Saturday, February 9, 2013

Last Home Game

"Mom, don't cry," is what I heard.  "Well, I can't help it" was my reply.  I have been dreading this day for seven plus years and it has arrived.  I got it together, dried my eyes, grabbed his strong arm, and my 6' 0 handsome, baby boy escorted me to the middle of the gym floor.  It was senior night and the last home game. 

The water works began when I parked the car in the high school parking lot just 15 minutes before.  This mom is walking into the gym for the very last time to watch her son play his last game as a Spartan. Of course, it wasn't just the last game that made me so emotional, it was also that his dad was not going to be there and share with me this very special moment.  After all, we have been watching Garrett play basketball since he was five when he began playing Upward Basketball.  We have traveled many miles and sat in basketball gyms all over Texas. Basketball played a major part in our lives, and we loved every moment.  

Right before he walked onto the court, Garrett gave me note and a beautiful red rose. The coach greeted us on the court and presented Garrett a piece of the net from the basketball goals.  Garrett shot many of the balls that went through those nets....what an appropriate gift.  I remember the very first game that was played in that brand new shiny gym when G was a sophomore.  It was a preseason game and he made the very first basket.  That was so cool!  

Garrett's high school season started in 2009 when he was a freshman as an Elk at Burleson High School.  The following year, they opened the second high school and Garrett would be attending the new Burleson Centennial High School as a Spartan sophomore. 

Unfortunately, basketball and cancer have collided in our family.  In the summer of 2008, Garrett was playing summer league in Everman and I was reading in my car waiting on the game to begin and Pat to arrive.  I knew he had just been to the doctor for a follow up for a test he had done, but nothing to be anxious about.  He sat down in the passenger seat  of my car, but he didn't remove his sunglasses.  As he looked at me, I saw tears rolling down from under his black Ray bans.   He told me that he was diagnosed with stage one esophageal cancer.  Stunned and paralyzed we sat in that car.  Later the tears flowed, but we had to dry it up and go watch our son play ball.  That one sentence began the course of change in our lives and the life the five of us knew would never be the same.

In October 2010 was the beginning of basketball season and Garrett was a sophomore.  Pat arrived on a Saturday afternoon to watch G play in an all day tournament.  As I looked at Pat as he sat down, I saw that his eyes were very yellow.  After a rush to the ER and a battery of tests in the days to follow, Pat was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. 

In November 2011, Garrett was a junior and the season had begun.  On Monday, November 14th Pat watched Garrett score 30 points against South Hills High School.  That was Pat's last game to ever watch G play because 12 days later, Pat was promoted to Heaven.  I remember asking God why he would take Pat right in the middle of basketball season.  He answered me clearly with a question  "Because what gives you the most joy?"  That would be watching G play basketball....thank you God. 

So, you can see how basketball is not just a sport my son plays.  Basketball is the only sport Garrett has ever played and It has been so intertwined with our life journey and that journey has included pain, change and grief along with God's peace, joy, and favor. I am so thankful. I am thankful that God gifted my son with such talent and to give him something to focus on. He also used this sport to bring us together as a family a couple of times a week. A sport that has allowed our friends, life group, students, coaches and the community to show us love and share the joy of our favorite sport.

My heart has hurt these past couple of days and as always, time will heal. In the meantime, I will cherish the wonderful memories.   We still have one last exciting game on Tuesday against Burleson High School.  Yes, I will have tears as I leave that game.

One more time:  "Go Spartans!"  "Go #23!"


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Matthew My Man

Birthdays are popular at my house in February. Matthew Ayers was born on February 6, 1990 on his Grandma Carnes birthday. Happy 23rd birthday! His birth was a play by play because his grandpa Lou was in California. What makes it more weird is that my doctor new Lou too, so Pat was the middle man in the conversation back and forth. Matt was induced early that morning and made his arrival around 2 pm, I think. He was also that baby whose baby book was only slightly started and unfinished today.

Not quite sure when he was called Bubba by his big sister, but his little bro still calls him that. Matt was a pretty baby and he had a temper. Wet wash rags usually tamed his scream. That doesn't work now.

I have never known a brotherly love as Matt and Garrett share.  They are four and a half years a part which kept the older one young and made the younger one old.  The two of them loved playing basketball and hunting with their dad. What great role model you have been for Garrett, Matt.

I would describe Matt as an ole soul even when he was very young. As long as I can remember he loved the Lord. He possesses a loyal and passionate heart and is an easy going gentleman who loves to encourage and pray with others. For his age, he has always had wonderful relationships with many adults in his life and truly has so many people who love him. 

One of the biggest gifts Matt had was a father that truly left his impression and taught him life lessons. While Pat was sick Matt stepped up to the plate and made sure all was taken care of around the house and ranch. I truly do not know what I would have done without him this past year. He quit college to learn about the window company and then took on the role of our salesman. Matt has had many adventures, risks and trials and I have watched how these events have shaped and molded him into the Godly man he is today. 

This mom is truly blessed and grateful for you, Matt!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Her Name Is Elizabeth

On February 3, 1987 at 10:07 AM, Elizabeth changed her mom and dad's life forever weighing in at 8 lbs 6 oz. with the  plumpest cheeks you have ever seen.  She had a massive amount of dark hair with a slight curl.  The minute that nurse laid that sweet baby upon my chest, I heard her daddy whisper, "Lookie there.  She is beautiful."  As I glanced at her daddy's face, I could see tears rolling down his face as I was wiping mine.

We named her Elizabeth Rae, but the name we were calling her when she was born was Jessica Rae.  While I was in recovery, Pat popped back to check on me.  He and his dad, Lou, were headed to down to the cafeteria to have some breakfast. Pat said, "Do you like the name Elizabeth?  That was my grandmother's middle name."  With out hesitation, my answer was, "Yes!"  I loved it.  The long, beautiful name, Elizabeth Rae Easterling, fit her perfectly, but I knew she would not be happy with our choice while trying to learn to write her name in first grade! Elizabeth received a second name when her brother, Matthew, came along as he called her sissy and now is shortened to Sis by both of her brothers today. 

When I am describing daughter to someone who has not had the privilege of meeting her, I tell them that she is beautiful, funny, ditsy, loyal, passionate, kind, dedicated and sweet, and when she walks into a room you know that she has arrived.  

Her warmth lights up the room when she arrives. She loves family and hanging out with her friends.  She has the biggest heart and loves to take care of anyone who will let her.

Elizabeth is a daddy's girl and her life has been rocked without him this year.  Her daddy liked to call her sis and sugar.  He would be so very proud of you today, Elizabeth and how you have gone out into this great big world to see what it has to offer you, but most of all what you are offering the world.  

I am blessed to call you daughter, and now that you are an amazing woman, I can call you friend.  You are my biggest cheerleader and encourager and I love you dearly.

I hope that your 26th birthday was a sweet one!  You are my Wiz-za-buff!

All my love,