Thursday, February 21, 2013

Losing Loved Ones

The past few weeks have been quite emotional! 
As you know about a month ago I wrote about my Mama Ritchey. She had been fighting for her life for several months & kept miraculously making it through each set back. The Dr's were amazed that she was still alive. 
Over the course of these months in & out of the hospital, she NEVER once complained!! She always just wanted to go Home as in...her heavenly home. She didn't mind that her body was giving out...she lived a full life & she was ready to go. 

She passed away on February 10, 2013 at 86 years old. 
One week to the DAY that Matt's G'daddy passed...I am SO thankful that even though these loved ones were taken so close together, that they didn't happen at the same time. I don't know what I would have done without Matt by my side.

We drove to PA the day before the viewing, spent the night & got to the funeral home 15 minutes before people were supposed to arrive. The Family was supposed to be there at 2pm but with us just getting in, we didn't make it...even then when we arrived, people had already come & gone & there was a large line already forming to pay their respects. 

Over the next 6 hours we met & talked with people from all over!! My dad, uncle Jerry & my aunt Debbie never took a break! Aunt Debbie is my uncle Jim's wife...he passed away when I was 8 & he was the oldest son & brother to my dad & uncle Jerry. I know my family likes to talk too...but we planned it that way with no breaks because when my uncle died, people stood outside down the street waiting to get in because there were so many people & my family ended up staying till midnight greeting everyone.

This time they made the viewing earlier & longer so that if they went over the time, it wouldn't be that late. It was supposed to end at 8pm but we stayed till it worked out great. It was amazing to see so many family, friends & acquaintances who took the time to come...whether it was states away & hours of driving or those that lived in the same town...people stood in line for hours & it really was amazing to listen to all the wonderful things they had to say about my Grandma.

I cannot do it justice...I cannot begin to describe just how much she meant to me & everyone around her. If you knew her...then that sums it up.

These roses represented the 11 great-grandchildren... 9 pink roses were for those that are already here & the 2 white ones represented the new babies due in May & June of 2013. I thought it was a special way to include them because Mama knew they were coming & wanted to live to see them... Some of her last words were that if the Lord wanted to take her now, that was alright with her because she was ready to go, but it would be nice to live a couple more years to see these grandchildren...she passed away that night. At the end of the funeral service, each great-grandchild took their rose & placed it with Mama in the brother Matt took the white rose representing his little one & placed it for their family. It was one of the most touching, emotional things I have been a part of but I was so glad we did that. 

I didn't know how I would feel during the funeral & the grandchildren were asked to share a special memory or something that we wanted to say during the service. I ended up being too emotional to get through it so I backed out, but I'm including part of what I wrote here~

For the past 8 & a half years, Mama claimed to be the match maker that brought my husband Matt & I together. If you were ever around her when we were home for a visit, you would hear her tell the story of how she brought the 2 of us together. Matt & I had been hanging out a little bit during a summer camp we all attended & Mama noticed…as she says “She could see the twinkle in his eye” So she took the liberty to give Matt a little nudge. She told him that if he didn’t have a date to this banquet at the end of the camp, that she had a granddaughter right here that would LOVE to go with him & she thought we would make a cute couple. 
I was completely embarrassed since we hadn't even said we liked each other yet, but it worked & that was the first of many dates. Over the next several years whenever she saw us together, she would say 
“I knew he liked you, I just had to get the ball rolling “or “I could just tell you liked each other so I decided to play a little matchmaker.” 
When we got engaged & later married she always reminisced about the part she played in our relationship. However, once we actually went through with it all, & she realized this boy lived in Alabama, she wasn’t happy with the thought of me living so far away. She would cry at every goodbye, but she always knew it was HER fault in the first place & she couldn’t be too upset.
Over the years of being apart, there were little things that always made our trips home more special. She always fixed our favorite dishes or desserts, so you can just imagine the feast we had when ALL the grandkids were home on the same weekend. We loved having her visit us in Alabama & spent our summer vacations with her. She was so excited to learn we were having her 9th great-grandchild & the moments she shared with Greyson his first year are priceless. She never let us forget that she was the reason we had this precious baby boy….so when that day comes & our kids wonder how their dad ended up with a someone above the mason/Dixon line…we will make sure that Mama gets ALL the credit.

