I Haven’t Taken a Bath Since 2014

Yes, I figured that title would grab you.  Yes, it is true – since October 2014 to be specific.  A sit down bath that is.  I have not taken a sit down bath since my bi-lateral total knee replacement in October 2014 – 33 months!  Most of my fellow knee-warriors know this experience.  The fear is real people!

We have a very small tub here at Spooky Hollow Southern MS.  The shower portion is handicap accessible (done by my husband to take care of his klutzy wife), but the tub portion is not.  The only way for me to get out has been to kneel and slither out like a snake.  Well ouchy – I cannot kneel on my metal knees because that still hurts!  The fear is real people!

Oh how I wanted a bath.  Things have been rather stressful here at Spooky Hollow and I wanted to soak.  While a shower is cleaner, a good, long soak in hot water can do wonders for the mind, the headaches and the blood pressure.

AND, being the Avon lady, I have a bevy of bubble bath scents at my disposal (Endless Ocean, Cherry Blossom, Vanilla Cream, Cucumber & Melon, Lily & Honeysuckle – to name a few).  I stock up on these for so many uses besides in the tub.  However, this is a favorite of my grandchildren – and thank you Lord for that.  Did you know as the Avon bubble bath is cleaning your kids, it is cleaning your tub also?  Yes – so true!  No ring around the tub.  You get a twofer – clean kids – clean tub.

I keep multiple scents for multiple uses.  See a small compilation below:

  1. Use to wash down the tub surround, shower walls and doors (Mix baking soda, Avon Bubble Bath & vinegar).
  2. Leaves bathroom fixtures shining.
  3. Cleans the vanity top, cabinets, any surfaces, even your walls.
  4. Can replace your body wash.
  5. Good refill for liquid soap, it’s mild on hands – THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITES!
  6. Helps reduce toilet bowl build up. Place 1 cap full in the tank every week.
  7. Can be used to hand wash dishes in the sink. DO NOT use in a dishwasher.
  8. Clean the fridge inside and out. It will help remove odors.
  9. Use as a laundry detergent and you no longer need a fabric softener. 1 cap full is all that’s needed to do a great job and to remove stains.
  10. Great for hand-washing delicate items. Miserly substitute for Woolite.  I like the Sensitive Skin Bubble Bath for this.
  11. Pre-treat stained items. Just dab the stain with bubble bath and let sit 10 minutes. Then wash as normal.
  12. Will clean your jewelry.
  13. Use to clean your eyeglasses.
  14. Add to the children’s wading pool to keep the pool clean.
  15. Add to cleaning water for cars, campers or trailers. (interior and exterior surfaces)
  16. Use to test tires, blow up pools or gas lines for leaks.
  17. Use as Snail Repellent  in the garden – mix equal parts water and bubble bath and spray on flowers. Do not spray directly on edible plants, spray soil around base.

BUT now I wanted to use my bubble bath for a relaxing soak, specifically the Lavender Garden.  DANG IT!  What’s a girl to do?  Well since I didn’t have a hoist readily available in my bathroom, I used the next best thing – my cell phone.  Yes, I brought my cell phone into the bathroom, just in case I got stuck.  What?  I needed a plan of attack to take the plunge – literally.

As advertised on my Avon website (YourAvon.com/ghegwood):

Bring the spa treatment home with the Lavender Garden Bubble Bath. Soak yourself in bliss and soothe your senses with the fresh aromas of lavender and chamomile. This relaxing bubble bath is great for daily use and its long-lasting bubbles stay the duration of your soak. Comes in 24 fl. oz. bottle.

BENEFITS
• Relaxing bubble bath calms mind and body with fresh scents and long-lasting bubbles
• Up to 24 bubbly baths per bottle
• Dermatologist tested

I started the water, I poured in the bubbles, I smelled the heavenly scent, I was about take the point of no return.  Momentum was building.  In my mind I heard drums beating – maybe it was my heart.  Get in, get in quickly – before you change your mind (said the little devil perched on my shoulder).  I hesitated before I stepped in.  I put a toe in, I pulled a toe out, I shook it all about.  I turned around to run from the temptation.  Slowly I turned.  I put a toe in, an ankle in – then I went for it – I took the plunge.  Aaaaah!  That relaxing moment.  Life was good.  Like turning off the faucet, I had to turn off my mind as to how I was going to get out of the tub.

I relaxed.  Tension starting melting away.  The headache was going away.  Life was good.

