A Day without the Best Nana Ever

Mary Elizabeth and I went to the Scottish Games at Furman University last weekend to see the activities and in hopes to meet up with “the best Nana ever” and Auntie, her sister. 

We saw men is skirts doing all kinds of things like: throwing sand bags and polls, playing bag pipes and flutes to beautiful dresses for woman.   ~ Sadly, we never found Nana or Auntie.

Without finding “the best Nana ever and her sister“,  quite honestly Mary Elizabeth was not very impressed with the Scottish Games or the men in skirts. 


She wanted to feed the Swans. Now to her, that is something to see. Everyone knows Furman is the place a person should go to feed ducks.  We left our hopes of finding Nana and her sister: We left the Scottish men in skirts and went to the ducks and swans.  

Although the swans were very exciting the day was hot.  We decided blue ice cream was in order and thought just maybe Nana and her sister might have the same idea.  They like ice cream.             But, it ended up just being the two of us.               One of us was happy about that ~ the other one. . .well. . . she just wanted to see “the best Nana ever. . . that was all.”



When we saw balloons in the distance our hearts soared with pure joy . 


We thought it would be fun to call Stephen to ask if he wanted to join us in our great balloon chase. After all, everyone knows,  if you can’t see “the best Nana ever. . . and her sister” “the best big brother ever” IS . . .well. . . second best. 


So we quickly picked up Stephen and began our adventure (( with our second best))  “the best big brother ever” by our side.

 and we  “chased balloons ALL. . . Night. . . Long” ~   as my youngest daughter tells the story. 
The End! 
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Getting Her Nana Home

Well! She had enough! 


Her bags were packed for weeks. She was finally on her way. At long last the time had come to see Nana . . .who had escaped to the Sunny Side.


“The Sunny Side” is where the oranges grow,



the skies are always blue, and the ocean is knocking at your back door: 



Jensen Beach, Florida! 



Don’t think for one minute this trip was ALL fun and games. 



She WAS on a mission: 

One . . . To bring Nana back home to South Carolina. 


Two . . .To bring Nana back home to South Carolina.


AND 



 Three . . . Mary Elizabeth wanted to make sure her dear Nana was okay after a fall off of a stability ball and an exercise nightmare. 



And here is another thing . . . Day two of our mother’s trip: The word is Nurse Auntie had to rush up to Nana’s apartment to assist in a sliced foot incident. This was due to an  attack made by shattered glass that cut the top of Nana’s foot rather badly. 



All this made us wonder. . . Is this place safe? 

We did our best to make due in this breathtaking land: 


We woke to the sun peeking over the water, warming our sleepy faces every morning . . . like clock work.  


We saw cousin Beth and her son Micheal. We learned it is not only good to know a nurse, it is good to know a pharmacist when you need one too.  


As Micheal fished, his mom saved the day by assisting with the medications our mother was taking for the pain from “the” fall. 




We went for long walks and suffered through these glorious warm days with the wind blowing through our hair and the smell of the ocean tickling our senses. 

 

On their way home, my sister Margaret and her boys who had also been visiting, stopped by our Father’s old stomping grounds  Kennedy Space Center. Margaret wanted to make sure things were still running smoothly and the final launch of Space Shuttle Discovery would be off on time. 


This was a good thing too, those of us that stayed behind wanted to see a rocket in the sky once again. 


The feeling of watching the rocket take off brought back so many warms memories of years gone past. I could feel our Father’s spirit soring as high as the rocket that was launched. 


It was good to back again in this place that we loved,


 to feel the sand on our finger tips again, 

and watch the sun sink into the bay as it whispered it’s good night. 


To some of us . . .the best part of going to Florida was not playing in the salt water and feeling the warmth of the sun on our back; 


 It was going home and making sure EVERYONE was where they need to be. 


Black and White Wednesday & The Sisters

Aunt Ann came down for a visit with two of her daughters….and just like Aunt Ann does SHE started to sing…and my mom started to sing…and then Auntie started to sing and sing and sing and sing.
 
(Aunt Ann, my Mom and Auntie)
AND
Sing they did!
(Margaret, Karen, Me
Peggy and Regina)

There was so much singing going on…we just couldn’t get away.

the long road

And The Beat Goes On

Now that we are back to school…..well mostly, I have 2 high school boys in the house this year and a 7th grade Kathryn. She is taking a high school speech class. The competition for the computer is fierce.

You know who is always last and posting just has to wait.

It is okay though…….I have a lot to do with helping this one or that one research and find what they need for an outside class or research something I am requiring. Even though we are not in a full groove yet ………I still think we just may learn something.

Since Halloween we have been very busy doing this or that, running here or there.

