been singing Crocodile Dock songs for the past 48 hours!We're having a blast and still have 2 days left. But VBS calls for early (and I mean 5:30-6 a.m. early) mornings, and the feeling of being "rushed" for 3 consecutive hours, and then in a moment's time, ultimate silence. It's always a busy week, but I love to see the kids have sooooo much fun!
5-Our computer fried. I thought my sister messed it up a few days before mom passed away - but she only "temporarily" did still worked. Until, after vacation....poof. No more. So, working at home is completely out of the question. Soon, I should post the conversation I had with the comporium lady on why or why not I should cancel my cable dsl since we didn't have a computer to use the internet on. That will provide some entertainment I'm sure of it!

I really could go on and on, but that just lets you know what the past month has been like...busy. But I haven't stopped either - until this morning for a brief second. On the way to the church, Grace, in the back seat, asked me "Did you try to do everything you could to save Nana?" Upon my response of "Yes, everything we could"...she continued. Apparently, to her, our "everything" wouldn't have been her "everything". Then, I had to explain why mom had always wanted it the way she did, having a DNR sign posted above her bed. I told her that mom had never wanted to live if she couldn't live for herself. She didn't want to be helped by any machine, or be cared for like a vegetable. Although, she experienced both of those, it was easy to see why that wasn't her choice. That just wouldn't have been mom. Grace actually accepted that answer, and didn't continue with her "whys" like she normally does, and then was quiet the rest of the drive to the church. The whole way, I was remembering some of those last days with mom, and how I longed to hear her make those grunting sounds when she breathed, just to know she was alive, and how she had her eyes slightly opened for the hours I serenaded her on my violin before her death, and the night it took me only 2 min to drive the normal 5 min trip to the house when she spoke some of her last words, and that same night how I stayed awake at her bedside, reading countless verses and passages of Scripture to find comfort. What a season of life!

A family friend of ours just experienced a similar loss. His wife of probably 40-50 some years passed away in a rather quick manner. She was healthy and fine, then thought she had some type of bronchitis of sorts, only to be rushed to the hospital to find out she had lung cancer, and several other cancers completely destroying her body. I think they gave her a few weeks and were going to comfort her with some radiation, but they knew there was nothing they could do to "save" her. Before some of her family got to see her, her life passed in an instant. When I heard this, I just weeped. I weeped for her, the husband, the family that was there, the family that couldn't make it, and for the upcoming days for them. When we went to the visitation, I looked over to the lady, lying sweetly in her bed, dressed in a pink gown and robe, having met Jesus. And these words came to mind:

"See me someday sleeping softly, flowers draped across my bed, hear the cries of friends and family, missing me. Press on. I always thought while I was sleeping that I could somehow fly away, run and leap into the open make my getaway. Press on. So I'll fly up in to heaven, meet my Jesus at the throne, he will welcome the weary, so press on. Believers, press on....and I know there's a reason, I am not afraid to die. So I'll fly up in to heaven, meet my Jesus at the throne. He will say that I am welcome, so press on." (Robinella, Press On - thanks Ellie!)

Mom sang that song, the lady sang the song, and I sing it to - will you?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Defend yourselves...

Mom always taught me to "take control" of my money, myself, and whatever it was I was doing. She said this every time we spoke on the phone when I was living in Spain. Even we she came to visit - her words="take control of your purse."

While we were at the beach, Jeremy asked if I would accompany him at the golf club one day while he played. Being on 65 degrees and no need for a bathing suit, I agreed to be his caddy for the day.

We had quite the trip and I got an opportunity to practice "taking control".....

This joker showed up 3 holes into the game...and so for the rest of the afternoon, I drove around with a club in my hand - ready to defend myself against man-eating size squirrels! They weren't afraid of us though.

Mom would have absolutely freaked out with these things - creepy!


She is so precious. Simply put.

Rewind about 6.5 years was Wednesday a.m. and I didn't have class until 9. I get a phone call cerca 7 a.m. - it's my sister telling me her water had broken and she was on her way to the hospital to have Grace. Typical college student, I got angry that she woke me up early, rolled over, then waited until the weekend to make the trek to GA to hold my first niece. Back then, I didn't know much about babies, and didn't necessarily care for them.....thankfully, I love Grace and she thinks Aunt Manni is the stuff!

So, the past 7 months have been a 360 from that! I've been anticipating the birth of Sarah Elizabeth, Grace's younger sister, really ever since we found out at Christmas. Then, following mom's death, it was all we could do to focus on something else. And of course, I've grown somewhat from that annoying college student, to a woman with an overflowing desire to become a "mommy" myself (although, not yet the case)....

