Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bitter Sweet Week

Daddy Billy with Kaitlyn Joy at 4.5 months old

We picked Neal up from the airport yesterday. He's been gone for over a month; he likes to say 5 weeks, but it was more like 4.5. We had been counting down until he was coming home on a calender, but after a bad weekend that went out the window. I would just tell her "daddy is coming home in X days".

Perhaps I should backtrack a little. Maybe a month ago my grandfather's care became to much for my grandmother, Mama Peggy. When he couldn't turn over any more she had to put him in a home. This was a huge struggle for her. When you've done everything in your power to keep someone out of a home it's hard to finally hand them over. She was encouraged they have a high success rate of getting people back on their feet and home again. It seems that was not to be the case with him. I'll spare you the health details and just say a heart issue came up and surgery wasn't an option. On Thursday Mama Peggy signed the DNR (do not resuscitate) so Hospice could take over his care. The doctor said he could have 3 months or a year; he really didn't know. I was expecting him to make it to Thanksgiving, but not Christmas. Sunday morning my mom sent me and my brother a text - don't you love modern technology - saying Daddy Billy passed in his sleep. He had a lot of health issues, but I'll be honest I was selfish. My first thing was to ask "Why?!" Only in my head when I would question why he had to die I would picture life as a child. All the camping, fishing and boating we did when I was growing up. I would picture Christmas morning and how special they always tried to make it for us. I pictured Saturday morning pancakes at Mama Peggy's bar with little sausages that I wasn't a fan of. Daddy Billy loved them so I would eat them to. I'm sure my brother, Daddy Billy and I looked like the Three Stooges sitting across that bar. My question for Jeremy is "Why did I always have to sit on the short stool?" I was the younger and smaller of us two. Daddy Billy's health and body wasn't what it used to be 20 years ago. It was his time to pass on into glory.

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We all should be jealous. However still being around means God's not finished with us yet.

After learning he was gone I packed up and made the four hour drive to my grandparents house. It was a rough, emotional few days. I would reflect back to my childhood and cry, then remember how things were before he passed and be thankful his fight was over. Kaitlyn Joy did wonderfully through it all. Her second cousin whose five months younger then her was a cry baby the day of the viewing, but Kj handled it all well even without some down time. During the viewing we got to meet some of the neighbors who had welcomed Daddy Billy into their lives. They had some funny stories of how he would pop in and join whatever was going on. Apparently when any construction was going on he also felt at liberty to verbally help them out or tell them when they were doing it wrong. All present really seemed to love him. They all got together the day of his viewing and made a family dinner for the next day after the funeral. I had to head home from the graveyard so I missed the meal. Mom said the neighbors had cleaned up the house making it presentable for all the family. I talked with Mama Peggy later and she was really touched by how much they cared.

My dad's side of the family is small, two kids who had two kids each. Daddy Billy was an only child and Mama Peggy has a sister. My mom is one of eight. Most of her siblings have at least three kids. I know Grandma might wish I would call more often, but one of my cousin's keeps up with her so I feel a bit of relief there. With Mama Peggy I've decided to try and call her at least once a day; for right now anyway. She needs one person who isn't asking her for something and that will just listen. I've called her many times when she's stressed or having a hard time with Daddy Billy being gone or when in the home. Usually by the time we get off the phone she's doing better. I must admit over the past 2-3 weeks we probably talk about three times a day; not for long though.

Now, this brings us to rushing home Wednesday night after the funeral. Not a fun thing to do by any means. Kaitlyn Joy had school on Thursday. She had already been out for two days so I didn't want her missing more. Goodness, I didn't kick off my heels until I was an hour from home. I've never worn them for so long. My feet were killing me.

Thursday seemed to fly by and Friday finally came. Kaitlyn Joy kept asking when daddy was coming home. Around noon we set off for some local shopping then to the mall downtown. Seeing how he was arriving around rush hour I didn't want to try getting there from home. When we finally headed to the airport Kj kept asking, "do you see daddy?" I would tell her not yet while trying to find a parking place. She said, "Daddy has black hair." I corrected, "Daddy has brown hair." Kj, "Oh, right, brown hair." Every few moments she would say something about Neal having brown hair. I asked if she thought she wouldn't recognize him. I think she was looking for any guy with brown hair. We went into the airport and started looking for him. I spotted him long before she did. There were few people around. He started walking to us and she still didn't see him. She kept mumbling about him having brown hair. I pointed out that he was walking straight at us. I kept saying "See! See!" Finally she did. I said, "Go get him! Hurry!" She took off running. She didn't let him out of her sight until she had to go to bed.


Anonymous said...

This was suck a great story and I love this website. You are such a great person and proud to have you as a great cousin. (not sure) Anyway, I speak to Aunt Peggy alot as well hoping i help her... I love her dearly...
Love to you and your wonderful family.....Connie

Hilary said...

Oh Jennifer I am so sorry about your Grandpa....will be praying for your family!!!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving too..glad that Neal is home :)