Sunday, March 24, 2013

Celebrations of Life and Death

Mattie celebrated her 11th birthday on March 9th. Mattie is my oldest, mini-me. Luckily for the rest of the family, she is my only mini-me. She was our first of four blessings. One that we never thought we would ever receive. Her last year has been full of echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiogram and CT scans. Her heart murmur is fine and should not cause her problems. We visit the neurologist in April about her headaches.

She is beautiful, mature, loving and giving. She isn't afraid to show her love for Christ and will tell you all about Him.  She is excited about being Safety Patrol Captain and can't wait to visit Washington, D.C. with Safety Patrol this spring.

She landed a lead part in the spring musical at church and just finished playing basketball on the school team. I think she is the most excited about having her own bedroom in the new house. 

Her birthday fell on Saturday this year just like when she was born. Mikie had drill and we all got up extra early and inflated every balloon that the small helium tank would inflate. Twenty-eight to be exact. We tied ribbons and let them all go over top of the her bed, the top bunk. Then Mikie woke her up to tell her happy birthday before he left for drill.

I haven't seen her smile like that in so long. She stresses over everything lately, typical adolescent stress. She was so excited that she had all those balloons and that we really did love and care about her.

Later that morning she went to spend the weekend with Grammy and Papaw Shaver. She really likes to go with them for her birthday. Grammy takes her shopping and she gets whatever she wants until Grammy's budgeted amount runs out. This year Cousins Dixie and Fisher spent the weekend too.

On Sunday morning, Mattie's birthday weekend took a terrible turn. What had been a happy, joyous celebration that was supposed to end with a party at lunch with us, aunts, uncles and cousins, quickly became a party minus one.

As Grammy finished serving breakfast to Mattie, Dixie and Fisher, they heard a noise. Grammy ran to find Papaw had fallen. He was getting ready to go preach and sing. She yelled for Mattie to bring her the phone. After a long time with the EMT's they took Papaw to the hospital. Mattie, Dixie and Fisher didn't realize exactly what had happened, but Mattie and Dixie knew something was really wrong and kept praying over and over for Papaw.

That Sunday turned into a long day. One final goodbye to a Papaw who had entered our lives just over 11 years ago when he and Grammy married. A Papaw that made a difference not only in our lives but in the lives of hundreds of people at the various churches he preached, conferences he lead, places he sang. Over his 67 years he was Christ's light to others. He told stories of his two tours in Vietnam. He had a loud, boisterous voice and sang all the time. He always had a smile on his face.

Papaw, Grammy and Aunt Wylene--Summer 2012
As Uncle John put it later that evening:
 "There's not many people that can qualify as 'salt of the earth.' And today, there is one less."

We didn't realize until the two memorial services how many lives he had made a difference in. Grammy counted over 400 signatures in the book of visitors.

I'm so proud of how Mattie handled the situation and I know Papaw would be too. Although six of his seven grandchildren aren't his blood he never treated them any different than the one that is.

I could make a list of regrets and wishes that we had spent more time with Papaw, that we had not let our own church responsibilities, extracurricular activities and other things get in the way of hearing him preach and visiting more. In a selfish way I wish Mattie didn't have to experience that morning, but she keeps reminding me that Dixie and Fisher needed her that morning, Grammy needed her. I wish that we had taken her to Grammy and Papaw's and visited the day before, instead of Grammy picking her up. I wish we could turn back time.

No regret or wishes can change the past, but they can change the future. Birthdays will be celebrated in a big way, Sundays will be reserved for worship and family, invites to special events will be honored even if it means we have to ask someone else to cover our responsibilities elsewhere.

I can't make Mattie's 11th birthday a completely happy to remember occasion, but we can happily remember it as a time that we learned a lot of things about Papaw and she can carry on his legacy of lighting this world with Christ's love.


Ashley Ditto said...

So glad you put your link so I could find your blog, I love it! This post was so sweet.

mommyto4mjs said...

Thanks Ashley!