Monthly Archives: March 2011

Birthday Festivities

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I truly feel that this has been a birthMONTH of activities, rather than just a birthday 🙂  Since we just finished up celebrating this past Sunday, I thought I’d blog about it and let you all know the fun stuff going on this month.  As you know, my Grandpa passed away on March 1st, so we were all together at my grandparents home in March and enjoyed a little cake and ice cream – not necessarily under the ‘fun’ category, but nice to be with family and celebrating such an incredible man. 

On my actual birthday, some coworkers treated me to lunch and Ruth invited herself to decorate my quarter of the classroom and my car!  That evening, I headed to the weekly Bible Study with my girls and then convinced everyone to come over to Yogurtland with me for old time’s sake 🙂 On Friday, my wonderful Hubs had a surprise planned for us.  I was told when to be ready and what to wear and off we went!  We ended up in Old Town at Harney Sushi – YUM!  We had to wait for over an hour, so spent time wandering through the shops and walking the streets as we waited for another couple to arrive – also a surprise!  It was a couple that we’d been talking about having a double date with for the past month or so and the timing worked out perfectly!  We enjoyed LOTS of YUMMY sushi with Mikey and Sandra and then headed home.

Saturday, Josiah had to work and I cleaned the house and prepared it for a surprise party for my friend Mistie.  Her birthday isn’t until later in the month, but her mom was in town and we conspired and decided to do an early celebration!  It was another fun night of sushi and celebration – we played games, laughed, and had a great time. 

Sunday, it was off to church and then home to prepare for yet more celebrations!  About 25 people came over on Sunday afternoon for a delicious spread of food (thanks everyone!), a fabulous game of ‘Fish Bowl’ (my team won, naturally), and a homemade lemon cake my mom made, per my request 🙂  The day was perfect and we wrapped it up by renting a movie to unwind – poor Josiah, all this running around with only one day off is exhausting!  But he’s such a trooper!

As a birthday celebration finale, we headed up to my mom and Jim’s this past Sunday.  We enjoyed lunch and some r&r before beginning the trek up to Hollywood.  Josiah was excited to explore the city, but the weather wasn’t as cooperative – so we spend some time driving by some sites and through Beverly Hills before enjoying dinner at the Larchmont Grill.  Oh. My. Goodness.  DECLICIOUS!!!  We started off with some perfectly seasoned calamari, then I had an exquisite pear arugula salad before moving onto Sweet corn shrimp ravioli (strange, right?! – Josiah was so proud that I branched out beyond my usual Salmon…plus my mom had ordered that, so I knew I could try a bite!).  The men had a barely cooked piece of Filet – I’m pretty sure I heard it moo and was disgusted, but they enjoyed it!  We wrapped up with three desserts amongst the four of us –  I had a chocolate pistachio torte and we also ordered a pear/peach crisp and a cinnamon apple pie – both a la mode, of course!  YUM!

Then it was off to the Pantages for a Sunday evening musical!!  My mom and Jim got us all tickets to Beauty and the Beast for my birthday.  I had seen it about 15 years ago at the Gammage in Arizona and was looking forward to seeing it again, especially since one of our family friends was in the performance!  We got to stay afterwards and chat with Lars for a little bit before dropping him off at his hotel.   It was such a fun day!  And a wonderful performance!  We headed home about 10, stopped at my mom and Jim’s to get our car and then began the trek home.  Ugh.  Something I do not recommend – it was POURING rain and I believe that I hydroplaned about 7 times (seriously.  Thankfully I never lost total control, but it was so scary!).  Thankfully, we made it home safely a little bit after midnight. 

What a FUN and FABULOUS birthday to celebrate 29 years….now onto 30!  What an adventure!!

A Tribute To Gramps

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(Here is a little bit of what I planned on speaking at Grandpa’s Memorial a few weeks ago…I think I basically stuck to it. 🙂  Two of my cousins and I got up to share a little bit of what Gramps meant to us…)

As I sat in the airport waiting for everyone to arrive I couldn’t help but think of all of the memories of my Grandma and Grandpa that revolve around the airport – while playing basketball at UNT, they’d be at the airport each season when we arrived to play NMSU – and Grandpa would know each of my teammates by name.  Throughout college, many lay-overs were spent in El Paso en route to Phoenix – we’d spend hours eating, catching up, and playing games (usually Boggle – and at a young age it became my life’s mission to beat my Grandpa at Boggle – it took years, but I finally succeeded!).  Once, my Grandma couldn’t make it to the airport (she was home making pounds of brisket for some event they were hosting) so my Grandpa sat and took notes on our conversation so that he could relay it all to her.  As I flew into El Paso this Friday, my heart sank realizing that he wouldn’t be out front to pick me up. 

