Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Memories of Christmases Long, Long Ago - It's About Family









     We all know that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus.  Yet the gatherings, gifts, and dinners seem to be more about family.

     That seems Biblical, too, as the Bible tells us that in the time of creation, God created a family - Adam and Eve - and placed them in the Garden with His blessing to multiply.  And when it was time for the Savior to come into the world, Jesus was born into a family.  The Bible also refers to the Most High God as "Father", and our Savior as the "Son".  

     So Christmas truly is about family!  And that's what makes the memories so tender and so precious: memories of time spent together as a family, enjoying not just the food and gifts, but each other, too.  And why it is so painful when there is an empty place left with the homegoing of our loved ones.

     In all of my life, I have always had Christmas with my family.  Even after getting married and the years my husband and I lived in other states, my husband always got me to my parents' home for Christmas.  

     But this year, Christmas will be totally different.  For the first time ever, we will celebrate the holiday without either of our parents and we will not be gathering at the family homeplace.  New family traditions will have to be created, new memories made without Momma and in a different place.  I know in my head this must happen, but in my heart I'm already I'm homesick.

     Caregiver, while you still have your loved one with you, make memories!  Take photos of them, especially when others come to visit them.  If their mind is still clear, encourage them to talk about how Christmas was when they were growing up.  If you can, video them telling their stories.  These things may sound silly or too much trouble but it will make your loved one feel important and a part of the holiday.  And when that loved one is no longer with you, these things will be priceless.

     Cherish the moments for, like the Holiday Season, you will look around and realize they are over too quickly.  Don't take into your tomorrows the pain of "I wish I had", but rather, smile through your tears, "I'm so glad I did!" 

     Caregiver, remember that you are loved with an everlasting love.  Stay on your knees and keep looking up.

Shared in love,

                              Chris



Our Christmas tree from 1968 - cut from the woods ourselves!






Saturday, December 2, 2017

Memories of Christmases Long, Long Ago - Daddy's Childhood Christmas

School photo of Douglas Evans taken about 1935 or 1936


     In my post yesterday, I shared a story Momma wrote for me about how Christmas was when she was a little girl.  While her parents didn't have a lot of money, they made a home for her and her siblings and she had good memories of Christmas.

     But Daddy didn't talk much about how it was growing up.  His parents divorced when he was young and he didn't have the same kind of home Momma had.  I once asked Daddy what toys he received at Christmas.  He only said that he remembered a couple of times when he got a cowboy hat and a pair of cap pistols with a holster.  The other Christmases, he was given a new shirt or a new pair of trousers.  He didn't say much more, just that he guessed his parents did the best they could.

     When we were growing up, Daddy would be fussy when we decorated for Christmas.  But after the tree was up and Momma had everything festive and pretty, I would see him looking around under the tree at the gifts.  He would always find those with his name on them and then he seemed OK.  We were going to have Christmas, and he was included - everything was OK.

     Christmas always has a big place in our lives, making both good memories and bad.  And we carry those memories with us the rest of our lives.  

     Today, I want to remember Daddy and share memories of Christmas when he was with us.  Daddy was only 49 when the Lord took him to Heaven.  I have too few Christmas memories of Daddy.  And this Christmas, I miss him terrible. 

     Caregiver, you are making memories today that will last the rest of your life, long after your loved one is gone.  Do good things today to make warm memories for yourself and those you love, for they will have memories to carry into their tomorrows, too.

Shared in love,

                              Chris


Dad and Mom, Christmas 1975 -
our last Christmas with Daddy this side of Heaven







  









Friday, December 1, 2017

Memories of Christmases Long, Long Ago - Momma's Childhood Memories

C

Free clip art courtesy of webweaver


     Pastor said once that at Christmas, all hearts turn to home.  I know this is true for me, and even more acutely now that I'm facing my first Christmas as an orphan.  With Momma's homegoing this past March, I have begun grieving the passing of my Dad and my older brother, Bill, all over again.  So Christmas this year is going to be really, really different and for me, very, very hard.

     My husband keeps reminding me that I had many good years with my family, and especially the past 7 when we had the privilege of caring for Momma.  I know this is true, yet I'm still homesick and longing for home, the home of my childhood.  


     As I travel this rough part of my journey, I want to say first to you, Caregiver, do those things today that will be a good memory for you when the season changes and your loved one is no longer with you.  And share those memories because in the sharing, the memory stays fresh and alive withing you.


     And I want to share some memories, too, as I work thru this new way of celebrating Christmas.


     The first that I want to share in these days until Christmas is a story my Momma wrote for me about how Christmas was when she was growing up in the Coal Fields of West Virginia.  I share it here to remember her and to remind all of us how different Christmas was back then.


