Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Tribute to Dee Dee

During Mom’s year-and-a-half stint with illness, there were several times that she ended up in the hospital.  About a year before she died, she was in the hospital in Weatherford with pneumonia, and she was pretty sure that this was going to be the end.  So she shared some thoughts with me at that time – things that she wanted to make sure that the family would know.  She also basically planned her own funeral service.  She told me that she wanted “one of those DVD’s that has music and pictures in it”.  She told me that in addition to pictures from her life, she also wanted some pictures that represented the three most important things in her life:  God, family, and love of country.  At that time, she only wanted three songs:  “ You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “I Believe”, and “America the Beautiful”.  Strangely, enough, about two weeks before she actually passed, when the rest of us were thinking that she was actually starting to get better, she told me that she wanted to add a song to her music line-up.  She wanted to include “Elusive Butterfly (Of Love)” by Boots Randolph.

For Mom’s funeral, I ended up giving her eulogy and I tried really hard to convey the thoughts of her heart with everyone there:
The first thing that she wanted everyone to know was that she had a strong faith in God and believed that Jesus Christ was her savior.  Even though she did not go to church, I know from personal experience that she did talk to God.  I can’t count how many times she would come toddling out of her bedroom and then tell me that she had been praying for someone…usually whichever kid or grandkid or great-grandkid was having a tough time, or for someone who might be traveling and in need of extra protection.  In the hospital that day she said that she hoped that each one of us would be able to find the comfort and strength that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

The second thing that meant the most to her was her family; we truly were her whole world.  Mom always loved you, even when you didn’t deserve it; and Mom was always there for you, even when you didn’t deserve it.  I know that she was there for me even when no one else was, and I will always be so very grateful.  All of the grandkids seemed to agree that she had the ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the whole world.  One of Alan’s greatest joys was to go spend about a week with Mom in the summer, and that was the only reason he was not thrilled at first when she moved in with us – he was going to lose his “summer place” and his time alone with Dee Dee!  She was that Mom that would give up the last piece of cake if you wanted it, or even give you the shirt off her back.  The woman loved her family.

The third thing that meant the most to her was her country.  She loved her country and was very proud of the fact that she was a veteran.  I think that her being a veteran was not only a great source of pride for her, but it was also her identity.  In her later years she was very interested in politics, and there were days that she spent a good deal of the morning on the phone, calling her senator or congressman to let them know what was going on and what she thought about it.  Then she would come out to the kitchen and proudly announce, “Well, I’ve done my activism.  Now I need some tea!”  I had wondered why she was so consumed with politics (she watched Fox News all day long), and it wasn’t until after she had died that it hit me:  In her own way, she was still doing her part to defend the country.  Even if she couldn’t wear the uniform any more, she could still do her part.  Mom was military until the end, and even after – she chose to be buried at the Veterans’ Cemetery in Killeen, Texas, beside her fellow vets.

Mom got the video she wanted.  Once again, my brother-in-law, Don, came through.  He could not have done a better job!  It is absolutely beautiful and does a wonderful job of capturing who Mom was.  If you would like to watch it (it’s about 9 minutes long), click here.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Special Words

Within just hours of Mom's passing, my brother-in-law, Don, had the most special gift for my sister and me...a poem that he wrote, superimposed on a beautiful picture that he had taken.  Don may have written the poem, but it is as if my mother had spoken through him.  I have read this poem countless times, and it brings me comfort each and every time that I read it. I count it among my treasures, and now I would like to share it with the rest of the world:


It has been over two years since I have felt like writing…and it has been a very long two years, filled with sadness.  But the time has come to share stories once again, and I am hoping that the times to come will be filled with tales of happiness and joy once more.  But first, I must remember our last two years…

You may remember Robert’s sister, Susan.  She had been fighting cancer off and on throughout the years.  We were all so delighted when she was able to attend her oldest son’s wedding in March 2014!

Susan, with Paisley and Grandma Lynda:

I am so sad to say that on August 17, 2014, Susan lost her battle with cancer.  Everyone is grateful that she lived long enough to see her son married and happy, and to see her first grandchild (by another son), and to see her daughter (the last child at home) graduate from high school.  That being said, she was not even out of her forties yet, and she still had so much living to do!  Her absence will be felt forever by those who loved her and many hearts are indeed broken.

Susan loved to write poetry (and was quite good!), and the poem that was shared at her funeral certainly sums up Susan and her philosophy on life:

During this time, Mom had been feeling better than she had in awhile, and that girl was wanting to take a trip!  She and I had actually planned on going to Yellowstone to see Alan, but we had delayed our trip when it became apparent that Susan was not doing so well.  After some time had passed, we were going to give it another shot, but suddenly Mom was having trouble walking.  She was sure that it was a really bad case of arthritis flare, but she wasn’t getting any better, so on August 28, 2014, Robert and I drove her to see her doctor at the VA hospital.  Even the doctor was shocked when the X-ray came back – the woman had been hobbling around on a broken leg:

It was such a shock because Mom had not fallen, she had not bumped her leg, and there was no traumatic event that we could think of to explain it.  Her leg had just spontaneously BROKEN!