As I sat in their house this weekend, memories flooded me.  I could hear his whistle as he walked down the hallway patiently waiting for Grandma, I could hear his chuckle as we told stories or recalled memories while on their patio, I heard his frustration with the remote – possibly the only thing I ever heard him speak negatively about – I could hear his cautions to my dad as he crawled up on the roof to clean, I could hear his and my Grandma’s commitment to laugh at least once a day coming true. 

I think all of us here are aware of what an incredible man my Grandpa was – I don’t think collectively we could think of anything negative to say about him.  A huge part of that is probably due to the fact that, despite the aforementioned remote control, I never heard my Grandpa say anything negative about anything or anybody.  Even in the hospital, he was thanking the nurses for their care.  We’re so blessed to have that example to follow – although sometimes I struggle with it!  Between his love, integrity, compassion and dedication, there’s a lot to live up to.  I’m so thankful for the man that he is and the memories that we have – grateful he didn’t suffer long before passing on and glad we can all be here to celebrate and honor his life. 

As many of you might know, I’ve followed in grandpa’s teaching footsteps – although I teach elementary school special education, not high school math.  Just this past Thanksgiving, I decided to administer a formal assessement on him.  The results adequately concluded that my Grandpa was a very superior man – and we can all say we are better people because we knew him.

Grieving is an interesting process – the other day, I found myself crying three times.  Once as I looked at his picture in my office, I cried for the people that didn’t get the chance to know my Grandpa.  Later as I walked through the cereal aisle and passed the Frosted Flakes – although he hasn’t eaten them in years, I’ll always think of him with this cereal.  And before I went to bed and looked at their picture on my nightstand, I cried thinking about how I won’t be able to call him anymore.  However, there are also moments of gladness – times when I’m so happy he didn’t suffer longer than he did, so glad that he lived almost 88 years to share his life and love with so many people, and I’m so thankful for the past ten years of my life when I got to spend so much time with my Grandparents.  It’s awesome not to have any regrets…Looking forward to Heaven! 

Gramps, 1923-2011

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My Grandpa would have been 88 in July.  However, the past two weeks he was hospitalized due to liver failure (as the nurse said, ‘poor guy, never had any of the fun that usually causes this!’ – I don’t think my Grandpa has taken a sip of alcohol in his entire life).  Thankfully, my sister and I had the opportunity to go out to El Paso last weekend with my dad to see my Grandpa.  We got to give him massages, feed him his dinner, help him with his exercises, and just hang out.  Gramps and I even got to talk a little bit about my wedding a few months ago, the basketball season at UTEP, and all the stuff going on in this ‘upside-down world’ as he calls it.  As we left, my Grandpa just cried (as did we) and made sure to say, ‘I love you…I’ll see you soon, alright?’  I think the hardest part of watching his body fail him was the fact he was scared and didn’t seem ready to go (he pointed to me and suggested he might want to wait for me to have another great-grandbaby for him…he was blessed with two in this past year!).

My cousin Heather and her son Xavi got to go out and visit Gramps this past weekend and he could barely open his eyes.  I’d had the week to process what I’d seen and experienced with Gramps and had some stuff left to say, and Heather was gracious enough to read this letter to him,

Hi Grandpa!
 
I’ve obviously been thinking about you lots lately!  I was talking to my Dad about how great it is that you live a life of such integrity – that there are no questions as to who you care about, who you love, and about your values – I’m always amazed by your consistency – your great attitude, your involvement in organizations and lives, your care and love for Grandma and all of us…and your character – so genuine, loving, and strong.  The Bible talks about being ‘steadfast and immovable’ and I think you are just that.  It’s awesome to live a life of no regrets and I think you’ve set that example for all of us.  As I was thinking of you living a life with no regrets, I began wondering if there was going to be anything I would one day regret not talking to you about.  Obviously, it’s difficult to talk on the phone with everything going on over there and while I was there in person, I hadn’t had the chance to process all of this yet – so thankfully, Heather is there now and she agreed to read some of this to you 🙂 
 
