This blog is simply the story about my little life
with my sweet family that the Lord has blessed me with
and the day in, day out things that we do.
It basically is my online diary/photo album of our life.
I'm glad you're here!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's hard to say good-bye

My beautiful mother-in-love, Alice and I in the early 90s
I loved my mother-in-law Alice. I truly did. I was blessed with a wonderful second mother. She was not like the typical stereotype mother-in-law that they show on TV. She added so much to my life, to my husband and to my boys.
 She passed away back in October. We had just moved her to our little town in July and had just moved her husband here the end of September. This is the last photo of their original family all together; Jim, Alice and their three kids, Mark, Eric and Stacey. We didn't know it at the time, but she was in the beginning stages of dying.
Just three weeks later Alice stopped eating and drinking. Sunday night, October 12th we went to visit her. She was despondent, but when I hugged her and was crying and told her I loved her, a tear went down her cheek. I snapped this picture of Jim and Alice's hands together, which is representative of a 60 year love affair.
 The next morning I snapped this picture of my husband going off to work. I put it on Facebook with the caption, "He has a lot on his mind".
 He really did have a lot on his mind with his mama dying and we have another huge issue in our family going on. Later that morning I got a call that Eric had cut his toe very badly with his chainsaw. He was very blessed that the chainsaw stopped right when he hit his toe. He got 20 stitches. God was watching over him, I think God stopped the chainsaw. Later that night after I had visited Alice, I was driving home in the rain and received a phone call that our "huge issue" had gone from bad to worse. Monday, October 13, 2014 was a terrible day.
 The next few days were very difficult. Her husband, Jim, stayed right by her side. On Wednesday, October 15th at 2:30 pm, our dear Alice passed away. It was a beautiful moment. Her loving family was all around her. A harpist was playing "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty" and her son-in-law was quoting the 23rd Psalm and other passages from the Bible. It was raining softly outside. It was very peaceful.
We were all so heartbroken. She was gone. As we all left the facility together, when we opened the double doors out to the parking lot, we could not believe our eyes when we saw this gorgeous rainbow. We were all so very comforted by this beautiful bright full-arched rainbow that actually was a double rainbow.  We felt like it was a gift from God just for us at this time. Rainbows have always been meaningful, but now they are extra special to all of us.

My husband was so very sad that he lost his beloved mother. My sons were broken up that they lost their grandma. She was so wonderful to all of us. It really is hard to lose someone so special.
 That week was such a blur as we had so much to do. My sister-in-law, Stacey, and I handled all of the arrangements. We were so busy, but Alice made it so much easier for us. We found a file in her filing cabinet with all of her funeral plans. It was nice because they had pre-purchased their burial plots, caskets and flowers.
 She even preplanned the whole funeral with songs and poetry. Truly an amazing gift to leave for your family. This helped us so much. I would like to do the same thing for my children as well.
Even with all of her preplanned arrangements, Stacey and I had tons of things to do. We had a two hour meeting with the funeral home and went through all of the arrangements. There are so many details you must go over for these things, I had no idea how involved it is. What a gift Alice gave us to have so many things taken care of in advance.
We went to the cemetery to make the preparations for the burial.
I have never seen a mausoleum crypt before. It is eerily beautiful.
 The owner walked us out to the burial plot that Jim and Alice had purchased. We were sad that the graveyard looked so unkempt. This place used to be the best in town, but sadly, the owners are no longer watering the grass.
We all surrounded Jim with our company and with love. He spent the night with us and we made sure to be with him when he read Alice's obituary in the paper. He actually was coping quite well.
Sometimes I cannot believe the timing of things. We have been worried about Jim's memory for many months and I made an appointment with him for a consultation with a neurologist. I made the appointment back in August and the first opening was October 22nd. This ended up falling just one week after Alice died. We had no idea at the time we made the appointment that this would have happened, but it was such an important appointment that we did not reschedule it. I took him to see the neurologist and sadly, after the doctor had examined Jim, he diagnosed him with Alzheimer's. Really? Oh my gosh, can anything else go wrong. You can see the stress in my face. I am just GIVING IT ALL OVER TO GOD.
We did make it a fun day though and we went out to lunch and Jim came with me to the mall and helped me shop for a dress to wear to Alice's funeral. Stacey and I decided that we did not want to wear  dreary black. Alice was such a bright and vivacious lady and she loved fashion, color and jewelry. Jim helped me pick out this fun dress.
Every day after work I went over to Jim's house and took pictures of pictures in their photo albums. This was a very hard job, but so worth it. I felt like I got to know my dear mother-in-law even more by seeing her life in pictures. There were about 40 albums and I took over 500 photos. It was really cute because Jim would come in and sit with me as I took the photos and would reminisce with me. These days are very dear to me in my heart.
We planned the funeral for ten days later on a Sunday. Jim and Alice's eldest son, Mark, and his family flew in from Maryland for the funeral on Friday. We squeezed in many wonderful family times in the weekend starting with pizza on Friday night. I sure love and appreciate our family!
The funeral was Sunday, October 26th and was held at Alice's lifetime church. We set up a special memory table out in the foyer.
We gave tribute to Alice with photos, articles, trophies, awards and other memorabilia honoring her.
So many people came to pay their respects. It was a very lovely funeral. We followed Alice's wishes for the program with her chosen songs, poems and scriptures. Mark, Stacey and I spoke. My son, Mackenzie, put together a beautiful slide show tribute to Alice. Several people stood up to tell heart-warming stories. It was beautiful.
These are the only two pictures I have of our family from the funeral. I wasn't taking pictures that day, but in retrospect, I wish that I had. Thankfully my sister took these two at the little reception right after the funeral. This first one is my sisters, Kelli and Kathi with our Aunt Josephine.
And here's a neat photo of my father, Leonard, with five of his grandsons, my four boys, Mackenzie, Cameron, Grayson and Hayden and my nephew, Harrison. I was so thankful for all of the people who came to the funeral and showed their love and support to our family.

