And Another Celebration

It is October 30, 2009. Today it has been one month.

One month since. It is still so hard to believe.

I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to pick up the phone, headed up stairs or even started to go back to my parent’s bedroom to visit with my dad. Hearing the side door open and close by the garage always gets my attention. My first thought is Oh! Good, he is home…….And then I stop, take a breath, sigh and turn away.

I know, for my mother these feeling are a million times more.

Last Friday my mother and Stephen paid a visit to the mortuary and picked up the urn that holds my father’s ashes. It seems to bring my mother comfort….just having him home again. I know it brings me comfort.

The Urn could not be more beautiful. It sits on my mother’s dresser while it waits for its final resting place by the pool. For now, Just seeing it gives us great comfort. We can walk out of our way, touch it gently and softly whisper….”I love you.”

Last Saturday Auntie wanted to have a little party. She thought it would be nice if we all got together to just have lunch and celebrate. Reluctantly, we all said….”okay”….but thought… What in the world could we be celebrating?

Everyone made something for the lunch. Karen and Mary Elizabeth set the tables with decorations.

Auntie came in with Jim along with their big smiles and all types of goodies she had wiped up . When we asked what we were celebrating……. Auntie said “Fall” It is a beautiful time of year here in the country and we should celebrate Fall.”

In good old auntie fashion she knew……We needed a party. She knew the thoughts of celebrating Thanks Giving, Christmas and even Halloween weighed heavily on us.

She knows we celebrate life. We will celebrate almost every occasion. “If you can bake it we will come.” That is our family policy…

She knew we needed her to have the party, to let us know it was okay. She knew we needed her to show us we could do this.

I hope she knows just how much we all think of her.

She supports. I guess it takes times like these to understand there are doers and there are talkers. I have learned this month…..these past months….If your “friends” don’t support you through the bad times…through the worst times in your life….Who needs them to come to the party?

I have a lot of great friends and even more wonderful family members…Like Auntie.

We have been busy in school this week studying. We are trying to get back into a real school grove. But, it is very hard…..We are trying.

Thank goodness we have debate….This years debate topic is ~ Should the US Environmental Policy be Reformed. This is not a simple question….Stephen has taken an great interest in coal slurry and how it is poisoning the water supplies and killing the people of West Virginia. It always amazes and out-rages me when I learn making money is allowed to get in the way of peoples health.

To think this is happening in this country is just mind boggling to me.

Kathryn has had to research Health Care Reform Bill, cash for clunkers and the dangers of cell phone use while driving for her speech class. I think we are going to actually learn something this year in spite of all that has happened.

Matthew is studying so very hard ~ When he is stressed, upset or just confused he reads. He is taking the loss of his grandfather very hard. He does not cry…I just see him with his head down and his face tight…He handles stress just like his father.

Matthew tells me when he goes to “the” house he feels lost….He walks around looking for something to do. So he and Stephen work on the fountain and other pool related things. Just like there grandfather has taught them to do.

Today we celebrate a Mass for my father given by the woman at the co-op and the “Little Flowers group Kathryn belongs too. For some reason I am worried about this one too…Just the thought of hearing his name makes me want to cry. I hope I don’t.

Tomorrow we celebrate Halloween. Margaret and I will take the little kids out for their Trick or Treating fun and then we will all go to Bill’s house for a bonfire…and a Halloween party.

Next week we have Stephen’s conformation and then of course another celebration.

…I need to start taking more pictures again…

I know we can do these celebrations. Auntie showed us it was alright…She showed we can.

Thanks Auntie ~ What would we do without you?

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Just spending time

It has been 20 days now…. Three weeks…Just three weeks……I still just can’t believe it….

My mother wants us to write about funny times or funny conversations we have had with our dad……The thought of this makes me hold my breath so much I just don’t want to let go…..I really am not sure why but I think I am afraid I will not be able to think of anything good enough. ….Right now I just can’t think of anything.

