Monday, September 29, 2008

Bella's Poetry

Last week, Bella had to write two Limericks for her language arts work. It wasn't the easiest thing for her, but she was quite proud of these when finished:

There was an old man from New York
Who was quite a cork.
He was as angry as a witch
That's why he got a twitch!
He stabbed someone with a fork.

There once was a funny old bird
Who would never utter a word.
When he went to his nest,
He would often rest
As he thought about all he had heard.

-Isabel Rose Horrocks, age 8


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Indian Summer

The last couple of weeks have been surprisingly normal around our home - its been a nice change. The weather has broken - cool mornings and days in the mid-80's. I know this isn't the 'true' definition of Indian Summer but it feels that way around here! We've had school at home Monday through Thursday, Friday swim classes at the YMCA, and Saturday soccer games. I have also been trying to make time to get some exercise - and when I do, I really enjoy it. We also have had time to gear up for our new community group structure -and we've added our dear friends, the Waggoners, to our group which is great fun. We have a new family living with us, the Chupps, and they are Amish. Bella and Izaiah have had so much fun riding the horses with them, and we are thrilled to see the horses out almost every day! I can't take pictures of the Amish kids, so I will share a more recent one of Bella on my mom's horse, Jasmine. (Thanks, Robin for touching it up!!) We really need to be praying for Irvin Chupp; he is very sick.

Today we took a time-out at the Bartlett Days Festival, playing with the Ottinger kids. Great fun, and we all came home ready for a nap!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Miss you, Papa

After a long two weeks, we are back in Memphis.  As most of you know, we have been in NY with our family while we mourn the passing of Mark’s dad, Gary. It would seem silly to not report on the last two weeks, so I will do so to the best of my ability.

It would seem like Mark and I might have some experience with grief after the past 5 years, but when someone so vital and young passes so suddenly, the reaction of the survivors seems to be extremely physical – in the first two days we sobbed in disbelief, anger and sadness. We didn’t sleep – and our bodies actually ached from the shock and pain we were all experiencing. Once we were all together at the lake, we all seemed to be ‘searching’, something grief counselors say is normal but feels anything but. It seemed that every time the screen door opened, it should have been Gary walking through the door. I would catch Mark out of the corner of my eye and think it was Gary (Mark looks so much like his dad).  Mark was having a hard time doing things that his dad should have been doing, like dealing with fixing small things or tinkering with the boat. I will say that I have never seen Mark grieve the way he was/is grieving his dad – I think, simply put, when you lose the parent you are closest to at a relatively young age, a part of you dies as well.  We all were given the opportunity to see Gary at the funeral home independently before the day of the calling hours, and it seemed to me that he really should have sat up and gotten out of the casket. I really haven’t had that emotion with the sick or the old, but since Gary was neither, it seemed like the only emotion I could muster. The days of the service came and went, and we were immensely blessed by the outpouring of love and support from the community of Avon and our family. Many of our friends from high school paid their respects at the services or by calling or sending flowers. We never expected that, since we have lived away from Avon for so long now.  After the funeral, we joined together at the Avon Inn for lunch and a time to share about Gary’s life.  It was a precious time, especially for Margaret.

There were some sweet smiles from God in the past two weeks, and it seems fitting to share them. First of all, my mom met me in Dayton, OH to come to NY with me to help with the kids.  Shortly after this, my dad flew in to walk beside us during the services. My sister also ‘happened’ to be in town, so she was able to attend the funeral, as did cousins and aunts and uncles from my side. For me, it was a major blessing and testimony of the love of a family for both of our sides to gather in honor of Gary. And then there was Ruth. Ruth Percival is Margaret’s sweet neighbor at the lake. Two years ago, her husband Bill fell into the lake and predeceased her. Gary and Margaret walked closely alongside Ruth while she grieved her husband, and now Ruth is walking alongside Margaret while she grieves Gary. Ruth is a precious follower of Christ who cared for my kids (as well as John and Paulette’s) without fail during the first week. She also opened her home to us – once everyone came to stay at the lake, we needed more rooms. I am so thankful she will continue to walk alongside Margaret in the days and weeks to come.  And then there were the keys. Gary’s ‘junker’ truck had been parked at the lake for several weeks because he had misplaced the keys. Among so many other things, we were all concerned about the eventual moving of the truck. On September 6 we began to help Margaret move back to Avon, the weather was beginning to deteriorate rapidly. When we got to the house, Margaret went to put a container of Gary’s clothes under the bed. As soon as she did this, she noticed the keys right under the dust ruffle. She sat down on the bed and just laughed herself silly – she said it was like Gary was just placing them right there for her to find.

Mark has done a phenomenal job of working though some details with his mom, and getting her on a trajectory toward caring for herself. At the same time, he is continuing to work through all the many emotions he has surrounding the passing of his dad. Luckily, he loved his dad well, and his dad loved him very well.  We can rest that there are no regrets.

The kids are doing fine. They have had some breakdowns, and luckily we have been there for this. We have talked them though their saddest times, and actually, we are glad for them. We take it as evidence that they are processing properly. They are not feeling this like their elderly grandparent just died – their papa is really more like an accessory parent to them. He taught the boys how to toss a football, helped them with riding their bikes, all sorts of things. Sam remarked he just wanted to cuddle with papa and watch a movie.

Margaret has done so much better than I ever could have imagined. She obviously has her moments, but she also has the history of a very strong mother who raised two kids after her husband died from pancreatic cancer. I think Margaret is already figuring out how to channel Helen Jobes – I think the remembrance of her mother will help her in this time.  Margaret flies down to Memphis October 1 and will be with us through the 18th.  It will be a joy to have her.

Thanks for letting me process through some of this with you…and here I should also mention that today marks bella’s 5 year anniversary – she has been NED 5 years today. Thanks, Gary, for being a huge part of our road the past 5 years. We love you.