                   Chris



~~~~~~~~~



Mom when she was a little girl.


  Christmas In the Coal Fields
by Audella Grubb Evans

     Growing up in the mountains and in the Coal Fields of West Virginia wasn't always easy.  We had very few conveniences.  In the Coal Camp where I lived, we had one store that was owned by the Coal Company.  The store had a little of everything, but not a lot of toys or things for Christmas.  The miners' wages were not high, and transportation was limited, there were no buses and only a few people owned cars - we did not.  So, very little shopping was done.

     But we received catalogues thru the mail!  Sears, Montgomery Ward, and Aldens - we called them "wish books".  And they became well-worn!  We would choose 1 or 2 items from the "Wish Book" and our parents would go to Beckley, the nearest town to us, where they had stores.  They would try to purchase something for us.  They would get what they could afford.  I always got a beautiful doll.  And if it wasn't the item from the "wish book", that was OK - we were happy with what we got for Christmas.


     Dad didn't want to throw the catalogues away, so after Christmas, we would fold down the pages and make a door stop out of our "wish books".  


     We always had a Christmas Tree - one Dad cut from the woods and brought in.  We did have lights for the tree and some ready made bulbs, but mostly we made our own tree decorations.  We always thought we had the most beautiful Christmas Tree ever!


     The miners had a Union and throughout the year the men would each put a little money into a fund.  The Treasurer, my Uncle Fred Schlager, would use that money to buy nuts, candies, and fruit.  Then he would fill a large brown paper bag with these goodies - one for each child in a family.  We always looked forward to that special treat on Christmas Eve!  These items weren't plentiful back then, like they are today.


     And Christmas Eve usually brought snow - snow that would last for 1 or 2 months!


     What I remember most was our family being together.  We shared our memories and love toward each other and our neighbors.  Not exactly a Norman Rockwell Christmas, but it was ours!  And it was precious.


     Shared with love, 


  Mom




  











Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today Would Have Been Dad and Mom's 71st Wedding Anniversary



Dad and Mom just before they were married.

Dad and Mom on their last vacation.  Taken in 1975.
The last photo of Dad and Mom.  This was taken in April, 1976.  Dad went to Heaven that November.
















     On November 14, 1946, Audella B. Grubb married Douglas C. Evans. Our parents would have celebrated their 71st anniversary today. If they celebrate wedding anniversaries in Heaven, Mom and Dad are celebrating today.

     Miss them both every day. Just wanted to remember them on their special day. 


     HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Mom and Dad. 


     Love and miss you both more than I can ever say, 


                                               Chris



A FAMILY NOTE: 

Dad and Mom celebrated their 30th Wedding Anniversary in 1976 while Dad was at MCV Hospital taking radiation treatments for his cancer.  I made them an anniversary cake and took it to them at the hospital.  Dad told me it was the most beautiful cake he had ever seen.  Mom, Dad, Wayne and I enjoyed the cake and Dad shared it with the interns and nurses that came in to take care of him.  

The Lord took Dad to Heaven two weeks later.  

Mom never remarried.  She remained a widow for 41 years.  She was a widow longer than she was a wife.

Last year, Mom and I were talking about that last anniversary she and Dad had together.  She remembered the cake but said the Hospital staff prepared it for them.  I didn't correct her.  It was enough for me that she remembered it and had good memories of that anniversary.  


  










Friday, November 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, Momma






     Today is Mom's birthday.  She would have been 88 today.  She's in Heaven now, so she's not counting birthdays anymore.  But I wanted to wish her a "Happy Birthday" by sharing some thoughts about her here.


     Mom was the first-born of 5 children; her father was a hard-working man, a coal miner; and her mother an industrious woman who could take a little bit of anything and make a delicious meal.  They were good, honest people that loved their family.

     And Mom loved her family above all things on this earth and would do anything for us.  Well, not exactly anything: I remember hearing her tell one of my brothers, "I love you and I'll die for you, but I won't lie for you."  That was Momma!  She had such surrender to Jesus and such integrity!

     Mom had a giving heart and was always doing for others.  Not only did she work with children in her position at Curtis Elementary School, she also taught children in Sunday School at her church.  Her involvement in church wasn't sitting in a pew - she was active in the choir, ladies ministry, and visiting the shut-ins.  If there was a need, Mom was usually there!  

     And she took such delight in her grand-children and great-grandchildren!  As her health declined and she wasn't able to go out much, she loved seeing the posts on social media; it gave her a connection with them.

     She was so talented!  She could sew, crochet, and was a great cook, but she loved most of all doing ceramics.  Her pieces were works of art.  And she put her heart into every one she made.

     Mom smiled easily and had such a sense of humor.  She loved having fun and enjoyed life even with the heartaches and pain we caused her.  