UNTIL……

Until it was time to get out.  I starting letting the water out and started wrestling the exodus from the bathtub.  I could not stand up like normal people, because – well those that know me – you know I am not normal.  The bottom of my tub is much higher than the bathroom floor.  I threw my legs over the ledge of the tub, but my feet didn’t reach the floor.  I sat there scrunched like that a while, like someone put me in a fold-a-way bed and closed it on me.  I was trying to figure out a way of slithering out without having to put weight on my metal knee.  By now, the water was gone and I was getting cold.  My attempted exits lasted as long as my 20 minute soak.  Finally, I had to do it.  I had to put weight on one knee to get out of the tub.  Oh did that hurt.  And so did my back and neck from all the stretching and craning I was doing trying to get out of the tub.  Man oh man, I needed a good epsom salt tub soak now to relieve sore muscles.

Was it worth it?  You bet your sweet bippy.  In this hectic world we live in today, a 20-minute Avon bubble bath infused soak is a must.  Lesson learned:  Next time I bring in a thick piece of foam to kneel on for my exodus!

Spring, Harmful Sun Rays & Bugs are in the Air!

Spring!  Spring is in the air.  And so are harmful sun rays and pesky insects.  I really dislike both.

Fortunately, we no longer live in medieval times and have modern ways of handling this.

I am no sun worshiper, but I do not want to look like a porcelain doll either.  Did you know that in Medieval times, women wanted to look ghostly pale.  Laborers were naturally tan from doing manual labor in the sun.  These were the lower class people.  Women of means wanted to show off their social hierarchy by going out of their way to NOT look naturally tanned, proving they were above having to work outside.   This meant using a very white make-up on their face.  Unfortunately, this make-up consisted of lead, which lead to poisoning, facial deformity, sores, and sometimes death.  EGADS!

Today, we have almost equally dangerous fads, but we use these to look tanned – golden – sun kissed.  Indoor tanning (tanning beds, booths and sunlamps) can be just as dangerous as outdoor tanning.

One time, pre-cruise, I wanted to by-pass the boring task of laying in the sun, or spending a month in a tanning bed, and decided to try a spray on tan from a local business.  Really?  What was I thinking.? I am highly claustrophobic.  I stepped into this little booth as instructed, wore eye protection, and put the little plugs in my nostrils.  As soon as the spray started (down by my feet), I got so nervous anticipating this hitting my face that an elevated anxiety level kicked in.  I started hyperventilating and blew those nostril plugs out of my nose.  The plugs flew clear across the room.  I stepped away from the spray to retrieve the plugs because I knew I was going to die if I didn’t put them back in my nose.  I stepped back into the spray, got confused about when and which way to turn that I ended up looking vertically striped on my cruise.  Never again.

In addition to the harmful sun rays, we have to protect ourselves against insect bites.  Insect bites are no longer just an itchy annoyance.  We now have to worry about West Nile disease, Lyme disease, and the Zika virus to name a few.  That’s right – summer is not as carefree as it was in the days of our youth.

These days, I simply garden (not during the hottest part of the day) and use sensible sunscreen and Bug Guard.  Thank God I am the Avon lady.  I have tons of products at my beck and call.

My first deet-free pick is:

Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535® Expedition™ SPF 30 Pump Spray

Now at nighttime, especially if you are in a swampy area, my favorite pick for then is:

Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Pump Spray

Now for my grands, my favorite is a blue disappearing lotion.  I know where I covered the skin on their squirmy little bodies, and I know they are protected against harmful rays and disease carrying insects.

Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535® SPF 30 Cool ‘n Fabulous Disappearing Color Lotion

What I really like about our Bug Guard protection is no longer being bugged by those pesky no-see-ums.  Have you ever been attacked by no-see-ums?  You can feel the bites, see the whelps appearing, but do not see something to swat at.  Please!  You cannot go wrong with our Avon products.

Best of all, after a day of being in the pool, or the muddy garden, and you are ready for shower or soak in the tub, you can now treat your skin to our fresh herbal smelling, soothing, tried and true product that is celebrating its 50th birthday:

Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil

Our most iconic brand, with the quality and benefits you love. It’s America’s favorite bath oil, and sure to be yours, too! Moisturize your skin while you bath with Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil. This jojoba infused bath oil is perfect for daily use. Its fresh herbal scent is made to both awaken and relax your senses. This luxury bath oil is made to open your pores for maximum moisture absorption. Turn dry or rough skin silky smooth faster than you thought possible. This 16.9 fl oz bottle is great to use while bathing or for direct application afterword.

