Thursday, September 25, 2014

Long-time friendship

Way back in the summer of 1984, I met my friend, Lydia. We were working as camp counselors at Camp Wo-Me-To in Maryland. Lydia had also just finished her Junior year in high school, but she lived in Puerto Rico and I lived in New Jersey. After camp ended, we kept in touch via letters delivered by a mailman!

The next summer, she returned to camp, but I decided to stay in New Jersey and work at Hahne's department store (I'm thinking of two separate posts that could be written about Camp Wo-Me-To and Hahne's). We both graduated from high school and I headed to Belmont College in Nashville, and Lydia moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University.

We each remember me visiting her in Atlanta at some point in our college experience, but we're not sure when it was, nor do we have pictures. We did have some kind of yummy dessert at a Greek restaurant and it was fun reunion.

The next time we saw each other was in 1991, when Lydia came to Nashville to attend my wedding. I remember that we saw each other, but of course, since the wedding festivities are the main event for the bride, I didn't have much time to visit with Lydia that trip. A few years later, Lydia and Darryl were married, and I got to attend their wedding. Again, not much time for visiting.

In 2001, my family took a trip to Georgia to see family and we got to meet up with Lydia and her family (each of us had a son by then) for a meal at California Pizza Kitchen. We had a fun time meeting each other's little boy (Daniel was six and Destry was a baby). That time we got some pictures!

Another few years went by and Lydia and her family moved to North Carolina, not far from where my cousin got married. On that trip, Lydia drove over and we had breakfast together and got to catch up on our lives. She had completed medical school and residency and I was working at a large corporate financial company (for just a while longer--I changed jobs a couple of months after that trip). Once again, we remembered to get a photo!

A few weeks ago, I got a text from Lydia. She was planning a trip to Nashville to attend a conference and wanted to get together. I was so excited that she chose my city and we made plans for what we could do together when she wasn't in her sessions. Since Lydia's only other trip to Nashville was over twenty years ago and she'd basically seen a couple blocks of the downtown area, she was open me playing tour guide. She stayed at a new hotel downtown that I hadn't seen yet, so it was fun to get to see the Omni and then walk over to the pedestrian bridge and take a little walking tour of the Broadway area. We also ate dinner at Acme Farm Supply, a cool new venue for food, drink and hanging out.

On Saturday night, my mom joined us and we went out to eat at the Loveless Cafe ('cause you can't get too much country cooking when you're visiting Nashville). Sunday afternoon we went to Calypso Cafe and an antique mall and then I got to show Lydia my house before I took her to the airport. We had such a good time catching up and were both thankful that we have been able to stay in touch.

Lydia loves to make jewelry as a hobby, so yesterday, I received a fun package in the mail. She made me a pretty bracelet and earrings to match, in my favorite color. I will enjoy wearing these and thinking of our friendship that has spanned thirty years and counting!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unexpected closure

Last Friday, just a month shy of three years since my dad passed away, I got some unexpected closure. Yes, I had said my good-byes to him and had accepted that he was gone from this earth. We had a beautiful time of remembering his life with many members of our family and friends back in October of 2011. Since he had made the choice to donate his body to Vanderbilt for research, I hadn't thought much about the fact that we weren't burying his earthly body. It wasn't something I thought that I was grieving.

Earlier this year, when my mom got the letter notifying her of the upcoming memorial service and gave me the date, I was not sure how to feel about it. On the one hand, it felt like too much time had passed and I didn't want to relive the deep sadness of those days surrounding his death. But, of course, I wanted to continue to remember my dad and honor the way he lived his life, giving to others.

When we got to the cemetery where the service was to take place, I still expected it to be in a room with walls and to hear my dad's name read among a list of other people who had donated their bodies. Instead, we were taken by shuttle to the far side of the cemetery where a large tent was set up with rows of chairs for loved ones to sit. A short program was given, with explanation of how important anatomical donations are to medical students who are preparing for a career of diagnosing illness and understanding the human body. Several students spoke briefly, sharing their thoughts of gratitude and letting us know that what our loved one chose to do was a priceless gift to them.

After the service ended, we were invited to come to the place just outside the front of the tent, where a trench had been dug and the containers of the remains of the donors were going to rest. At first I thought there wouldn't be any names on the containers, since the identity of the donors was kept confidential. But then my aunt pointed out that names were printed on each container and we found the one with my dad's name. As I dropped my rose down into the trench by his container, I felt peaceful and thankful.

On the morning that Dad died, I wasn't able to get to the hospice facility until after he had passed away. I had had some significant and special time with him in the days before he died, so my not being there at the time he took his last breath was not a big issue for me. I remember when I walked into the room and saw him lying there, I knew that it was just his shell. His spirit was with Jesus, and I said that to him as I said my final good-bye.

I also know that his remains at the cemetery are just a representation of what was left on earth. There were no tears for me on Friday, just an unexpected sense of closure. I continue to have peace and joy because my father is in heaven, and am thankful that because of Jesus, we grieve with hope of eternal life with Him.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sister Saturday: Birthday Edition

Happy Birthday to my dear sister! 
You're the best! I love you!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Flashback Friday: Happy Birthday to my Sis!

I've been posting birthday pics of my sister all week, but I thought it would be fun to put them all in one place today. Her actual birthday is tomorrow, so we'll be celebrating all weekend!

 We think this photo of Jeanette eating a flower was taken on her first birthday. We haven't found the cake pictures yet (sorry, younger sister).

 She loved her babies, even back then. I think this was the famous Susie who eventually got all of her hair literally loved off of her head.

 Such a little cutie with her cupcakes and sweet little dress! Make a wish!

We had just returned from a family trip to Disney World where she got a new dress with a matching purse. Granddaddy had asked her what kind of cake she wanted and got her what she requested:  cake with pink icing and a ballerina on top! She also got another doll and some money!

 Jeanette's birthday usually falls around Labor Day weekend, so we were often in Maryland visiting our Maw-Maw and Granddaddy. I love having familiar things in the background that we remember from our childhood.

We skip ahead to when Jeanette turned 17 (driving age in NJ). I was away at college, but Mom, Dad and Uncle Randel helped celebrate (and added fingers to show her age). The cake in this picture was a strawberry cake, which has been Jeanette's favorite and most-requested birthday cake for many years!

Love you, Sis!