Hope your summer has been fantastic!
When I decided to close down my blog for a month and a half right before we left for our summer vacay (family reunion), I wondered if I really needed that much time. We were only going to be gone for two weeks.
However, there were several other reasons why I thought it would be a smart idea and those reasons proved to be true. I knew what was coming in my life--and sadly, it came.
If you have been following my blog, then you know my father was very ill with pancreatic cancer. We decided to have a family reunion with all of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. We knew Dad was going downhill and in spite of his determination to fight, the treatments were not working.
We didn't want to go to all of the effort to have everyone together just for the funeral.
We wanted to have everyone together while my father was still alive.
It was the best thing we ever did.
We had an amazing family reunion. We each had the opportunity to say our goodbyes to our father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
We had all been telling ourselves there was still a chance for him, that a miracle might happen.
But once we saw him, I think we all knew. He had lost a scary amount of weight, he could barely stand or speak, and he hardly ate anything at all. It was a truly heartbreaking sight.
Regardless, somehow he found the strength to get up and join us for as many of the activities as he possibly could, which was nothing short of amazing. It was only through sheer will power that he was able to find the energy to join us.
Here's a few pictures of all of us together:
(Yes, we had matching t-shirts! Except one of my nephews who insisted on having a different color than everyone else.)
The below picture is taken by the tree house my father built. (The one I featured in Girl of Mine.)
The below picture is of my parents with their living children. (My brother passed away at age 27. Pictured is my foster brother.)
The next picture is of my parents with their grandchildren. (The four on the right are mine!!)
Below are my parents with their great grandchildren. (BTW, they are all my grandchildren. And my mother is pointing to the one on the way, who happens to be a GIRL!!!)
This next one is of my family with my parents.
These pictures are now highly precious to all of us.
We left our family reunion on July 12th.
We each had time to say goodbye to Dad.
We knew it was only a matter of time.
My father passed away peacefully in his sleep, in his own home, on July 23rd while surrounded by family, holding his hands and talking to him.
If it's your time to return home, I can't think of a better way to leave this earth.
My hubby and I returned to Oregon for the funeral services.
Me and my sisters.
The fire truck led the procession to the cemetery.
The pall bearers all wore one of my father's Disney ties.
He loved to wear Disney ties and seldom wore anything else with his suit.
My father was a retired fire chief, a true American hero.
So, needless to say, it has been an eventful summer.
Chasing Fireflies released on July 1st, and then all of my attention went to family matters. (More on Chasing Fireflies next week.)
I'm home now and readjusting to life. The desire to remain in Oregon for another month with my mother was strong. But I had other family responsibilities at home and I needed to go back to Texas.
My father spent his retirement years landscaping and working his property. He has seven acres.
He truly created a paradise. It's so beautiful and relaxing.
This is the barn. The BARN! (The place where he stores all his STUFF.)
I've already told my Mom that I want to convert the barn into my retirement home. It's amazing.
(Decorations and popcorn machine left over from our Family Reunion. We had a talent show, a dance party, a painting party (choose a name and paint a painting for a family member), a baby shower, and a movie night in the barn. It's filled with wonderful memories.)
BTW, here's what my niece painted for me!! I love it!
Dad joined as often as possible.
Movie night pic below, projected on the barn doors.
Sigh. I feel peaceful just looking at the pictures. I could easily live there.
My father has left behind an amazing legacy. My mother wants the property to stay in the family and we are all on board with that idea.
Love you, Dad.
This post is dedicated to my father.
In loving memory.
Taylor I am crying so much right now I don't know what to say. May God be with you and your family at this very sad time. I am very, very sorry.ReplyDelete
Exactly what you said is perfect, Rita. I can't read this post without crying as well. At the end of our family reunion, we gathered around Dad's bed and sang "I am a Child of God," then we each took a turn to share a special memory of him and told him we loved him. He couldn't get out of bed on that night, but he heard everything we said and responded. He said a few words to us at the end and I'll never forget that moment. No regrets. We had what so many wish they could have--and that is closure. The hospice nurse said that event was probably the moment when he was able to finally let go and allow himself to die peacefully. It was a tender time, but I'm so thankful we had the time together that we did. Thank you for your kind words.Delete
I'm so sorry for you loss, but what a celebration of life you had! Your family is beautiful, and your dad left quite a legacy. I'm keeping you in my prayers as you go through this loss.ReplyDelete
It truly was the best time and I long for a repeat of those days. I just want to go back and live them one more time. But the memories are there and I'll always treasure them. Thank you for your prayers, Christy. After such an emotional event, it's tough to return to real life. I'm giving myself some time to mourn.Delete
What a summer! It looks like you created such fun memories to carry you through the tough times and you will always treasure the time you spent together one last time as a family. Your pictures are wonderful and I agree that the barn is amazing! Love and hugs!ReplyDelete
It has been quite the eventful summer! I still feel stunned over everything that happened and I feel as though I left my heart in Oregon. And, yes, I love that barn. I'd love to renovate it and put a master suite in the loft and the downstairs could be one big living room and kitchen area. It's just a few steps from my Mom's house and shares a backyard with her. It's so perfect! Of course, I doubt the city would allow us to turn it into a residence, but it doesn't stop me from dreaming about it. Thanks so much for your love and hugs, Melanie.Delete
I'm so glad you all got together for that reunion. What a blessing! Your dad is amazing. I can't believe everything he did. That barn is incredible. So book-worthy, like his treehouse. I love how you have worked him into some of your books. I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful life he lived and still does.ReplyDelete
The reunion couldn't have been more perfect and I'm so glad we went to all the effort to do it. So many relationships were renewed between all the cousins and now we all long to live close to each other. I'm still having a hard time with not being there with everyone. Thanks for your sweet words, Charissa. I do need to remind myself often that my father lived a complete and full life, which is very comforting.Delete
So sorry for your loss! I'm so happy you got that precious summer to be together with him and have closure. He seems like the perfect father. I know you all will be together again someday! Love you!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mylissa. I know that we will have a sweet reunion in heaven one day and I'm so thankful for that knowledge. I feel so pathetic because I cry at the drop of a hat and I just can't seem to control my tears. I know it will get better with time, but right now I'm so tender. I appreciate your sympathy. The comfort of others is so meaningful right now and helps so much.Delete
Interesting reading your blogReplyDelete