Charlie's 1st birthday party had been planned for months and even though we were all mourning, we knew "Nonnie" would want be upset if we cancelled the party.
Charlie had over 100 people & even Mickey Mouse made a guest appearance.
Happy 1st Birthday Little Man!
You are SO LOVED.
Mom's are not supposed to outlive their children.
It is times like these when having Alzheimer's isn't such a bad thing.
At least our Mother didn't experience the heartbreak of losing a child.
When my husband said "Let me get a picture of the three of you", we graciously got together and then I lost it COMPLETELY. As I put my arm around Mom, looked at Kathie, my heart sank. I pulled my arm down and said "I can't do it." Kathie made some comments, telling me it was going to be OK (She is so amazing and is always the one that appears to be holding it totally together allthewhile her heart is breaking on the inside as for me, well, I wear my heart on my sleeve.) I tried to pull myself together enough to get a picture of 'the girls', but it just didn't feel right. It wasn't till I looked at these pictures last month that I realized Tennie was in fact in the picture with us. She is the little girl in the picture on the mantel.
I'm including what I said at my sisters "Celebration of Life" ceremony.
Read it if you choose.
Hi I am Trish, Tennies favorite baby sister. Today we have a few people that would like to come up and share stories with you about our sister. Some will be sad, some will be funny, some will sing, some won't be able to get through what they want to say, and if you know anything about our you know some will try to preach a 2 hour sermon. I have asks them not to please not do that.
So I am going to get things started for you today.
Tennie was not only my sister but also my friend.
She wasn't ready. She didn't want to go. This was the hardest part. She just told Kathie that she had too much to live for. Charlie. Charlie was her world. She was so flipping excited to be a grandma, or 'Nonnie' as she preferred.
As I was packing my bag to fly to Texas the phone rang. It was Stacy. I knew instantly. When I answered the phone instead of saying 'hello' I said 'she's gone, isn't she?' Stacy didn't speak words at first, she only cried. So I did what any good aunt would do and I cried with her and let her tell her story. What I have learned in my 44 years is that every single person has a story. I listened to her and cried with her. And now since I have you all held captive, you are about to hear a small portion of my story with my sister as as I remember it.
Although my heart physically hurts right now it helps knowing that my sister is pain free. She hurt for far too long. She was a fighter and I mean that in every sense of the word. But really when you think about it she had no other choice, I mean when you have 7 brothers it is kind of sink or swim...and she never sank - she fought hard till the end. She fought cancer with everything she had, she fought to live, she fought for Charlie. She wanted to see him turn 1, and she almost made it. It breaks my heart and fills my heart with joy knowing she was holding Charlie's foot as she took her last breath. I think Tennie passed near his birthday so Stacy would have something to celebrate and would not be as focused on the grief. The last words she spoke were to Stacy. She said "I love you and keep trusting in God'.
Today I want to share some things with you about my sister.
Some things you already know, some you might not....sit back and enjoy the ride down memory lane:
From my earliest memories I knew Tennie was tough. She was a fighter. And I know this because she took much of her aggression out on me. When we were little we were either playing and having a great time, or she was kicking my backside.
Sometimes this happened simultaneously.
Some of my favorite memories are:
*Playing baseball in the field by our house while trying not to land on bull nettles. If you don't know what bull nettles are, you are not from Texas and you should ask my Colorado husband about them.
*Laying on cots in the backyard listing to the Rangers game with our and Daddy.
*Picking fresh fruit off the trees and bushes in our backyard for our after school snacks.
*Tennie rolling me around in the big washing machine drum in our backyard.
*When we use to try to dig our own swimming pool in the back yard. We would dig the biggest hole we could, line it with plastic and fill it with water and then splash around in muddy water.
*Our pet ducks.
*Rubber band fights in the living room.
*Watching Frankenstein movies with her. She was always so brave.
*Our pink walls and red carpet....and secretly giggling over how much Melba HATED it!!!
*Very carefully Unwrapping our Christmas gifts before Christmas an re-wrapping them so no one would know.
