I feel your pain

Recently I read a comment from someone on a blog post. The person said they’d never lost someone close to them. I thought, how is that even possible? They must be incredibly lucky.

I remember from a very young age the loss of family members and friends. I was never lucky enough not to know hurt. To this day, I can’t hear Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art without tearing up. Both were sung/played at great grandparents and grandparent’s funerals among others.

Even when I was a tender 10 years old, I knew what death meant and what it did to people. My grandparents were killed in a car accident in February 1989 and it’s the little things I remember about that day and the days following that still have an impact on me. Grandpa Roy’s glasses folded on the console of the car. Grandmother’s personal effects. It was tough. I felt like I never got to know them.

I have the app Timehop on my phone and on April 3 it showed a photo of my grandparents. I stopped in my tracks and thought about that day with Mom and her sisters. Grandma Wetzel has been gone for 4 years now and never got to meet both of my children. I was pregnant with my first when she passed away. I shared the photo, but didn’t feel like explaining myself.

Just this week there have been deaths effecting both family and friends, while I’d only met one, it’s still sad to hear the passing of people who have had such an effect on others. I never know what to say, and despise the term, “They are in a better place,” or “They are with their maker.” While I know both of those things are true, the person saying them can do more by not saying them (at least to me). I have flashes to the scene in Steel Magnolias after the funeral and Daryl Hannah’s character Annelle told M’Lynn that Shelby is with her Father now. Every time I watch that scene I want to smack Annelle. The best thing I know to say is, “I’m thinking about you.”

My father-in-law has been gone for a couple of years now and I’ve posted about him before, but this year, I couldn’t remember his death again. I didn’t want to. Then, last week my oldest son said out of the blue, “Dad misses his dad.” I said, “I know, I do too.” He continued, “I wish my grandpa that died was still here. I miss him.” Out of the mouth of an almost 4-year-old, and he spoke the truth. I about cried. It’s hard, and it’s even harder when the young ones don’t understand.

Best we can do is remember them, and for me, photos are it.

Carol and Erna Wetzel on their wedding day, June 2, 1948.

Carol and Erna Wetzel on their wedding day, June 2, 1948.

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My husband said I’m easily annoyed

On Nov. 1 I was sitting watching TV while the boys napped. Scrolling through Facebook most friends were sharing photos of their kids on Halloween. I had done the same. My ears perked when I heard jingle bells ringing on a commercial for some store. Seriously, I thought. Halloween was JUST yesterday.

Later in the evening we were watching a football game, and the same commercial I had watched earlier in the day was on, and I made the comment rather sarcastically, “And so it starts..” What starts? My husband asked. The barrage of Christmas commercials. “Oh you’re annoyed by everything,” he said. I rolled my eyes and shook my head at him.

But it’s true. Christmas commercials before Halloween annoy me. Christmas commercials after Halloween annoy me. Christmas commercials before thanksgiving annoy me. But yet, I’m planning my assault on buying Christmas gifts for the boys and family. I haven’t bought anything yet, but it’s always good to have a plan.

As a kid I don’t remember being barraged by Christmas. I do remember the excited girls who marked pages in the JC Penney and Sears catalogs with the items they wanted. I do remember participating and going to practice for the annual Christmas Eve program at church (I was always an angel). I do remember bundling up for the ride to Grandma and Grandpa Wetzel’s for a day of packages, food and fun on Christmas day. There was no telling what could happen when all my mom’s siblings got together for a day. I remember one impromptu snowball fight that ended up in wet clothes and a lot of laughter.

Now that I have kids of my own I try to make their Christmas experiences memorable. Last year we took Shaun around to look at the lights and he still asks if we could go drive through those neighborhoods in town to see the decorations. At the little country church we attend on Christmas Eve, members circle the church at the end of the service and hold candles while singing Silent Night. Last Sunday at church Shaun asked if we could blow out the candles again. I told him at Christmas time we will.

It’s really not about the packages or the commercialization of the holiday. The point of Christmas is to remember the real reason it is celebrated, and to spend time with friends and family.

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The aftermath of Christmas 2013 at our house.

 

Chance the rock star

I’ve heard siblings’ personalities can be like night and day, and with my boys I believe it. My second son is one of the easiest going, happiest kids I have ever been around. I’m pretty partial, but every where we have taken him he’s been great. He only cries when he’s hungry or annoyed and shares a lot of smiles. Tuesday was no different.

In the last month of my pregnancy with Chance I remember feeling as though he was stuck in a weird position and my right side always seemed to have some sort of ache or pain. I didn’t think much about it as Shaun was wedged in a similar position. There’s not much room to go in my 5-foot something frame. When Chance was born on his scheduled birthday, I was brought to tears because he was “so small” (as small as an 8 pounder could be) and I got to hear him cry. I didn’t get to see my first son or hear him cry due to complications with my cesarean so it was a little overwhelming.