She was sent to a local hospital for surgery – the VA said they weren’t equipped to do it.  A metal rod was inserted and the pins were in place:

Mom was sent to a facility for about 13 days of rehab, and then she came home.  Once she was here, she complained that it really hurt, and she was not healing as well as we hoped.  When I took her for her 6-week checkup, the X-ray told the story:

Two of the screws had backed out!  It was only later that doctors determined that her bones were just like potato chips.  Surgery was done the very next day, and we were hopeful that this recovery would “take”, but unfortunately it was just the beginning of her problems.  Infections of all types, pneumonia, and just general ill health followed.  Her health was so bad that it was determined that she needed to be in a nursing home instead of coming back with us.  We were all so disappointed!
There were times that she had some really bad infections that were highly contagious, so she did not want us to come see her.  Those times were the hardest.  But there were also stretches of time that she was clear, and she was more than happy to see us.  We did what we could to bring some measure of happiness and joy into her life, but I don’t think that anything that we did could ever make up for her not being home in her own little room…toddling out to the kitchen to make some tea now and then.

Still, that woman fought!  There were at least five times that she was so sick that both her family and her doctors were sure than she would not survive…and yet, she did!  There were so many miracles!  However, on a Sunday morning, May 29 of this year, Mom was having to wear the bi-pap mask constantly just to breathe.  Through the mask she told the nurse, “I want to go home.”
“Do you mean your house or the nursing home?” the nurse asked.

Mom pointed up to the ceiling.  “Do you mean Heaven?” the nurse asked.
Mom said, “Yes.  Tell my daughters.”

The nurse called me and I hurried over...Robert came, too.  My sister lived further away, so it took a little longer for her to get there.  Mom waited, though, and within 30 minutes of having us all there, Mom slipped away.  We talked to her, sang to her, and held her hand.  I watched the machines that were monitoring her vital signs count down, and I knew the exact moment that she was gone.

It was so very, very sad, yet so very peaceful, all at the same time.  This woman, who had fought so hard and had overcome so much, had decided it was time…she most definitely went out on her own terms.  Although I am so sad for us, I am actually comforted by the fact that I am so happy for her.  Her last year-and-a-half on Earth was so miserable, and I can only be glad that she doesn’t have to endure all of that any more.

Still, I will miss her forever, and our house is just not the same…


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Happy Birthday, Fox!

Recently, we had the joy of attending a party to celebrate the 1st birthday of our sweet little guy, Fox.  He’s Lolee’s little buddy:

Mandy, ever the clever party planner,  knew that this was probably the only year that she could get by with doing a woodland animal theme, and I think that she did the most incredible job!  Her decorations were just as cute as could be:

And, truly, there were woodland animals everywhere:

Even the food made me feel like I was in a wooded wonderland:

Of course, there were presents, and Fox really got into opening them.  He had a great time:

There was birthday cake…

…Which my little buddy certainly enjoyed!

We can’t believe that a whole year has gone by…Fox certainly has grown.  He’s walking now, which means that his mother spends most of her days just trying to keep him from jumping off of the hearth and chairs and such.  He can say a few words, including “book” – he finally likes to have someone read to him.  He’s all boy – climbing curtains, banging things on the furniture, and roaring and screeching and generally being noisy.  He even roars and screeches when he is perfectly happy.  I have an idea that rearing him over the next several years is going to be quite the adventure for Mandy and Jeromy. ..

But with a face like this…

…They can’t help but love every minute of it!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jake and Jessica – A Happy Day!

Earlier in the year, we received this “save the date” card, mounted on a magnet (how smart is that?):

Jake is Robert’s nephew, the oldest of the Mayo clan.  Alan was home during this time, and since Nestlé was still with us at the time and we needed someone to be home to keep an eye on things, I had a little begging to do.  Alan had wanted to go to the wedding, too, but was kind enough to step back and let me be the one to go with Robert (Robert and Alan went to visit Susan and the family at a later date).  It was already pretty exciting (Jake and Jessica truly were made for one another), but when I found out that they had asked Paisley to be their flower girl, I was even more excited!

You see, we were there when Jake’s parents were married those years ago….

…And Mandy was one of their flower girls!

Jake's wedding was held at a beautiful venue, and the whole place was buzzing with excitement.  Paisley’s mother managed to get a few pre-wedding shots…here is Paisley hanging out and gearing up:

Before too long, it was going to be time!  Paisley was armed and ready with her basket of petals:

Soon, the big moment arrived!  It was Paisley’s duty to prepare the pathway for the beautiful bride, and she took her job seriously!  While Jessica and the rest of the wedding party were all smiles and giggles, and even danced their way down the aisle, Paisley was not going to succumb to all of that frivolity!  This was serious business – she had a job to do! -- and her stoic countenance and stern concentration were certainly reflective of this solemn, blessed occasion:

It was a really special ceremony – Jake and Jessica were married by the same preacher who had married Jake’s parents.  (How many people can say that?)  And as I said earlier, Jake and Jessica really are a good match and we hope they have a wonderful life together:

I have to say, though, that of all of the wonderful things that I witnessed that day, I was most inspired by Robert’s sister, Susan.  Susan is now battling her third round of cancer (this time it’s lung cancer).  The day would have been strenuous for any mother-of-the-groom, but I can only imagine that for someone right smack in the middle of cancer treatments, it had to be absolutely exhausting.  Despite this, Susan donned her wig, her gloves, and her pretty dress and was there for her son for the whole day.

