This has been such a busy, busy past few months for all of our family. I can't hardly keep up with blogging. I have so much to write about and catch up on... but tonight I thought I would touch on a couple of the recent events that have occurred in our family.
My sweet grandma passed away on October 28. She was 85. In 1995 I had given her this little book. There is a page for each day of the year and a prompt for her to write a memory of her life. I came across this book about 5 days before she passed away. Kerigan pulled it out of one of my boxes. I had planned to take it the next time we went to show her that I still had it and couldn't wait to read it. I never got to show it to her, but our family has loved having this special keepsake. She filled in every single page. In her own handwriting. This book is a treasure. I highly recommend it- give it as a gift to your parents and/or grandparents. I also have one for my dad that I treasure, but he never finished the whole thing. I already told my mom to get prepared because I am making her do one and fill it all out! Ha!
I will never forget this day that we visited her on her birthday (June 28) back in 2011 just before Kerigan was born.
Andrew always loved going to her house to play and visit with her. She had this beautiful bouquet of flowers for her birthday and I will never forget it because she had asked me to bring my camera and take some "professional" looking photos of her for her obituary.
She wanted to be by the flowers. I remember laughing about it, and teasing her asking if she knew something we all didn't! The truth was, she missed my grandpa dearly. He had been gone for 4 years at that time, and she was desperate to be with him again. She had a stroke many years ago, which limited her ability to do many things she once enjoyed. She loved her family and her grandchildren and great grandchildren, but she was ready to go.
The couple of years after these photos were taken, she deteriorated quite a bit. She basically needed round the clock care and couldn't be left alone. My mom and my uncle took care of her. I brought the kids to visit her and she always enjoyed that. We thought we had a little more time with her, but she and God had other plans. So it wasn't a shock when my mom called to tell me the news, but there was that feeling of sadness that we never went to visit "one last time."
I treasure these pictures of her with my kids.
We always loved to go see her around Halloween and show her the kids costumes.
We had a nice service for her in a very small, country cemetery near the farm where she and my grandpa raised their three children. They have a lovely plot under a huge old tree up on a hill. I love this picture of my uncles, Andrew, and my cousin Kolton.
Andrew got to help cover the ground with dirt. The kids all released balloons, but I didn't get a picture because I was helping with the process.
This is Andrew's namesake. My mom's grandpa (my grandma's father), Andrew. He was a wonderful man. I was fortunate to have known my great grandparents for a short time. I still remember them.
And here's something you don't see every day! After the service on the way to the farm where my mom grew up, we passed this! I don't even know how to explain it, so I'll just let the picture speak. It's small town Iowa!
And the end to another chapter was my mom's recent move out of my childhood home.
My mom and dad built this town house new probably 40ish years ago when they were first married. This is where they brought me home from the hospital, and where I spent my entire life growing up. This house will always be "home" to me. I will never forget the feelings I had coming back here after my father passed away. How on my birthday and Christmas my mom had tried so hard to decorate and cook and make it still feel like home without my dad there. It was the one place I felt happy and at peace after he was gone. It would always be my home.
I loved nothing more than going home to grill out and sit out on this patio. We spent millions of beautiful evenings out here, from the time I was a baby, to the times I brought my babies here.
Just for fun, a look back... Mother's Day 2012
Making homemade ice cream for my birthday on the patio with Papa
One time Andrew threw the ball and it landed on the roof! So Papa had to climb up and get it out of the gutter! Ha! So fun to look back on these memories.
I took all of these on my last walk through of the house, which took place one rainy afternoon after my mom had everything already moved out and I hadn't seen it completely empty. It was such a strange feeling because never before in my life had I seen this house empty.
This was the living room/dining room where many memories were also made...
37 Christmases I celebrated at this house...
And what fun to bring my kids "home" for Christmas...
Andrew's sweet little birthday brownies he and my mom fixed for me one year...
And this is the most special place in this house... this basement was built by my dad from my great grandpa (Andrew's) old barn boards. It was just an amazing basement. It was even featured in a magazine once!
When I was little my mom made those cabinets a "hide out" for me, and they put a light in it and it was my little play house.
This old merry go round horse was always the most unique thing! For many years of my childhood and growing up, my friends always wanted to come to my house to have sleepovers. We always came to the basement and watched movies and everyone always loved hanging out on this horse! Some of my best memories with my friends were sleepovers in this basement.
This is just one of a million pictures of me with most of my high school best friends (we were missing a few!) I crack up every time I see it because of me with my frosted flakes! I have eaten this cereal literally forever and it is always a favorite bedtime snack! Ha!
And I can't forget my old bedroom. I have a million pictures of me "growing up" in this room. As a baby in my crib, to playing with friends, to make up, and talking on the phone into the night with my friends. I spent a lot of time in this room! And I always loved it (it wasn't always this color, my mom and I painted it when I moved out).
Perhaps what struck me the most when helping my mom pack was going back to this room and finding things that were mine from years ago. I helped my mom box up most of this room. I went back one afternoon when she was at work and worked on it to surprise her. As I was clearing off the top shelf in my closet, I came across a treasury of Winnie the Pooh stories. It was an incredibly thick and heavy book. I couldn't quite remember why I had it or where it came from. When I opened the cover, I saw this:
And I promptly burst into tears. Right then and there in my old bedroom amongst boxes and boxes of memories. A note from my dad. This special treasury he had once given me after I graduated college and was becoming a teacher for my first year. Back in 1996 I was not married (and had no prospects! Ha!), and had no kids, so when I read it back then I'm sure it didn't have the impact that it does today. One of the hardest things about losing my dad was that he never got to meet my children. He passed away a month after our wedding, and I was always so thankful he walked me down the aisle. The only milestone he ever missed in my whole life was the birth of my children.
I brought this book home and put it on Andrew's shelf immediately. With plans to read every single word of it to my kids.
And to remember their Grandpa Bill while doing so.