I didn't realize that it has been so long since I have blogged. A lot has gone on around here since my last journal entry in September. The boys and I moved after living in the country since they were born into our new house in the city limits of Burleson on October 12th. Boxes are slowly disappearing but it is taking so long to get settled. I am surprised of the stuff we own and the stuff that has no importance.
The anniversary of Pat's death, November 26th, was a day I anticipated with a lot of anxiety and dread and it has come and gone. In October of last year is when Pat's cancer was overtaking him. We had just finished our last chemo in Tulsa with the plan to continue the treatments in Fort Worth and return to Tulsa for some treatments and consultations with his doctors. Two hospital stays for Pat followed quickly and then his final admittance on Tuesday, November 22nd. That last week has been fresh on our minds and was hard to relive. I found myself reading my CaringBridge entries to take me back so that I could be reminded of the more specific details of his last few days with us. He took his last breath at 6:39 PM on that Saturday, the 26th.
As I look back to the past year I feel all kinds of emotions. Grief that hurt so bad that I cried for many hours in my closet floor. There were tears that came out of no where while driving down the road. The pain was unbearable at times as I looked into my three kids' eyes each day. Change overwhelmed the four of us as it occurred throughout the year. At the same time, I was constantly thanking God for the friends and family he placed in our lives as well as new friends and business associates. His grace and provision was were ever present as well as the consistency of His love, peace and joy amidst the storm.
We drifted through Christmas and Pat's birthday on New Year's Eve last year in shock and on auto-pilot. Since Thanksgiving was spent in the hospital just two days prior to His promotion to Heaven, we faced the first true holiday without Dad last week.
On November 18, 2011, Pat and I sold our ranch. On the day after we packed the last load in the U-haul, I put Pat in his truck and drove away. He was so sick that day he did not realize that he was leaving his precious Double E Ranch. A few weeks ago I made the decision that I wanted to return to Hico to the ranch. It really surprised me as I truly felt I would not return for several years, but I had the strong desire to see it again. I contacted the new landowner and planned to spend the anniversary of his death at the ranch.
As I drove down Hwy. 67 the memories started flooding my mind and the tears started to roll. Pat and I made this drive from Burleson to Hico for 13 years and not many weekends were missed during that time. We had our favorite places to stop and eat depending on what day of the week it was. I was reminded of the Friday nights we ate a hamburger at the DQ in Glen Rose. If it wasn't a fast food stop, it was the grocery store stop in Hico. The only time Pat would go to the grocery store was to shop for the ranch. He liked to push the cart and pick the menu for the weekend....pure bliss for me!
As I was driving the county roads out of Clariette on Hwy 6, I slowed the car and savored every mile stopping on the bridges that we loved. As I turned on our road, I saw Pat's girls....his heifers that is. We sold them to a neighbor, so I was able to see them feeding on the hill a distance away. As I continued to drive towards our place, I see our neighbors' homes and then there is our place. Lake Pat is in the distance and our cute little yellow house sits there so lonely. I pulled into the driveway and I was taken aback. The house was vacant and the yard was grown up. Pat always made sure the yard, even with the lack of rain in Hico, was watered in the front and the large yard was neatly mowed. I did my share of mowing too! I peaked into the house and could hear his voice and imagine the furniture we had in each room. The chairs that he and I sat in on the porch were still there.
As I walked towards the barn, I went in and saw a few things that we had owned. It reminded of Pat's 50th surprise birthday party when he walked out of the barn one Saturday afternoon and he saw a trail of 15 plus cars driving down the county road to our place. He was shocked that anyone would drive that far for a party and that I was able to pull this huge surprise off!
I drove to Lake Pat and got out of the car. The ranch foreman warned me that the lake was low. The cattle on the place were coming towards me and since I do not know that herd, I was not comfortable just hanging out very long. As I walked towards the lake, dozens of ducks flew off of the water. I took some of Pat's ashes and threw them in to the lake which made me feel such peace as this ranch meant so much to him. I got into the car and drove through all of the pastures just taking in the view, the smell and all of the memories.
This visit was harder than I imagined and I believed I cried for the three hours that I was there. Although painful, the visit was healing. In our class on Sunday mornings, Billy Beacham, our teacher, has been talking about the Death of a Vision. This visit definitely confirmed it.
On October 5, 2011, the day Pat was diagnosed, God gave me the scripture Exodus 14:13, "Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again." I was reminded of that verse throughout the months to come. On, Sunday, November 25th, one week ago, Billy was teaching on this verse. God brought it full circle. As I look back at this past year, all I knew to do was trust God as I have no idea what my future will hold. I still do not know. So, I take it that this verse is still for me to stand on as we travel on through 2013.
This year brought on change immediately after Pat's passing. I had a window company to run, a job to do at the church and a son who quit college to help me run the business. On March 1st I resigned from the church and started this very unknown journey as a small business owner of a company that I knew nothing about. Having a son who was a junior in high school, I had a lot of parenting to do as well as the paperwork that is required after one's passing on top of income tax returns and putting the house up for sale. The house sold in September and we moved in with my sister for a month and then finally closed on our new house on the 12th of October. I have never seen so many boxes in my life and most of them were boxes that were kept in our attics for the past 28 years! Wow!
My kids have been absolutely amazing through this journey. The photo was taken at PurpleStride a couple of weeks ago. They have made sure that every holiday, birthday and Mother's Day was a day to show how much they loved me and that they were there to fill in as much as they could the emptiness of their dad's presence. They have helped and worked hard to make the transitions that have been required. I truly am so blessed to call Elizabeth, Matt and Garrett mine and thankful that their Dad was able to raise them to the young adults that they are. His hand print can be seen in each of them. If you know me well, you can see the strong influence he had on me too. I am thankful to have known a love like we shared. He was an amazing husband, father, son, brother and friend. We love and miss you so much.
As I close, I just have a thankful heart! Thankful for my blessings that are abundant....