I know I should have thousands of stories……..I know I DO have thousands …I just can’t think of them right now. He spent so much loving time with all of us…….I don’t know why but I just seem to be having trouble with this one:

I think I maybe able to write about the time I took my dad to the hospital when he fell and broke his hand…..I could write that Matthew was just a baby and my mother was just home from the hospital after having surgery. I was at their house getting dinner ready for them. I walked out to the gym to tell my dad dinner was on the table and I found him on the couch just lying there with his eyes closed. When I went in to see what was wrong, I learned he had just fallen off a ladder and he thought for sure he had broken his hand. I wanted to take him to the hospital right away but he wanted to “get cleaned up, check on my mother and most importantly have dinner. I remember he even had a glass of red wine that night before he was ready to leave.

I could tell about the conversations we had that night, I remember them so clearly and I could tell how he would not let the doctor cut off his wedding ring to set his hand. How he showed the doctor just how to slipped a ring off a swollen hand with dental floss ……. When we were done at the hospital it was very late. I could then write about going out for ice cream with him and how much I loved every minute of that night I got to spend with him all alone.

I could tell about the times I use to exercise in the gym with him when I was a teenager and how I loved it all. I could tell about running around the block with him and when we would see the telephone pole closest to our house we would race and I would win…. every time. He was always so delighted with my win encouraging me to run faster the next time.

I could write about the times he would just walk his teenage daughter around the block and hold her hand because he knew it was important that we walk and not talk and he just be there.

I could tell about the many times he and our mother would be celebrating another anniversary. How he would take his three girls out to a night of fine dinning……And how he would have the wait staff bring out a splendid silver tray only to reveal a beautifully wrapped gift hidden inside the silver cover for his one and only sweet heart.

My sister and I would delight in the glory of just how much he loved our mother.

I could write about the time Ruff-o came to live at my parent’s house and my father would buy her hamburger and bacon; cook it all up, cool it off, throw cheese into a large bowl and then give it to this strange stray dog that just appeared out of the blue one day.

I could write about the time just last year when he was knocked off his feet by that same dog and broke his hip. How he had called me very matter of fact-ly asking if I had the crutches.

When I told him, I did he asked me to bring them over when I “HAD A MINUTE.” And if the boys where around ask them to come too. I would not forget to make sure I wrote about how he told me not to rush and most importantly “DO NOT! go through the house and upset your mother.” and how he said “To just go around back and you will see me.” I would have to say; I was just getting out of the shower when he called and how I RUSHED right over knowing my father never wanted to make a big deal out of him self or inconvenience anyone.

I would have to say as I drove up to the house I searched for him from the moving car. I would have to say when I finally parked the car I jumped out and ran around the back of the house thinking he had fallen in a hole and hurt his ankle by the garden. I would have to tell how I could not see him and then decided to call his cell phone.

I would have to tell how he answered my phone call with a “Bill Finnell” like there was nothing wrong and I was just another customer……… We would laugh here because we all know exactly just how he sounded.

I could write about the time I helped him lay out the new roads and how much fun we had ((I had)) that fall day. How we walked through the woods and how he held my hand….How I held the survey sticks and how he planned and told me how the roads would go. I would tell about the songs he sang and how he danced with delight and just how happy we were that day. How happy I was that day. He was so excited to be moving forward with his big dreams and how just very happy I was to have him all to myself in the woods spending time alone listening to him sing and dance the songs he loved from the 1930’s …….Like She’s Only A Bird In A Guilded Cage and They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa

They’re coming to take me away, HA HA
They’re coming to take me away, HO HO HEE HEE HA HA
To the happy home
With trees and flowers and chirping birds
And basket weavers who sit and smile
And twiddle their thumbs and toes
And they’re coming to take me away, Ha-haaa!

But, I think I will tell about the time my parents evicted a woman from an apartment and how the woman called crying and how if they just gave her until tomorrow she could straighten it all out……… ((this was after 3 months of none payment and ignoring phone calls and letters written)) My father was ferrous and tired of all this by this woman. He had finally had her attention and boy was he going to let her have it!!! She was going to pay him or move and that was that. ……my mother and I felt bad for her but we knew if we allowed her back into the apartment for the night that would be it. She would not pay her rent or back rent and …….We would be the laughing stocks at the court house the following day.

