Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear Sarah - four months

Dear Sarah,

I'm a terrible mom as in, at three months I didn't write you a letter. To my credit, it fell right around your baptism and we had a lot going on. If you ever are blessed with a younger sibling, you can now boast "See, she didn't always write to me either!".

Truth is, there is SO much to share about you, it's hard to find time to write it all down.

This month, you lost your dear sweet, great-grandmother. I plan to tell you all about her when you get older and can understand just what a wonderful woman she was. You'll learn that often times, family only gets together at weddings and funerals and this was no exception. But the perk - you got to meet your Uncle John and Tia Cat earlier than expected, PLUS you were passed around to all your great aunts, uncles and...2nd cousins (we think...we couldn't figure out their relation to first cousins). Your great aunts decided they were too young for their title and surely it just means "exceptionally awesome aunts" or something to that extent.

You were a champ on the plane despite the one incriminating photo your father chose to take right before we changed your diaper on the plane. It's floating around somewhere, but I have your back and will not post it here. ;-)

They all oohed and ahhed over you and you were your usual ray of sunshine which brought us all joy in the midst of some pretty intense sorrow. You don't have any cousins of your own yet, or second cousins once removed (or whatever it would be...), but I'm pretty sure you passed baby fever on to a few. In fact, they all agreed they would consider children if their children were as pleasant and easy as you are. I was then asked to be a surrogate, but by now, you've heard your story and can understand when I quickly nixed that idea.

Your dad and I have so much fun with you. You interact with us on a regular basis now, smiling, cooing back and forth with us, and letting out some of the most infectious high-pitched giggles I've ever heard.

These giggles are also nothing but excuses for us to continue tormenting you with things like blowing raspberries on your belly...

You are growing like a weed and although six months clothes swallow you trim body whole, you are 24 1/2 inches long. All footed sleepers are now at least marked 3-6 months, if not 6 months, and some of your onsies won't snap because you're so long. (Ok, your big fat diapers don't help...). However, hold fast that you were at one point this small:

You love to stand up "like a big girl". If we hold you up you will plant your feet firmly and balance yourself to stand up as straight and as tall as you can manage. Usually, you smile and giggle with great accomplishment as we praise you for this! You also prefer to sit up and while you still need a little help with keeping upright, it's not going to be long before you do it yourself.

You're curious about everything around you and no longer like to be held facing us. Nope, the world is much more interesting than my boring old face. You follow sounds with your eyes and head. Much to my dismay, you LOVE tv or anything with a screen. Your papa let you watch your first cartoons while we were home and you thought they were magical. Sesame street was a big hit.

After your dad and I take a video of you doing something cute (which is all the time), you will watch it with us, mesmerized with the sights and sounds on the screen.

You're quite the wiggly worn and have learned how to roll over by yourself. As much as I manage to try to put you to sleep on your back, you have discovered you prefer your side and stomach a whole lot more. I try not to worry about you too much because you can lift your head high for quite a long time now, so I just pray you'll do that if you need to breathe!

We just bought you a jumper that clips onto the door frame. It's too big for you so we stuff a blanket behind you, but you've decided this thing is awesome. You also enjoy sitting in the bumbo and your swing is still a favorite!

The blanket below you was to help stabilize your feet between the hard wood and the tile floor, but it was also a spit catcher. You're a droolin' fool with teeth that want to make their debut in the world. While we were in TN, I may have bought you a bib that said "I spit orange." and by may...I  mean...I did.  I can't let you forget your that your heritage runs from the heart of East Tennessee.

We also got to visit some friends from college while we were in NC. I tried to get you a shirt so you could spread the word about that great Lutheran university in Hickory, NC, but alas - they missed their big publicity opportunity with a bookstore that was closed. We did however, introduce you to the man, the myth, the legend: Pastor Weisner.


We took you to the Tap Room with our friends Cory and Jessica after we enjoyed some rousing organ music and fantastic worship at the Episcopal church where Cory serves as organist. I could swear we took a picture with them, but I can't find it.

We also took obligatory pictures of you with the big Bear on campus and the new Luther statue. Unfortunately, we took them with your dad's iPhone. Hopefully by the time you read this, Apple products will figure out a way to be compatible with the rest of the world and they'll let me save pictures to my Samsung (non apple product). That - or non of these two companies will exist anymore...

Bottom line kid - you're loved more than you could ever know. Four months is just as joyful as the other months and watching you grow-up is a privilege I will never take forgranted.

Thanks for letting me be your mom. 
 Love and raspberry kisses,

Monday, September 2, 2013

This is the Day the Lord has made...

and I'm at a loss for words...At least in person.

That's a song I vividly remember my Grandma singing to me again and again.

Last night my Aunt Cathy suggested to my dad that I call my grandma and say goodbye to her. She's been on a slippery up and down slope for several weeks, but it looks like there will be no rebound on this latest slope. I talked to Stephen for a while before I called...he wanted me to write down what I wanted to say: A favorite memory, what she means to me, how Jesus loves her. I didn't want to write it down because I didn't want to think about it. I wanted it over with.