Check out our products, you will not be sorry.  Feel free to contact me at AvonGretch@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

Visit my website to shop Bug Guard and other great Avon products:  www.YourAvon.com/ghegwood

 

First Month Without My Momma

The first thing I had to learn to do in this life without my Momma’s support was to mourn her loss.

Growing up, Momma was my entire center.  Sure I had my dad, but he was a typical WWII survivor dad – the old time era dad.  My dad worked and supported his family.  That is how he showed his love.  Red, from That 70’s Show, reminds me so much of my dad.  It’s not that he didn’t love us – he just had a different way of showing us.  Mom, on the other hand, was our center – strong and soft at the same time.  Momma brought home the bacon also, and still managed to have supper on the table at 6:00 every evening for my dad.

After Mom died, memories, long ago buried, started re-surfacing.  On my way to work this week, listening to the Jesus radio station as I always do, the preacher was teaching the power of praying – really praying – as taught to us in Matthew 6:9-13:

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.'”

Listening to this is when I remembered a long ago buried memory, having to learn my prayers when I was a young student at St. Anthony.  I remember reciting this over and over to Momma right before bedtime.  I got tired of the repetition, and said something like, “Give us today our daily bread, and all that other junk.”  Whoa.  That did not sit well with my devout, Catholic Momma.  She admonished me lovingly, but sternly, and I never said something like that again during prayer.

So now I return to The Lord’s Prayer for comfort – your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.   Oh how I look forward to the day I get to see Momma again.  Next time will be in heaven.  My Momma had such a strong faith and truly believed John 3:16:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Friends, if you do not understand this verse, I beg you with the strongest urgency to seek someone to explain this to you.  It is literally the difference between heaven and hell.

In the meantime, time passes slowly for me here on earth.  Every Saturday I am paralyzed.  I go to bed on Friday night, and do not resurface from my room until Sunday.  Saturday’s since Mom’s death, have been deep, dark mourning for me.  I probably should have been reading my Bible, but I am being mindless, sleeping off and on and watching Hallmark Channel movies.

Next Saturday, my Avon business will break this pattern.  I have a booth in the Picayune Spring Street Fair and I must get up to work.  I am dreading leaving my bed and having to be social again.  But, in the end, this will probably save me and get me back to the land of the living.

The month mark approached of Mom’s death.  I went to bed early on Friday, but woke up around midnight.  I did not want to be up at 3:00 a.m. Saturday, marking the time of death.  I tossed and turned and finally fell asleep.

So the 4th Saturday rolled around.  I had been looking at this date on the calendar since Mom’s death.  What did I expect?  Did I expect to feel differently after a month of her being gone?  Well I don’t.

I miss my Mother.

This has been the longest month of my life.

My Harper Valley PTA Momma

Back in the late 60s, my sister and I were students at a Catholic school.  My sister, Kris, was in 8th grade.  Parties were the rage then.  They were innocent parties during innocent times.  But someone, I do not recall who, maybe the nuns, got the notion there should not be any parties, at anyone’s house.

This did not sit well with my strong-willed Momma at all!  AT ALL!

Mom had Kris and I later in life, so she wasn’t a spring-chicken, push over Momma.  She was set in her ways and knew what she wanted for her family.  Momma was mature enough to smell bull-doo and wipe it clean when necessary.

Momma marched to that PTA meeting, and listened to the nuns and some parents proclaim a decree that there will be no private parties held at anyone’s house.  When all was said and done, my Momma went all Harper Valley PTA on the congregation (minus the mini-skirt).  You younger folks will have to google Harper Valley PTA.

Momma said there will be a party at her house the next Saturday.  The entire 8th grade was invited, so were all the parents, all the nuns and the priest.  The party-nayers were incensed and all started speaking at one time.  Momma stood firm, said they do not pay her house note, she was having a party and if the nuns and Father Poche didn’t like it, they could all GO TO HELL!

With that, Momma turned her back, walked out, got home, and started prepping to have a party for my sister’s class.  Kids came (I don’t think any parents came), I spied on them from the kitchen (such an aggravating little sister), and a fun time was had by all.

I thought we were going to be plagued by crickets, or something, after my Momma telling the nuns and Father Poche to go to hell.  But we weren’t and my Momma and Father Poche remained very good friends until the day he died.  He would always say, “Gladys, remember when you told all of us to go to hell?”

By the time I made it to 8th grade at the same school and had parties, no one, and I MEAN NO ONE, questioned my Mother on this.

