Friday, November 26, 2021

Milestone Reached

 

Flowers from Angel Friend

It is the evening after Thanksgiving Day. I have a ga-zillion pictures to share with you in this post. You might want to brew a cuppa coffee or tea before you read on.

As my regular readers know, November 25th marked the first anniversary of Beloved's passing so I'll just tell you right now that I (and all my family) survived it. 

All of us were pretty cheerful most of the day. As the clock moved toward the hour and minute of his passing, I did quietly slip into the master closet to be quiet and observe that awesome moment. When I came out, because there were 18 of us, no one had really noticed I had left, and that's fine. But I did grab onto T2 for a big bear hug and let some tears fall freely. He let me hang on as long as I needed and shed his own tears.

After that Gray Beard and I had a good conversation outside where he told me how proud he is of me to have reached this point, listing the positive accomplishments and blessings. Blondie joined us and the three of us walked and talked.

Earlier in the week Surfer Girl and I had a long conversation about these things, so quality communications  have taken place with all three of my children, as well as very supportive times with my in-law children.

There are more pictures than usual of myself included here. Please know it's not a narcissistic thing on my part but a necessary element for telling the story of where I am in this grief journey. You'll understand as you read on.



The Lil Red-haired Girl and T2 (one of my sons) flew in from the homeland (Colorado) on Monday. First stop was the home of Surfer Girl and Surfer Boy. Here Granddaughter #5 is showing her aunt her pink Christmas tree.


Outside by their pool, T2 shows his strength with his nephew's punching bag.


Moving on to the next day, the Lil Red-haired Girl had arranged earlier to go on a horse ride since I live in "The Horse Capital of the World." I don't know much about horses, but this one took a liking to me when I gave him some carrots.


The Lil Red-haired Girl knows horses. She's been riding for a very long time and leases one back in the Homeland. She brought with her the essential riding boots, the stretchy pants and helmet. Her horse on this day was named Dan and they got along very well. She loved every minute of this venture and I suspect will arrange to ride with this ranch whenever she comes to see me again in the future.


We spent close to a couple of hours at the ranch, visiting with the many horses and three dogs while my daughter-in-law rode with her trainer.  After that we went to the World Equestrian Center, which is one of the places I take all of my out-of-town guests. It opened just this past January and has proven itself to be inexpensive entertainment if you just want to park the car and walk around. 

The Christmas decorations are out now, which was an added dimension. The big white building in back is the 5-Star hotel. I always walk my guests through that. Very fancy schmantzy. There are several restaurants on property. On this day we had lunch at the Mexican place with street tacos and a shared [huge] plate of nachos.


On Thanksgiving Day, Gray Beard (my other son) was handed the electric knife to carve the turkey since he's the most experienced with this craft. Turkey was a 15-pounder, accompanied by a spiral-sliced Honey Baked Ham (which was always Beloved's favorite part of the Thanksgiving menu).


The food was served buffet style from the kitchen island and counters under the window. We had all the usual stuff: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, stuffing, pecan pie with Cool Whip, pumpkin bars, chocolate pie, and individual bite-sized cakes. 

Adults had coffee and everybody drank water from the refrigerator with the recently-installed water filter (which I had done myself!! and wrote a post about it: The Lifter of My Head)  

Yes, just about anything is potential blog fodder with me, as my readers know very well. But I am getting side-tracked and too wordy here. Continuing on...


The dining room -- my garage!! It was suggested to me before this day that with so many people (a total of 18 and many of them children) that perhaps the nerves of the hostess could best be spared if we ate in the garage. Hmm. 

While I inwardly balked a bit because the idea did not fit my pre-conceived mental pictures, my conclusion was that it was a pretty good idea. The Lord gave us absolutely beautiful weather that day, and my garage is a pretty tidy place, so yes, that's what we did. 


You know that I live in a 55+ retirement community (i.e. tiny yards with houses planted close together), which can be a conundrum when there are 11 active grandchildren (plus three dogs). Surfer Girl (my daughter) once again provided for us her Annual Thanksgiving Games. We agreed on an open field in my area where we could run and play and holler all we wanted and not bother a soul. In this picture she is explaining the game plans.


She and Surfer Boy had earlier planted over 100 felt, foam rubber and cardboard craft leaves in the grass, in bark, and on tree trunks. 



Of varying sizes and colors, they were a challenge to find. Whoever found the most got a prize (and then everybody got a prize after that just for participating). This game was very well received.