After we got settled into a routine at home, I noticed Chance liked to sleep a lot and normally kept his head turned right. By his two month appointment we questioned our doctor about the flat spot forming on the back of his head. He suggested several positioning techniques and more tummy time. We tried what he suggested, but the flatness stayed. By his four-month appointment the “funny shaped” head was pretty prominent. I again expressed my concerns to the doctor and he felt the same as me. After some investigation he sent us to an occupational therapist in Wichita and we had an appointment with a helmet company.

As the days approached for the appointment I felt anxious. What would they do or say? Internally I was blaming myself for not giving him the room he needed in utero or not putting him to sleep in another position. I just wanted sleep and the way he went to sleep and stayed asleep was fine with me so I could get some rest. I am his mother, so it’s my job to do whats best for him and I’ve felt like I’ve failed.

After the appointment with the occupational therapist they told us he has torticollis. Basically his neck muscles are tight on his left side and thus the flat spot on his head. Also, due to his cranial measurements they suggested he get fitted for a helmet. Although i knew it was a possibility, I was still disheartened.

But after catching glimpses of the other kids in the occupational therapy clinic, my thoughts of worry and failure didn’t seem very important. We are blessed to have him and will work through what ever is thrown our way.

See Mom, I can sit up all by myself.

See Mom, I can sit up all by myself.

Happy Halloween

I have a slight addiction to Pinterest (hence my 34 boards with 2,292 pins). I love looking on there for ideas for upcoming birthdays, holidays, meals, gifts, etc. It can also give unfulfilled expectations, but can also help make life events pretty special.

My parents have been asking my son what he wanted to be for Halloween. At 2 and a half he hasn’t quite grasped the concept yet, but he knows what candy is. He stayed the weekend with his other grandma (his words, not mine) while we went to the Oklahoma State/TCU football game. When we picked him up she said he kept telling her he wanted to be a dragon for Halloween. So I cruised through Pinterest and found a dragon tail to sew and a picture showing spikes added to a hoodie for the top half of the costume. Seemed easy enough, so I made my supply list and headed out at lunch time a few days the week of Halloween to get what i needed.

First problem, shopping choices in this town are limited. Looking for a plain, solid colored hoodie was almost impossible. Thrift store had nothing, craft store the same outcome. Dollar store nada. So i was left with Wal-Mart. There I found a solid black zip up hoodie. It was fleece, and not really the color I wanted, but I had to make it work since Halloween was only a couple of days away. Plus my son already had black sweat pants to go with the tail and hoodie.

The tail sewed up rather easily and I had no qualms about the hoodie being difficult. Placing and pinning the spikes on the hoodie was a challenge, but I made it work. Not a perfectly sewn masterpiece, but I don’t think my 2-year-old is going to tell anyone. However, when I got to sewing the hood, I lost my patience. My machine wouldn’t sew and I was getting frustrated. Eventually I found I needed to adjust my thread tension and slow down. Not the prettiest thing, but it was finished.

My son was eating his supper when I finished the costume and while I was sewing he had repeatedly came in to check on me. When I finally came out of the office/sewing room carrying his costume he was ecstatic. If he could have jumped out of the high chair, I think he would have. He wanted to try on his costume immediately. I obliged and was pretty happy that he was as happy as it was. As much as I was frustrated, it melted away when he asked, “Is that my dragon costume? I like it!!”

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The cowboy and the dragon ready to trick or treat.

The cowboy and the dragon ready to trick or treat.

So God made a farmer

Facebook and Twitter blew up last night after the Ram Trucks commercial aired during the Super Bowl. I would have done the same to my own news feeds, but my battery was dead on my iPhone. This morning I watched the 2 minute clip again and again, and again. See it here. Every view/share it gets Ram will donate up to $1 million to  FFA.

I was at my sister’s house watching the game and socializing. There was about a half-dozen kids around and the house was loud. When the commercial started her and I both stopped and she turned the TV up pretty loud. We hushed kids and watched intently. I was impressed. Paul Harvey’s voice and the impressive photography sucked me in.

Now, I may be partial to the whole Dodge trucks and farmer concept. For as long as I can remember, my folks had Dodge and Chrysler products. It’s very hard for me to even consider driving another brand. I own a Dodge truck now and I am very proud of it. My dad farmed for a number of years when I was growing up, worked at the local John Deere dealership and now has his own cattle herd. My grandparents farmed on both sides. My great-grandparents did too. Some of my relatives even homesteaded in the county I live in. My husband is now trying to carry on the small farm dream with our own little family.

The third time I watched the video of the commercial I noticed of the 577,000 views it had at the time, 900 people gave it a thumbs down and didn’t like it. I was a little disgruntled by that fact. I guess I need to take off my rose-colored glasses and see how the rest of the world thinks, not just my agriculture-industry peers feel. I don’t have many friends or family for that matter that aren’t involved in agriculture in some way or another.

Scrolling down through the comments you see anything from how Monsanto rules the world, or big corporations are killing the small farmers and ranchers to GMOs, to how the government provides farmers welfare and some blatant inaccuracies. I was not impressed. I had to stop reading these idiots’ comments. Where is the respect anymore? Hide behind your computer screen and complain about things. I’m not complaining. My face is out there and I’m not hiding.

