Sunday, April 24, 2011

Big Hats and Frilly Dresses

Baskets of Easter candy and little girls dressed in frilly dresses and big hats frolic through my mind at this time. My Easter is quite different than many I see floating through my Facebook feed, but that's just fine!

I'll start out with a big birthday weekend for two of my very good friends. They usually have their birthdays together, but decided to do it separate this year so I smashed it all into one night! Nick went out of town for a golf tournament so I had the gals all to myself! First I went to Desperados to celebrate Andrea's 29th birthday. It was so good to see everyone and just catch up. We had a blast just hanging out and laughing. Then I went to Anna's 28th birthday party at her house. It was more of a dance party as most of her friends are old Tech cheerleaders and they love to dance! I just hung out and mingled with some of our sorority sisters. Her little sister was in town from Tech so we talked about college life and I tried to give her my "expert" guidance! All in all it was such a nice night filled with amazing friends!

Two of my favorite people in the world, Kacie & Andrea

The gals: Amy, Kerri, Raelyn, Jana, Tabby, Andrea, Me, Kacie

Today on Easter we got up for the 8 AM service to meet Nick's family and his grandmother from Brenham. I did put on my pretty new dress... hey, that tradition never stops! Nick's roommates came over to his parents along with another friend of ours, Ashton. I sat talking to Granny forever as usual. They make fun of me for loving the company of older folks and hearing their stories. I just love it so much. I love to hear about her grandparents and where they are from... about her great grandparents giving the Indians peace offerings to allow them to pass through the land... just neat old stories. I told her she needs to stay around because she is Nick and I's only grandparent left. She is 80... She told me the same thing Grandmommy always said - as long as her body leaves before her mind!!! We talked about my Dad dating after Mom passed and about how hard it is to return to the home when that person is no longer there and to move on with life. It has only been two years since her husband passed, but she says the hardest part is when everyone left and she went to make a huge pot of coffee. She then realized it was only for her. I told her I always say those first few days are the best surrounded by people and love... then you realize your new reality. I explained how blessed Dad and Brenda are to have found one another because the dating world is awful hard. I have found myself the past few weeks wanting to call Grandmommy many times to tell her about certain things out of excitement... It's just plain hard at times. Anyway... my point is that I love older people who can share life with us young uns. They have been through so much and it's so interesting to hear their stories!

We ate a huge feast then all took the dogs for a walk. It is Nick's dog's 7th birthday so he got showered with love and presents! We all sat around and just talked and laughed for a bit after that. It is now storming outside gently against the window. I love that sound! We need rain badly throughout Texas. I remember being in news covering wildfires in Abilene and being covered in char... this is ten times worse these days.

In other news... this Friday marks Nick and I's three year anniversary. WOW. How time flies. We are going to celebrate with a nice dinner out and just enjoying life as next weekend is his birthday and he gets to take the boat out for the first time this year!

The true meaning of Easter... To ever fully understand what Jesus has done for us. Dying on the cross... Dresses and eggs may be the fun part of this day, but the nitty gritty is Jesus was hammered with nails as they hung him like a piece of laundry on a large wooden cross. His suffering through the wounds on his back, on his head and throughout his body through that horrid day lead to the awakening of the world when he busted through the tomb in all of his shining glory. All he has done for us leads me to sit here on this day enjoying it with family and friends and big hats and frilly dresses.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Making Bluebonnets out of Weeds

I learned this weekend when life gives you weeds you have to make bluebonnets.

We went to Nick's family reunion in Brenham in hopes of taking loads of pictures in the bluebonnets. I was ready to create a masterpiece. Sadly I found no bluebonnets. The lack of rain in Texas is killing us. West Texas is burning down while the rest of Texas is so thirsty for water it can hardly stand it. I did find weeds disguised as flowers floating in the tall grass of the plains. They didn't quite fool me. I settled on some pictures of the scenery and people and it was all just fine in the end.

Nick's family is a large bunch and they enjoy a good time. We went to his Granny's house. She is a feisty young lady with many stories. I sat on the porch quizzing her about life growing up. She told me all about dating her husband and how she was just sure he was going to kidnap her on their first date when he drove her out to the boonies to the oilfield. She told me in her days you could buy one pair of shoes, but many gave their tickets for shoes to women with babies so the babies could have shoes as they grew so quickly. She said there were no nice sheets! All the nice sheets went to the soldiers so her mama sewed them tough sheets. She said we are extremely spoiled these days!