*Acting surprised on Christmas morning.
*Her hugging me and telling me it was going to be OK when Daddy died.
*Winning my first and only fight with her.....( I ran after 'my win' and didn't come back for a few hours)
*Her being there when I had my first child.
*She visited almost every time we moved - which was a lot !!!
*She flew across the world to see me when I lived in Korea the first time.
*She was always there when Jeremy deployed.
*How well she took care of our Momma.
*How close we became in the past 3 years.
*Knowing she was always there for me if I ever needed her.
*Spending two precious weeks with her in the hospital -- walking with Rick, making outrageous goals and just being there.
Some of my least favorite memories:
*She made me eat mud pies. And I am talking DIRT AND WATER people, dirt and water.
*Eating our pet ducks for Easter dinner-- true story.
*Almost getting kidnapped when riding bikes between our house and Paul's house. I still remember the truck....ask me later.
*Her shooting me with rubber bands and leaving huge welts on me.
*Her nailing me with a shovel on the nose while digging our swimming pool...or was that David??
*Scary stories she would tell me in our room late at night totally freaking me out.
*When I thought she and David had been kidnapped...I ran home FREAKING out. (Yes I have always been dramatic)
*Daddy teaching us to kill and skin a rabbit -- she liked it WAY more than I did.
*Her kicking my backside over and over.
To my favorite niece Stacy, sorry Connie, Kristin, Melissa or any other niece in the chapel, but Stacy wins today. I promised your mom I would be here for you and Charlie. (BTW, Thanks for letting me name him) AND I will always will.
Tennie, you left us way too early,
But I can only imagine the reunion you are having with Daddy.
Rest in peace my sister...rest in peace.
I love you.
Today is Charlie's 1st birthday.
My sister was so excited to become a grandmother 1 year ago today.
She adored Charlie.
We were all so sad she didn't make it to see him turn 1 and even though we didn't feel much like celebrating, we knew if we didn't my sister would be SO MAD AT US!
So, Stacy and I took him to the Cupcake Queen (My favorite in Denton!) for cupcakes and then to the hospital to celebrate his birthday with some of the fabulous nurses that cared for his Grandma.
I know my pictures are blurry, but I felt it was important to add the picture of these amazing women. They are the heart and soul of Denton Presbyterian Hospital and I can't thank them enough for the care they gave to not only my sister, but to all of us. They became our family too. From the bottom of my heart I thank you all.
Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life and the next few days will be just as hard.
Today we made funeral arrangements.
Today I wrote her obituary:
Towanda xxxxxxxx lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday July 15, 2014 at her home surrounded by those that loved her. She was 48 years old. "Tennie" was the 9th child born to Reverend Charles James & Maxine xxxxx on December 26, 1965. She lived most of her life in Denton, Texas, was a graduate of Denton High School and a long time member of the Denton Church of God.
Tennie was loved my many. She exemplified what it means to be a part of a family. She took care of those she loved, by cooking meals for anyone in need, babysitting her many,many nieces and nephews at a moments notice and has been the primary care giver for the last several years to her mother who suffers from Alzheimer's.
A celebration of her life will be held at 10AM Friday, July 18, 2014 in the Chapel of DeBerry Funeral Directors with her brothers, Rev Glen xxxx and Rev Michael xxxxx officiating.
Tennie is survived by her only daughter and son-in-law, Stacy and Dennis xxxx, her sisters and their spouses: Kathie and Lee xxxxx, Trish and Hubby xxxxx; her brothers and their spouses: Paul & Melba xxxx, Glen and Comedra xxxx, Michael and Paulette xxxx, Rickey and Ruby xxxx, Gary and Cindy xxxx, Mark and Phyllis xxxx, and David xxxx. Too many nieces and nephews to name individually and her adoring grand children Chase and Charlie xxxx.
Tennie will always live on in the hearts of those that loved her.
