Chronic illness, faith, family, hope, encouragment, life

To Chase, on your 16th Birthday

To my precious son on your 16th birthday,

I know it’s cliché but weren’t you just born?  You can’t be sixteen years old!  The years have truly flown by so very, very fast.  I’m sure not fast enough for you because you want to be sixteen and get your license and enjoy more freedom.  Believe it or not, I remember feeling the same way.  I didn’t think the big “milestones” would ever come.  But they did.  And now it seems like yours are coming at warp speed and all I want to do is slow them down!  So on this very special birthday, your 16th, I just wanted to let you know a few things.

First of all, thanks for making me a Mom!  We were over the moon when we found out we were going to have a baby!  You were loved from the day we found out and that love only grows more and more every day.  Everybody was at the hospital when you were born!  You were and are such a loved person.  You know that we lost Pop, my Grandpa, just 3 weeks before you were born.  His death was so unbelievably hard, but knowing that in a few short weeks we would have a brand new baby in the family gave us all so much joy!  And we felt his presence in the delivery room and even at home after you were born.  We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl but I’ll never forget your Daddy crying and saying “I have a son, I have a son”! 

Thank you for teaching me that I was capable of more love than I ever thought possible!  The second I looked into your big, beautiful eyes my heart melted and I have never been the same.  Whether you know it or not, you can still look at me with those big, beautiful eyes and melt my heart even more.   When Granny Polly met you she saw the look on my face and she said, “You didn’t even think you could love another person so much so fast did you”?  She was exactly right!  It’s a love like no other and I would not take ANYTHING for it.  Ever.

Please don’t ever stop asking questions.  From the minute you could talk, you started asking questions.  You still do and that is an amazing quality.  It’s how you learn and whether you think you do or not, you love to learn and know things.  You are so smart.  I don’t think you realize just how much sometimes.  I love watching you learn and figure things out.  I love it when you teach me new things! 

You have a gift of looking at things with a blend of practicality and empathy that is rare in most adults, much less 16 year olds.  You have used this gift with so many of your friends and with your family.  I love sitting down and talking to you because you always put a fresh perspective on things for me.  You help me see the things I should be doing and you point them out.  Use this gift often.  The world needs more of it.

Don’t stop caring for others and taking care of people.  You have always wanted to help do things and take care of stuff.  Even when your Daddy traveled you told me that you “were the man of the house” while he was gone.  And you were!  Even as a toddler you could anticipate what I needed with your brothers before I usually knew.  I hope you know how much I appreciate that.  Don’t stop doing that either.  Always be there for your brothers and vice versa.  One day, you WILL love each other again more than any of your friends and you won’t always fight or argue.  When Garrett was born the first thing you did was crawl up in the bed with us and kiss him so softly on his head and you watched everybody there like a hawk, making sure they were taking care of your “baby brother”.  Then along came Dalton, and I remember you leading Garrett into the room to meet him.  You had on matching “Big Brother” t-shirts that you made, and once again, you kissed him so softly on his little head and then you told Garrett to do the same thing.  Then you both started singing “Jesus Loves Me” to him.  I was so amazed!  It was almost like you and Garrett had organized this whole thing beforehand but you were only 4 and 2 so I don’t think so, lol!  It was just love, pure and simple, Buddy, and when you let it lead you beautiful things can happen! 

Always keep dancing in the rain!  I know that you know what I mean right now, but you and I also danced in the rain a long, long time ago.  Do this with the one you love.  Do this with your kids one day.  Do it by yourself.  You are never to old to dance in the rain! 

Always keep serving the Lord!  You have a heart for Him and His people.  You make good choices, Son, and I’m proud of you!  Keep relying on Him and you will won’t go wrong.  He has huge plans for you and I absolutely cannot wait to see what they are.  No matter what, you will be amazing.  Just trust in Him and allow Him to guide you.   The road will not be perfect, as you have already found out, but if you remain faithful, so will He. 

Never, ever, ever forget that I will be here for you.  Always and Forever!  You are embedded in my heart so deeply and nothing or no one can change that.  Not even YOU!  We really are alike and we do have our disagreements, especially about who is right, but that’s okay.  Moms are the constant thing in your life and they don’t care what you do or don’t do.  They just love you unconditionally. 

Remember this day.  You will have many more milestone birthdays but don’t rush them.  Enjoy each as it comes and count your blessings every single day.  Don’t dwell on the bad stuff or live in the past.  Leave it there and move on.  Live so that you have no regrets.  Think before you speak.  Make sure when you find “the one” that you treat her with manners, respect and love her like Jesus loves the Church.  Believe it or not, at one time I was your “first love” and you wanted to marry me, lol!  I know the girl you pick will be just as awesome as you!  Love fully! 