Today, Momma and Father Poche are buried across the hall from each other in the local mausoleum.  And I bet they are up in heaven still laughing at this story.

Is God a Man?

The day started with my usual routine, driving my baby girl to school while on my way to work.  Some days we ride in silence, some days we sing Christian songs at the top of our lungs, but today, Sophie was inquisitive.

The first question posed to me was, “Is Mark Twain still alive?”  I wanted to giggle, but I seriously replied, “Well, no, my sweetheart, but he lives on through his stories.”  I was thinking what a goofy kid, until God popped a long lost memory into my head.  Probably close to 50 years ago, I was on vacation with my BFF, Celeste.  Her mom was telling us about Methuselah being a man that is reported to have lived the longest, 969 years.  I was in awe and asked Mrs. Lee if he was still alive.  I guess the granddaughter apple did not fall far from the grandmotherly tree.

So we are merrily riding along when Sophie poses the next question to me.  “How do we know that God is a man and not a woman?”  Well, I guess that is a good question on this International Women’s Day, but she should have known the answer to that.  I replied, “the Bible refers to our Father (not Mother) in heaven, as in this verse:

‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  –Luke 12:32″

She was satisfied with both answers so far.  But then, she drops the strangest on me by far.  “If Jesus walked on water, did He swim on the land?”  I had to shake my head on that one.  I had to think of how to reply to this, but God provided the answer.  Matthew 14:22-33 popped into my head.

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

So I told Sophie that Jesus did not have to swim on the land.  Jesus walked on water to teach a lesson of faith to his disciples and that was sufficient without adding the extra step of swimming on land.

Sophie was quiet a moment, probably contemplating her next question.  Fortunately for me, we turned into the school yard and I deposited my inquisitive, precious little package in the drop off line, wishing her a great day and giving her all my love.  As I drove off, I said a silent prayer for her teachers.

A Mardi Gras Memory

The setting was Mardi Gras day on St. Charles Avenue, sometime over 46 years ago.  I do not remember my exact age.  But I remember the incident, and I remember it well.  I was sitting on the family blanket, in the family area my family staked out, probably eating fried chicken.  I was people watching.  The neutral ground was quite crowded with revelers.  I saw a man with a concerned look on his face approaching people and asking a question.  I saw the people all shake their heads no.  He wondered off and I continued whatever I was doing at the time.  Eventually, I saw the man again with his hand holding on tightly to a woman’s arm, pretty much dragging her behind him.  In my little child mind, I am thinking these people were old, but looking back, they were probably in their very early 20s.  The girl was beautiful and I liked her wavy hair.  (As I got older and remembered this incident, I compared her hair to Scarlet O’Hara hair.)  The man shoved her against a utility and pole and pushed her hard against it several times while he was telling her something in her ear.  I will always remember the look on her face.  No one in their group said anything to the man for doing this.  The girl sat on a blanket with other women and was quiet for the longest, while the man circled close by behind her.  Eventually, she was drawn into their conversation and started looking normal, so I quit watching.

In my active imagination, over the years I wondered about this woman. Did she stay with him, endure years of violence, bringing children into the fold and crippling their little minds?  I always hoped she escaped from him and moved on to a normal relationship.  Why didn’t anyone from their group stop the man from doing this?  Why did they sit by watching this woman be abused?  What happened to the man?  Did he grow out of this abusive phase and become a loving husband to someone?  I doubt it.  In my meanest thoughts, I hope someone dished out to him what he had probably dished out to that woman.

I never forgot this, and I was not even a part of this incident.  I only saw this one time.  To think, little children who are in a family of abuse have to witness this repeatedly.  My heart breaks.

I am thankful to have partnered with a company in which speaking out against domestic violence is part of the corporate responsibility.  In 2004, the Avon Foundation for Women launched the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program.  Speak Out builds awareness, educates, and develops and implements prevention and direct service programs. Some of these projects are global, focused on ending gender-based violence and strengthening domestic violence laws.  Nearly $60 million has been raised globally by this foundation to support its goals.

Did you know 1 in 4 women will be affected by domestic violence in her lifetime?  This staggering number shocked me. Does this number shock you into action?  You, too, can join corporations that are socially responsible.  I urge you to do your research and join the fight.  Your efforts are multiplied exponentially when you combine efforts with a socially responsible corporation.

Should you decide to partner with Avon,  you can do so in two ways.   You can shop Avon Empowerment products, in which a portion of the proceeds are donated to the foundation.  You can check this out at http://www.YourAvon.com/ghegwood.  (Search ’empowerment’.)