The leaf-hunt was followed with a round of Bingo, also enjoyed by all who participated. There was a snowball fight, but I neglected to snap any pictures of that. We did this last year, too, and it was a big hit.


To round it all out, there was football. Of course. Football and turkey -- it's what Americans do!


While we were out in the field, my friend Cousin Natalie and her husband Cousin Bryan happened by and she gave me the flowers in the photo below:


It was fun introducing these friends to my family! And what a cute presentation of flowers to add to the ones from Angel Friend (top of this blog post). I have the sweetest friends!!


Me and Cousin Bryan. There is something in the family genealogy that may connect us as relatives. We haven't figured that out yet, so my conclusion is that Bryan and Beloved are "cousins, 13 times removed."  We have fun with that.



We went back to my house for a group photo in my back yard...
 

This amazing shot was taken by my eldest grandson as a selfie with all of us. While not all eyes were open in his many attempts, everybody was smiling and isn't that great?!!!


It was then time for dessert, which was served inside the house and there were no disasters. 


As I have said many times over the past year since their dad died, my kids have been very supportive and so helpful to me. I had a "To Do" list for my sons during this visit. One item was to put up my outdoor Christmas decorations, which included a spotlight on the wreath. I'm not one to put a lot outside for this season, but I do want what little I have to be tasteful. The round wreath and hanging greens from the garage lanterns are my limit. (well, my concrete dog will probably get a red bow, but that will happen tomorrow) In this picture you have to squint your eyes and lean in close to even see him near the corner of the sidewalk.

All too soon, it was time for everyone to head back to where they live. 


The next day (which is today), I drove T2 and The Lil Red-haired Girl to the airport, making some stops along the way. One of their cats has been quite ill during their time with me, so they wanted to buy a special gift for their friend who's been nursing the invalid. 

Yes. That's a gator head. ICK! But they know their friend will appreciate the gift.  (I do kinda wonder if it will get through airport security...)


Our next stop was Disney Springs. Here T2 and The Lil Red-haired Girl are waiting on the volcano at Rain Forest Cafe to blow it's top and belch out that huge flame of fire; but like a watched pot that never boils, it never did show off for us. We couldn't wait forever and moved on.


Lunch was at a very crowded Earl of Sandwich. We sat on a brick landscaping border. The Caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato and a balsamic dressing was delicious.

After dropping these two off at the airport curb, I made a stop at a grocery store for some iced coffee and took some Advil. It had been a wonderful week but I was exhausted and still had a 90-mile drive back to my house. Those two efforts, along with some cheery Christmas music on the car radio combined to make the drive very pleasant.

I had some serious things to ponder during the drive. The time has come to make some changes on both my FaceBook page and my blog now that Beloved has been gone a full year.



Part of accepting what has happened is removing his picture from my profile. The above is what has been on FaceBook for the past four years.



Here's the new profile picture on my FaceBook.


Here is the screen shot from Pages on this blog (see the bar above this post where it says Home, Meet the Blog Author, A Relationship with Jesus Christ). That picture of Beloved and me was taken on my birthday in 2017 at Disney Springs. It's one of my favorites of my sweetie.


And this is that page, updated, with an older, wiser (and weighing 20 pounds less) me. The pounds lost during grief have not returned and I have to say I don't miss them.

I've been thinking about these changes for the past month. It makes me feel a bit trembly inside to remove these two pictures of Beloved, but a year has now gone by and what was does not accurately portray who I am now. 

GriefShare pointed out that what I've experienced changed me. There is no denying that. I am a little braver than I was before, I've been forced to be more independent, and I most definitely lean into the Lord more than ever before in my life. 

While the grief is healing, there will be a scar of remembrance for the rest of my life. People have told me from the start that I will always hurt over this. That sounds like a curse, to me, like I'll never be happy again. 

I reject that. But I do understand there is a scar to show for what has happened. 

Jesus has scars, too, from His crucifixion on the cross. He is now happy in Heaven, but He's got scars to show for what He did for us.

Scars are not necessarily a bad thing. They can be a monument to what happened and of God's faithfulness to bring us through. I do accept that.

So the one year anniversary has come and gone. I am a little relieved. All the "firsts" have been experienced now. 