You can read into that BIG FAT WEENIE.

Truth is, I've been gone so long, I have a hard time picturing my always active, always smiling, always up doing something for others grandma in a hospital bed in her room, not getting up, not opening her eyes, not speaking, not eating. So saying goodbye over a telephone just doesn't feel right to begin with.

Having my aunt tell me she is hearing me because her breathing pattern changed...doesn't feel right either.

My grandma was one of the most servant-hearted people I have ever met. Perhaps the most. I think I may have told her some gist of that, but the truth is I can't remember because it felt like I was vomiting at the mouth...wanting to say something comforting and wanting it to be over with at the same time.

I have a picture of us when she drove up to my junior recital in Hickory that is always how I'll remember her. Bright shining eyes with a huge smile and a look like she couldn't love or be more prouder of me. The next year she actually catered my senior recital because the woman could cook and bake things better than anyone. The first sign she was getting older was my aunts committing to help her because they thought it might be a bit much for her. I have the best family in the world. I've been looking all over for that picture. It had been on my refrigerator for years, but we recently got a new refrigerator and those pictures were put somewhere "safe".

The older I get, the more I realize how I am my grandma both in genetics and personality. I'll never be close to as self-less as she was, but we are the same height, she sewed the most amazing things, loved crafts and loved for them to be organized complete with labels. Because of our height, she used to give the best hugs. I loved getting to give and receive hugs from her because she and I could wrap our arms completely around each other with no reaching or stretching. Pure joy and comfort.

When family came into town for Sarah's baptism and I had a full house of giggling family, loud and boisterous and spread all over the place - I cooked a fair amount of food and basked in the absolute joy of having a full house of family. I suddenly realized why the feasts grandma put together were always viewed by her as nothing much. It made me happy to listen to everyone having a good time and making sure they were well fed. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

And much as I wished Sarah could have met her great-Papa, I wish she could meet her great-Grandma. But not the Grandma the Grandma of I don't even want to remember the Grandma of today. The Grandma that would spend hours upon hours playing skip-bo with me. Teaching me to knit which I was SO horrible at. The grandma that let me play with her stamps and make a complete mess out of all her stuff just because she enjoyed teaching me. Unfortunately I got into sewing too late to learn much from her. I kick myself all the time because turns out I'm a really bad knitter, an ok crocheter,lack the patience for a good scrap booker and stamping...well like most things Grandma taught me I did it for a little while. But once I found sewing...everything else fell away.

 Down in her basement is a mecca of fabric in Rubbermaid containers with labels by color and holiday season. I took some buttons from her a while ago and sewed them onto Sarah's 4th of July dress - but my three Dukes mayonnaise jars of buttons can't hold a candle to the pickle jars still sitting down there. Every button seems to have character and I want to ask her where they came from...but there are so many of them - I doubt she could tell me anyway!

The first time I'd ever heard of a mission trip was when Grandma and Papa went to St. Lucia. The pictures from their trip are a far cry from the luxury resort I enjoyed in St. Lucia on my honeymoon. Both she and Papa had servants hearts. Papa could fix anything and do it right - the first time. Grandma could love anyone she met as her own.

The first time I'd ever spent anytime around people with mental and physical handicaps was going up for worship at the Church of the Exceptional. It's a church founded to cater to the specific needs of children and families with mental and physical handicaps so that they could worship without holding anything back. I remember grandma prepping me for it telling me that I might hear people shouting out things when they shouldn't be, and that some of them would be in wheelchairs, some of them wouldn't have control of their bodily functions but that's ok because that's just who they are. She served as their treasurer until she was unable to keep up with it.

She also taught Sunday school regularly. Anytime we were there for a Sunday (which wasn't often because mom always played at St. Timothy's service on Sunday) she took us and dropped us off to go have Sunday school while she went up and taught her class. One summer when mom dropped me off before she went to Lutheridge, I went to VBS at Adaville Baptist Church. It was there that I got to go play put-put golf and informed everyone that "there was this puddle, and it had water in it". I still haven't lived that down...

And for a break in the's one thing my Grandma taught me that I remember everyday. How to put my underwear on in the correct direction. Apparently I put it on backwards one day while she was keeping me. I remember her holding my underwear in front of me and telling me if I could see fabric behind the leg holes, I was putting them on correctly. Yes, I think if my Grandma every day when I put on my underwear. Somehow, I felt silly telling her that last night.

I felt silly telling her any of this. Do I acknowledge to her that I'm saying goodbye for the last time. Would that make her feel sad or would that make her feel at peace and ready to go? All I know is I want her not to suffer. I want her to go home and be with her Father in heaven and be at peace. If anyone has a special place carved just for them - it would be her.

What this good Lutheran wanted to say to that most devoted Southern Baptist was that there is a place for her. The she has been claimed by God and loved forever. That Dorothy, Child of God has fought the good fight, lived the good life and can rest in the hope of the Resurrection. Well done good and faithful servant. Go in peace.