Or, you can join me as an Avon representative and spread the word.  Go to http://www.StartAvon.com and type in ghegwood as the reference code to join my team.  Our mission is to improve the lives of women globally. In our core cause areas of Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence, we aim to accelerate progress, accountability and discovery, while also reducing the social stigma that sometimes keeps these issues in the shadows.

I am sure when I titled this blog “A Mardi Gras Memory”, you certainly did not think this would be about domestic violence.  I do have many wonderful Mardi Gras memories, but this one really sticks.  I want to help decrease incidents such as this so that children can fill their heads with better memories, such as doubloons, beads and marching bands.

 

Funeral for a Strong Woman

This day has come.  And it has come too soon and suddenly.  I should not be surprised, after all, since you are 95 years old, Mom.  The day has come too soon because you told me you were going to live to be 100.  The day came too suddenly because you have never had a terrible sickness in your life, Mom.  Your strong will finally had to succumb to death.

But this has truly turned into a celebration of life – your life Mom.  You would not believe the people who’s lives you have touched.  You would not believe the support your daughters had because you raised us to be the people we are, and our friends care deeply about us.

When I first walked into the parlor, Kris was sobbing uncontrollably.  I was oddly calm.  I knew this strength came straight from God because of all the people praying on my behalf.  I hugged Kris and reminded her you told her to take care of me, because I am the baby.  We had a little giggle about that.  Kris and I walked hand in hand to your casket.  Oh Kris helped pick out the most beautiful coffin.  You so loved roses and Paw always flooded you with the most beautiful rose bouquets throughout your marriage.  Your coffin was rose colored, with roses engraved in it, and roses embroidered in the lining.  You look beautiful wearing the wedding dress you wore almost 32 years ago to marry Paw.  Your fingers are beautifully manicured in that red nail polish you always liked.  You are holding your treasured rosary, and Eric’s cross is lying beside you.  You look beautiful, Momma. More beautiful than anyone else I have ever seen in a coffin.  In my opinion, most people look terrible in death, while mourners look down and say, “Oh doesn’t she look pretty?”  I always want to yell, “No she does not – she is dead!”  That is why I made my husband and kids promise to cremate me.  But you are different, Mom.  You are truly beautiful and look at peace.

Mom, the parlor started filling up with your friends, Paw’s friends and our friends.  Mom please do not worry.  Kris and I work with some fabulous people and they were there to support us (and mine had to drive quite a ways to get there).  We also have fabulous friends, old and new, that were there.  I even had an Avon sister that we have only talked online, but she came to your funeral because she felt like she knew you through my stories.  Kodi’s in-laws came all the way from Purvis to New Orleans, at the height of Mardi Gras season, to see you one more time.  Your Theta group was there to honor you and gave a wonderful little ceremony on your behalf.  Two ladies from the group said I sounded like you.  They said they heard my voice and laugh from the hallway (meaning I am loud like you) and both were astonished at how much we sound alike.  I was truly honored by this.  Kris and I have had hundreds of messages from well wishers that could not attend your funeral, but they were thinking of us.  This was beautiful, Momma.

Of course, Kris had to tell my co-workers about the time I came home drunk at 15 and you were horrified.  Oh big sisters!  What am I going to do with her, Momma?

And I want to thank you, Mom, for marrying Paw.  You knew what you were doing marrying into that wonderful family.  Kris and I gained a sister, brother, nieces, nephews-in-law and great nephews.  These are truly wonderful, loving people.  They honored you so wonderfully.  They mourned as if they were actually born to you.  They knew your love for them and you have touched their lives tremendously.  And you might get a priest out of one them, Mom.  Little Sammy is definitely touched by God.  He is so pious and grounded in God’s word.  Even though he is not blood related to my brother, I think he just might join the Seminary, just like Eric.

I was calm until the closing of the casket.  Wait, you are taking my Mommy away.  That was rough, very rough.  I cried until I thought I was going to throw up.  We got into the vehicle to follow your hearse to church.  I was almost to the point of hyperventilating.  Guess what was on the radio?  Vince Gill’s Go Rest High on the Mountain.  That supernatural calm returned.  This was another gift from God.  Then Collin Raye’s In this Life.  Yes, in this life, I was loved by you.  Being loved by you is the most precious gift God has given me.

