Sorry this has taken me so long. This is our fourth day home, and both of us have been kind of "out of it" energy wise! I'm feeling like today will be a better day, though! Sometimes it takes a lot for my brain to focus on a project!
I think I left you with our visit to Tara and Andy's household.....but I forgot to say something I wanted to say. I was fascinated to watch Andy with his kids. He isn't home a lot with his work and church callings, but it seemed to me that he used every opportunity to communicate, respect and just "be there" for his kids, in his own quiet way. He and Tyler had several conversations that I witnessed but didn't actually hear what it was about, and the tone of voice Andy used was much like he would use on another adult, I think, but using words that were on a child's level to understand. One time when I did understand the context of the conversation, Tyler was rather whiny about not being able to play a game that he had hoped to share with his Grandpa Whicker (Glenn). Andy had to be firm, and yet he did it in such a respectful way! Andy's calmness was contagious, and Tyler or the girls were always positively affected by his methods, which is just very rare, I think! I wish I had known 50 years ago how to do that, and I even wish I knew how NOW! Tara and Andy are just fantastic parents, even though Tara has quite unavoidable stressful times because of all her duties as wife, mother, RS president, friend, counselor, etc.!!
So now we were on our way to Colleyville, TX, near Dallas, where Marinne, David, Townes and Lillie Mae live. We were so excited to see them. It has been so long since we've been able to spend more than an hour or so with any of them, and even that has been rare.
About two hours into the trip, Dad handed me his cell phone and asked me to check for messages. The first message I heard was Jeff's voice. I was stunned as I heard him say "Dad, I hope Mom isn't right by you. Don't even look at her!" A sick feeling hit the pit of my heart. I told Dad we had to pull over to return the call, because I didn't want him to be driving when we heard the news, whatever it was. It sounded very bad, to me. When we called him, there was no answer, so we left a message. We tried several more times for the next hour or so, and of course, having him unavailable made me worry even more. (I'm sure Dad was worried, too, but he didn't let me know it) We got to Marinne's house a couple of hours later and still hadn't heard from Jeff. I was afraid we would hear from him while we were in Marinne's house with the little ones, and I didn't want to go to pieces in front of them, so we drove on past her house and went and checked into a motel. (Marinne had seen us drive by and I'm sure was disappointed when we went on!) Finally, we got Jeff on the phone. I asked him what had happened, and he said....."Nothing, why?" I explained what I heard on his message and he was astounded, I think! What he had really said was, "Dad I hope Mom's (n) right by you. I need to look at her." (He was trying to use Dad's terminology, he said.) The reason I put an (n) between those two words is because when I relistened to his message, there definitely was a sound that sounded like "is'n" instead of "is" and that's why I guess it came naturally for me to think something bad had to have happened. The voice fluctuations for "Don't even look at her" and "I need to look at her" are the same. Well, whatever the reason, I had gone through several hours of agony, trying to just stay calm (like my new motto says). Jeff felt SO bad! He said how sorry he was, and I said "Don't be sorry, you have just made me SO HAPPY!" It was such a relief to find out the benign truth!!
Later, Rea Jo observed that my subconscious mind may have been remembering what happened the last time I was in Texas, in 1996, and set me into an automatic fear mode, but I sure didn't realize it consciously, if that's true!
When we got to Marinne's house, we explained to her what had happened, so I'm sure that she understood.
We had such a great visit there! That little Townes is so smart....and I think his parents are smart enough to guide that intelligence in the most productive directions. He loves words, and if he hears a new one, he has to know what it means and how to say it correctly, then he USES that word; he owns it! He is so full of questions and things to show you and explain to you! He asked me why I had that "stick" (my cane) and I explained that I sometimes feel like I might fall and it helps me not to. He said, "Oh, you mean like a third leg?" The best explanation I'd ever heard!
He and I played Blockus (a small travel version) that I had brought to him, and he loved it! He was a little pouty when he lost, but then he would pause, laboriously correct his attitude, and then say something like "It's fun to play a game. It doesn't matter if you lose." It was like a lesson he had learned and memorized, but had to be repeated often!! Reminded me of Gabriel's comment when he and I were playing Tetris..."It's OK! I just wanna have fun, OK?" referring to my efforts to persuade him to move the pieces so they would fit where they fell!
Little Lillie is a darling. A bit clingy to Mama at this point, but she did actually come to me, while I was sitting on the couch, touched me, and looked at me without recoiling! By the time we left, she smiled a lot at us. The Mommy and Daddy in that home are also respectful of their children as they correct them. David takes Townes to work with him on Saturdays, and talks to him about adult things all the time! You can tell that Townes truly enjoys his time with his Daddy and thrives in the conversations they have.
We were there for Marinne's birthday, and David had wrapped several presents up for her. She was thrilled to find that he had purchased several real canvases along with paints and all the accessories except for an easel, which she said she didn't think would work well for her, anyway. David is so quiet, and quite sober looking most of the time, but his heart is always smiling, I can tell because of the way he interacts with his family. It was just a joy to be with them! We took Marinne and the kids out for lunch on Friday, and did a take home dinner for her birthday celebration that night, even though it was a day early. We were there for her gift opening, and then left about 2:30 in the afternoon.
We had a pleasant drive to Hennessey, Oklahoma, where Dad's cousin, Barbara (Aunt Irene's daughter) lives. Our GPS did just fine, and the chief navigator finally learned how to understand it well, so things went very smoothly. Barbara and her husband, Walter, live in the wooded outskirts of the little town, lots of land and trees all around them. Their daughter lives next door to them, and the daughter's daughter lives in a little trailer in the back area of the lot. Annie, the great granddaughter, was at Barbara's house a lot, so we got to know her a little. She's a great person, and so is Walter. They were so glad to have us come. They just lost their daughter to cancer in January, and this other daughter was having a very hard time with it. I was trying to comfort her a little, and mentioned something I learned when our John was killed, which I guess she hadn't known before, and she just hung on my every word. When I finished, she said "thank you!" so lovingly, and put her arm around me. She said I had helped her so much, which was quite surprising to me, but I'm so glad I could help a little.
We went to church on Sunday with Barbara and Walter, came home and their kids and grand kids had brought Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner, so we all ate and visited. Since we hadn't ever really known her daughter, son-in-law and kids and grand kids, it was a great experience to get acquainted with them.
Monday morning, we got up and packed and left to go to Perry, Oklahoma, where my cousin Judy Farabough lives (Aunt Verna's daughter). I have not seen her it at least 30 years! We found her after driving on roads that don't exist on the GPS, and had a nice visit. She looks so different than she did when she was young that I can hardly relate her to my young cousin. She is a widow now, living alone, has lots of her family around her and is active in her church. She'll be 79 this year. If you remember my Dad's hair being black, and also Aunt Verna's, hers is just the same. NOT grey like mine! Judy enters competitions every year for her day lillies, and has several trophies for them.
A short drive took us to Oklahoma City, where Forrest Andrews, Dad's cousin (Aunt Sylvia's son) lives. He is a widower, has had his colon removed and has had both knees replaced, but still is very active! He took us for a driving tour around the city, then we took him out to dinner, then we left shortly afterward. He has a collection of classic cars, especially Corvairs. He had a Comet the same year as Dad's, so they have a lot in common.
We stayed the night in Miami, Oklahoma, then continued on to see Edwin King (Uncle Johnny's son) in Springfield, Missouri. We'll continue on from here in the next episode!