Some of us grandchildren sang "Sheltered in the Arms" at the funeral & I'm glad Matt & I got to be a part of that. It was a really nice service & there were several new faces of friends & family that got to be there. I can't thank everyone enough for all the cards, words of encouragement & prayers that we felt over these last few weeks. Yes it was hard, but we know where they are & I wouldn't wish them back for anything.

I recovered a few of the Gerber Daisies, roses & other flowers from the arrangement over the casket while we were at the graveside ceremony. It was so pretty & reminded me of Valentines Day since that was the day she was buried. It would have been her 65th wedding anniversary!

After everything was over & we were back home, we spent a few days with my parents. Greyson got a few Valentines presents & it was so cute to see him open everything.

Nana & Papa got him a really cute picture frame with his engraved all over it & their names too! I will have to post a picture when I get a photo in it.
The photo she wants included is the one below...LOTS & LOTS of kisses & hugs from Nana & Papa. You can tell he is thrilled about it! =)

It really was a precious time to be together & I am happy that it worked out for us to be there. It will be sad not seeing Mama greet us when we come home to visit or taste her amazing cooking, but God has big plans & He gained a true Proverbs 31 Women!

One exciting thing that happened in the midst of ALL that went on... Matt & I were packing for PA & that's when Greyson decided he was ready to start walking for real. 
He had taken his first steps at 11 months & refused to take any more than 2 for the next 3 months. When we would coax him to walk to us, he would laugh & plop down. At 8 months he was pulling himself up & cruising furniture, then a little later he could stand by himself if you put him down, but he always had to climb up something to stand & never just stood up in the middle of the room by himself. That is until the day we were packing. It was so random...neither of us were paying attention to him when all of a sudden he just got on his hands & knees, then popped up to a standing position by himself! I saw him out of the corner of my eye & when I realized what he had done I said Matt's name & by the time I could form the words, he just took off across the room. No coaxing, no nothing...just decided on his own he was ready to walk. I hear that happens a lot so I'm glad we were both home to witness it! After that, there was no stopping him...he walked all over the funeral home, all over Nana & Papa's & was REALLY ready to get out of the car after traveling 13 he has been going non-stop. He was exactly 14 months old when he did this...I expected him to walk after a yr because he was so late crawling but I thought it would take longer since he showed NO interest in coming to us when we tried to coax him. O well...I guess that's another point for the "They'll do it when they're ready" quote...=) 
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Thursday, February 7, 2013


Who doesn't love communicating? 
I mean sometimes it's hard when the other person isn't doing much of it...for instance a lot of the problems in our relationships have to do with communication. It's either the wrong kind, a lack there of OR none at all. 

Now I'm turning this in a whole new direction. Communicating with KIDS!  
When we talk to someone we expect them to listen, understand, respond or at least talk back. With get nothing. They don't always understand, they might be listening, they might respond, but they certainly don't "talk"...they CRY! That's their way of communicating. It's a whole new learning curve when you become a parent & figuring it all out is quite the journey!

Sometimes you don't know what they need...or want...but eventually you figure it out....or not. HA 

 I'm saying all this to say....

A baby can go from THIS - a helpless little infant, brand new in the world, with only the instinct to cry when he's unhappy...

To THIS - a mischievous little toddler, who has probably figured out MORE than you are even aware of, knows how to test you, cross boundaries & all the while gives you the sweetest little grins even when he KNOWS he's in trouble!!! All of this in just a few months...that's right. They learn fast...these little buggers.

Doesn't that face just say it all? The finger in the mouth is a nice touch...I'm telling you...SMART!

