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Friday, June 29, 2012

A Tough June

It's been a long time since I've blogged.  But I think you'll understand after you read this post.  And if you'll indulge me a bit; this post is strictly personal stuff.  I don't do that very often, but just felt the need to "write it out" - a little personal therapy.  Read on if you wish, if not; I completely understand.

I was so looking forward to June.  When school let out things would be so much better - no more homework to check, no clothes to get ready for the next day, no lunches to pack, etc. etc. - more free time, more crafting, more fun things with the family.  At least that was the plan.  But then again; things don't often go the way we plan.  And that would certainly be the case for my June.

Right after school let out, I got a call that my grandmother was being taken to the hospital.  For the next week, she was in the ICU fluctuating from grave condition to almost normal - sitting up and chatting away with everyone visiting.  It was an emotionally straining week as we rode a roller coaster of frequently preparing for the worse and then being able to breathe a sigh a relief as things got better.  And things were actually getting a bit better when she abruptly lost her fight.  Going up & down so many times during the week; we had already prepared for this; but it still doesn't make it any easier.  The finality of it still even hits me so hard today..... I'm really not going to see her again.  It's still so hard to believe.  I know she had been going through so much that week and that she had been dealing with diabetes and Parkinson's for a number of years - now she would be at peace - now she could rest.  But at the next family gathering (& we have many); she won't be there.  That really hurts to think about.

My gram at my son's Christening 2003
My gram was a great lady.
She was literally the core of our huge family.  She raised 6 great kids, had 15 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren.  And she was deeply involved with each and every one of us.

While she was trained as a nurse, she ended up making her career her family.  And what an amazing job she did at that.  We are each so very grateful for the legacy that is this great family that she created.  Even with all those kids, grandkids, and great grand kids; she always kept up with what each and everyone one of them was doing.  We joked that she was like Grand Central....everything went in and out through her.  If you wanted to know where your aunt was going to be or what was new with your cousins; she would know. If there was a dance recital, a ball game, a graduation, or a baptism; she would be there.  She always was - even if it meant traveling to a different community or even different states - she was there.  Even as she got older, had health issues, and spent most of her time in a wheel chair - she was there.  As a matter of fact, she was even at two graduations the two days before she went to the hospital.  She was a tough cookie, she was funny, she was loving, she was involved.  She was everything you could want in a grandmother and I am going to miss her terribly.  I will truly cherish all the memories I have and as they say; she will live on through those.

 Since I do a fair amount of computing; I was asked to prepare a memorial slide show to play during the visitations at the funeral home.  It was quite a challenge & a little stressful since there was so little time to prepare it.  But it turned out amazing considering the short time frame - almost 20 mins. of pics & music - I know gram would be pleased & impressed.  These were a few of my favorite shots.......

- sitting in the rain at a nearby lake for labor day (rain or shine, she rarely missed family gatherings) I love how she's smiling away despite the rain!

 - making silly faces at one of the great grand children.  It's always been all about family.

 - dancing up a storm in her wheelchair  at my cousins wedding.  Even when she had limitations - she never let it keep her from being involved and enjoying time with the family.

I will miss her so.  But will treasure all the memories and certainly all the great things she had taught me - most importantly the importance of family.  Rest in peace Gram.

Unfortunately, my gram wasn't the only thing I was dealing with.  Literally, the same day gram passed; I had to say goodbye to our 14 yr. old German Shepard too.  Anyone that knows me, knows that my animals are almost as important to me as anyone in my family.  Our animals are family.

All three dogs in their early years
Abraham was one of three dogs we had rescued over the years and the last one still with us.  We had adopted him and his "sister" (actually she was just raised with him) when he was only 1 1/2 yrs. old.  We had never intended to have three dogs.  But when we were looking for a buddy for our first dog; we came across Abe & his sister at a rescue organization that was desperately looking for a family that would adopt the two dogs together.  We didn't want two more dogs, we didn't need two more dogs, but we had just bought our little farm so we had the space for them and our hearts felt for them.  Not too many people can adopt two dogs and there's so many homeless pets out there; we knew we were meant to take them in.

Life with three dogs can be a challenge at times; but we had so many great times with the three of them.  Each of the other dogs passed on around 10 yrs. which isn't that uncommon for large dogs.  And since they were all different ages; it had only been Abe around the house for about the last 5 or so yrs.  And when they're the only dog, that bond gets even stronger.  And Abe was an amazing dog - loyal, patient, friendly, handsome, intelligent.  The rescue agency often said that if he hadn't been so bonded to his "sister"; they would have considered putting him in police training - he had all the right qualities to make an excellent K9 officer.  But they felt it was more important to keep him with the sister he had bonded so strong to.  And we were lucky to have benefited from having him.

Much like my gram, losing him wasn't a complete shock, but wasn't any easier either.  Abe had developed severe arthritis a couple years back - pretty common for large dogs.  For the last couple years, he had his good days & bad days.  But over the last several months, it had gotten progressively worse.  Eventually it got to the point where he couldn't keep his back legs up most of the time & we had to carry him around like a wheel barrow to help him move.  It was heart breaking.  But even more so when you could tell he was still completely there mentally - only his body wasn't keeping up.  Eventually, his front legs couldn't support him much either.  After a couple days of seeing him struggle to get around and actually carrying him most of the time anyway; we realized we had to make a decision.  It was time to let him go.  We talked to the vet, made arrangements, and then we got the news about my gram.  I couldn't believe this was all happening at the same time, but still knew we had to let him rest in peace as well.

 Two losses at the same time - I don't think I've ever been so upset or cried so much before.  And with each day that passes; it still doesn't all seem real.  I can't tell you the number of times I've thought I needed to put the dog out.  Or how many times I've thought, "Oh you know, Gram would have said to ...."  It will take time and I will probably never stop missing them.  But it feels good to hold on to all the wonderful memories.

So basically, everyday life abruptly stopped for a couple weeks around here.  This week I've been trying to bring things back to some type of normal - paying bills, catching up on two weeks of laundry (I can't believe how much laundry has accumulated in two weeks!).  And of course, I'm trying to get back to creating too.  I've spent a lot of this week working on some SNS projects that I had started earlier in the month.  So I'll have some new SNS things to share with you real soon.  Hopefully, I'll be back with a project or two tomorrow or the next day.   So I'll see you with that in a bit.

If you've read all of this, I'm very appreciative that you have taken the time.  For me, I guess it wasn't so much that anyone did or didn't read this; more that I just needed to "let it out".   I think I've spent so much time trying to catch up this week; that I just needed to step back & think for a few minutes about what had happened this month so I could continue moving along.
Again, I always appreciate your stopping by my blog and in this case, sharing in a bit of my world.

Until next time,


Brenda said...

Hi Julie What a great way to "let it all out".... hope it helped you somewhat with all that you've dealt with this summer.

Gerlinde said...

Julie, I'm so sorry about your wonderful grandmother and sad to hear about your dog, too. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful lady and I'm sure she'll always be with you. I also lost two rescue dogs within two months of each other not too long ago, so I know what you're going thru. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Amanda R said...

So sorry for your losses Julie, perhaps Abe is actually keeping your Grandma company as we speak! If you need anything, don't hesitate to give me a call.

April said...

Thanks for letting us know what you have been going through. I am sorry for your losses. I know it will be hard to get back into the swing of things. You are in my prayers.

E. Marie said...

You have had a rough June and my heart goes out to you. Your gram sounds delightful and I know you will hold on to all those special memories. Our pets are such a part of our family and you were so blessed with a very special family member. Praying for you!!