What a full, and unusual, year 2017 was. The highlight of the early part of the year was our 24th anniversary trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. We had an amazing time. The first morning we were there I did something I’ve never done before: I read, journalled, and had coffee in bed. I felt I was in the lap of luxury.
Cannon Beach is very beautiful and I’d recommend it to anyone for a vacation. Surely it is one of American's prettiest beaches. It's certainly the prettiest I've enjoyed. It has a quaint, lovely village with lots of good shopping.
It was still pretty chilly, which allowed us to beat the tourists. The cool didn’t keep us from enjoying the beach. We read and napped on the beach, but we didn’t play in the water except for our one daring escapade which was the highlight of my vacation.
Several weeks after our trip to Oregon, I went to New Orleans for my niece Emily's wedding. I loved seeing my sisters, nieces and nephews, but it was a whirlwind of a trip.
When I returned home, it was a blast to welcome my niece Mindi and her chillens to the Sunshine Coast. I enjoyed Mindi lots and her 10-year-old Ezra nuzzled himself right into the depths of my heart. What a sweet, gentle, enthusiastic child. We rented a limo to pick them up at the airport. What a hoot to see their expressions when they saw it.
In June, Daddy was told he would die soon with leukemia. I immediately went to Arkansas. The day after I got there, Stephanie and John Mark welcomed their fifth child, Remington Creede. What a delight to get to meet him shortly after his birth. He's my sixth grandchild but the first that I've met in the hospital.
God blessed my siblings and me with lots of time with Daddy before his death. In June, we all gathered around him and he rallied well. I stayed for five weeks to help out before coming home. During my stay there I lost my job. I was wooed to the job by its flexibility and that I could have all the time off in the summer I wanted so, I wasn't too concerned about being with Daddy. As things unfolded it became clear that "all the time off I wanted in the summer" was too good to be true. It was a fun job and I miss the laughs, but I will never regret the time with Daddy. Losing the job was a small price to pay to have that extended time with him.
I came home the first of August and was called back to Arkansas two weeks later. Daddy had taken another turn for the worse. I stayed another six weeks then came home again. Three weeks later, Daddy got really bad. I booked my ticket on the 19th and he died in the early morning hours of October 20. I had prayed regularly that we would all be with him when he died. In keeping with his private nature, he chose to die alone. My heart hurts to think that he was all alone, but as I learned in my hospice volunteer training, people often choose to die alone. I had hoped to pray, read Scripture, and sing him out of this life and into the next. It wasn't meant to be.
We chose a casket that was made of barn wood. It couldn't have been more appropriate. Had we had all the money in the world, we still would have chosen it. It was perfect for Daddy. The first night we saw Daddy at the funeral home, he looked perfect and we were thrilled. It was an intimate time for us. I felt carried by our Lord and my siblings, although we expressed it differently, did too. Before we left, we said Psalm 23 together. It was a "God moment"; such a blessing to be inspired to do that and share that time with my brother and sisters.
Before the funeral started, we played Daddy's kind of music - Hank Williams, Bob Wills, etc. - to go with a video of pictures of him. One thing I'd do differently given the chance, would be to have someone taking pictures and videoing the service. I missed lots as I was very "in the moment". I wish I could watch the funeral again and I wish I could see people's expressions as they watched Daddy's video and heard his music. The funeral was wonderful. Mindi (his favorite granddaughter) read his obituary and added some stories and laughs. Jimmy sang two songs, one being "On the Wings of a Dove." He sang beautifully; some of us joined him for the chorus. God blessed me with a special grace to give the eulogy. Miraculously, I wasn't very nervous, was able to deliver it well, and it received lots of laughs - mostly from the family. Dee, Daddy's best friend, led us in Psalm 23, Daddy's favorite scripture passage and one he and Dee read frequently together. Daddy had requested Donny Jewell preach his funeral. For Arkansas, it was a very custom funeral. I'm proud we did it that way. Daddy would have felt very honored by his funeral. There were lots of laughs, but lots of sweetness and respect too. He received military honors, a very touching aspect of the service. About six or seven old veterans solemnly saluted him and thanked him for his service. It was beautiful how much respect they showed and it made us cry. At the graveside, they presented Michael with the United States flag. The veteran, well into his 80's, knelt down in front of Michael and gave him the flag on behalf of a "grateful community." He ended by saying, "I knew him personally and he was a good man."
The funeral was well attended and a highlight of it was that the Torix family was there. What a blessing to see them. I appreciated their respect for us and Daddy so much. They had to drive several hours to attend. Another blessing was all Corkey's kids were there and joined us for the family dinner and the graveside.
Daddy appointed Michael as his executor with me to do it if Michael could/would not. Michael chose not to do it, which left me with the position. It has been an honor, and again, God has graced me with what I need to do it, and I think, do it well. I had to stay in Arkansas several additional weeks after the funeral to fulfill some executrix-type obligations. One of the jobs I chose to do was cleaning Daddy's house. Daddy lived like a pauper and lived in squalor. I felt like I was honoring him in the huge job of cleaning his house and selling his "treasures." I made trip after trip to the thrift store, antique stores, and the dump. In the end, the house looked better than it has in decades.
When it was all said and done, I spent nearly five months in Arkansas this year. The time with Daddy and my siblings before and after his death, were truly the highlights of 2017. I experienced special graces the second half of the year that still amaze me. Ever since I started wearing my Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medal, the graces have rained down on me. But that's a story for a different day. Suffice it to say, I'm very grateful to Blessed Mom for her intervention and intercession in my life. She has been a game changer in my spiritual life.
Daddy left us a nice little inheritance. I invested most of mine in crypto-currencies and, at this point, have tripled my money. It is a risky investment, and I could lose it in a moment, but so far so good. As I contemplated putting my inheritance into that volatile market, I thought it would be easier to lose the investment, than not invest and regret it in a few years if it really did become the currency of the future. Another grace of the year is having more money than I've ever had before, yet being able to hold it with an open hand rather than a closed fist. That is a real God thing.
Gordon and I are both delighted that the year and its fullness is behind us. Despite a death, it was a year that was richly blessed. I'm very thankful to God.