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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