On top of all the  sadness and stress, the planning and preparations, the guests staying in our home, preparing meals for company, Jim's electricity going out for 24 hours and the news of Jim's Alzheimer's, we hosted a big party for 60 people in our home. I thought I might lose it, but God truly sustained me! He gave me strength. I also did learn to let go and it all fell into place. My boss was so understanding and my company gave me four paid days off for bereavement. My loved ones stepped up to help, my sweet sister, Kathi, even did all of the dishes for me during the party. It just all came together perfectly. The party ended up being so special with so many family members and friends there. I think it really helped my father-in-law.
The next day was the burial. Alice asked that her grandsons be the pallbearers. This was such an honor for them. Mark stepped in for his son who could not be there.
These times are sad, but also bring families together. We were all so blessed to know Alice.
After the funeral, life moved on. We felt it was important to help Jim make new fun memories in his new house, so we all went over for Halloween and helped give candy out to the children. We had our traditional chili and cornbread for dinner. A certain adorable little puppy came by to wish his great-grandpa happy Halloween!
In honor of Alice, I put on her famous witches hat and handed out candy to the kids. She did this every year!
Mama reading Ridley his new Halloween book from Grammie.
The boys with their grandpa! Hayden was heading to a costume party, so he was dressed as roman soldier.
Peak-boo little mister!
We put these balloons up to help people find our place for the party after the funeral. We just loved it that they lasted over three weeks! They cheered us up.
It is so very hard to say good-bye to someone you love so dearly. Alice lived her life to the fullest. She invested in her relationships and she was loved by many. We are very sad to have lost her, but it is so comforting knowing that she loved the Lord and is in heaven now. We will see her again one day!

"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." I Thessalonians 4:16-18

Hugs, Sharon


Judy said...

I'm glad to see you blogging again. I'm not sure if I told you but I'm sorry for the loss of your Mother-in-law, I know it's hard for you all to have lost her. I just lost my father on New Years Eve, so I know what you are going through. What keeps me going is that he is no-longer suffering or in pain, and that he is safe in the arms of Jesus, as your beloved Alice is.

P.S. I love your new hair color.

Heartfelt living said...

Sharon, I'm so sorry for your loss. Alice seemed like such a wonderful woman. You wrote a loving tribute to her. I can see how much she was loved and that means so much.
I'm so happy to see you blogging again. I love to visit your page. May God bless you and your family as you go through this times.

Mardell said...

Oh Sharon,
What a lovely tribute to your beloved Alice. It brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing & beautiful woman she was. I've often thought of "planning" my funeral & sometimes I think it's so morbid...BUT ~ it's reality. I'm only 50 & shouldn't be thinking of stuff like that, I guess. Maybe it's when I'm depressed.

Hope you feel my hugs.

(So sad about Jim's diagnosis. I'm sorry.)

jen said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful lady with us - what a blessing she was-
So sorry for your loss
Take care

Farrah said...

Hugs and prayers, sweet friend. xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Alice's life and passing. She certainty was a wonderful mother in law and you a wonderful daughter in law to her. My mother also had written her requests for her funeral. What a blessing it was!
May you find peace in your new journey with your father in law.
May God bless you.

Anonymous said...

This was a nice post, although sad at times; and real life. It was sad as you described your husband going off to work that day with so much on his mind. God was guarding over him. Thank God for His protection that day! Alice seemed like such a lovely woman and so blessed in her life. So sorry to hear the news of your dear father in law. I am still praying for you and family.
God bless

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