Susan, Paisley, and Grandma Lynda:

Mandy’s favorite picture (and I must say, mine, too) of the whole event was this touching moment of Susan dancing with her son:

Susan is such an inspiration to me, and whenever I’m feeling whiny about some goofy thing I’m miffed about, I just think of her and immediately stifle myself!

My second favorite photo is this one:

It reminds me of a picture I took behind the scenes when Mandy’s flower girl, Avery, was a little scared about going out in front of all of those people, and Mandy gave her a little pep talk:

The cycle of life and love continues, and we were grateful to have a bright spot to celebrate so early in the year!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Honoring Nestlé

I had just recently returned to blogging, with plans of several more fun little posts to come (a wedding, bragging on Fox, and even a picture of my first decorative painting piece).  This post is not fun and is most unexpected:  I lost my sweet Nestlé rabbit this morning.  I really did not see this one coming.

We had gone all of this time thinking Nestlé was a girl, and only very recently realized Nestlé was a boy.  This is partially due to the fact that we are dumb; it’s also due to the fact that when we bought him, the feed store swore that we were buying a girl; and then there’s the whole factor that rabbits are one of very few animals that can actually retract their testicles and hide them inside their bodies, and Nestlé had only recently decided to “let it all hang out”.

I had taken him to the vet yesterday where the diagnosis was that he had a little ulcerated sore on one of his testicles…no big deal, according to the vet.  Dr. Becky said that with rabbits she sees it all the time, and that, in fact, she has seen many rabbits with many more of those sores (Nestlé only had the one), and that his wasn’t nearly as big or bad as what she usually sees.  Some antibiotic ointment, some oral antibiotic, and we were on our way.  He would be good as new in no time.

I hurried home because I was already late for my appointment with Paisley and Fox (Mom and Dad had somewhere to go), so I kissed Nestlé and put him in his cage, and then I headed to the Lackey household.  When I got back last night, it was obvious that Nestlé had a major diarrhea attack while I was gone – something that he had never, ever had before!  I cleaned him up, put more ointment on his spot, gave him his oral medicine (which he actually liked!) and spent some time cuddling him before heading to bed.

This morning, straight-a-way, I went to his cage to check on him.  He was alert, but certainly was not his perky self when I took him out.  No diarrhea, though, so I cuddled and nuzzled him for a while.  He was panting a little, and I set him down on his newspaper to see if he might need to take care of some business.  He sat there for a couple of minutes so I started ironing Robert’s shirt.  I saw him take three little wobbly hops towards the dining table, where he then laid on his side and began doing something that I can only describe as convulsing.  I screeched and ran over and picked him up.  As I held him to my chest, he made a couple of little clicking/coughing sounds and then went limp.

Robert thought he was still alive (though barely), so I headed to the vet to be there when they opened.  He was gone when I got there.  In my talk with Dr. Becky, she expressed that she was absolutely shocked.  The rabbit that she saw yesterday showed her no reason to even dream that he would be gone this morning.  Other than his little lesion (which she swore was minor in terms of rabbit ailments), she considered him to be in good health and would have never guessed that this would have happened.  Here is a picture of my sweet bunny that was taken just day before yesterday – he was hanging out on the hearth as he usually did:

I got Nestlé two years ago as a birthday present from Robert.  He was pretty small, and very, very sweet:

It didn’t take him long to become a regular member of the family.  He loved the dogs and his favorite thing was to chase Toffee around the house, hoping to get Toffee to play with him.  And if there was a sleeping dog nearby, Nestlé wasn’t scared to try to get a little cuddle:

He really, really loved being outside whenever we were out, and his favorite spot was near the wheelbarrow underneath the oak tree:

Nestlé’s playfulness was not just limited to the dogs; he absolutely loved running alongside Opal Chicken, taunting and chiding her to chase him.  She did not really like him, though (hence, there was always a fence between them):

I once read that rabbits don’t really like to be cuddled and held, but that did not hold true for Nestlé.  I can’t tell you how many times I would be sitting in the family room, watching TV or on the computer, and I would feel something touching my leg.  It was Nestlé, standing straight up, putting his front paws on my leg to get my attention because he wanted me to pick him up and snuggle him under my neck…and I always did, no matter what I was doing or how busy I was because I knew what a special privilege he was bestowing upon me.

I love my bunny, even now, and I always will.  Nestlé, thank you for being part of my life – I will dearly miss you.