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Saying Goodbye

There are two things in my life with which I struggle.  Math and saying “goodbye.”  In my 29 years, I can promise you my math skills have not improved.  However, I recently learned a new understanding for the word, “goodbye,” and have come to the surprising conclusion that perhaps saying it now, isn’t as hard as it use to be.

The summer of 1988 was my first experience with death.  I was too young to really understand the meaning of the word, but I knew people around me were sad.  And..I was sad too.  I remember sobbing in my closet on the afternoon that it happened.  My grandpa Waechter (dad’s father) had passed away.  I don’t remember much more, except being excited at the funeral because all of my cousins were there to play.  It was all my 6-year-old brain could handle at the time.

Fast forward many years, and I have since attended many funerals.  If I could avoid the uncomfortable weeks before the pending death of loved ones, I did.  I stopped visiting my grandma Waechter in the nursing home a few weeks before she passed because it was frankly, too sad.  And, I tried to visit my grandma Crom when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but drove right by the exit without stopping at her home.  I have a difficult time seeing loved ones in pain.  But yesterday, I made myself visit my granddaddy Crom.  I made myself deal with an uncomfortable, painful situation.  And, I’m so incredibly glad I did.

I took a deep breath and walked into the nursing home with Kyle and my girls and my sister Lindsay and her family by my side.  The cancer has now attacked his brain to the point where he can’t recognize us, or make much sense with his words – so our conversation throughout the visit was really non-existent.  But, it was the actions, the simple moments, that spoke louder than any word possibly could.

During our visit – we stopped briefly in the kitchen for a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream.  I wheeled my Grandfather over to the table and instantly knew, he wouldn’t be able to feed himself.  I timidly picked up the spoon, and put a small amount of ice cream on the tip.  I raised it to his mouth and fed him, just as I would my 9 month old daughter.  There was something about that moment, that tender, raw moment, that I will remember forever.

At the end of our visit, I leaned over to give my Granddad a hug.  “I love you, Granddaddy,” was all I could say.  Not expecting anything in return, I was shocked when he uttered, “I love you too, baby.”  He always used those 5 words when I would tell him goodbye.  But this time, those 5 words gave me a sense of peace about “goodbye” that I didn’t think was possible.

“Goodbye’s” will almost always be sad.  But, if you believe in God, well, then they aren’t final.  I can’t run from the inevitable.  Death will happen even if I try to avoid it.  But, I can have faith and understanding that someday those sad “goodbye’s” will be reunited with a joyous “HELLO” when we all meet again in Heaven.

I know it will still be hard, but, I don’t think I’m going to struggle as much with “goodbye.”  Too bad I can’t say the same for math problems.  🙂

My Grandfather - Navy Sailor, World War II

My Granddaddy

My Granddaddy Crom (my mom’s dad)  is very ill.  The cancer (which he has battled for quite some time) has now spread to his brain and his health has been declining rapidly.  My mother has been incredibly strong throughout this process, caring for her father as best she knows how.  I am amazed at her strength and am confident God put her in the perfect role as a Registered Nurse – and oldest sibling.

Each night my mother provides our family with updates on my granddaddy’s health.  And each night, it seems his health continues to decline.  After her last e-mail, my sister Lora replied, “end of life can be so damn cruel.”  I couldn’t seem to get that statement out of my mind and after thinking about it for several hours, I have finally come to this conclusion.

God loves us with every ounce of his soul.  I believe that.  I strongly believe that.  I don’t believe he wants us to be in pain.  The only thing that makes sense to me, is that maybe the Devil wants one last “hurrah” – one last chance to corrupt your body, before God officially takes over.  It’s like the Devil knows he won’t be able to touch you once you reach Heaven so he’s doing everything in his power to take over. 

 But – it won’t work.  Because even though my Granddaddy is in pain now, someday soon his pain and confusion will be gone and he will be welcomed by God with open arms.  Yes, the Devil is strong but God is stronger.  He always wins in the end…

Below are a few favorite pics of my Granddaddy –

Granddaddy on my wedding day - December 31, 2004

 

Wedding Day..