I could say so many things about you and your sixteen years so far and how much they have touched my life but I hope you get my point from what I have written.  You always kid me about crying when you’ve done certain things, like going to Kindergarten and graduating fifth grade and everything in between.  You don’t even remember all the tears I shed when you learned to walk, talk, etc.  And yes, I’m crying while writing this and I probably won’t stop all day.  YOU, my sweet boy, are a blessing to me like no other.  Can you tell how very proud I am of you and all that you are and that I get to be your Mom?  I believe in you!  I always have and I always will.  And I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK, ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

So blessed to be yours,

Mom

Chronic illness, faith, family, hope, encouragment, life

blessings from MY journey…my Pop, Charlie J Mabe

I hope to start a new blog soon.  Guess what the title is?  Yep, “blessings from MY journey…”  Maybe not the most creative title in the world (and I sure hope it didn’t come to mind because I’m plagiarizing it!).  But there is really no other way to describe it.  It’s my journey and oh, how I’ve been (and I’m still being) blessed beyond measure!   It will probably be similar to the my original blog but I hope to focus more on my own special blessings and the trials (if any) I go through to get to the good part.  It’s the parts of my life where I’ve experienced all kinds of emotions:  fear, pain, heartache, grief, but also unimaginable joy, happiness and love.  Yes, I’ve lived with chronic illness for a while now but I feel I should focus on my blessings.  I do get blessed by pretty much everything in my life in some way.  Whether I really see it at the time or not, I can be pretty confident that there is a blessing in everything we endure in our lives.  We just have to look.  Sometimes that takes a while (especially for me lately).  But when you do find that “sweet spot” , you fall into the arms of Jesus and He shows you how He was working the whole time.  Sometimes I have to fall into His arms right from the start, but that’s okay too.  He never lets go and He will guide me where He wants me and show me what to do.  If I let Him. 

So that brings me to my very first BIG stop on my journey that totally blessed me.   First, I have to explain something.  My family laughs.   ALL THE TIME.  We don’t laugh at people, unless it’s each other.  We have fun.  No matter what the situation.  And laughter really is the best medicine.   And what I’ve learned from that is this:  if we can’t laugh at ourselves in fun in ALL circumstances, we will miss ALL the joy and blessings along the way.  And my Grandparents would not have wanted that, not even when they had one foot in Heaven and one foot on Earth.  This period of time I’m talking about is, of course, when my Pop passed away.   And it’s pretty significant because of the date.  Today is June 4, 2014. On June 4, 1998, 16 years ago, my Pop, Charlie Mabe, took his last breath.  That was such a HUGE thing for me.  He was my first grandparent to pass away.  Not only was I extremely close to him, but I had lived next door to my grandparents my entire life, and I lived with them for a while before I got married so that I could help care for him after his stroke.  Our family didn’t want him to go to a nursing home and he didn’t want that.  I was also in nursing school  and planning a wedding and let me tell you something.  They treated me like a queen!  They spoiled me rotten while I was there so I must say that moving in with them ended up being a huge blessing to me in itself.  (You see, I’ve found that if you really look hard for the good stuff you will no doubt find way more than just one blessing).   But really, we all got spoiled with love.  It was never about “things” although they did that, too.  One of the things my Pop and I talked about in his last days was my first baby, because I was about 8 months pregnant.  We had chosen not to find out the gender but the day of my family baby shower, my Pop felt the baby kick and he said “that’s a strong boy right there Amy Lou,  and you need to get him a dog so he won’t be lonely” lol!  (Now, my name is not Amy LOU, it is Amy Rebecca but I think that he called us what he thought sounded “right” lol!.)  Then he said that he had told my Grandma to go out and buy all kinds of stuff that this baby would need, so that Keith and I would be “set”.  And she did.  And yes, he was right.  My first son, Chase Edward, was born 3 weeks after Pop went home to Jesus. 