I found myself many times wanting to call Grandmommy. I took a photo of a windmill... which I did for her the past two years we went to this reunion and framed for her. I yearned to tell her the stories I heard. It was definitely hard. The past month has been very hard, but it's funny that you don't know your own strength until you are forced in the fire. I'm not sure if God thinks I just might be made of steel?

We had a nice time just chatting and hanging out. Nick's mother has three sisters so most of their families get to come. They are all such a great group. I feel blessed to get to be included in this family. Of course Nick and I have to answer why we aren't married yet... I think I've come to the conclusion if we had met now instead of three years ago maybe we'd be on everyone's timeline, but we met when he was 24 and I was 26. He wasn't quite ready and we were figuring out our professional lives. I was probably ready to get married at four years old! Now we've almost got it all figured out, but I wouldn't take back a second of the growth the past three years. We have gone through more than most couples who quickly marry! I lost three grandparents and he lost one grandparent, I lost a best friend, we both had professional struggles... I could go on and on, but we've learned each step of the way. I don't know if we could have made it while getting married in the midst of it all. Maybe it sounds like an excuse... but, we will know when God tells us we are ready. It's truly that simple. Yes, I could marry him today... but, when you start throwing houses and pets and roommates into the equation it isn't quite as simple! Oh... you didn't know I have a devil cat that everyone refuses to live with? Ahhh... if only life were that simple.

Anyway... back to the weekend. There was so much love flowing around the home. I enjoyed watching them laugh and interact with one another. Family is so very important. It's truly the glue of our lives. Even without bluebonnets they just made the entire room fill with flowers.

This little girl was the star! Ashlyn was so funny. We asked her what she worries about and she said, "I really hate that my mailbox wiggles!" We then were talking the millions of dogs at the reunion and she said, "I just know the stupidest dog I know is my cat!"

Dianne and her nephew, Garrett playing Bolo Ball. They laughed because I had never played so I was very rusty. They stopped laughing when I hit four in a row on the best row for high score!!!

I made a friend.

Renee & Boston. We stayed at Renee's house and got to sleep in twin beds that belonged to Nick's great grandparents as they used those as their actual beds like in "I Love Lucy!"

Renee, Nick, Dianne and her sister, Annette

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Puddles of Flame" - Tribute to Una Boles

You can live your life waiting for the fire. You can see it blazing and shield your eyes from the blaze. You can even study every element of aftermath and chemical make up of the flames. Until you walk through that fire you will not ever fully understand it.

I grew up the only child, only grandchild and only niece in my family. It can be both a blessing and a curse.

The Lord prepares us for that fire. I know it looking back. I had just parked my car when my phone rang at 9 PM on Monday, March 28. My uncle was not making much sense. "Julie, you need to come home, honey. Mama's gone. Mama died. She had a heart attack." I told him to calm down and that I needed to call my Dad and make some plans. There went the match to start the fire.

Una Boles is Mom's mom. She was 83 and more than anything she wanted to see Heaven. In order to fully understand our bond you must know I had five grandparents growing up. Grandaddy Don was married to Rae after his divorce to Granny Jac. Grandaddy Bill was Una's husband and he passed away of a heart attack in 1980 before I was born. Yes, he ran five miles as a total health nut and fell over at the school where he coached. Yes, my mother passed away the same way. Yes, Granny Jac had a heart attack three years ago and fell over on her couch. Dad says it's the best way to go as he watched Grandaddy suffer so long. I say personally it sure makes us feel like we are run over by a truck and have to get up and walk again.

Grandmommy had only be hospitalized once in her life for an appendectomy. She wasn't on any medication at all. She seemed in good health. Other than she weighed maybe 90 pounds. After Grandaddy passed she went on living, but never dreamed of dating again. After her daughter passed ten years ago it was like her lights just went out. She was the youngest of six children so they had all passed on as well. She was just living in this shell. When she was in good spirits she was hilarious and witty. Growing up she was always my favorite because she was fun and sweet. She had a heart for God like no other. She loved Jesus. With all of this though she would often tell me she wanted to go to Heaven. Selfishly I wanted her here, but she said she just wanted to be up there. Uncle Mike had gone to live with her a few years ago just to watch out for her so he was a tennis pro in Abilene. When he got back from his lesson he could see her inside sprawled on the table. He kicked down the door, but she was gone.