It was February and about 7:30 PM. It was a cold night and the forecast for the early morning was to be in the teens. We could hear the conversation from the other room. My father’s calm voice telling her how it was going to be…. and how she could get her things from the apartment in the morning. He would not meet her that night…It was to late…It was to cold and that was that…..

Then the conversation changed.

He got off the phone and said he would be right back. He was going to get this woman a hotel room…..He couldn’t allow her to sleep in her car. After all it was going to be in the low teens that night. She said she would have all the money due to them in the morning if he would just give her a chance…..She didn’t want to leave her apartment. She liked her home where it was. She promised she would do better from then on.

When my mother and I heard this we couldn’t help but give a chuckle and say…

“WHAT?”

When I realized my father was seriously going to get a hotel room for this woman I told him I needed to go with him. He really didn’t see the point. As I explained to him…..”Father, it just looks really bad for you to be renting a hotel room for a tenant when a lot of people know you in our town” He said in all sincerity…”If you want to come with me that would be fine….. I would love to have your company.”

I remember many things he said to me that night and how it was just so nice being there in the car with him. I remember even though it was very cold that night the car was warm…the conversation was wonderful and the company was the best.

From that night on…my mother and I would kid my dad just about how tough he really was….I would say jokingly…”If you don’t pay your rent ~ I will be forced to put you in a nice warm hotel room. We would all laugh…..mostly him..and then he would say “Oh! Boy!”

We all loved our time alone with him and you know he loved it too.

My Favorite Days with my Grandpa

I have discovered the beauty of the Blog:

When I first started this blog I really did it for my mother. She was after me for years to start one. I “yessed” her about it for a very long time until last year ~ Finally, I just did it. She was delighted! and so was my father. They loved the pictures and stories and I figured it was nice enough they both seemed to be happy with the whole thing. So, I have tried to keep it up.

You see ~ I have never been the writer in the family. I have never kept a diary. For that matter, I have never even kept a shopping list. I have always been to worried about my terrible spelling, not hearing the difference in the sounds of “W” and “Wh” and ‘wh’ere to use them, not knowing really where the coma should go and let’s not mention my difficulties with the computer……All this held me back. It has kept me from being a writer, blogger or even organized enough to keep a list. To tell the truth my sister is the one who I always thought to be the writer and list keeper, and really knows her way around the computer.

Over the past weeks……The weeks after losing my father….our Father….I found the beauty in looking back at an organized “book” of our life. I have discovered this blogging “thing” is wonderful. My family and I can go back and see the beautiful times we have had together. We can see the laughs we have had, the birthdays, births , all our celebrations and how do we forget the tears we have shed….This blog has evolved for me…..It was just something I did for my mother and now it is a simple story about a family in Good times and in Bad.

Looking back I can see “It” has brought me so much joy, driven me to tears and is always a comfort. I love the fact that friends I know and friends I have never meet are generally sorry about “Our” terrible lose, rejoice in our joys and love to see pictures of our family.

What a comfort this is.

But……..The thing is……..My mother was right when she asked me to do this “thing”….My only wish is…….. I obliged sooner.

Shhhhhhh……….Let this be our little secret….Don’t tell her I said so……She will never let me forget it.

With this said, I am delighted to see that my son Stephen has been writing too:

I want to keep this little paragraph he has written forever……What safer place then here:

My Favorite Days with my Grandpa

One of my first memories of working with my grandpa is when I just learned to drive
the lawnmower. I think I was 8 years old. I was not heavy enough to keep the lawnmower running. The machine would not run unless there was a certain amount of weight holding the seat down. To hold the seat down …Grandpa hooked bungee cords to the seat to keep it down that day. We cleared the yard of limbs. He would cut the limbs and I would take them away with the lawnmower and put them in a pile to Burn. When I would drive away I would turn around in attention to solute him and he would solute back to me. One of the times I turned to solute I hit a trailer that was parked in the middle of the field. The next day I learned how to fix a lawnmower bumper. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

By: Stephen

Because of home-school there have been so many wonderful days like these for all my children. …Days of joy and learning they ((We)) could have lost if they went to school. …….An irreplaceable relationship grew between my father, my mother and my children these past years. These are the lessons of life, gifts of relationships and love they could never learn in school.