Others have blasted that the ad wasn’t selling anything or it was hard to tell what was being advertised. For real? Does a commercial always have to shove “buy this” down our throats? Why can’t a million dollar commercial remind us where our roots lie?

It’s not about the kind of truck you drive or the kind of combine you use or what you think about Paul Harvey. Farming is a way of life and a pretty darn important one. Food, feed, fiber and fuel. I’d like to see how long people can live without farmers, ranchers and agriculture.

Proud Dodge Ram owner and farmer's daughter.

Proud Dodge Ram owner and farmer’s daughter.

Memorial Day

I’m a couple of days late in posting about my Memorial Day adventures, but in my defense I have been preoccupied with a neat dresser makeover so no time to write. I will share the dresser DIY process when I finally get it done.

On Monday, my mother, older sister and her husband and I went to visit the cemeteries and place flowers on “our” graves. I like to do this with my mom and siblings because it gives us a time to reflect and remember. Plus its about the only time of the year I go visit the graves.

This year since I have the new camera I took it along hoping to capture the scenes of the day, and I did get some neat shots. Although, I did channel my grandmother since we have pictures of relatives graves in our collections. Not my normal subject matter that’s for sure!

First we went to the Maple Grove cemetery here in town, stopping to lay some beautiful sprays my mother had made on my grandparents on the Orebaugh side as well as great grandparents (Orebaugh and Drewes (both who I never had the chance to meet)). Also Aunt Lucille and Uncle Ralph’s (who died when he was 4) graves.

Then we headed to Windhorst to decorate the BIL’s grandparents grave. I got some cool shots of the wheat surrounding the Catholic church there. I persuaded my passengers to look through the church and see the high school monument that has my mothers name on it. My older sister said our great-grandfather Orebaugh helped lay the brick on the outside of the church. (I’ve also been told he helped lay the brick streets in Dodge City.)

We then stopped my favorite little country church near Offerle to decorate the Wetzel side of the family. Little cemeteries are my favorite since the dates are always old and the designs are different. Plus it gives me an opportunity to see where I come from. There’s lots of German heritage in that little cemetery.

Since it was nice weather I talked mom into taking us by the old dairy farm she was raised on. It’s still in the Wetzel family, but has fallen into disrepair. I got some neat shots of the farm, and will have to find something special to do with them for my mom. It was quite the adventure, but I will share that in another post.

Here’s some photos from our Memorial Day journey.

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Tricky mind

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house. My parents were busy farming, and especially in the busy summer time we needed to be supervised while they were working.

Most of my favorite childhood memories involve being at Grandmother and Grandpa Roy’s or at Spearville with Grandma and Grandpa Wetzel. It was a fun time and some of the memories are so engrained in my brain its easy to revert back to that time.

When we were staying at Spearville, it was a time that kids could walk all over the little town and get into trouble and still stay safe. We would walk across two streets and a couple of lawns and we were at the swimming pool. We knew what time the pool opened and what kind of candy the loose change Grandma had sent with us would buy. We’d swim all day and walk back home tan and wore out.

A Wetzel family gathering.

Grandmother Orebaugh would usually make us work, and one of the most favorite memories I have of spending time with her was when she let my sister and I drive the car along the fenceline while she picked up and/or threw tumbleweeds over the fence. She would save some of the tumbleweeds in the trunk of the car – for what – I don’t exactly remember. We were pretty young, and I’m sure kids of that age wanted to drive the car, even if it was only going 10 mph in the pasture.

Of all the good memories I have of my grandparents as a child, my “grown-up mind” sneaks in some of the bad. I remember hearing hushed talk of my Grandmother Orebaugh going to the hospital because she was “sick” and not well for us kids to be around. She was beginning to lose her memory and may even have had the start of Alzheimer’s. (My Grandpa Roy and Grandmother Orebaugh died in a car crash in 1989).

As an adult, in recent years I’ve had to cope with my remaining grandparents getting old, living in nursing homes and then passing away. Since I don’t have any more living grandparents, it was easy for me to latch onto my husband’s grandma Pauline. When we lived near to her it was easy to stop by and see her for a bit. She always had a story to tell and wanted to know about what was going on in our lives.

My family with Grandma Wetzel at my wedding in 2009. Grandpa Wetzel died in March of 2009.

In recent years, I’ve noticed how hard it was for her to just get around and little things she always took care of were hard for her to do any more. The garden just got a good weed-eating instead of new flowers each spring. The mailbox was moved to the end of the sidewalk so she wouldn’t have to go all the way across the yard to get the mail. Her shopping trips to Dodge City were limited.

She’s had a rough year so far, and in the last month she has been hospitalized and not doing well at all. I’ve been hoping and praying that she will get well again. It sure is tough seeing her like she is now.

Shaun with his Great-Grandma Pauline Scott.