two


this fella took the death of both grandfathers pretty hard. in six months, two men who taught our son so much have left the earth. henry was bennett's hunting mentor, fellow gun collector, avid reader, and they rivaled each other in knowing "random facts" about the weirdest of things.  his papa was a hunting genius. jeff likes to hunt, but mostly to spend time with bennett. bennett and henry were/are on the verge of obsessive! they knew the opening dates of every season, year round, in different states. they were wired so much alike. 


 papa gene was everything fly fishing. a fly fishing magazine wrote the nicest tribute. we think of bennett as a man's man. once upon a time he loved football... but he has always loved all things outdoors. bennett couldn't wake up for school on time, but being in a duck boat at 4am was no problem. 

i remember bennett fly fishing for the first time with papa gene. my goodness it was adorable. he was six years old and so small that his waders would fill with water. gene was patient and kind. he spent so much time with bennett on that river.  

right before he died, papa gene was preparing for a big fishing trip. it was going to be gene, ed, archie, and bennett.  so in honor of gene, ed and archie still took his grandson on that fishing trip. a weekend trip turned into a day trip. the memories came flooding back and it was too much for them all to bare. bennett said it was "too soon."
gene passed on his love for fly fishing. i mean what young man  chooses to fly fish instead of deep sea fish in the florida keys? 

later in our trip bennett found out that iguanas were a huge nuisance in the area. "they" (not sure who they are)  encouraged people to "exterminate" the lizards. who knew the island held yearly iguana tournaments  (gasp!) and that's when bennett  morphed into papa henry.

heartbreaking

 it was a heartache that will be felt for a very long time. on monday we received a phone call that my step father had suddenly passed away. without warning.  it was right before dinner, my mother had just put the baked potatoes in the oven and said that dinner would be ready in a few minutes. those few minutes would open a new chapter in my mother's life. 

gene had a heart attack while he sat at his desk. there were ways that the doctors could tell that his death was instant. it's hard to say that the "suddenness" was a blessing. not too many things that evening felt like a blessing. but knowing that he did not suffer was a relief.

the next morning, i turned on the computer to write a few details for gene's obituary and realized that he had been completing an expense report for work.  retirement was right around corner and he worked up until his last breath. it was a normal day. a good day. he had just trimmed the crepe myrtle, taken his daily walk, talked to bennett at 1pm, gene was always in the middle of a book and his baked potato had only a few minutes left to bake. there was a big fly fishing trip planned for the weekend, bennett planned on joining him and gene's things were packed and ready to go. but the most important, ever lasting detail was taken care of years ago. gene was a christian. the genuine kind. he was gone from this earth, but safe and secure with his savior. 

my message on facebook:  Those who knew him, knew that he was a man of MANY words. During his time on earth, he used his words to encourage, comfort, teach, bring laughter, give advice, and say some hard things. But his words were always more than words. In the last several years he used his words to boldly tell others how God had transformed his life. He was such a blessing to so many and his absence will be felt until we see him again.

my mother married gene almost twenty years ago. he was my step father, but a father in the purest definition. my children never heard him referred to as a step father, just a father or grandfather. and he was the best grandfather to our children. he had so many grandchildren and he managed to take time with each of them. he attended grandparent luncheons, taught bennett all there was to know about fly fishing, saved us on disastrous kayak trips, boyfriends and girlfriends had to have the papa gene stamp of approval and at our request, he even had "the talk" with bennett. so his grandchildren took the news of his death really hard. 

my children took the news really, really hard. they had lost two grandfathers in a year.
the funeral was beautiful. the messages were spoken from the heart. gene wanted to be cremated and my mother purchased the most lovely urn. 

our great big family returned to my mother's small patio home. flowers from friends, food and family filed her living room. it was a visual reminder of the purporting of love. we ate from the grand buffett that so many had provided. we laughed, cried, and laughed through tears. 

 it was late when everyone left. gene's biological children lived states away and it was sad to see them leave. the house got quiet, we were surrounded by flowers and suddenly mom's living room felt like a funeral home. so before bed, we moved all the flowers into gene's office. the next stage of the grieving process was scheduled to begin. it's the one that is quiet and lonely. the stage where sadness settles in and is felt in every corner of your soul. oh how i had dreaded this night!

the next morning we decided the flowers would be best somewhere else. burials leave the flowers at the graveside. cremations leave them in your living room. we placed a few arrangements on the end tables and decided to bless others with the rest. 


the rule was no tears! as we pulled the most beautiful flower arrangements apart to make tiny jar arrangements.  we planned to take them to a nursing home or send with thank you cards. my mother decided in the end to deliver the arrangements to all of her neighbors that would see gene walking. it was a good decision.












the funeral home had provided us with stacks of memorial cards. we decided to use them on the arrangements.



we ended up with well over 40 jar vases of flowers. i think this act of love was very therapeutic for everyone. my mother was able to deliver so many little blessings in gene's honor.  and what a nice way to share these beautiful flowers. 

disney


i am coming to terms with hopelessly being behind on my blog. i am not a fan of back posting or pre posting... so i will embrace erratic posting . 

  so next in my crazy blogging order... disney. three days after hurricane irma swept across florida, we were walking the streets the most magical place on earth. other than one fallen tree on the entire property, there were no signs of a hurricane.  (florida calls in FEMA, disney called in the magic!) 

 it was a sweet trip. my mom and i plus the three oldest girls. 


disney used to be a family tradition. we would to take our children every other year.  that was until jeff and bennett put their foot down and decided that they did not like disney. period. so the time between trips grew father and farther until mary claire began crying "well that's not fair". so we scheduled a trip.

a half day in, i  joined the other team... a day later my mom joined as well. official statement: we would do our best to love every minute, but this would be our last disney trip for a long while. 


  we made the most of every minute! i mean this magical fun costs about $48 a minute so there's no time for rest or sleep or meaningful talks or hydration or even slow paced walks... just put those mouse ears on and go, go, go, go!  

and so we did. we made the most of every minute. loving these three girls in the process. this was a cousin trip that would fill their childhood memories. the laughter made was worth more than $48 a minute ;)







































thank you disney for the magical memories.... i hope to see you when i have grandchildren!

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