I want to Remember

As I think about the past week and the tremendous effect it will have on the rest of my life…..I can’t help but think how do I carry this? How do we move forward like my father wants us too? How do you respectfully keep going, stay positive and live up to his memory? Just how do we do that?

The other day my cousin Kathy sent a comment that has stuck with me …….She told me how my father was her first crush….I can see that…my father was very handsome…((the was is so hard for me to fully grasp.))
However, that was not the part I am speaking of……….The one thing she said that stuck with me was…….”I always found comfort in knowing my Dad (and Mum) were only as far away as my heart.” “Just listen…you will hear him.” She is so right…….I can feel him……… everywhere. He truly is everywhere.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
But, before I can find the comfort and peace to go on with my life, and before I can get things to the point of a “new normal”, these are the things I want to remember for the rest of my life:

I want to remember how my mother, my father’s wife of 56 years, has been a pillar of strength for her husband and her children through out this whole ordeal. During the times my father was sick because of cancer, radiation or chemo….my mother was always by his side, taking care of him. She was always encouraging him to get up and eat with the family. She was always encouraging him to get up and sit with the family. She was always encouraging him to keep working and to keep going. The last days or weeks of his life it was our mother that let us sit with him and keep him company. On the really bad days she generously let us be alone with him and just hold his hand. She let us help her, help him. She was truly amazing. She IS truly amazing.

These past four and an half years when the doctors would say…….”Bill, we don’t want you uncomfortable.” My mother would say “I just want him here….I don’t care about his comfort. Let’s just keep him here.” My father loved to hear this. He would smile his biggest smile and laugh with pure joy and say…”That is the nicest thing she could ever say to me.” He accepted her words for what they were……True Love. When it was time to let go….She simply knew and as hard as it was for her……she did….again…..True Love.
She knew he would be with her forever……living in her heart.

I want to remember my Aunt Mary Lou and how she stayed with my parents the nights she was really needed. I want to remember how she let my mother sleep and how she stayed up all night with my dad watching over him, helping him anyway she could. I want to remember the love and dedication she gave to us, my father and most of all her sister, our mother.

I want to remember how my sister in law, my brother in law and my husband would make time to see my dad everyday. How Linda helped with his care giving her time so lovingly. How Reiner worked in the yard, Mark worked on the equipment and how both of these men would go and just sit with our dad. They would just sit with him, letting him know he was never alone.

I want to remember, my oldest three children serving on the Alter at my father’s funeral Mass. How Matthew held the cross as high as he could…..I know he wanted his Grandpa to see it, to feel the love, admiration and how honored he was to be part of his Mass….I want to remember how each one of the children stood on the Alter with pride and just how lovingly they served for him and my mother that day.

I want to remember how the older grandsons were pallbearers for my father and how James and William read the readings at the Mass with such dignity and respect.

I want to remember how each one of the grandchildren put a rose in a basket on the Alter by my father’s casket and how significant that act of love was for both my parents.

There is nothing more important then family… The final act was perfect and honored them both in such a way I never dreamed possible.

I want to remember, Jen’s eulogy and how she started it off with ….”Uncle Bill, you can not drive.” And how Jen’s tribute to my father left everyone with a smile on their face……Just remembering.
I want to remember the day of the wake: When we were trying to get the house ready for all the guest…..Jen was there working, helping us get ready. She told me she needed to run to the store and she needed me to show her how to get there. I want to remember how I really didn’t want to go but she insisted. After all, as she said, she lives in California now and she could get terribly lost…. She said it was very important that I go with her…to show her the way.

