The boys and I went to Tallahassee for her funeral and were greeted by cousins, aunts, uncles, and family that we hadn't seen in years. It was really nice to all be together again. Upon walking into my grandparents house, there is a distinct scent of their home. It conjures up so many memories. Throwing the tennis ball against the wall in their front stairwell, making potholders on my Grandma's loom, eating oatmeal made extra special by my Grandaddy Watt/"Moyo", playing with the dollhouse in the upstairs bedroom... My most recent memories of my Grandma involved a lot of watching her observe. She would quietly watch all of the action around her with the sweetest smile of admiration. She loved watching my boys when we would visit. She would notice the littlest details about them or their behavior and compliment them, or me, on it. She loved music, too. She gave me a classical flute CD when I started playing flute in middle school. She was so excited. One of her favorite hymns was "It Is Well With My Soul"- a hymn that my mom sang at the funeral....perfectly.
I got back from Tallahassee Sunday night and got a call from my dad Monday. My Appa Bull had taken a sharp turn for the worse over the weekend. He didn't expect him to make it through the night.... and he didn't. My heart sank. This man was like another grandparent to me. His stories were fascinating (and really l o n g!) More fascinating than his stories, was the way he told them. He didn't leave a single detail out. And he used whatever was near him- a fork, napkin, salt shaker, sugar packet, as a prop to tell his story. "Ok, now, if this is the bridge (places fork down) and this is the boat (places sugar packet down)...." It was great. But I also hate to admit that many stories I'd give my dad a look that said, "Rescue me, please. This story will never end!!" It was after high school, that I really realized how special my time with family was. The first year after I had Dylan I lived with my mom and stepdad. It wasn't a bad arrangement but I wanted to make a little home for Dylan and me on our own somewhere. At a lunch date with my Appa Bull one day, he offered to help me get into my own place. He said he understood my desire and wanted to help make it happen. "How much do you need?" He got straight to the point, he simply wanted to know how he could help. And from the day I moved out, to the day I graduated college, my Appa Bull helped Dylan and me have our own place. What a gift.
What I look back on and remember the most were, the stories, the lunch outings at his favorite, Whistle Stop Cafe. I loved his home on Park Avenue, I loved the dancing Christmas figures under his tree, I loved how excited he was to share about his Coy Fish Pond that he built. I loved how I could just walk by him and all of the sudden, feel this hand grab mine as he was sliding $20 in my hand slyly. I'd always say, "Oh Appa Bull, you don't have to do that." To which he'd always say, "I know I don't. I want to."
Something that struck me when returning from Haiti, was that no one has pictures there. I know that sounds like, "Well duh, Lindsey, of course not." but think about how special our photographs are. They are backups to our, sometimes flawed, memory. They are prized possessions for me, personally. When my computer crashed this year, my heart sank. Not because of the years of college material on it or the lesson plans I had saved, but because of all my pictures. When my Grandma Watt and Appa Bull died, the first thing I did was look through all my pictures for something of them that I could hang on to. Something that would help keep them fresh in my memory. Memories are precious... and photographs are precious. The day before we left Haiti, we prayed with a woman who had just lost her son a couple weeks before. She was engulfed in despair and sadness. When I left her home, I thought about her not having a single photograph to hang onto. Not. One. That is heartbreaking... Maybe my next quest will be to get Polaroid cameras and film to these villages! Hmm....now there's a thought! ;-)
I love the people in my life...the ones who are still in it and the ones who have moved on to their eternal home. I love the memories I have of all of them...of all of you. I want to create memories and hold onto memories. Most importantly, I want to hold onto to the people behind the memories.
I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas weekend. May it be full of love, joy, peace, worship, warmth, tenderness, affection and
Just a few sweet memories...