I have been told I have a very well behaved, good baby. I would have to agree because I nannied for 6 years & worked in a day care...I could say I've seen it all...but I still hear stories.  lol

However, he HAS his MOMENTS! 
Don't they all?  No child is going to be absolutely perfect! 
Some babies learn faster than others, they sit up, crawl & walk sooner, or later & hit milestones at different points... but in the learning department you still have to teach them all these things while trying to stay one step ahead of them to figure out what their next move will be! 
That's always fun...Thank the LORD He created women's intuition! 

Well, today I just had to share a little break through with our communication level.

I've seen parents teach their babies sign language. Somehow this tiny person who can't form sentences yet, can communicate to their parents what they want. Its pretty cool & I hear their IQ is better after learning to sign...I haven't checked into it but hey, why not give it a whirl. 
SO, at 6 months I learned a few signs & decided to start working with Greyson. He was just starting solids & I thought this would be a good time for him to be able to tell me if he was thirsty, wanted cereal or more, etc. Every time I fed him I would sign what I was doing...which resulted mostly with blank stares or hysterical laughter. I got no results so after about a month I forgot about it. 

What's ironic is that Matt's aunt (who keeps Greyson occasionally) used to work at a deaf school...she knows how to sign & taught deaf kids for years. Somehow in a few hours (while keeping him from time to time) she would say to Greyson "Where's my pal?" & she taught him to pat his chest in answer to her question that he was her pal. We would go days without seeing her until Sunday morning rolled around & she would ask him the question. Eventually he started patting his chest & now every time he sees her he starts patting his chest before she even asks!! She has since showed him actual signs & I'm beginning to think she has a magic method because the question could he remember what to do without seeing or working with her for weeks at a time & still know exactly what to do with in a few minutes in her presence...when I worked with him every day, every meal with  just ONE sign & got nothing!!! I was baffled...

Eventually, I quit using signs altogether until he started whole milk at a year old. I decided "milk" was something he might actually ask for. I also brought back the sign for "more" during meals & when we were through I would sign "all done" & got him out of his chair. I figured those 3 would be good enough for me IF he ever picked up on it. 
Well, he signs "milk" with me every now & then, but has never USED it to actually ask for the milk...he just lets me know he wants it in a louder, more forceful way. THEN he started saying ALL DONE instead of really signing it & even then he would only sign after I showed him what to do about 10 times in a row...still...I get the communication so that works.

BUT today....while eating breakfast...he actually signed something without me showing him first!! 
He was eating other things on his own & occasionally I would give him a bite of yogurt (while cleaning up the kitchen). I asked him if he wanted more yogurt at one point & without hesitation Greyson said, More? & signed it like he'd been doing it all along...... Really?  

I cheered, clapped & praised him. It was definitely a surprise. Not that big of a deal to some people, but it made me think about just how much he has picked up on without me knowing it. He had tucked that away & even though I never saw a result, didn't mean he didn't know how or when to use it. He is talking a lot more so it is easier to figure out what he wants, so signing kind of fell to the wayside, but even when I didn't stick with it, he understood & pulled it out of nowhere. 

It may just be a small thing...but I guess it makes me believe the saying even more that the moment you stop trying so hard for happens on its own! And that can apply to the baby AFTER it gets here! =)

I am loving this age & every time Greyson does or learns something new, it gives me a sense of pride. Now I know how it feels, now I know what those parents were talking about. There are new accomplishments everyday & I couldn't possibly share them all, but every now & then I am just happy to enjoy the small things!
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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

G'daddy Locklin

G'daddy Locklin went home to Heaven around midnight Feb. 3rd, 2013. He was 85.

When I married Matt, I met the greatest grandparents anyone could ever ask for! G'mama & G'daddy welcomed me into the family & treated me just like one of their granddaughters. I have SO enjoyed my time with them & my greatest joy was giving them another great-grandchild to love. 

 4 Generations at Greyson's dedication
G'daddy was so much fun to be around...a true 'southern gentlemen', funny, classic but also very serious. He was always concerned about everyone & always wanted to know..."Who's got Greyson? Someone better keep an eye on him!" =) My dad got to become one of his best buddy's. Whenever my parents came to visit, G'daddy would take dad out for breakfast (or vice versa since G'daddy couldn't drive =) It was a special time for them to be together & G'daddy always spoke highly of dad & always tried to call him & keep in touch. He loved checking up on everyone.