     Mom wasn't perfect, but to us she was perfectly wonderful!  She still influences us every day because the life she lived before us was one of love and honest devotion.  And I miss her more than I can put into words.

     So today, November 4th, I just want to share these thoughts, remember her, and to say with all my heart, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOMMA!  I love you!"

     Shared in love, 

                Chris 












  








Thursday, September 21, 2017

It's Been Six Months Since Mom's Homegoing







     It has been just 6 months today since our Momma went to her eternal home in Heaven. 

     While I know she is no longer struggling to breath and that her soul is at rest, I still miss her so much! 

     She never understood that she was such a strong lady and to us kids, she was bigger than life.  Nothing is the same without her. 

Shared in love,

  Chris     





  








Saturday, September 9, 2017

Breakfast With a Friend



Free Photo courtesy of Dover Clipart


  My long-time friend, Nancy Thysell, contacted me to let me know she was going to be in town this weekend for her high school reunion and wanted us to meet for breakfast today.  It had been several years since she had been in Virginia and I really wanted to see her.  But this morning I found myself dreading it.  

  Nan has been my friend since high school even though she lives in another state and we don't talk often.  It's the kind of friendship that we just pick up where we left off whenever we talk or visit each other.  But her mother passed away a few years ago and it's been just 6 months since my own Mother went to Heaven.  I wasn't sure how I could handle it emotionally.  Whenever I talk of Momma, especially with someone that is compassionate and sympathetic, I end up in a pool of tears.  And I didn't want to do that with Nan who has her own emotional situation.

  But I went.  And as soon as I saw her precious smile and heard that friendly laugh, I was glad I did.

  After we ordered, she told me she was planning to visit her mother's grave before the reunion tonight.  She spoke so comfortably of her mother's death and settling of the estate and I found myself sharing about my own situation with Momma's passing and working thru preparing the homeplace to be sold.  She let me talk about Momma, commenting now and then.  And when I began to feel the tears forming, she tactfully eased the conversation over to her new business and began telling me about all that she had going on in her life.  

For the next hour and a half, we ate and talked.  But mostly I listened and was grateful for her kindness in acknowledging Momma's passing and her sensitivity to understand that I needed to focus on something else for a while.  

Our time together went quickly.  Then we both had to get on with our day.  We joked that it would probably be another 5 years before we would do this again and touted the benefits of social media to keep connected in a way.  

There in the parking lot at Cracker Barrel, I hugged Nan tightly as we said good-by, realizing that she was a physical link to our younger days – days when we have great expectations of life, days before life disappointed us, days before the grief and pain of burying people that we love. 

Anxiety, pain, grief, tears, homesickness – these are all a part of this very rough road I am on right now.  In this season of life, I remind myself how blessed I am that the Lord Jesus gives me strength, that my husband holds me and lets me cry, and that my family is there to comfort me.  And I am thankful for interludes like this morning and a good friend that knows me well and cares enough to share her life with me.  She refreshed my soul.

Shared in love,
  Chris     





  




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Discovering Hidden Treasures


Mom writing memories of her childhood for me.


     For several weeks now, we have had the arduous and emotionally exhausting task of going thru Momma's house.  It has been such a blessing that my brothers wanted so much of Momma's furniture and the ceramic items she created. But now I'm down to going thru her more personal things such as her clothes, her Bibles, and her books.  

     As I was cleaning out her desk and going thru some of her papers, I came across a little poem that someone had given to her.  It doesn't have a date, but the other papers it was with indicated to me it was probably after our brother, Bill, went to Heaven in 2002.  I had never seen it before, but it is full of meaning and even though it made me cry, it spoke to my heart.  I share it here with the prayer it will help someone else, too.

A Prayer For The One Who Is Left

     Lord, the trouble about life just now is that I seem to have all things which don't matter, and to have lost all the things which do matter.

     I have life;
     I have enough money to live on; 
     I have plenty to occupy me;
     but I am alone, and sometimes I feel that nothing can make up for that.

     Lord, compel me to see the meaning of my faith.  

     Make me to realize that I have a hope as well as a memory, and the unseen cloud of witnesses is around me; 
     that You meant it when You said that You would always be with me; 
     and make me to realize that as long as You leave me here there is something that I am meant to do; and in doing it, help me to find the comfort and the courage that I need to go on.

     In Jesus' name, 
                             Amen.

Source Unknown


