More than a grandfather

It’s been a week since the services for Gramps were held.  A week since I saw Gramps for the last time.  One week will turn into two, then into a month, then into a year, and then into two, five, ten, twenty and beyond.  Sometimes there are no words.  Sometimes there are lots of them.  Sometimes, something so simple will happen and I’ll be brought to tears – the faint scent his aftershave as someone passes by.   A glimpse of another man with greying hair and eyes similar to his.  Seeing the kind of milk that he used to drink or crackers that he used to eat.  It will be so different going home for Christmas break on Sunday and not seeing him walk out from the TV room to embrace us and ask how the drive was.  And yet all of this is normal.  I know that, but somehow it doesn’t make the process any easier.  But Gramps was an amazing man.  So I’m sharing what I wrote and read for his memorial service on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 because I feel it’s important for everyone to see him like I did.

After 94 years on this Earth, Gramps passed away Friday, December 4, 2015 at 9:20pm.

It’s so hard to summarize an entire lifetime of memories about Gramps without leaving something important out, but I’ll try my best.  While he was biologically, grandfather he was much more like a father to me.  He taught me how to ride a bike, and bless his heart, tried to teach me how to play different sports like soccer and basketball.  Neither of which I learned how to play very well.  

When I learned to play the flute in 7th grade, he was one of my biggest supporters.  He took me to my weekly flute lessons for almost three years – sitting in the car or going up to the small, mostly empty Orange Blossom Mall.  He took me to various auditions and held me while I cried when I thought I totally botched an audition for All-State.  He never missed a concert.  

He taught me how to drive in the Northport Middle School parking lot – which I know was a highlight because it meant that he didn’t have to cart me around everywhere any more.  

He beamed proudly at my graduations – from high school at Lincoln Park Academy to my Masters in Education and the University of Florida.  

He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day.  

He cried tears of joy as he held Harper, his first great-grand child.  While I’m not sure that she’ll really remember much of him, I’m so thankful that he was able to meet and spend time with her.  His memory lives on in her spirited personality and her love for people.  

As he got older, he loved telling the family about his own childhood and time in the military.  

He always said that his greatest accomplishment was his family, and he loved us all so.

I know that each of us will keep his memory alive in all that we do, as he will never be far from our heart.

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Picture taken on 11.28.15

Friday Favorites

I know I always love learning about new (to me) products and things that people love so I thought I would jump on the band wagon now too.

  1. Daybreak Photo Co. : I first met Dawn in a mommy group and she was just so sweet and had such a fun and free spirit.  When I found out she was a photographer I jumped on the chance to have her shoot our family in one of her fall mini sessions.  Dawn does AMAZING work, guys.  Seriously.  Harper was just about to turn two and wasn’t a happy camper for most of the shoot. I was flustered, and she and Carl were keeping us both from having a complete melt down.  Yet in the midst of all of the crazy, Dawn captured some of the most beautiful images of our family.  Monday we had our third shoot with her and I am in awe of her talent and skill.  Nearly every time I look at the pictures I’m brought to tears.  She truly has a gift and I HIGHLY recommend her.

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2. Local Fare Farm Bag : A few weeks ago Carl and I decided to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) that delivers!  We’ve loved the two bags that we’ve received so far and I’m excited for our third one that will be delivered this afternoon.  The thought of supporting local farmers brings me a lot of joy and I can’t wait to start our own little garden someday.

3. Nights of Lights and the Holly Jolly Trolley: Last night Carl’s school put on a little Christmas festival complete with Santa, hot chocolate, cookies and a trolley ride downtown to see the Nights of Lights.  Downtown is covered in white Christmas lights and it’s just so beautiful.  Since one of my favorite parts of Christmas is seeing all of the houses lit up, this is just the icing on the cake!

4. The Spark Notebook: Another Beachbody coach on my team recommended this planner as a way to really track and go after our goals each month.  I absolutely fell in love with it and decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present.  I can’t wait to dig in a write down my goals for the month of December in here!

5. My wireless mouse: I know this sounds completely ridiculous but I would be completely lost without this little thing.  Every few years we get new computers through our school district and this year the track pad on it is HORRIBLE.  Within a few hours of getting it I was driving off to Target to get a wireless mouse.  First, how did I go so long without experiencing the amazingness that is all things wireless?  It’s so nice to be able to use the mouse without having a crazy cord all over my desk.  Plus, with me moving around so much with my job this year I love that it’s small and portable.  If you haven’t already invested in a wireless mouse seriously go out and get one.

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What are some of your favorite things right now?