First anniversary
First Christmas
First New Year
First Valentine's Day
First my birthday
First Easter
First his birthday
and so forth

I'm sure there will be tears from time to time but I'm ready to move forward out of the valley, or the season, of despair. Putting one foot in front of the other with the comfort of my usual routines, I am sure the Lord will bring into my life whatever He has for me to do next.

Thank you again, all of you, who have been holding me up in prayer all this time. The Lord has heard every single one of you. I am blessed. I also have a much better idea of how to pray for and minister to those who are wandering through the "Valley of the Shadow of Death."

Until next time, grace and peace.

Because of the LORD's great love
we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself,
"The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him."
The LORD is good 
to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly 
for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:22-26





17 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful, love filled, poignant yet hopeful post. God has surely been ministering to and through you. Your journey is a testament to others that with God, anything is possible. I loved seeing all of the pictures of your beautiful family together. I only wondered about where everyone slept! LOL. Good thing kids are so flexible! You are blessed with a wonderful, supportive and loving family, and that is a huge thing when working through grief. They can't do it for you, but they can be there to assist you in your journey all the way, even while dealing with their own grief. God is good, all the time, God is good. Thank you for this look into your home and heart. You will continue to remain in our daily prayers. God bless you my friend. I am so thankful God brought you (and your Beloved) into our lives. (((hugs)))

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  2. Oh I enjoyed seeing the photos of your Thanksgiving with all the family in tow. They are such good children, all of them. You have been a wonderful example to many, Barbara. God is good and faithful and kind. He can be nothing less.

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  3. Such a beautiful post, my friend. And I will keep saying this, you.are.brave. Keeping in prayer.

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  4. Oh Barb, I am glad that you were surrounded by family during this week. What beautiful pictures you shared and I love the one that you were in surrounded by your family (the grandson selfie). You are an inspiration to those around you near and far with your grace, your faith, and your journey. Thinking of you.

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  5. You are an amazing woman and a blessing to many. Thank you for sharing your journey. I will continue to hold you and your family in prayer.

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  6. I'm so thankful your kids were all able to share Thanksgiving with you. I ask for God's peace today as I am sure the house seems awfully quiet! I'm so proud of the way you have walked this journey and allowed God to grow you and strengthen you. I love that you feel every feeling, but have chosen not to let feelings rule. I love you!!

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  7. I found your blog when you lived in jax.area as we used to live in Orange park I have enjoyed it and prayed for you and beloved. You are a brave inspiring woman of God. This blog is a blessing to many.

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  8. Once again you have shared a wonderful testimony. A testimony of love, joy, sorrow, tears and our dear Lord who is always with you. Thanks for your honesty through this year. I know Beloved would be very proud of you and also your family who has supported you so well.

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  9. What a special, special post! It's been so inspiring to follow this "grief journey" with you this past year. May the Lord continue to bring you peace and comfort as you go forward. As always, blessings abundant!

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  10. I agree with everyone above. A very special post, Barb. One year. I have also been thinking of that one-year marker that is coming into my site-line. We have changed. Life has changed. But we can smile and we can be happy again. God is still on His throne and is in control. You will remain in my prayers. Love & hugs dear friend.

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  11. Your pictures are just beautiful and you have shown so many of us ladies your heart and displayed so much strength and grace. I know you don’t think you are strong but there is an amazing so,an in ther. Beloved would be so proud of you. The Lord shows up to guide us through the hard stuff. All too often, we are not taught that that the hard stuff is real and that Heaven is the prize. May He continue to guide and comfort.

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  12. You have made it through this hard year and you have been a blessing and encouragement to others, Barbara. I hope 2022 will be a year of blessing for you.

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  13. Wonderful photos. I'm so glad you spent the holiday with your family all around you. I can see you enjoyed yourself. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

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  14. All the pictures are wonderful dear Barbara and you are loved and appreciated for sharing your life with us. So glad you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. It is evident in your post that our Lord surely is giving you strength when you need it and I am sure that is often NOT A MINUTE TOO SOON. Love you lady. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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  15. Grace and Peace to you as you are still on the journey...God bless you Barbara. Looks like things went beautifully.

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  16. A beautiful post to read and that section of Scripture is a crowning ending. You have learned so much and so can comfort the sorrowing with the comfort you have received. Your Thanksgiving was fun to read about. Great games. I might have to steal the fall leaves hunt in the future...if I remember.

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  17. I'm so glad you got to spend time with all of your family! That really was special and the weather has been so beautiful. Enjoy your week!

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