Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Saying Goodbye . . . Again.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Brianna's first day of school was Thursday, August 18th. After dropping her off and getting her settled, Brenson, Brooke, Brecklyn, and I came home and had a pretty normal day. I was a little anxious all day (just trying to get used to Brianna being gone again), but we were spending our time sorting through some things that needed to be packed up in preparation for our big move. 

Not long after noon, my siblings and I received a text message from my dad letting us know that my grandpa (dad's dad) had been in a car accident and was at the hospital. Dad was traveling at the time, so he didn't text many details. An hour or so later, Dad texted again saying that Grandpa was going to have surgery because he'd had a heart attack. We were all confused with this information. Did he have a heart attack that caused the car accident? Did he have a car accident and then a heart attack? No one was sure of the details or of what was really going on. 

At about 5:00pm, I was standing in the kitchen getting ready to fix dinner when my phone rang. It was my dad, and my heart immediately sank. He had called to tell me that my grandpa had passed away at 88 years of age. 

Honestly, I was in shock. While my grandpa was up in years, he was still in great health and very active. We had just lost Chris's grandpa about five weeks before, and I couldn't believe this was happening again. It was unexpected, for sure. Also, we still weren't sure of what happened. The information was just very fuzzy. 

My grandpa in May 2015

My favorite picture of my grandpa and me, June 2008

Later, we found out more of the circumstances surrounding my grandpa's death. My grandpa was driving his car when it is believed he turned left in front of someone and was t-boned. He was an avid pool player and his pool equipment was in his car, so the general consensus is that he was going to the senior citizen's center to play pool. After the accident, he was taken to the hospital via ambulance and prepped for surgery due to extensive injuries including a broken pelvis, collapsed lung, and broken ribs. He was in the surgical ICU getting ready to go back for surgery - and was arguing with the surgeon regarding whether or not he needed surgery - when he had a massive heart attack and died. We also believe that he wasn't wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash . . . he had a habit of not wearing one and was as stubborn as a mule about it when anyone brought it up. It was a tragic way to go, but I do find comfort in knowing that he never had to lay in a hospital bed and suffer in bad health like so many do. He died living his life and doing what he loved to do. 

Grandpa's Obituary

My grandpa lived in Towanda, Kansas, just outside of Wichita. Mom and Dad headed up there on Friday morning to help with funeral arrangements, and we found out that evening that the service was planned for Monday. Chris and I decided to leave home on Saturday just after lunch and drive to Wichita. We wanted to be able to spend time with other family that lives in the area and be available to help with anything that needed to be done for the service.

My cousin, Brett, (on my mom's side of the family) and his wife, Christine, live in Wichita with their three children. They have generously invited us to stay at their house several times in the past for various events like my Aunt Diana's funeral, Granny and Pappy's anniversary party, and my Pappy's funeral. My brother, Jeremy, had contacted Brett on Thursday evening to see if it would be possible to stay with him over the weekend, and Brett and Christine graciously extended the invitation to us to stay with them, as well. Jeremy didn't end up getting into town until late Sunday evening, but we were very thankful to have a free place to stay with our crew.

After getting to Wichita early Saturday evening, we met up with my parents, my Granny, and my Granny's friend, Herm, to go to dinner. We had a nice meal at Chili's, then went on over to Brett and Christine's house to get settled for the night.

On Sunday morning, we all get ready for church. I couldn't resist the opportunity to take some pictures of our kiddos. It's wonderful that they are all close in age, and they always have such a great time playing together. 

Brooke, Brecklyn, Ellie, Brianna, Brenson, Kale, and Alexis

Brecklyn is channeling my feelings on trying to get seven kids to look at the camera at the same time, ha!

Brett and Christine went to their home church, but we met up with my parents to go to church with them in another town. Afterwards, we went to lunch at Carlos O'Kelly's. 

Brianna and G-Jo

Grampy and Brecklyn

Grampy and Bren

G-Jo and Brooke

Once we finished lunch, we went over to my Granny's apartment to spend the afternoon with her. The assisted living facility where she lives is really nice, and they have a great little courtyard where the kids were able to run and play for several hours. 