The story of the flag

I met my husband, Carl, while we were still in high school, long before allegiances between colleges had been formed.  He graduated the year before I did and set off to start his freshman year of college at Florida State University.  We exchanged emails every once in a while and would run into each other randomly over the next year but I wouldn’t say we really kept in touch.

In the summer of the following year, just a few months after graduation and turning 18, my bags were packed and mom and I made the four hour drive to Gainesville so I could attend the University of Florida.  Do you see where I’m going with this? 😉

I spent the next five years (four years of undergrad and one year of graduate school) cheering on the Gators with my whole heart – although if I’m being honest I didn’t really care for the crowds and craziness of actually going to the games.  Besides, everyone who ever lived in Gainesville knows that game times were the best times to go shopping and run errands because the entire town was either at the game or watching it on TV somewhere.

Carl and I continued to talk sporadically until the summer of 2005 when I randomly (or not so randomly, really) got his number from a friend while I was on vacation. I called him the next day.  Two years later the Seminole Boy and the Gator Girl were married and we became a house divided.

Luckily, neither of us are HUGE fans of sports in general, so our divided house only has an issue one night out of the year – the night of the Florida v. Florida State game.  When we bought our townhouse we thought it would fun to set up a tradition with a little garden flag.  You know, the ones that say stuff outside of people’s homes like “Welcome” or “Spring”.  But not ours.  Instead, our flag showcases the winner of the rivalry game for an entire year.

Last year FSU won and I had to stare at that damn flag every time I went outside. We eagerly anticipated the game the whole drive back from visiting our families for Thanksgiving.  Side note: We always make sure that we are alone for the game because while Carl and I are really quite civil during the game, our families are not.  Especially his – harassing me for every crappy throw, kick, and pass that my beloved Gators miss. *sniff*

Florida looked promising at the beginning of the season so I had high hopes when Saturday’s game started.  But that small, small hope was quickly squashed with each half.  I always say that the winner of almost any game depends on how badly they want it.  Yes, there is definite skill involved, but heart is almost more important.  I think Florida forgot to show up on Saturday – so much so that the only points that were on the board for them were actually scored by the FSU players.  It was sad.  Really sad.

And so the flag stays.  

  
There’s always next year, right?

Grateful

I have been trying to think of the “perfect” first post for a few weeks now. Weeks.  Seriously.  I kept waiting for this stroke of inspiration to hit me and I’d just think “Ah!  That’s what I should write about!”  But honestly, it just hasn’t come.  Tonight I sat down with the computer and decided to just start.  Start somewhere.  Because that’s what we all have to do at some point.  We make a decision to go outside our comfort zone and just do something.

As I sit on the couch watching Despicable Me with my daughter and husband, my father-in-law in the other room, I’m struck with a complete sense of peace and a grateful heart.  Yes, I realize that today is Thanksgiving and many people reflect on the things that they are grateful for but this year feels different.  Very different.

I’m not sure if the feeling is because it’s very likely the last holiday we will have spent with Gramps or because we didn’t have to prepare a huge meal thanks to my amazing cousin who cooked and the rest of the family who brought the leftovers over to my mom’s house.  We literally spent the entire day playing and with each other .  Okay, my mom and husband played with our daughter while I took a gloriously long nap, but you get the point.  It was a day we spent with each other.  Running, laughing, pretending, watching, listening.  All of the things that we never seem to have enough time to do with all of the busyness of our day-to-day lives.  Ironically, these things are fundamentally important to the amount of joy we experience.

I recently listened to an EntreLeadership podcast with Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage and I absolutely LOVED every single thing that he had to say.  Check out his TED talk for yourself because it’s amazing.  Like, truly life changing amazing.

So tonight, while the minions are laughing in the background, I’m focusing on the three most important things I’m grateful for.

  1. My family.  We are far from perfect.  In fact, if I’m being honest are usually a hot mess.  But at the end of the day, they are my hot mess and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

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  2. My faith. The past year has been challenging.  Like, really challenging.  At the same time, I’ve seen God do some truly awesome, awesome things in our lives.  Things that I’ve sat back and wondered “why, God” for years have started to fall into place.  It’s like this year I’ve been able to see a huge portion of the puzzle instead of just one or two pieces at a time.

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  3. My friends. My village.  My framily, if you will.  The people who I can call when I need someone to talk me off the ledge. The people who I can text when I’m having a rough day.  The people who will travel any distance so we can spend some time together.  You know who you are and I’m so, so very grateful for you.

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So friends, thank you for spending a few minutes of your evening with me.  I’m excited to start this new blog and grow it into something amazing.

Tonight, take a few minutes and think of three things that you are grateful for.   Write them down so you can see them when you’re having a rough day.  I’d love for you to share what you’re grateful for in the comments section.