The Halloween party at Bill’s was a success. We didn’t mind the rain that put the bonfire out. All in all the rain was refreshing…There is something comforting getting together huddled in a cozy spot with family for another occasion.

As my mother has said many times these past months

~ “Our Father is always with us……The Beat will go on…..”

Stephanie surprised us with her remarkable cake decorating skills.

And things felt just a little normal… if we pretended …. While we listened to the rain, the Blues being played on the CD player, the voices singing along with Scott, Linda’s oldest son, strumming his guitar in time, Bill and I talked about the terrible loss we both felt. The rain seemed to be making an attempt to wash away some of the pain. Bill and I pretended to be brave for each other. We could feel our father smiling down on us knowing his family was together celebrating the fall, Halloween and letting the children play late into the night.

Sunday morning came all too fast. An early morning Mass and the boys served on the Alter again. An afternoon visit to my mothers turned into an impromptu birthday party for Eva. In good old George fashion he called his mother and said: “Today is Eva’s birthday.” “We are going to be over in about 10 minutes for a party.”

Without much persuading his mother came through once again. With quick phone calls to Margaret and Linda asking them if they knew and could they possibly come by to celebrate Eva’s 9th “surprise on us” birthday party……. after all….This is what we do. We celebrate life….Of course Margaret and Linda came through. Linda is one to have a closet of goodies just for these surprise occasions.

Margaret followed suit and came through with a book and a bracelet she had picked up for a dollar some where. My mother dug through her old pocketbooks and Christmas presents she had forgotten to give years past. I dug through the Goodwill bag I had in the car and luckily came up with a proper gift for a nine year old girl on my own.

As the men talked and laughed in the kitchen that afternoon, the women prepared the meal, set the table, wrapped the gifts and put together a proper party. As I chopped vegetables for the salad I looked out the kitchen window and saw the most important site of the day….

It was James initiating some normalcy with a Fall football game among the younger children in the back yard…and things felt almost whole again if only for a second.

We could feel our father smiling on us…knowing his family was together again celebrating.

My mom was right… The beat will go on.

Monday now and Auntie had a simple surgery performed on her eyes……The result was not so simple as she does not seem to do well with these things. A little TLC was thrown her way and with lots of rest she soon began to recover.

Soon Wednesday would be upon us and Stephen’s Confirmation. Which he was all too ready for. He tried on the shirt I had him measure for and bought only a month ago for my father’s funeral. It was quickly discovered the shirt must have shrunk in the wash…. It was a mad dash back to the store….I took Stephen and the shirt with me. I explained to the man at the store the shirt was too small. I followed the washing direction and it was only a month old.

With another quick measure we soon found the culprit…. Stephen. His arms had grown an inch in just a month. This man told me; I needed to take my little boy over to the big and tall section to find his proper length. Stephen could not have been more delighted to learn he had grown and inch and was now to long for the clothing of average size men.

And the beat goes on.

Wednesday nights confirmation could not have been more beautiful. Our new Bishop came and celebrated the confirmation mass. The family came and once again that day Stephen could not have been more excited. He had prepared a long time for this night. Even though we where short one very important family member we all could feel him there.

A confirmation celebration during the month of All Souls could not have been more fitting for our family.

After the Mass there were pictures and wouldn’t you know I dropped my camera breaking the little clip that holds the batteries in. The only picture I was able to take was one quick test picture before the whole thing died for the night.

There was the confirmation celebration over in the church hall and I met an old friend from the karate school. She told me how sorry she was when she heard about my father through another friend. She knew about his courageous fight from the beginning and thought she would tell me just how terrible she felt that she had not done anything. She had not sent a card, called me or even sent a simple e-mail. She told me over and over again just how bad SHE felt that she just didn’t do anything to say just how very, very sorry she was.

My answer to her was simple: “Don’t feel bad….If you want to send a card, call me or come over that would be greatly appreciated. We ALL still feel just terrible. There is still plenty of time. After all it has only been a month. We are not talking about losing a puppy….This is my father and the loss is so very great. There is still plenty of time if you want to do something for any of us. Once again it would be greatly appreciated.

The night ended and Stephen was so very proud.

Thursday my mother decided she would visit Karen for a couple of days. Off she went to North Carolina and they had a wonderful time.

Saturday night brought a game of tag phone when Margaret was trying to get in touch with me to share a letter written to her from a woman she had met on the Internet. Margaret told me Amy and she became friends through e-mail because of the marathon. Amy had donated money to her through Jenny’s blog. Margaret said they had written e-mails to each other a couple of times and how this wonderful woman was kind enough to send a care package just before the big race.

Margaret was over whelmed with the kindness of Amy and just the thought that she cared enough to write a real letter with her thoughts and show her love was over whelming to all of us.