In reality it was important to me. She knew I was becoming over whelmed and had to get out. Our ((or at least my)) spirits were lifted as she filled 2 great big carts and baskets with mums, pumpkins, candles, flowers, and a wreath. After the shopping we were off to McDonald’s for a nice FAT comfort meal that we both seemed to enjoy all to much. Jen said she wanted to get all those things to bring happiness and color back into my parent’s home…… and that is exactly what she did.

On the way home that day I realized she had a GPS in her car and I thought she lied….. But I am so glad she did……She knew I needed to get out more then she needed me to show her the way. I remember saying to her….”Thank you for making it sound important that I come….I needed this.” I think she said; I know.

I want to remember how Aunt Ann sang and just how beautiful her voice and the songs we picked were that day. My father loved her voice and to have her come down and sing would have been such and honor for him. I want to remember; how her daughter Peggy and Aunt Ann’s husband Paul came down without a single thought. They just came a thousand miles to be with our family. It was all so wonderful.

I want to remember the out-pour of friends and mostly family….how Ann Marie came back down even though she was just here a couple of weeks ago. It was just that important. And how Uncle Bernie and Sue showed up and made us all laugh and feel good about the day.

I want to remember; how my in laws just came and gave and did. My sister in law, Kim, stocked the shelves and refrigerator at my house. She knew shopping was the last thing on my mind. She knew we were mostly out of everything…..The night of the my father’s wake I even came home to a very clean kitchen because of her. She knew walking in the door to a clean kitchen was almost better then a warm hug.
I want to remember how very loving my dear sweet husband has been. How he comforted me and just gave to me when he was hurting too. Mark told me just how much my father meant to him and how grateful he was that when the odds seemed against him my dad was the only one who truly believed in him and gave him a real chance to prove himself in the business world.

I want to remember the food people sent over…..the flowers people gave…and what flowers there were…
I want to remember the friends and family that came and cried and loved us. How my father’s brothers came down without a thought. I want to remember just how Uncle Joe and his wife came back down even though he and Aunt Millie were just here. I want to remember my cousin Lyn and her tears of love. I want to remember Uncle Bob and his wife, Pat, their daughter Patty and her children. I want to remember how both my father’s brothers told stories about their childhood and how the love shined through. Each tale told with devotion, humor, honor and joy. With each Aunt and uncle came their children…. Cousins I hardly knew.

I want to remember Aunt Jean and Aunt Joan came with Kathy and Kristen. I want to remember how my aunts stayed just a few more days in an effort to make this transition just a tinny bit easier for their very good friend our mother.
I want to remember my cousin Judy’s genuine sorrow.
I want to remember how my friend Denise filled the pantry with food and paper products at my mother’s house and how she just thought of everything. I want to remember how my friend Kim just showed up at my parent’s house the morning of the wake and started cleaning bathrooms….How our girl friends from the karate school were just there in my mother’s kitchen after the funeral putting deserts they made on the table, making coffee, feeding my mother, my children, my sisters and me. It was an amazing display of love…..pure affection.

I want to remember the people that came to the wake and how they cried and how we comforted them. I want to remember their true sorrow and how grown men told me through their tears how my father and my mother were better to them then their own parents. I want to remember how many times I heard my father’s favorite saying that night from each one of those men…. Luck only comes to those who work at it.”

I know I will always remember my father and the love he shared because after all ~ my cousin Kathy is just so right when she said;
…….”I always found comfort in knowing my Dad (and Mum) were only as far away as my heart.” “Just listen…you will hear him.”

I am Good Dear….I am very Good

I have started this post 100 times. Maybe I have even started it a thousand times if you count the times I have started it in my mind: I just can’t seem to get the words down.

This…….is taking me so long.