I arrived in GA this evening and was able to visit with my sister - who is very thankful to have SE in the world and not in her tummy. According to Grace, she just "screamed one time, and then she plopped out!" There you have it. Take a look at this precious baby girl -

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm Aunt Manni - times two - now!!

That's right mom....Sarah Elizabeth Jacobs, your second granddaughter, was born this morning (Thursday) at 6:51 a.m. She weighed in at 6 lbs 9.5 oz and measured 19.25 inches! Mom and baby are doing well, and I'm looking forward to seeing her this evening. Then I'll tell you all about her!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

1095 days ago... life changed forever! Almost to the moment as I write this, I am reminded of what happened 3 years ago on this date - Jeremy's proposal to me to be HIS wife!

That year, he had come with me, mom, and dad to the beach for vacation. We stayed at my grandparents house, and had a blast over the long weekend. We had been talking about marriage for a couple of months, and had decided that we would go look at some rings while we were away on vacation. Little did I know, Jeremy had already had the ring specialy made from a guy in D.C., and had carried it all the way from Rock Hill, to North Myrtle Beach for the craziest weekend ever of vacation!!

Not to mention that the weekend of Memorial Day happens to be Atlantic Beach Bike Week (particularly for our brothas and sistas), it's also one of the busiest weekends for the beginning of beach season. There are thousands of folks on mopeds, harleys, and other modes of "bikes" that just ride all day - that's it, ride. We never figured it out. But anyway, this was always the best week for us to come down and use the beach house, so we just put up with all of the noise, traffic, nonsense, policemen...

This weekend has been such a reminder to me of that vacation with my parents. I remember how much sunscreen mom wanted to wear, then put on her cover-ups, then sit under the umbrella all day. I don't think I could count on one hand how many times I remember her getting sun burned. We have to use the golf cart to get to the beach - which means driving through the neighborhood, then crossing Hwy 17 - only THE major highway of the beach...that was such a sight to see: mom and dad on the cart, coming down the highway. Mom would yell "wooooohooooo" and think she was being funny.

This year, Jeremy's parents have joined us for the latter half of our vacation. It's been nice to be away from RH with them, relaxing and enjoying one another. I praise God for my inlaws, who are more like real parents than inlaws to me. Debbie (J's mom) and I spent some quiet time together on the beach this afternoon reading and sitting, while J and his dad went to play golf. Perfect. Absolutely Perfect!

I did a lot of people watching today (listening to Jack Johnson) because I wasn't in the mood to engage my mind in one of Nicholas Sparks' books today. A girl from college, Helen Joy likes to do this too, and she's a photographer, so she typically always has her camera on hand to take photos, then comment later. I thought of her today, and all of the photos she would have taken, and the comments that would have been added. I would have you belly laughing at some folks. But, I love it that at the beach, there's only innocence. Folks don't realize what they say, how they look, or what they're doing - it doesn't matter....they're "on vacation"

I, too, have succombed to the "on vacation" mentality - late night Krispy Kreme trip, splotchy burnt red spots from a spray sunscreen gone bad, spending $3-5 on frozen lemonade that melts as soon as it gets in my hand, and forgetting what an alarm clock is. I love vacation. It totally takes me out of my zone and puts me in a much better one. I needed a new zone - BADLY, even if just for a week!

So I'll continue to enjoy my last 3 days "on vacation" with maybe an $8 round of putt putt golf, a trip to the outlets, breakfast on the shore, dinner on the shore, and sliced watermelon on the beach (the only way mom would recommend eating it!)....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"I see the ocean!"

Those were the words out of mom's mouth that meant our hours and hours of driving were finally coming to an end and our destination had been reached - the beach. We spent countless summers as I was growing up at Surfside Beach and Garden City Beach. Then after my sister went to college, we were lucky to make it at all. But, my grandparents made it a bit easier by allowing us to use their beach house (in North Myrtle).

So, that's where we are now. The first week long vacation since the honeymoon 2.5 years ago! Jeremy and I arrived on Monday afternoon - and it took until today (Tuesday) to hear "I see the ocean!" It's been ridiculously cold and windy the past two days. We haven't done really much of anything - which would be alright...except I'd really love to be doing that "nothing" on the beach, reading mindless Nicholas Sparks novels, and getting a tan. However, we've been forced to really be creative with our time.