Life is so interesting because really the only thing certain about it is death, yet the idea of death is still so frightening.  However, my student passing away last week just continued to reinforce the idea that none of this is guaranteed – I don’t know that you’ll for sure be here this summer, I don’t know if I’ll still be here this summer, and really I don’t know who will be here this summer.  So I really want to continue to live in a way that I have no regrets in the way that you have – that people know that I love them, that people know where I stand, that people feel cared about by me.  I think the scariest part is the unknown also.  The Bible talks a lot about heaven – and I know that John has been coming in there along with other people from church.  I don’t want you to be scared Grandpa.  I want you to be excited about Heaven – whether it is weeks from now, months from now or years from now.  Sometimes, I still get jealous thinking about how my friend Kisha is there right now and I’m not.  Not that I want to die yet, but the reality of what Heaven is is so appealing to me.  We get new bodies!  We get to dance!  We get to meet God face to face – to hang out with Him, praise Him, worship Him – I just think that is so awesome.  That we get to spend eternity in His presence!  I don’t want you to be sad… because we’ll all get to see each other again whether here or there.  I don’t want you to be scared…because the Bible tells us what is coming next when we believe in Jesus.
 
I’m praying for healing for you Grandpa – I’m praying for comfort for you.  I’m praying that you’ll continue to be able to find the joy and strength and gratitude that you have despite all the pain that you are in.  I’m so encouraged by you, Grandpa.  You are an incredible man and have set an amazing example of a husband, a father, and a friend.  I just might go write notes to everyone now while I’m at it just to make sure everyone knows how much they mean to me!  I’ve got a lot of writing to do 🙂  Thank you so much for who you are, Gramps!  I’m excited to come spend a few days there this summer before moving out to Dallas.  I love, love, love you!  (Insert big hug and a little massage here)…

I don’t think I could begin to say enough positive things about this incredible man.  Seriously.  I stand in awe of how he lived his life and the person he is.  I’ve never heard him complain (even in the hospital, he was thanking all of the nurses for their care each time they came in) and I’ve NEVER heard him say anything remotely negative about anybody – how is that even possible?!  He was the most precious husband to my Grandma – they were married for almost 64 years and Gramps knew from the time he saw my Grandma she was the one…Grandma wasn’t too sure…he was ‘too nice’ she said.  Then, in a movie theater, Gramps moved her class ring from her right hand to the left and they were engaged 🙂 

We’ve been blessed to have some incredible family celebrations – their 50th anniversary at Disneyland with the whole crew, Grandpa’s 80th Birthday party, Grandpa’s 85th birthday party, their 60th anniversary at Pagaent of the Masters, a small get together for Grandma’s 85th this past year, Thanksgivings, Drew & Becky’s wedding, Heather and Tom’s wedding, our wedding in August.  This in addition to all of the trips they made to Denton and Las Cruces to watch me play throughout college.  My grandpa would listen to the games on the computer and was even known to take stats.  He printed out pictures of all of my teammates and had their names memorized when they saw them.  My coaches would let me stay at their home when we played New Mexico State and they’d feed me well and play plenty of games with me (Mexican Train, Rumikub, Liverpool, etc.).  Their house was full of fun, games, pool time, and as we grew up, gumdrops and lots of candy and ice cream 🙂 

Throughout college, I’d have a lay-over in El Paso on the way home to Phoenix.  No matter what they were doing, they’d make their way to the airport to spend 30 minutes or a few hours with me.  We’d play boggle and eat lunch (and grandma would pack all the extras in the ziplocks she carries in her purse for later) – one time, Grandma was busy preparing for a party they were having, so Gramps still came and took notes on everything I talked about so that he could tell Grandma. 

He was the kindest, most gentle, loving, consistent, and compassionate man.  I’ve seen that grown man cry quite often!  Who says grown men don’t cry?  Particularly Army Men – and we’re talking about a Colonel here!  He spent a lot of time in the Army and then retired in El Paso where he started teaching math at the Catholic school.  Even this past Thanksgiving, Gramps scored ‘Very Superior’ on the math section of a Formal Assessment I administered on him – too cute! 

I’m so blessed to be able to call this man my Gramps.  He was an incredible example of a human being and I can only hope to be more like him in my days to come.  We’ll all be going to El Paso this weekend to honor and celebrate his life.  He will be deeply missed by many…particularly this granddaughter of his.