It has been 8 days now since my father passed away. Passed away…..That sounds so strange to say….8 days almost seems like a 8 hundred years and then again it seems like 8 seconds …I just can’t believe he is gone. I can’t believe I won’t talk to him again or see his smiling face. Losing him is such a great loss for all of us. I just don’t know how we are going to move forward…..But we will…Because we have too.

That is the way it is done.

There are so many things I want to tell you about him but I just can’t get my thoughts together enough to write them out:

Everyone should have known my father…….He left an impact on the world. He actually left it a better place. He was kind…..tough and loving. He was an incredible man.

HE WAS

He was an incredible father. I know, not many people have that……but we did.

And I…. am very GRATEFUL

The one thing I don’t ever want to forget is my father’s strong spirit.

He was our teacher right to the end.

As my father’s body grew weaker daily, his spirit grew stronger daily. As the changes came to his body: He never grow to like them…..He grew to accept them with Grace and dignity.

He was Gracious and Loving right to the end.

I had the chance to see my father everyday and these past months help with his care: Every day I would ask him how he was…….. Even on his weakest days he would say; “I’m good dear, very good. I really feel very good…… How are you?” I would tell him I was good. I was very good and in return he would say……Good Dear…that’s good.

Last Tuesday, I had the privilege of sitting with him alone and as I held his hand I asked him how he was. He whispered “Good…I am very Good.”

Then he said in a louder, stronger voice: “Alright, Alright I am coming……He looked at me and said, “I have to go Dear” ……..I told him I knew. I told him I loved him and then he settled down for a short while and then struggled to get up again.

Later that same day he said “Bye, Bye Dear” to my sister. He died early the next morning with his wife of 56 years and her devoted sister by his side.

…56 Years…

Tonight

My heart is so heavy. But, strangely enough it does not feel like it will explode out of my chest anymore…..The loss is greater then I could have ever imagined and the tears come unexpectedly and freely. I really don’t think that will change as we move forward and try this new life without him by our side. I am not sure how we are going to do this thing but I know we will.

And I know It will be Good…..It will be very Good because he his given us the strength, courage and so many gifts along the way to make it good; To make it very good….

This is my Father……How can this be?

Bill Finnell
Simpsonville, SC

Bill  Finnell

William F. Finnell, Sr., born February 17, 1933 in Randolph, MA, died peacefully in his home September 30, 2009 surrounded by his devoted family.

Bill was a loving and faithful husband to Grace Coleman Finnell for 56 years, father to Karen F. Lopez, William F. Jr., George D. Finnell, Margaret F. Hoverath and Lisa F. Advent, father-in-law to Linda, Bernard, Riener and Mark.

He was also the loving grandfather to sixteen grandchildren, Joseph, William and Kristen Lopez; William III and Rebecca Finnell; George Finnell, Jr.; Stephanie F. Peterson, Bailey and Eva Finnell, James Byerly, Alexander and Brian Hoverath, Mathew, Stephen, Kathryn and Mary Elizabeth Advent; two step grandchildren Scott Templeton and Michelle Upchurch; two great grandchildren, Anthony Lopez and Aubrey Peterson; and seven step great grandchildren, Breanna, Emma, Walker Templeton; Kristian, Katie, Karmen and Keleb Upchurch.

Also surviving are his three brothers, Joseph; Robert; and James Finnell; two sisters, Jean Hoffman, and Joan Savia; and devoted sister-in-law, Mary Foley Cooney.

Bill attended Wentworth Institute in Boston, MA and was a US Veteran. He was a Designer for Bendix Engineering with Cape Kennedy Space Center, Florida where he was part of the Gemini and Apollo programs. He was also employed with General Electric.

Bill designed and was a visionary for Coachwood Acres, Coachwood Forest and Powderhorn subdivisions in Simpsonville and the Golden Strip area.

His legacy and dreams will live on his family.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 10am at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, with Father Robert Falabella officiating.

The family will receive friends Friday, October 2, 2009 from 7 – 9pm at The Mackey Mortuary, 311 Century Drive.

Obituaries and online registry at http://www.mackeymortuary.com/

This is my father…..How can this be?