Yesterday, we shopped at the discount golf store and talked to the owner about how the upcoming Atlantic Beach Bike Rally was going to be (for those that don't know, Harley week ended on Sunday before we came - Atlantic Beach Bike Rally is for the African-American bikers and their "babes") In the past years, Myrtle Beach has been trying to stop the week, but they obviously can't put a ban on they're making really really strict laws, and closing up shops -it's actually kind of wild...but this is the week we've always come down to the beach, so it doesn't bother us. In fact, on Saturday, we'll celebrate the third anniversary of our engagement - how sweet!:)

Today, we slept in - until 8:45 AM!!!!! Got bagels at my favorite - Goldberg Bagels in the shopping center right above the house. Then, we split up the afternoon. The first part we went antique/consignment/thrift store shopping. Unfortunately, we weren't too successful - although I did find a boppy pillow for $8 in "noah's ark" fabric...but just didn't buy it. Then, the latter part of the afternoon was spent in downtown Myrtle, stopping at Sonic for a bit of Happy Hour specials, then, onto The Market Common - the newest section of this area that's an all-inclusive living square - filled with ritzy shoppes, dining, college, park, grocery store, and gas station. We did some looking, but no shopping.
Then we headed to Miyabi's Japanese Steakhouse for dinner. We have been saving up our $$ for this dinner and it was SOOO worth it! We sat with an older couple who had connections in Loris, Wilmington, Charlottesville, and even Rock Hill!! They were so sweet. The other family we were with had their 3 year old birthday boy with them. We learned that they eat at a Japanese steakhouse every Thanksgiving as well as his birthday. I thought to myself "I wonder if they sing "fa ra ra ra ra"....
Now, we're home, watching CABLE and reading and writing. I almost don't know what to do with myself!

Today marks month 3 of mom's passing. Some moments, it feels like an eternity, others it seems as it if never happened! I was telling Jeremy the other day that it typically comes at a random time and all of the sudden I freak out - "oh my gosh, I don't have a mom, what am I supposed to do? I can't do this without a mom!!!" It's almost like a panic attack - and then my fears are subsided and I calm down. Weird, I know....

We're waiting on Sarah Elizabeth to join us in this world. I can't wait to hold her and love on her and to see her grow and to teach her about her Nana. I know she'll get some good lessons from her mom and from Grace, but I'm "Aunt Manni" - by far the coolest aunt on the planet (you can ask Grace to confirm that)! It could be any moment until then, I'll just enjoy my vacation and hope to see the ocean in my bathing suit and sunscreen tomorrow -

"Good Lord, you must be HUGE!"

One of Mom's favorite pastimes - making telemarketers regret they even called. There are at least 3 of these stories that might make you "pee-pee laugh" that I want to share. The first is quite possibily the best one - I can only hope that I give you enough of the story to give you a good chuckle. I have taken some liberties with the exact conversation flow, but this is basically how it went...

ring ring ring...
Mom: Hello?
Telemarketer: Uh, Yes ma'am, may I speak with Mrs. Jackson please?
Mom: Well, you got her.
TM: Well, Hello Mrs. Jackson, my name is Melton, and I am calling on behalf of (some travel company). You are one lucky lady.
Mom: Oh yeah, why is that?
TM: Well, Mrs Jackson -
Mom: Melton, you can call me Debi.
TM: Well, Okay, Debi, you've been chosen to receive a free trip for you and your family to Disney World.
Mom: Oh my, we've always wanted to go back to Disney World, have you ever been to Disney World?
TM: Eh, um, why no I haven't.
Mom: You mean you gotta call people to tell them that they done won a trip that you ain't ever been on? That's not fun.
TM: Well, I guess so.
Mom: Well that's a shame, we went a while back. I took all my kids, step kids, and three of their daddies and we went for a whole weekend. It was so much fun, you just wait until I tell them what I've won.
TM: Alright..
Mom: You know, Billy, well, he was the first boy I had with Darrell, he was my first husband...anyway, he really liked Mickey Mouse. Since then, none of the other kids with any of their daddies have liked Mickey as much as Billy did - you should have seen that excitement on that boy's face when he saw dem black ears of that mouse - wooowee!
TM: That's great Mrs. Jackson, eh, Debi.
Mom: I know Melton, but ya see the last time we went I weighed about 200 pounds less than I do now. See since my boys done gone and grown up, I aint gotta chase them around the house no more. And I love me some soaps. So you see, I guess I done put on a few pounds now.
TM: Okay, why is that a problem then?
Mom: Well Melton, how many tickets did you say I won?
TM: Well, Debi, it seems here that I have you and 3 other tickets.
Mom: Well, I guess that means I can only take 2 of my 7 boys with me.
TM: Who will be the 4th then?
Mom: Well, Melton, I'll need two seats on the airplane - oh I'm so embarassed!
TM: Oh Debi, don't be embarassed - I've had to do that before too.
Mom: Oh really Melton? Hey Melton, can I ask, how much do you weigh?
(at this point it really didn't matter what number Melton gave mom - and I didn't hear it...)

