Sunday, February 20, 2011

Goodbyes......But not FOREVER

The start of 2011 has been a tough one for our family. As many of your may know by now, I lost both of my grandparents in a three week span.

My sweet Papaw lost his battle with Alzheimer's and went to be with the Lord on January 16. Alzheimer's mentally took my Papaw about 2 years ago and since then he hasn't known us, but knew we belong to him. My Papaw was a great Godly man. He loved the Lord and his life was an example of Christian living. When I think back at the legacy he began for my boys, it brings tears to my eyes. It is because of his faith that I know the love of Jesus. What an amazing legacy to leave behind.

I have fond memories of my Papaw. He was known for his "Gates" shoulder rubs and his BIG hands that were always extended out for a handshake. Papaw was a people person. He loved people and loved to talk to people. I like to think I got that from him! Papaw always smiled! I loved that about him. His smile would brighten his whole face.

I was so blessed to have a wonderful Grandfather that took care of his family spiritually and physically. I love you Papaw and I will see your sweet smile soon!

My Mamaw became sick in the month of January and the day of Papaw's funeral she worsened. She went to the hospital and never came home. My wonderful Mamaw went to be with her Lord and her husband on February 5. Only three weeks apart! They were married 68 years. A family member stated that it reminded them of the story The Notebook, which it kind of does. When I think about it, it is bitter sweet. I wasn't ready to let my Mamaw go, but I have peace in knowing that she is HOME with Papaw and Jesus. I know that her and Papaw have a lot of catching up to do and that makes me smile

Juanita Belle Starr Carlisle was Ms. Juanita to many, Mrs. Carlisle to some, and her mail read Mrs. Gates W. Carlisle Jr. But to eight of us in this world she was Mamaw. And not just any Mamaw. She was one of kind. I know that everyone thinks their grandma is special, but mine was way more than special. She was a rare RUBY and Sweeter than Sugar. The best grandma you could find! I always thought that the name Mamaw was a little boring for her. Not sure how she got that name. If she picked it out for us to call her, or if my mom or sister (the oldest grandchild) picked it out. I always thought she was more of a Grandmeire or Grandmother. Because she was GRAND to me and such the matriarch of our family. Now that I reflect back. She didn't see herself that way at all. She was just a Mamaw in her eyes and that is really all she wanted to be. She loved being our Mamaw probably more than life itself and the title meant nothing to her. It was just the act and joy of being a Mamaw that brought her more happiness than anything else. Her daughter and grandchildren were the light of her world. In return she was our LIGHT! You see 4 small children grew to be 4 adults whose lives where touched by the love of a grandmother. A love that shaped and molded them. Mamaw was known as a lady of grace, elegance, beauty, and poise. She was a classy Christian woman at her best. Everyone that knew her thought she was SUCH the LADY. But it was her LOVE that made her special. It was the LOVE she had that made her hugs some of the best hugs you could find, her words of encouragement just what you needed to hear at that moment, or the pat of her hand on your face that made you feel so loved at that moment!

Mamaw and Papaw were always there. At church, at holidays, at school functions, when you were sick, and at all the big events in your life. They didn't want to miss anyting especially if it was something that their grandchildren were a part of.

I know that each grandchild has their own favorite memories of Mamaw, but I have a few that will always be part of my heart. I loved going to the PX with them on Saturday morning to go grocery shopping. Maybe it was the fact that they always bought me something, but I think it was just the time spent with them that made me feel so special. I remember the Saturday morning breakfasts at McDonalds, the vacations in the big Blue Van, playing in their office at their house when they babysat us while mom and dad went on a date, typing on Mamaw's real typewriter, trips to visit Mamaw at work and getting to buy a cold coke in a real coke bottle, learning how to set the table for Sunday lunch at her house, getting to help make the peach cobbler, sitting next to her at church on Sunday mornings and playing with her sequin purse (she then bought me 2 of my own to have when I started to go to dances in high school), helping her plant flowers, learning how to sew from her, making eight pillows in one day for my very first house with her, shopping for the just perfect outfit with her, eating at Piccadilly (my Papaw's favorite), and getting to sleep at their house or in the hotel with them. I will always remember how tight Mamaw needed the sheets. Your feet could not move once you were in the bed. She had a way of making everything seem like it was going to be ok. I remember once when David and I broke up (He broke MY HEART). I was home for quarter break and miserable. She and Papaw took me shopping and out to eat ( of course it was Piccadilly). Our shopping trip was just to Target, but it was just what I needed. I remember getting some really cute outfits that I strategically wore when I knew I would be seeing David on campus. And they worked! After all we did get married!!!! That day was not full of conversation. It was just a day of being together. It was just what I needed at the time. In my heart I feel she knew that and she delivered it.

