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!