It's Tuesday morning, I'm getting ready for my flight to head back to Texas to spend the last few hours/days with my sister, I was in the bathroom putting on makeup when my cell phone rang.
It was my niece.
I just knew.
Rewind: After getting back to Colorado Monday evening my niece called and told me my sister was bad. She ask me if I wanted to talk to her. I did. I spoke, she said nothing. I cried and told her how much I loved her and that if she needed to go before I got there that it was OK. I wanted her to be at peace. I promised to love Charlie and Stacy like they were my own.
When Stacy took the phone back she was in tears and said my sister was trying to answer me, but couldn't form words.
My heart was broken and I prayed that I would make it back in time.
Back to Tuesday morning:
I picked up the phone and said "She's gone isn't she?"
My niece cried and told me her story.
I couldn't understand a word of what she was saying and I just cried with her.
That flight back to Texas was the hardest flight of my life.
I took no pictures on this day.
After dropping Boy 1 off at college we headed back to Denver but before doing so we stopped off in Utah to visit some of Hubby's high school classmates. We had a wonderful but short visit. On the way to their house shortly after dropping Boy 1 off at school I received word that my sister went home on hospice - I booked a flight home for Tuesday morning. I was on even more of an emotional roller coaster. We stopped at Arches National Park on our way back to Denver. It was beautiful but my heart wasn't in it.
We have had him for 18 years, 17 day and 4 hours, approximately.
We taught him and prepared him as much as we could.
It is time, time to rip the band aide.
Time for his new chapter to begin.
We delayed as much as possible. We took him shopping, took him to breakfast and drove around the campus.
He is ready, I'm not 100% sure I am. I mean I know he is ready, so that helps. He has a good head on his shoulders. He is a smart kid & he makes me so proud, but even smart kids tend to lose their minds in college. I hope he doesn't totally lose it. Don't get me wrong, I want him to have fun. I want him to make mistakes, (just not mistakes that are TOO BIG!) I want him to experience life, I want him to remember EVERYTHING ends up on the internet, I want him to stay safe, I want him to call his mother!! I'm hate that he is going to be SO FAR away from us. It's not easy to get from Idaho to Rhode Island or vice versa. Thank goodness we have friends all over the world that I can call on if I need too. I also made sure the assistant dean of BSU remembers me. I left my mark at parent orientation. I mean did you expect anything less from me? Doesn't he look handsome in this picture? He is so grown up.
Time to say 'see you at Thanksgiving'.
It's so hard.
We drove up to his dorm, unloaded the last of his things and said goodbye in the parking lot. I hugged him first, I tried really hard not to sob and at least I didn't do it in front of him. When I knew I couldn't take anymore I kissed him on his cheek, squeezed his hand told him I loved him and walked away.
Then it was his dad's turn. I gave them their privacy. I'm not sure what transpired between them, but I do know that Hubby, my fierce, strong, amazing husband returned to the car with puffy red eyes (don't tell him I told you that!).
We drove away without speaking a word to each other, tears silently streaming down my face I looked back to make sure he got into his dorm, he gave us wave and disappeared......
Normally they annoy the heck out of him, and they all fight like cats and dogs, but not today. In fact for the past week and most of this move they all seemed to enjoy each other a little more. But this was it. This was the morning the siblings had to say goodbye. There were lots and lots of hugs. There were tears. They didn't want to let him go. My heart broke a little more this morning watching my babies say goodbye to each other.
He has been an amazing big brother to these guys and will continue to be, just from afar.
Today we all start ANOTHER new chapter.
We will miss seeing you every day Boy 1.
Am I insane? Have I lost my mind? After thinking long and hard about it (OK, really I only thought about it for about 12 hours) I just committed to doing a photo a day for a year - a 365 'they' call it. This is going to be SUPER HARD for me. Not the photo part, but the editing part. I mean you guys KNOW how far behind I am. A photo a day - that doesn't sound like much, but in reality, who are we kidding? Anyway I'm going to TRY to post each day, but there will be times I might be MIA for a couple of days, just bear with me and I will catch up.