As we walked into church, behind your casket, I had to concentrate on the man (from Mothe’s Funeral Home) walking at the head of your casket.  He was walking backwards, holding onto you.  I had to concentrate on this for two reasons, (1) That he could walk so well backwards, and (2) concentrating on him walking backwards kept me from thinking that your little, lifeless body was laying in that casket.

Mom, your Mass at St. Cletus was beautiful.  Your favorite song, Ave Maria, was sung.  Father Tuan Pham gave a phenomenal sermon all about your goodness.  He made us laugh.  He said after every Sunday Mass, you would kiss him on the cheek and call him Junior (because that is what he was called in Seminary).  That sounds just like you.  Dana, your granddaughter, gave wonderful readings.  Her voice was clear, steady and paced perfectly.  But what I was most impressed about was that Dana could walk up and down those steps in high heels without tripping or falling.  You know I could never do that, Momma.

But I must admit, me, Scooter and Jay kind of misbehaved in church.  It has been quite a long time since I sat through a Catholic mass and some of the wording was changed.  I said Amen at the end of everything, but some of the replies were words such as “Thanks be to God.”  Scooter told me to stop.  So every time I said Amen I turned to him to make my point – gosh darn it!  He said if I keep it up he knows where I am going.  Then he spiraled his hand downward.  We giggled.  Father Pham came down from the alter to shake our hands and I almost missed it because I was goofing off with the family behind me.  I turned around in time to give him a kiss on the cheek and call him Junior.  When Father Pham began the Eucharist, and retrieved the host from the sacred place, Jay said “Well that’s the man who had the Holy Grail all this time.”  Mom, that kid is so funny and it was all Scooter and I could do to not burst out laughing.

This reminded me of another time in church, probably about 45 years ago.  You, Kris and I were sitting in our usual area.  There was a tiny ant crawling on the back of the pew in front of us.  You did not see it because you were intently listening to what Father Poche’ was preaching.  Kris and I, on the other hand, were quite entertained by the ant.  The ant crawled onto the back of the lady in front of us.  Kris and I looked at each other, giggled and watched the ant crawl circles on her back.  Then we had to stand.  The ant crawled downwards and starting crawling circles on her rather large backside.  As it is in the Catholic Mass, sit, kneel, stand, sit kneel, stand.  She sat.  Uh oh!  Kris and I waited with bated breath to see if the ant survived.  We were elated to see the ant crawling up her back again.  This tiny entertaining creature got back onto the back of the pew.  It crawled past Kris and she moved her hands so the ant could march on.  It crawled past me as I moved my hands away.  And then – you spotted the ant and squashed it with your thumb.  The end.  Kris and I looked at each other horrified.  We had quite some time invested in that ant!  What a memory to pop into my head during your Mass.  But this reminded me of good times, such as leaving church to head to McKenzie’s Bakery for a ‘sweety’, then heading home to eat the wonderful Sunday meal you cooked for us.  Such fun, innocent, carefree times for me and Kris.

Back into the car to follow you in your final ride to the cemetery.  You are riding in style, Mom, like the Queen of Mardi Gras.  We arrive to your final resting place.   You are being reunited with my Dad.  Kris, Cindy and I are sitting holding each other.  I start rubbing their necks because I can feel how tense they are.  Father Pham is saying beautiful words – I think – because Cindy and I were busy battling gnats.  Good grief, can we have a moment, please?

We now head to the house you and Paw have shared all these years.  Cindy’s church bereavement group have been busy setting up food.  We had a wonderful time celebrating you with family and friends.  We were missing your presence terribly.  You would have loved being a part of this.  All the great grandchildren were outside playing, running, laughing, having such fun.  It was good to see children in the old neighborhood again.  Mrs. S. had been at the funeral and she came to the house after.  I know this was so hard for her, so soon after losing her son.  But she loved you so much she was able to push past this pain.  The chocolate brownies didn’t hurt either.  You know Mrs. S. and her love for chocolate.  She taught me how to make a chocolate sandwich – remember that?  Well I poured her a tall glass of chocolate milk to go with that chocolate brownie and we shared stories.

Life goes on and things already start happening.  Your microwave broke, my washing machine breaks – all of this to remind us that we cannot melt into a puddle and stop living.  Life goes on and we will carry your memory with us.  We will draw on the strength you have exhibited your entire life.

Night time comes.  I do not give in to tears and self-pity.  Instead I thank God for all the wonderful years I have had with you.  I am thankful that you now get to spend time with Eric and Donna.  It is their turn to have you.  I will see you again one day, due to God’s promise of eternal life.  And I thank God so much that in this life, I was loved by you.