 He always called to check on us & always wanted to know what was going on in our lives. We spent many hours at G'mama & G'daddy's house. We even spent the night on occasion! We had countless conversations about life, the old days & all the new fangled things coming up in the world. I'll never forget when Matt & I drove them to Monroeville to visit their old "stomping grounds". We got to see & learn more about their lives back then & learn about the family we are a part of. 

G'daddy was considered legally blind even back when he was a teenager. Even with this little bump, it never slowed him down from getting an education, making or refinishing furniture or making it through his every day life. One of the first things G'mama said after he died was that he could finally SEE! How awesome it is, that the first thing you could see clearly was the face of Jesus! Not many people could say that, but he got that privilege I'm sure =)
 There are so many things that we could say & Matt has so many more memories than I do, each one is more cherished than the last. We have loved reminiscing about all the funny things G'daddy did or said & how much of an impact he has had on each one of our lives. G'daddy loved giving & he did so much for us. I never really knew how to thank him enough.

When G'daddy had his stroke, it seemed like one thing after another came up & his health declined.  During the last few months of G'daddy's life, Greyson learned to say "Hey G!" It was so cute & G'daddy always got a kick out of it. I found it ironic that even though Greyson doesn't say much, he still picked up that G'daddy was important...he somehow realized that he was something special even at his little age & learned to look for him & call his name.
After we heard the news of G'daddy's passing, we went to their house the next day. Greyson was so used to seeing G'daddy in his hospital bed & as we walked up the driveway he was already anticipating seeing him. He started saying "Hey G!...Heeey G" What really got us is when he started looking for him in his bed, but it was empty. 

Of course he doesn't understand where G'daddy is right now, but I am so glad that I will be able to tell him that he is in Heaven with Jesus! During the last few moments G'daddy told one of his nurses that he was going home. What a wonderful feeling to KNOW where you are going in your final moments. He wasn't scared, he wasn't unsure...he was ready.

G'daddy loved God & prayed a lot. He was so many things to so many people & did so much, but most importantly he was a Christian. He left a legacy behind him & those that have received Jesus as our Savior will have the hope of seeing our loved ones again.

Today we had the funeral service for G'daddy...It could not have been a more perfect day. It was absolutely gorgeous-warm with a slight breeze, the sun shining & not a cloud in the sky. Over 200 people attended the service & it was probably one of the longer funerals I've been to. It lasted at least an hour & a half, but you wouldn't have known it because everyone enjoyed it so much. I can't remember the last time I actually "enjoyed" a funeral! Yes there were moments of sadness & you can't help but cry at these times, but G'daddy wanted a celebration of life & I believe that's what he got.

Matt & his brother Jac sang "He Came to Me" as a duet. It was awesome...all the grandchildren (except spouses...I don't think I would have been able to get through speaking in front of a crowd) got up & made a tribute to G'daddy. They shared funny stories & memories of who G'daddy was & what he meant to them. It was such an amazing time of sharing love & laughter. My Father in Law sang "Look for Me at Jesus' Feet" before the message & it was so fitting to think of G'daddy doing just that. I was surprised at how well my brother in law did during the message. G'daddy wanted him to preach it & I wondered how hard that must be for a grandson to preach his grandpa's funeral! It was one of the best messages I have ever heard, making references about G'daddy's life & the importance not to live for this world, for it will pass away, but to live for Jesus who has prepared a place for us so that we can meet those that have gone on before us. There were so many other powerful things said & I know G'daddy would have been so proud of his family sharing so much on this day. I know when you love someone so much & they pass away you can never say enough about the person & what they meant to you. I laughed & cried but never once felted drained of emotions. God was our strength & allowed us to actually "celebrate" this day without feeling so sad...just like G'daddy would have wanted. 

 G'daddy we love you & will miss you, & will always have a place for you in our hearts. Can't wait to greet you in Heaven one day soon. 

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