     This prayer hit home to me in so many ways when I read it.  I do feel alone, even with the love and support of my wonderful husband, family, and friends.  I do feel the loss of purpose and direction, even as I work thru the task of handling Momma's estate.  And I do need to realize I not only have the memories of Momma, but I have that blessed hope that we will be together again.  

     I can't say that I know what the Lord has left me here to do.  Most days, I'm just functioning, crying, and praying for comfort for myself.  I don't feel I have enough emotional strength to encourage or help anyone else.  Anything good that happens thru me will have to be the Lord's doing!  My flesh is too weak, my heart is still too shattered.  Without Jesus, I am nothing but a mess.  Praise the Lord that He understands and is merciful!  

Shared in love,

Chris  















Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Homesickness

Our family's photo.

  
   Last week, August 8th , would have been my brother Bill's 70th birthday.  I was weepy all day, as I remembered him and my parents.  That evening the Holy Spirit reminded me how Momma said to me just weeks before her home-going that she missed Bill so much.  She had buried her husband, both of her parents, her sister, and then her first-born child. Several times, Momma told me that she missed them all, but she missed her son the worse.  I've never had to bury a child, but it must be the hardest thing a parent would have to do.

     That evening as I was missing Momma and was crying, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that this horrible, homesick way I am missing her and Daddy is how Momma was missing Bill, her husband, her parents and her sister.  I realized that the way I am hurting into the very core of my being had to have been so much worse for her and I know in my heart of hearts I don't want her to feel that way.  And as I began to thank the Lord for taking that hurt from her, my hurt began to ease.  

     My family and friends keep reminding me of the good life and the time I had with Momma, and that I have so much to be grateful for.  I truly am grateful for all of it and I am honestly trying to focus on being grateful and thankful for the blessing of her life and my being allowed to care for Momma. But most of the time, that gets lost in my grief and hurt.

     And it's not really hurt so much now, but such a deep longing, a painful homesickness for her and Daddy.  I know there is no cure for homesickness other than going home.  But this homesickness is not for a place but for the people I love -- so this is a sickness that nothing can cure, because I can't call them to hear their voice or go visit them to be with them.

     I remind myself daily that Momma walked the walk before us to show us the way, and now she walks with Jesus.  I am still being blessed by her life and her love.  I need to keep reminding myself of that because it helps me thru the darkest times.
 
Shared in love,

Chris  






Friday, June 23, 2017

The Journey Didn't End at the Grave Side.


Photo taken about 1952 at Grandpa and Grandma Grubb's house in Glen Fork, WV.  L to R: Chris, Mary Baily, Mom, Grandma Grubb and in the back Lois Schlager (Frazer)

I thought that my journey walking with Mom ended at her graveside. I realize now that what a good friend told me is true: grief is not an event, it's a journey.  So apparently my journey walking with Mom isn't over; it has just turned down a very rough and often dark and painful path.  And since I am going to have to go thru this, I pray that the Lord will teach me of Himself along the way.  

So before I bring this blog to an end, I will try to share some of the things I'm experiencing.  It is with the prayer that something here will help someone else.  I realize that grief can be experienced not just in the death of a loved one but in the loss of a career, loss of a home, loss of finances.  While my grief is for the passing of my Mother, I do believe the principles apply to all types of grief.  

For me, this is what I'm understanding:  

You always think there will be plenty of time with them; then after the passing of the loved one, you realize there was never enough time.

The death of someone so close to you changes your life in ways that you can't fathom.

                   I realize completely the truth of what I read before the funeral:  "Of all the hardships a person must face, none is more punishing than the act of saying goodbye."  Unknown

After the graveside service, everyone else goes back to their normal life except for the 24/7 caregiver, who goes home to a big, empty place where the loved one was.  The caregiver is the one that has to create a new "normal" without the loved one in it.  This is not to fault anyone; it's just the truth of the situation.

Dr. Charles Stanley is right: everyone grieves differently.  I know, too, that not everyone understands that you aren't grieving like they are and often they don't understand why you're grieving like you are.  As my brother, Chuck, said to me when I was crying while talking to him on the phone, "I just want you to be happy."  Right now, there is no "happy"; my heart is shattered into little pieces and I am hurting, and even with my husband's love and support, I have never felt so alone.  "Happy" may happen again, just not today, just not right now.

As hard as I try to keep my grief from being someone else's burden, I seem to be failing miserably at it.  I cry and it's almost uncontrollable at times.  I hate that I am causing those that care about me pain, but I just can't seem to help it.

I remind myself every day the words of Evangelist Ravi Zacharias: "Time doesn't heal.  But time does reveal how Jesus heals."