 

My handsome Granddaddy and beautiful Grandmother on their wedding day - June 1, 1947

Chicken Nuggets..

My Gracie.. 🙂

I had good intentions.  I’m certain all mothers do – or did at one point.  We vow to take pictures of our growing babies each month and keep a scrapbook of them with each and every new milestone.  Perhaps you promise to feed them ONLY nutritious homegrown foods, nurse them throughout their first year of life and maybe even go as far as using cloth diapers..(although I knew that one would never work for me! 😉 )  Does this all sound familiar?

I was/am one of those moms.  I started strong with Ella.  Kept monthly records in her baby book along with pictures and descriptions.  I even tried to make my own baby food because my mother said “it’s easy, healthy and soo much cheaper!”  I was certain being a nursing mom was the best nutrition I could possibly give and there was NO WAY I would give my daughter chicken nuggets. 

Now – go to current day with my baby Gracie.  I’m going strong with the baby book and have written down her milestones almost every month.  I’ve taken a picture each month too – but, I still need to get those off my camera.  I did nurse Gracie for 6 months but not because I wanted her to get the best nutrition.  Honestly, I just wanted to lose a few more pounds so I kept it going until I couldn’t anymore.  🙂  Oh – and those chicken nuggets?  Sorry mom, I’m not sure how you avoided those things, but in the Kyle, Leslie, Ella and Gracie home – well, they are a staple. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I do feed my girls nutritious foods MOST of the time.  But, if I can save a few precious moments of my night by popping  nuggets into the microwave – by gosh I’m going to do it.  Chicken nugget night means I get to spend more time with my girls, Kyle and my glass of wine.  And that makes those surprisingly tasty ground up chicken particles worth their weight in gold – and caloric intake.  🙂

I leave you tonight with a few pics from our day at my parent’s farm.  Have a great weekend!!

Ella LOVES to swing!!

Swingin' with Papa!!

Lovin' the breeze...

Mama!! Those chickens are getting close to me!!

OK - I'm safe now. 🙂

Our love affair began at the tender age of 18.  I ordered you from Victoria’s Secret for my Senior prom.  You were simple, black, strappy and not too high…(which worked well since my date wasn’t too tall either.  😉 )

As my age grew, so did our love.  It didn’t take long before I was experimenting with all colors, shapes and sizes.  I owned you in pink, bright red, blue, orange and everything in-between.  You helped make the most simple black outfit “pop” with your signature style.

A few of my favorites..

We REALLY became fond of each other when I began dating my 6’4″ boyfriend..(now husband.)  You took my 5’4″ body and made me 5’7″!!!  That’s a big deal for an “average’ height girl! 🙂

We’ve made many memories together throughout the years.  I was drawn to your black and white polka dots during a trip to L.A.  Several weeks later, I was wearing you when Kyle proposed marriage. 

"The" polka dot shoes...

I fell in LOVE with your silver – 4 inch beauty, while visiting Kyle in Houston.  You later became the heels I wore on my wedding day.

Wedding heels...

You’ve seen me through first jobs, pregnancies, celebrations and tragedies.  With you I didn’t have to worry about hemming my jeans.  With you I didn’t have to worry about my fat “frodo” feet, with you I didn’t have to worry about “blending in.”  You’ve always made a statement.  You’ve always fit.  You’ve always been fantastic.

But, I’m afraid I may have bad news.  It seems our time together may become less frequent.  You see my new job doesn’t need you to be as loud.  In fact, my new job needs you to be more…well, practical.  I wore you all day last Wednesday during one of my first events.  And it is true – you looked cute – but you hurt.  Really, R.E.A.L.L.Y bad.  The pain was so intense that only an hour into the day I longed for my ugly “flats” at home.  I tried again on Saturday with you, favorite red heels.  And while you did make my black dress look spectacular for the wedding, I really wanted to kick you off and go barefoot like my 2 1/2-year-old daughter.

Yes - it's blurry. BUT - the red shoes still make a statement. At this point, all I really wanted to do was kick them off and drink wine.