(The conversation continued a bit, and then mom just told Melton that it would be okay, and that she was giving her "gift trip" to Melton and his family. Melton TOTALLY forgot why he was calling mom and actually hung up on her).

Mom loved to talk with these folks. And she could carry on a conversation and not even bust a laugh. I loved that about her. She would later tell us these stories with us doubled over laughing so hard. So if you ever hear us say "Good Lord, you must be huge!" we're remembering, fondly, mom and her love for letting telemarketers feel like they accomplished something in a day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Breakfast with Nana

Mother's Day will never be the same again. After yesterday, I realized it wasn't SO bad. All last week, I had been dreading the moment that Sunday, May 10 would roll around - the day everyone on the planet would celebrate, fix breakfast in bed for their mom, and have a meal together after going to church and getting the usual carnation/rose to say "Thanks for being Mom." Instead, I woke up, and handed a gift bag to my sister.

While waiting for her to open, I prayed to myself - "Please Lord, don't let this be difficult" As she unwrapped it, tears began swelling in my eyes. Tearing off the paper, she turned it over, and saw it was a framed 8x10 portrait of mom. The funeral home had done some magic before mom's visitation and took a photo and created a portrait of mom - almost exact of how it would have been. So, I ordered a print, framed it, and for the first time, bought my sister a mother's day gift. We then starred at it for several minutes, and hugged dad, and then we layed it down, and began to cook breakfast.

While I'm standing at the stove fixing pancakes, Grace (my neice) all of the sudden says "I'm gonna eat my breakfast with Nana this morning!" - I look over and she's holding the framed portrait on her lap, with her arm around it, and eating her "papa grits". So innocently, she was enjoying her morning with mom and for a moment, I was jealous of her, that she was eating breakfast with MY MOM!!!

But, she was so sweet - it made me realize that yes, I too, can eat with mom. Mom's body and spirit may have left us, but her love for us and stories continue to bring great memories that make us laugh and cry. I pray that I can continue to remember her in the days to come. And I can eat breakfast with her any time I want to!

I have a few stories I can't wait to tell you about and hope to get them to you before we go on vacation next week. I hope you can laugh (and maybe cry) with me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 5

I wonder what tomorrow will be like. Something gives me the feeling that it will be a bit different.

While mom was at home in the last weeks of her life, most of us had the opportunity to sit with her solo and just be, talk, laugh, and/or cry. I know I had 2 of the most unforgetable conversations and moments with my mother that I will always remember (hence, the unforgetable part:)). We decided early on that I would ask mom each day if she was scared about dying and going to heaven. Her answer, most every day, was "yes, I'm not ready to leave you yet." It was difficult to hear the answer each day, but I knew that she wasn't going unless she had gotten rid of that fear. I remember the last time I asked her that question was the Monday before her death. She just looked at me, and didn't respond. I wanted to weep and wail, but on the inside I was filled with some type of joy that soon, my mother wasn't going to suffer anymore. Are you scared?

So, my sister apparently had a few of these moments with her too. In one of their times together, mom proceeded to tell her that May 5 was a special day, that God had put that date on her heart for some reason - either it would be the day she would die, or the day of new life. Now, we know that the first choice of that one has already happened, and we also know that my sister is about 31 weeks pregnant. So my question is this - will I become another Aunt tomorrow?
If I do - how weird is that? If I don't, I wonder why mom was so attached to May 5??

I guess only tomorrow will tell. Until then, I'm going to rest - I'm so exhausted!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Wind

I now am the closest I can be to my mother...all because of a pair of rocking chairs that my wonderful husband assembled this afternoon.

When we lived away from the house, mom would always give us sweet, emotional and sappy "goodbyes" as we headed out the door to go back to school, or in my sister's case, back to her house in Georgia. She'd always tell us "when you hear the windchimes, know that I'm thinkin' 'bout ya." I didn't always get the chance to hear chimes on Erskine's campus, but whenever I visited my "home away from home" I could hear them, if there was just enough wind blowing through them.

This past Christmas, Jeremy scored big points with my gift. Timely as it was, a nice set of windchimes, with a cute little house, and a leaf hanging as the catalyst for making sound. We immediately hung them on our porch and went on with our way of things, letting them get tossed in the wind, and stilled by the calmness of the days.