And I pray every day the verse shared with me by Momma's pastor's wife, Dessie Myers, the day Momma went to heaven:
"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock                that is higher than I."  Psalm 61:2.


Still sharing in love,
Chris


Mom and me; about 1968.

Me and Mom on my wedding day, November, 1970.

Tina Evans, Mom, and Me.  Christmas 2016



   


 









Friday, May 26, 2017

Dignity and Grace



Grandma Grubb and Mom

Mom at her home last Christmas



Austin, Will, Mom, Chuck, Jennifer, and David last Christmas
Chuck, Chris, Drake, Doug, with Mom at Drake and Amanda's Wedding


















































Long before Mom became ill with  Pulmonary Fibrosis, she was a woman of great character and strength.  She helped care for her sister, our Aunt Francis, until she passed; she took care of her Mother until she passed; she cared for our father until he passed; and she was always, always there for us kids and our families. 

I heard her talk often of her concern for us, but I rarely if ever heard her complain.  Even during the last 7 years of her life when breathing became a labor and drained her of strength, she never complained.  Mom always apologized that I had to do for her and even though I told her often that she was not a burden and that I loved doing for her, she never seemed to grasp that nor what a tremendous blessing it was for me to be her caregiver.  

Through everything, our precious Mother lived it all with Grace and Dignity.  And I am most blessed to have had the privilege of being her daughter.

Shared in love,

Chris


   


 










Saturday, May 13, 2017

Remembering Momma on this First Mother's Day Without Her









     This coming Monday, it will be only 8 weeks since Mom went to be with the Lord.  The emptiness she left behind is still overwhelming and now it's Mother's Day.  To honor her on this first Mother's Day without her here with me, I am sharing a devotion that I was allowed to do for her church's Mother-Daughter Banquet a few years ago.  These thoughts were shared then and again now to give a glimpse into the tremendous character and strength Momma had - and the most humbling part is that she never thought of herself this way, she just lived it!

     My Momma "Walked the Walk" ... her life was real.  She never understood that she was in so many ways larger than life to us kids, nor could she imagine the enormity of the loss I feel now. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



"Mother from her Daughter's Perspective."

     My heritage goes back to my Great-Grandmother Beatrice Dorton.  Those of us in her family had the privilege of knowing her gentle ways and her devotion to the Lord.  She not only talked the talk, she walked the walk!  

     And "Walking the Walk" is really what is most important - because we can say many things and put on a good front, but our day to day living - our walking and living daily in our homes and workplaces - says more about who and what we really are.

     My mother - Audella Evans - is the most God-ly person I know.  Now, I don't say that because she is my Mom!  I say that because I have never known anyone to be as loving, giving, and nurturing as she is.  

     I grew up in the "dark ages" before computers and computer games!  So Mom taught me how to play jack-rocks and hop-scotch, to color the flowers on table napkins, and to make paper chains for party decoration.  She taught me how to cook, to sew, to clean house, how to do ceramics, how to arrange flowers.  But there are a lot of other things she taught me, not by her words but by her actions:

     1. Mom did not tell me to be faithful to my husband, she showed me by living faithfully with my father thru good times and bad, for over 30 years, right up to the day he died.

     2. She did not tell me to honor my father and mother, she showed me by putting her life on hold, going to West Virginia and caring for the day-to-day needs of my Grandmother, until my Grandmother died.

     3. She did not tell me to be put other first, she showed me by always taking the back piece of the fried chicken so us kids could have the good pieces.

     4. She did not tell me to be honest, she showed me by giving the cashier back money when she was given more than she was due.

     5. She did not tell me to be a good neighbor, she showed me by caring for an elderly neighbor, without pay, for almost 2 years until the lady died.

     6. She did not tell me to be concerned about others, she showed me by taking hot soup and home-made bread to a hurting wife whose husband was dying of cancer.

     7. She did not tell me that listening was more important than talking, she shows me by always letting me "dump" on her when I needed to vent about a my situations and problems.

     8. She did not tell me prayer is important, she shows me by interceding to God for me every day and for every thing.

     9. She does not just tell me that she loves me, she shows me by always being there - 
listening to me when I'm angry, 
comforting me when I'm hurt, 
and loving me unconditionally even when
                                     I'm unlovable.


     You see, our Walk talks louder than our Talk talks.  To put it in scriptural terms, 

     Deut. 6:7 says  "And thou shalt teach them  [them being the precepts of God]  diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."  

     This means that in our day-to-day lives, we are to show forth the truths of God's word and the love shown to us in Jesus.  I have seen this lived out and I am truly blessed with a rich heritage.

     Shared in love,

                          Chris