This isn’t goodbye – but simply “I’ll see you later.”  True, I may not reach for you as often in the mornings.  And…there could soon be a new “flatter” version of you taking up residence in the closet.  Don’t be jealous, don’t be sad.  I will see you again during special occasions.  And until then, I will long for the moment that we fall in love all over again.  🙂

Below – you’ll find a few pics from the weekend.  Kyle’s cousin Brandon was married to his longtime love – Laura.  Beautiful wedding – beautiful weekend, but OH – do my feet hurt!!  🙂  Don’t forget – I’ll be drawing two winners tomorrow evening for Ella B. Bella and the Magic Pink Shoes!  Just head on over to www.lesliemeans.com – click on guestbook and let me know why you would like a free copy!  I’ll pick two random winners – tomorrow night! 

Ella is a flower girl!

My Gracie...

Kyle and Gracie...

My Family... 🙂

Ella B. Bella and the Magic Pink Shoes

April marks the one year anniversary of Ella B. Bella and the Magic Pink Shoes!  To celebrate, I’ll be giving away two signed copies of the book.  All you have to do is log onto www.lesliemeans.com, click on the guestbook link and let me know why you want the book.  Be sure to include your e-mail address so I have a way of contacting you if you win!

All comments will be entered into a random drawing.  Deadline to enter is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 4th.  I’ll annouce the winners that evening!

Good Luck!  Leslie..:)

 

A good friend posed a question to me a few weeks ago – and honestly, its been on my mind ever since.

“Confidence.  What a funny word.  How does one get confidence anyway?” she asked.

This friend is beautiful in every sense of the word.  She always finds the good in others – but has trouble finding it in herself. 

It seems simple enough.  Stand up for yourself, make the right decisions, know that you are beautiful even if society thinks you need to lose a few pounds, etc.  But – HOW do you do all those things?  Well – it seems the answer isn’t always easy – especially for an adult. 

As a child, I always felt loved, beautiful, worthy – I thought I could accomplish the world.  But there were a few years…say, between the ages of 16-20, that I had trouble finding that confidence.  I gave into peer pressure, made stupid decisions and many days shed as much confidence as a timid puppy.  For those few “lost” years – I had to find confidence on my own terms. 

When I was 21, I found that confidence.  And his name…is Kyle Means.  He helped me believe that I was worthy of the world.  He helped me strengthen that strong confidence level that my parents instilled in me at such a young age.  He helped me find confidence on my own terms.

And now, (although there are still a few days that I feel “fat” or frumpy) I have a pretty high confidence level.  Not a “cocky” level – but a “I’m worthy” level.  That’s what I am trying so hard to find for my friend.  I want her so badly to know that she is worthy. 

So, this is for you my dear friend.  I’m really not sure how one goes about finding confidence.   However, I do know it is something you must find within yourself.  I pray that one day (SOON!) you will know you are worthy and that you WILL find that confidence level you so badly deserve.

My sister Lindsay called this evening with terrible news.   A young woman from my hometown passed away during a ski trip in Colorado.  It was a terrible accident, a freak accident, one that I can’t possibly understand.  It left me asking God….why??  After I got off the phone, Ella noticed I was visibly shaken from the news.

“What’s wrong Mama?” Ella asked.

At this point I’m asking myself – how in the world do I tell my 2-year-old about death?  She “knows’ about Jesus and I’ve told her about Heaven, but I’m not sure she can understand such a complex word – death.

“Well Ella, a girl from where I grew up – fell and got hurt really bad.”

Ella – “Oh, she got a really, really, really bad owie?”

Yes, Ella a really bad owie.  But, the good news is – she got to meet Jesus today.

Ella – “Oh good.  Jesus picked her up, wiped off her owie and made her feel better Mama.”

Perhaps it isn’t so complex after all.  My 2-year-old helped me understand that sometimes, we can’t ask why.  Sometimes we simply have to find peace during the difficult times and know that God will come for each of us someday.  And…when that day comes, he will pick us up, wipe us off and take us into his kingdom.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dani Busboom tonight.  May God give you all strength to get through this difficult time.

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