These are Amy’s words:

I can’t begin to tell you how overwhelmed I am by the extraordinary family that you are a part of! From reading Jen’s blog and from reading your sister’s blog too, honestly I am always, every time, finding myself moved in some way. Certainly the warm and beautiful tributes to your Dad’s incredible “life well lived” left me in tears over and over again (because I read them over and over again!). But there are so many delightful and uplifting and meaningful stories about who you all are as a family… I just want to say “thank you” for the example you all set and for the reminder that family is out greatest blessing. How have I learned so much from people I have never met?!?! ………………………….Well just wanted to let you know that your life and your family and your humor and your optimism…. they continue to inspire!

Love, Amy

And once again WE are over whelmed with the kindness of strangers. The people that have poured their love on us has been truly for a lack of a better word…..just simply over whelming.

The Amy’s of the world are the extraordinary ones. We are just a family….trying to get through. I want to say Thank you Amy for being kind and thoughtful enough to carry threw…You truly humble us.

Sunday my mother arrived home safely and a surprise knock came to the door. It was Rebecca, a friend of mine and Margaret’s, with a cake, smiles, warm conversation, hugs and most of all love. She and her teenage daughter had dropped by to check on our mom. She wanted to let my mother know she knew her pain and most of all she was thinking of our mother.

It always amazes Margaret and I when these woman we know and love check on our mom. It is over whelming to think they care about us this much to show their love…..over and over and over again.

And the Beat goes on.

Monday again and Matthew could not be more excited about the lecture he, Stephen and I were going to an hour and a half drive away from our home; Dr. Ron Paul would be speaking at USC in Columbia on The Constitution, Tolerance and the State of the Economic Crises……we feel everyday.

After the lecture Matthew stood in a crowd to meet this man he so admires….I took his picture as Stephen patiently waited off to the side.

After the final Photo we where on our way home for a late night drive.

There was a late dinner and warm conversation with my boys. Matthew told me how excited he was to have finely met Dr. Paul and that The excitement was so much for him he said almost didn’t feel as depressed as he has felt in months. Stephen cracked jokes and we laughed, ate and talked about the lecture.

Matthew said he wished he could share it all with his grandpa and he just knew Grandpa would be as excited as he was. He told me he felt Grandpa would have come to the lecture….If he could have. We talked about the future and things almost felt whole again…if we pretended only for a second.

And the Beat goes on.

Tuesday I get the mail from Monday and an amazing thing happened….I open a card. It reads In Memory of from the American Cancer Society:

In Remembrance of

William Finnell, Sr

A Memorial Gift has been made to

The American Cancer Society.

Our prayer are with you always.

We love you! Karate Girls

And I am truly over whelmed and think boy these woman are amazing. They really do love us and they do pray for us…..We can feel it. How is it we have been so blessed with such wonderful DO-ERS in our lives?

As I prepared for the dinner guest we would be welcoming for the night Ann calls and asks me about a Breast Cancer Walk in Washington DC 2010 that Jen said I was going to do….I give her huuuuh??? What??? As Ann fills me in on the details we laugh and say well let’s look into it. It sounds like it would be fun…….. Jen, Margaret, Karen, Regina? Ohhhh that does sound like a good time…….I tell her Maybe I will be able go….I’ll check it out and let her know.

Father Theo and Mom came for dinner that night. Baked Lasagna and chocolate cake.

The dinner went off wonderfully. As the rain and the wind came down around the house in the woods that Bill built we laughed, enjoyed the great company, ate dinner, shared conversation and talked about father. We talked about how beautiful it was to share the last couple of months with him and truly care for him. We talked about the future……and things almost felt whole again if we pretended….. only for a second.

Today is Wednesday there is an Environmental Lecture the boys need to go to for Debate at Clemson University another hour and a half drive away. Should be interesting.

Ummm ~ Mom was right….The Beat does go on.

“The beat goes on, the beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da”

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?

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.”

The Marys are THREE!!

Yesterday, July 7th, was Mary Elizabeth’s third birthday. It was Auntie’s Third birthday too. We decided it would be great fun to have a combined Surprise Birthday Party for Auntie……
at her house.
REALLY IT WAS OKAY!!
“Surprise!
We are coming to your house….
In five minutes…..Clean up quick!!
Did you make us a cake??”
No!!!
We are nicer then that!
We brought cake.

AND

Presents!

Lots of Presents!! We had a great time!

~But ~

…..There was someone missing…..

Auntie’s Jim

He had a stroke last week.

He is doing much better this week and he is in rehab.

Even though, he is in the hospital and could not make our party

~ He didn’t miss it~

We took the party to him.

He loved it!

He is the nicest man.

They are a great team and really love each other very much.

I know he and Aunt Mary Lou would appreciate prayers for his healing.

~ So if you could ~

They will not be wasted.