Granny and Bren

Chelle holding Brecklyn, Granny holding Brooke, Brenson, and Brianna

My Aunt Cindy and Uncle Justin also came over for a bit that afternoon and it was nice to see them. Both of my parents grew up in the Wichita area, so several members of both sides of the family reside there. My grandpa that passed away was my dad's dad, but we aren't really close to my dad's side of the family, so we ended up spending our time on Saturday and Sunday with members of my mom's side of the family. It's kind of strange, but they are who we are closer with.

Also, I want to add that while I wouldn't say we're close with Brett and Christine, we always have a great time when we stay with them. We will stay up and visit and laugh after all the kiddos go to bed, and it's just a fun time. On Sunday night, we ended up staying up until midnight visiting with them! They are early to bed and early to rise people - and of course we had a big day on Monday with my grandpa's funeral - but we were just having such a good time laughing, sharing, and talking that time got away from us. Jeremy came in late Sunday night, so we were also able to visit with him for just a little while before going to bed.

My grandpa's service was set for 2:00pm on Monday, August 22, with a family dinner beginning around noon. We took our time getting everyone ready that morning, then packed up all our things, and went over to Granny's apartment for a little while. 

The twins love Grampy so much!

Me, Granny, and Mom 

The funeral service was held in Towanda, about 30 minutes from Granny's place. We were served a delicious meal, and had time to let the children play before the funeral began. As is common, all of the family walked into the auditorium together before the service and sat at the front. I was concerned that the twins would be loud, fussy, and busy (it was during nap time, after all), so Chris and I sat with Brooke and Brecklyn more toward the back. Cindy, Justin, and Granny were in attendance, so we actually sat with them, which was nice. The church was packed with many people who knew grandpa through playing pool, cards, square dancing, or just living in the same town as him for years. He was quite the socialite! Jeremy and my brother-in-law, Russ, preached the funeral and did an excellent job. 

Once the funeral concluded, everyone was invited to the multi-purpose room for coffee and visiting. It was really unusual, but kind of great. Many people stayed to visit, and I know it was nice for my dad to see people more than just in passing. At one point, I was looking for Brenson only to find him sitting at a table visiting with an older man. This is fairly typical of Brenson (he is such an old soul), but it was extra funny to me because we had no idea who this man was!

I really wanted to get a photo of my dad and his siblings before we all left. It's pretty rare that they're all together, so I thought we needed to capture the moment. 

Curtis, Jim, Chuck (my dad), and Sandy Jolyn (in reverse age order)

It was getting late in the afternoon and my kids hadn't had a nap at all when Brooke finally crashed out. I didn't think too much of it, but later realized she was sick (more on that below). I asked if anyone wanted to hold her while she slept, and my Uncle Jim jumped at the chance! 

Jim being silly holding a sleeping Brooke

My oldest brother, Shane, was also at the funeral and said he'd like to hold Brooke as well, so Jim passed her off to Shane after a while. This was Shane's first time meeting my little girls, and it made my heart happy and achy all at the same time to see him holding Brooke. We don't see Shane often at all, and it's a hard thing. When we do see him, it's often awkward and tense, but it wasn't so much this time. He and I actually had some nice conversation, and I would say it's the most normal interaction we've had in about a decade. I miss him terribly.

We started for home around 4:00pm, along with Russ & Lisa and Jeremy. Jeremy came back to our house for the night so he wouldn't have to make the 12 hour drive all the way home, so Brianna and Brenson enjoyed taking turns riding with him. About half way through the trip, Brooke started crying in the car. She just cried and cried, and I couldn't get her to calm down. When we stopped for dinner, I discovered she was super hot with a fever. She wouldn't eat at all, and I just felt so bad for her! As soon as we got home, I took her temp and it was 104! Poor baby girl :-(. It took her several days to get over whatever she had, but thankfully no one else got sick. Jeremy was able to take Brianna to school the next morning (she thought she was so special) and walk through our new house (still under construction), as well. 

While the circumstances were not what we wished they were, it was really wonderful to spend time with family and honor grandpa. 

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