I even remember in those first moments after mom breathed her last breath, hearing those chimes that hung out the window on her front porch. It was like mom saying "it's okay now, just know that I'm thinkin' 'bout ya." Some folks might think I was crazy actually enjoying the constant clanging that those things can make, but that day, I couldn't have been filled with more joy. In the days that have past since then, there are occasional moments that I hear our chimes blowing, but without the help of any wind - almost as if they're blowing completely on their own.
Now that we have rockers (our first and only bit of furniture purchased since we bought the house in September), I can sit on the porch and listen to them clang all day, knowing that my mommy is thinkin' 'bout me. Joy, in the wind, is completely mine!

This wind that blows, and sometime doesn't blow, yet still reminds me and brings me close to my mother, is kind of like faith. In the Bible, faith is explained as something that is unseen and unheard, yet is still there. My mom is definitely not here in the physical sense, and nor does she speak (although I still hear her voice in my heart), but yet she is there. She brings an understanding of my Heavenly Father - although he's not physically at my side, He is holding me in his right hand.

I'm so glad we have these rockers, the chimes, and the presence of God right on our front porch. If you don't believe, just come for a visit, and you'll quickly discover!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"I don't feel good"

I remember mom being "different" after Jeremy and I got married. At first, I just thought she was swamped at work, totally getting out of the jive of step aerobics and that's what caused her headaches. For the first 5 months of my marriage, Jeremy and I would often talk about how mom was acting one day, and totally different the next day. At that time, we didn't pay too much attention - we chalked it up to us being honeymooners and being out of touch with our parents.

Fast forward from Oct 2006 to April 2007 - mom's at home, recovering, quite well, from what would be her first brain surgery, preparing for chemo and radiation treatment. Never in a million years would I thought I'd be witnessing this.

I stopped by dad's house this morning to check on things, and found myself drawn to this basket, containing over 200 cards from family, friends, pastors, strangers, people that had met mom and dad through this season. I bet Hallmark gave their CEO a bonus because of what folks spent on the paper with words on it to give to my mom.
As I was looking through them (yes, EVERY SINGLE CARD WAS KEPT), I found one of the earliest days after mom was first diagnosed. One said "Being Suck Sicks!" If you opened it up, it read this: "I mean, being sick sucks!"
Then another, a little more profound -

"God bless you with hreturning health and comfort from above, God grant you peace and happiness, surround you with His love, and may the sweet assurance of His constant love and care be yours today and every day - this is my special prayer."

Hm, what an answered prayer. My mom was sick for 2 years - non stop, consistently battling disease, and never back to 100%. Until 2:58 on Thursday afternoon, February 19, 2009. Then, that "special prayer" became that answered prayer.

In mom's journey of sickness, we went from praying for renewed strength, to miraculous healing, then ultimately praying for God's mercy to rest upon her, knowing her physical healing was far beyond our prayers. We began praying for her spiritual healing and the peace of God to cape over her. Our thoughts, along with well wishers all over, for "getting well soon" quickly became an impossible. Ever since she was diagnosed, she never got well, but rather, worse.

One thing I don't remember hearing from mom during those 23 months was "I don't feel good." I can't for the life of me recall a moment like that. Now, I know good and well she did on those days where it took all she had to roll over so she could get sick, or where she would sweat so much through her clothes, you thought she had jumped in a pool, or even in her last days, all she could do was stare. She carried some attitude about her, almost as if she had convinced herself that her "get well wishes" were working. She was understanding what it was like for her weakness to be strengthened by God's grace (II Cor. 12:10).

My "special prayer" is that we would all be vulnerable to that weakness, oh so that we could taste His power and strength!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Creation of something new

It was becoming more appropriate to record my inner most thoughts to you, those who love to read about what's happened in the last 2+ years of my we've moved from to just your typical blogspot. I support CaringBridge 100% and have appreciated their ministry to us in the trying season of my mother's illness, but now that she has passed, we need to free up space for other families who are diligently recording each step of their loved one's sickness.

"Hey Mom, it's me again" is a simple phrase that I've thought over for much of the past 2.5 months...we always say that there are things we wish to tell our loved ones after they passed, and I've already realized there were so many questions, silly and simple as they may seem, that I never got to ask my mom, and won't be able to ask her tomorrow, or the next day. In a way, I wanted to look back on my life, and the things my mother did to either directly or indirectly teach me a life lesson that I'll carry with me in the days to come.

May you laugh, cry, make fun of, and enjoy these thoughts...