Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Tim with Kennth, Marty and Dale at Marty's wedding

It's currently May... but I am backing up a bit to try and catch up the blog. I'm not sure why I feel the need to do so...maybe it's because our lives have changed so drastically. Or maybe, I think because I desperately want to "catch up" our lives. Mostly I think that we experienced something so shocking to us... that we somehow lost our footing... and I feel the need to get us back on solid ground. If I can do that in some small way by keeping the blog up-to-date... then I feel that at least it's a start.

Last minute advice for Marty, no doubt...before he walks the aisle.

February started off busy already - with the girl's Forever Family Day, and then dealing with the loss of Millie. Nothing could have prepared us for the sudden loss of a loved one.

February 9th, just like many other nights, Tim was working late. Most nights I try to wait up for him... because if I go to bed and fall asleep... when he comes home...I'm up the rest of the night. Knowing I had to go to the doctor the next day - I decided to go on to bed. Sometime about 3:30am, Tim called me and said he was on the way to the hospital. His mother was on the way there with Kenneth. He called back less than 30 minutes later. By the time he arrived - it was too late.

To lose someone like Kenneth from our lives is still difficult to believe. He was a big man with a booming voice. But his personality was also larger than life... he commanded all attention each time he was present in any situation. Even now when we are down at the farm - I expect him to walk in and begin picking on me... which seemed to be a favorite pasttime of his.

The rest of that week is still a blur to me. We had visitation and the funeral. The kids did great...I think it hit Sara and Ali the hardest. Sara has had so much to deal with - and still hadn't been home a full year. It's a lot to deal with - even for the grown ups!

On Saturday following the funeral, the whole family gathered together at the farm. The ice storm we had a few weeks before had left the farm with quite a bit of damage. Everyone pulled together for a work day to help clean up and clear away all the limbs and trees that were down. I know that it was a big help to Ellen - and honestly everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I think that in some way - it helped to start the healing process and give everyone some normalcy back to a week that was so surreal. But more than that - I think that Kenneth would have been so happy. Happy to see everyone taking care of Ellen... happy to see that the mess was being cleaned up... but mostly happy to see us - there all together - and doing it to honor him.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Millie : The One-Eyed Wonder

We are a rich family. Rich with pets, for one thing. Mostly of the canine variety... but we also have the equine variety, and the bunny...is that the rodent variety??? Even at the office we have some inherited fish that "just keep swimming".

Each of our pets - however small - is still a part of our family.

Millie entered our life early in our marriage. I was visiting Daddy in Mississippi. Millie was a gift from one of Daddy's hunting buddies in Kansas. With one small mishap - she got out his yard, ran several miles away... and Daddy and I had to head out in two different vehicles to find her. When I left to come back to Kentucky, I loaded her up in the truck, and brought her with me. At that time, her name was Molly. Since we already had a Molly, we changed her name to Millie. She got out of the car - and like and good bird dog, took off for the woods! Her little nub of a tail was wagging up a storm.

Also like most bird dogs, Millie was a little high strung, and a little nervous. She immediately found her place within the "pack" flying mostly under the radar and stirring up as much trouble as possible.

Along the way - she had a few obstacles to overcome. She had a good case of heartworms - which is common to dogs coming from the "delta" region. More mosquitoes = better chance for heartworms. We put her through the vigorous heartworm treatment - and then kept her still and quiet for 6 weeks. Not the easiest thing for a bird dog to do... but she did it nonetheless.

Just a few years ago - she came in the house after being outside on a windy spring day. Fine that morning - it now appeared her eye was cloudy. We spent over a month trying to heal her eye from whatever injury had occurred - but in the end she was blind. With an eye that was swollen and sore, and with 8 or 9 lab tails wagging at her eye level... it was better to remove the bad eye than to leave her in pain. It broke our hearts - but she got along great!

I remember introducing the girls to Millie. I was so nervous. I figured that out of all the dogs... Milile was the one that I had to keep my eye on. I was so wrong. She truly loved the kids. Rachel immediately claimed her as her own - and from that day forward they were fast friends. Rachel could rub her belly, roll her over, play with her feet... even feed her by hand. It was amazing. Not one time did she ever offer to snap or growl at any of the kids.

We noticed that Millie was beginning to lose weight. She was also acting as though she was having trouble getting around. She was getting older. Thirteen. So, because of her age we decided that we might need to fatten her up a little with some better food. But after a few weeks of trying dozens of different dog foods...the last Monday of January we took her to the vet to see what else we could try. There wasn't anything at all... she had cancer... and it was everywhere.

We took her home - and decided to make her as comfortable as possible until we knew it was time. It would give the kids a chance to say their good-byes. That week we had the ice storm - so with Millie curled up in the kitchen floor (or on the couch, where she actually preferred to lay) we spent the last week of her life.

Rachel must have known the time was coming - because on Saturday night she asked if we could sleep downstairs with Millie. So Rachel got her sleeping bag - and Mommy got a pillow for the couch, and the three of us had a slumber party on the family room floor/couch.

Millie was a tough dog... she never once let us know that she was sick. Even up until the very last day she never whimpered, never complained and never slowed down. When it was time to go outside, she got to her feet and ran out the door all by herself. She had a really good last day - with all four kids surrounding her the whole day with love and kisses.

Millie was truly loved by everyone in the family - and we all miss the jingle of that blaze orange collar with all the dog tags on it... as she would run all over the yard looking for birds, chickens or even the occasional rabbit. She was such a good natured dog. She might not have been a lab - but I don't think that she knew it! She was loveable, easy going, and like all good labs, just a smidge bit spoiled.

We miss you so much, Millie! You have a special place in out hearts that will never be filled!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Don't Blink...

Five years have flown by... I almost can't believe how quickly time has passed.

Where does the time go???

When I first started this blog, this is what I wrote:

I look back and I seem to be at a loss for words (...hush...) on this journey called Motherhood. It has been the most amazing experience of my life...and the most difficult. Those who have been at this longer than me keep saying that the best - and worst - is yet to come. (Thanks...by the way. I'd prefer to think it HAS to get easier.) HOWEVER, before I show you all the wonderful things these precious babies are doing... and how amazing they really are... I wanted to remind you where it all began. God is so good... and knowing that He is in control has been the single most comforting part of this entire journey. These pictures are from the visit that Tim and I made to Guatemala (October 2003) to meet Alejandra and Rachel. We fell in love with them the first time we saw their referral photos. But we gave our hearts away, wholly and completely the moment that we saw their faces, and held them in our arms. Our lives have never been the same...

All of that is still so true! But despite the highs and the lows... the pain and the waiting... I would do it all again tomorrow!! Ten times over! The joy that these girls have brought into our lives is such a blessing.

Our family has grown in the past five years. We've celebrated bringing home two more children and the triumph of overcoming the "WAIT". We have so much to be thankful for - so much to celebrate! But on THIS day, we celebrate the beginning of it all... Ali and Rachel and their Forever Family Day!

Where does the time go??? Keep your eyes open... because you blink... and then they're gone!