One of most funniest memories of her and me, was when I was in sixth grade. I took piano lessons (which happen to be my siblings favorite thing) and in sixth grade she took me to my lessons each week. Our ritual was that she pick me up at school, we then would stop at the convenient store, I would get a drink and some laffy taffy (the ones with jokes in the wrapper), then we headed across the river to Pineville to my lessons. This particular day she drove Papaw's big van and not her white car. As we drove over the Red River on the bridge, the van stalled and stopped on top of the bridge. I was mortified. I threw myself onto the floor of the van in embarrassment (like any 12 year old would do) and said something like, "I hope nobody sees us!" I remember looking at her and she was just smiling and giggling at me. She never once told me to get up off the floor. We made it back across the bridge and to lessons without any problems. But what I remember most about that day was how she told EVERYONE about me falling to the floor in embarrassment. She thought it was so funny.

I believe that Mamaw left a little something of her in all of us.

Mamaw was a strong and independent woman. Who wasn't afraid of much. She could do most anything. I believe Tracey, the oldest grandchild, learned that from her. Tracey has a little of Mamaw's braveness in her. Mamaw took care of us all. She was a mother hen and Tracey does the same. Though sometimes we don't like it when Tracey tells us what to do, but we know that's just the way she is. Aren't all first borns like that. :)

Mamaw was a wise and smart lady. You could just look at her and know she was smart. Her wisdom was something I think we all sought out at many times in our lives. Her wisdom was spoken so eloquently. The second grandchild, Brad, learned that best from Mamaw. Of course all little sisters think their big brothers hung the moon and I was no different. In my eyes Brad was the smartest person I knew. He speaks with wisdom and so eloquently just like Mamaw. Mamaw and Brad like the finer things in life. They both have expensive taste and like things that look sharp. Brad is also a very good cook. He learned from one of the best. All grandmas are good cooks, and Mamaw was one of the best to us. We all had our favorites. Mine was her slice sweet potatoes and candied carrots. We all loved her chicken and dressing, which we are counting on Brad to deliver for us when the holidays arrive.

Then there is Brett, the baby. He isn't just the baby. He was Mamaw's baby. She always wanted to know where he was or when he was getting there. Mamaw was a very attractive lady and tall. I like to think that is where Brett got his good looks and stature from. Yes, you heard me right. I said my baby brother was good looking. Mamaw thought he was so handsome. When Brett would enter the room, she would lean over and tell me ....isn't he so handsome. She liked to look at him. Mamaw liked to look at pretty things and Brett was no exception. Brett is a very loyal person. Something I think he learned from Mamaw. Mamaw was loyal to everyone she knew. Brett is just as loyal to his friends and family as she was.

That leaves me. The third grandchild. I'm not sure in what ways I am like my Mamaw. I'm sure my siblings would be glad to tell me their toughts, but lucky for me this is not their blog! HA HA! I have many qualities of Mamaw's that I want to possess. I want to have kind words like hers. I want to take care of my family just the way she did. I want to touch peoples lives the way she did. I want to be the wife, mother, and grandmother she was. I want my clothes to be just as neat as hers were hanging in her closet and in her drawers. :) I want to have diamonds and jewels just like hers. :)I want my flowers to stay alive like hers always did. :) But most of all I want to LOVE like she did!

I was so blessed to have my grandparents for so long as I did. For each of my children to have met them and for them to have shared in their lives. Life will be different for our family. One we will all adjust to in our own way. The peace that I have is knowing that one day I will see her again. One day we will get one more hug, one more pat on our face from her, and hopefully one more bite of her chicken and dressing.

So sorry this was so long. I didn't expect this post to be like this, but the words just flew on to the screen. Thanks for reading.