The day before he passed away, I was at the house with them, and my two aunts were there.  He was in a hospital bed and it was so hot that day.  He was restless but still alert and attentive.  As usual, we were laughing and cutting up and rather loud.  He got irritated with us and told us that he thought we were taking care of him, not having a party!  So my Aunt Karen jumped up and was going to help him with his bed.  It was the older type of hospital bed with a crank at the end to raise and lower it.  I don’t know what happened, but that crank got stuck when she tried to move the bed up or down, and it resulted with my Pop half sitting and half lying in the bed; and the bed was bouncing up and down like one of those baby jumpers.  His head was bouncing and he was yelling “Whoa, hold up, hold up!”  My aunt became a nervous wreck and my Grandma, Aunt Penny and I were pretty much laying on the floor crying with laughter!  He actually did get upset about that and told us we wouldn’t like it if we were about dead and got “throwed” around like that either.  We all laughed about it later, but like I said, we laugh.  That same day,  as I was leaving Grandma and Pop’s house, he called out to me.  I went back and it was just us.  He told me how much he loved me and to “be careful driving by myself” and to make sure I was “taking care of me and the baby”.  It was not anything unusual for him to say because I lived in Charlotte by then.   But then after I kissed his cheek and told him bye and I loved him and would be back the next day, he didn’t tell me okay like he usually did.  He just turned and lay facing the wall.  It was so sad but what I didn’t know at the time was that he would slip into a coma that night and those were to be our last words.  I got the call early the next morning from my Aunt Karen that he was in a coma and to come back “home”.  Oh, what a stressful drive.  My aunt had been so upset that I honestly figured we might not make it back in time.  I was scared to ask and scared to know.  I just wanted to be there.  When we pulled in to their house, it was packed with cars.  I thought “Oh no!  I didn’t make it in time”.  My aunt ran out the door and I just bent over double, wracked with sobs.  She said, “What is it”?  I thought “is she in shock or something?  She called me to come home and she’s asking me what’s wrong?”  As it turns out, my Pop was still there but he was still in a coma and unresponsive. We all sat there that long, long day and took turns in and out of his room.  We told old stories.  So many people came by and brought food.  It was, as I later found out, a pretty typical thing to happen.  We were on God’s time then more than ever.  It was such a hard place to be.  Caught between wanting him to go be with Jesus and whole again, but also fearful of being without him and what would come after.  After hours of this, I noticed a very slight change in his breathing.  So did my mom.  Our eyes caught right at the same time and we rushed to his bed, one of us on either side.  We were holding his hands, talking to him, and I happened to have my hands over his wrist and could feel his pulse.  Time practically stood still as I realized what I felt.  Instead of the steady beat of his heart, I felt a few strong beats that gradually got further and further apart.  I couldn’t believe how strong those beats were though.  It was almost as if he was holding out until we were by his side.  I told someone to go and get my Grandma because it was time.  But by the time she walked through the house, I had felt his last heartbeat and literally watched his face change.  It was as if, when his soul left his earthly body, you could actually see the change come over him immediately. His face changed from being the emotionless face of someone who had suffered a bad stroke, to a face at perfect peace.  I knew then that I had been so totally and fully blessed by God to be sharing this moment.  This moment with my Mama and with my Pop.  And I felt it such an honor that God would choose me to be there holding Pop’s hand as he was ushered into Heaven.  From our arms to the arms of Jesus.  How sweet and yet so sorrowful at the same time.  The baby was kicking double time in my belly, more than ever before,  as if he knew what was happening.   See, even the worst possible things that you can imagine can result in a blessing so sweet and cherished that you would not change it for the world, even if you could.  It wasn’t that hard to see the Hand of God all over that time in my life, though it took me a little while to fully see what a miraculous encounter I had with the Lord that day.  It was hard to get past my own sorrow and that of my family, but I did.  Because three weeks later, God took me on one of the absolute best journeys so far in my life.  He let me experience the exact opposite side of His glory when I gave birth to my very own son.

Pop’s homegoing was like a presence in the room on June 29, 1998.  All of my family was there and it was a precious thing to have such a joyous event in light of the sadness.  I so wanted to be able to take my first child to Pop and let him see that yes, he was right.  A strong baby boy!  (the first of 3 I might add)!  But I know he was with us.  And if I didn’t know then I sure found out a few days after we got Chase home.  The hormones, lack of sleep and all that adrenaline had finally given way to self pity and exhaustion.  I was crying and looking at my perfect little miracle from God and wishing so hard that Pop could be there.  I ran up to the nursery to grab some diapers and all of a sudden all I could smell was Polo cologne.  It was overpowering.  I literally had to brace myself against the door to avoid falling.  The tears started falling and I started yelling at my husband, “Pop’s here, pop’s here”.  I was sure of this thing just as sure as I was of my own name.  The reason I was so sure?  My Pop liked to dress “just right” before he got sick.  And he LOVED cologne.  He always smelled good.   And that cologne?  Polo.  If you know this brand, it was the kind in the dark green bottle with a gold lid.   It was his favorite I think.  But it was the one I always have and always will associate with him.  The odd thing here:  we didn’t have any Polo cologne anywhere in our house.  Now, I know I was all postpartum and a little close to the edge, but I also know that I smelled that just as strongly as Chase’s dirty diapers.  It was probably the one thing that I would instantly associate with Pop.  The sadness turned to joy and I still LOVE telling Chase about that day and he loves asking.  Birth and death, both absolute facts of life and both gifts from our most Holy Father.   I also like to think that Pop stopped by and dropped a kiss on Chase’s head on his way to Heaven, and secretly whispered to him that he was going to be a strong boy and that he was going to get a dog 🙂 

I love you Pop!  I still miss you like it was yesterday but I rejoice in the time when you will STAND with me and Mama on either side of you once again, and WALK us up to the heavenly throne of Jesus!