We spoke three times that weekend. We usually spoke once a week or so. She spoke with Dad every Saturday morning. They were still very close as he was like a son to her. She called to check on me Saturday and we talked for a long time for some reason. I was telling her about my friends that had student loan debt from college and how thankful I was I never had any and she in turn told me about getting a job to support my mother in college because Mom was going to go to college on a tennis scholarship, but was burned out so Grandmommy got a job to help support her. We talked about Don and Jackie's divorce because she and Bill never took sides and I told her that lesson had helped me deal with friends in big break ups. I even told her about the lady that just turned 119 and I needed her to live that long. She told me she just prayed her body would go before her mind! She called Sunday morning about sending me some newspaper clippings. I called her later that day to tell her Kansas messed up my bracket. She was married to a coach so she loved sports! We always talked sports!

Most of Grandmommy's adult life was centered around Mom's tennis and Mike's tennis and other sports. She also followed Grandaddy Bill to his events. She loved it. Bill was inducted into the Texas Tennis Coach's Hall of Fame in 1993 and the remaining Boles were there in attendance. She grew up in Abilene on a farm. At one point during the war the government used their land as a Prisoner of War Camp. She also told me a story of how she got three to five engagement rings from men going overseas. She has no idea what really ever happened to them; just knew they wanted a woman when they got back. Well, when she and Bill got married they used some of those rings to get money for her engagement ring!!!

In the car on the way to Mom's funeral I will never forget it was very quiet and Grandmommy said, "This too shall pass." That's the thing about fire. Sometime the flames have to die down. And you always learn something from them. I sifted through a book about grief telling me the stages and telling me to how to handle them and I felt a smile spread across my face. I could write this book. With all I had already been through I know grief. It's something one can only learn while they walk through those flames. I know I might not handle it the right or best way possible, but I also know atleast I understand it. It passes and we have to go on with our lives. We remember it and we remember them, but we don't stop because what do I always say... God didn't ask us for permission.

We knew the fire was coming for a long time. We prepared our hearts mentally for the day she yearned for. As the flames roar around us and we wave our arms to see through the smoke we take one step at a time. She happily dances through the drops of rain as they slowly put out the flames. Ten years ago in the darkest of her nights she told us this, too, would pass. If she can say that in the blazing fire of her life I can dance in the puddles of flame. You can see it. You can study it. You can make it through it.

Mom, Uncle Mike, Grandmommy at Bill's induction into the Texas Tennis Coach's Hall of Fame

Una and Bill

Four of the most important women in my life: Mom, Grandmommy, Cousin Donna, Granny Jac

The flowers atop Grandmommy's casket showcased a yellow rose in memory of Mom

Grandmommy, Mom and Granny Jac at Mom's wedding shower

Dad's mom, Granny Jac and Grandmommy with me on Texas Tech Graduation Day 2004

Grandmommy & Grandaddy Bill with Dad

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Back to the Future

I'm going back to my so-called real life tomorrow. I haven't written a blog about Grandmommy's death because I want it to be a true tribute and I just am not in that mental capacity yet. If you don't know... she passed away of a heart attack at age 83. Not on any prescriptions and in seemingly good health... My uncle called me Monday night and I had to in turn call my Dad... (She was Mom's mom, but Dad and her were very close)... And I sit here in awe as my mother, Granny Jac and now my only living grandparent passed away in my life of heart attacks so suddenly as if I was run over by a truck with the news. Grandmommy's husband, Bill passed away of a heart attack after running five miles before I was born as well. Dad says it's the best way to go as he watched his father pass of cancer... I just don't know. Shock is the best phase there is, but for me I am a smiling stonewall during times of tragedy and no one knows that it still sure is hard... Anyway, I will write a tribute in the next few days.

I came home Wednesday and we quickly went into business mode. Dad and I drove to Snyder when I flew in to meet with my uncle and visit the funeral home. Thursday we again drove to and from Midland to Snyder for the funeral. I don't want to go into details yet... We had a small family dinner then came home. Dad took me on a Harley ride as all the cares seemed to blow away in the wind. Friday morning we awoke so early we saw the sunrise as we headed to Abilene for the burial. We were about wiped out as we arrived back in town!

Today was nice as I just adjusted back into life. The business will all come later. Since my mother is deceased I do step into her shoes a bit for part of it all. Dad and Brenda put me to work doing some gardening. It was a lot of fun actually! Then we got some amazing cupcakes and headed to a dessert comedy theatre at a nearby church. They got my mind of off things and it was wonderful!

It's time to get back and get into a routine. For now I'll just say it's been a tough week, but I take comfort in knowing she wanted more than anything to go to Heaven. We spoke three times last weekend on the phone and that warms my heart. I did tell her she needed to live to be 119 like the oldest woman alive. Her response? "I just pray to God He takes my body before my mind!" By gosh... her prayers were answered.