Funerals

It’s not often I walk away from a funeral feeling good. That’s even if I go at all. I sometimes just can’t deal with the people, the fumbling of words and trying to remember who the guy in the blue shirt by the window is.

I think I got a heavy dose of funerals as a kid and it turned me off. I have a vivid memory of my grandparent’s funeral as a 9-year-old girl, and from that moment on, I just go through the motions when it comes to them. I don’t often cry at them, instead I have my tears on my own time. And I for darn sure don’t go look at the person lying in the casket. I get absolutely nothing out of it. Instead, if they have photos I focus on those, and remember for myself who the person was and what they meant to me.

I recently attended the funeral for my great aunt, Bonnie. Although I didn’t spend much time with her, she was one of the kindest, sweetest women on the planet. As a bit of a tomboy I admired her attention to personal detail. She always had a “big” hairdo and was always wearing makeup—even when she was riding the mower or working a farm field. I got a chuckle out of the memory the pastor relayed, saying how Bonnie regretted going to drive the tractor for the first time because she never got away from it. But she made it her home. I drive by their farmstead about every day and miss seeing her in her pickup.

I also got a chuckle at my mom’s expense on the way to the cemetery. I hate seeing people “done up” lying in the casket. I avoid the line like the plague. My parents and sister don’t see anything wrong with it, and chat about it afterwards. Mom said on the way to the cemetery that she only wanted a graveside service when it was her time. “Why?” I asked. “I  don’t want people looking at my lying there!” Ok, Mom, but you go look! We all laughed.

Before the funeral, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of family there. Then my cousin made the comment, “There’s sure not many left on Mom’s side.” And there’s not. Especially the ones I’d known. I also couldn’t help notice all the age in the congregation. With the exception of myself, my cousin’s children and a few others around my age, those in attendance were mostly of the older generation. It happens when the person being celebrated is 80 years old.

Mom and Dad’s neighbor passed away the week following my great aunt’s funeral and they had quite the obituary. I shared it on social media, calling it a biography and not an obituary. It definitely was the story of his life. From his days as a custom harvester, to meeting his sweetheart on horseback, to him going to nursing school all while continuing to farm – it was a perfect tribute to a colorful man.

In one of my college journalism classes we were tasked with the assignment of writing our own obituary. I pined over mine and made up a few things that were probably pretty far-fetched, but for a 19-year-old the accomplishments were probably something she had wanted. I need to dig that out and see if I have hit any of my marks yet.

The tone at Bonnie’s funeral really made me think about how I want to be remembered some day. I don’t have a plan per say, but I know I sure don’t want a stuffy church funeral and people crying over me. I want it to be a celebration. A remembrance. And the last thing I want people saying is, “Oh she looked so nice.” There won’t be any of that at my funeral! I may not even have a casket. But there will be photos. Lots of photos.

edit-3926

Advertisements

Thank you

We attended my husband’s grandfather’s funeral on Monday, and it was a first for our young sons. The oldest had entirely too many questions and the youngest was more concerned about exploring and seeing what else I had in the snack bag. Since my husband was a pall bearer, the boys and I drove around the small town where the funeral was held to find a park. Although it was 28 degrees they were still excited for the thought of running around and I was hoping they’d burn off some excess energy before having to sit (hopefully) quiet during the service. Mom wasn’t thinking however and should have brought along extra pants. Yes, my boys were the ones with dirty knees at the church. But no one seemed to mind except me.

We’d managed to make it through the service and as the family was filing out behind the pall bearers, I stood up to gather our things, and an older gentleman behind me said, “Mom, you did really good today.” I smiled and said, “Oh, I don’t think so.” He replied, “No, you really did.” I smiled, laughed and said, “Thank you.” We by far had the two rowdiest kids in the church and I often describe them as not being “church broke” since we don’t get to church services very often. The oldest even let out a big burp during Christmas Eve services! We should probably work on that.

I was a little humbled and always have a tough time taking a compliment. Just ask my husband. When I was running barrels, and had a good run, a lot of the gals would say to me, “Nice run!” or “She’s so deceiving and fast!” It took me a long time to finally say thank you instead of smiling, nodding and saying nothing. It seems as though I still have a lot of self-doubt when it comes to my parenting skills just as I did with my horse training skills. The gray haired gentleman really made an impression on me and I am really glad to have had his compliment when I probably needed it the most. So Thank You, kind sir!

IMG_4638

 

January 21

Amidst the music, people talking and the normal sounds of a Friday night concert at a local bar I heard my husband say to a friend he hadn’t seen in quite a while, “everything I’ve done in the last four years hasn’t been by my choice.” I knew exactly what he was talking about, and have to agree with him.

Four years ago today his dad, Steve, died. Our lives were forever changed. I’ve started to dread this day simply because it’s such a hard day for me to deal with.

I’d known Steve while my husband and I were dating in high school and later when I was in college. After graduated college my husband and I got back together after being on again and off again. We lived together for 7 years before we got married in 2009. So it’s easy to say I spent a lot of time around my father-in-law. Probably more time than around my own parents just because we lived close together.

He helped cultivate my love for red beer and sitting in the shed shooting the breeze. I’d like to believe he understood my horse obsession more than my own husband because he’d go watch me run when he had time and he cried right there with me when she tried to cut her foot off and had to make a trip to the vet with his pickup since my new-to-me pickup hadn’t gotten fitted with a gooseneck hitch yet. (He later bought me a B&W turnover ball and helped install it.) A few years later her rescued my sister and I when we’d broken down in Ashland and needed some diesel fuel and help getting my sisters truck started. There wasn’t a time when he was not around. Hell, I still have his cell phone number saved in my phone and I’ve had two different phones since he’s been gone.

Even though I still miss him every single day, there are good things that have come from him being gone. My husband has had the opportunity to have a cowherd, managed the way he wants to and have produced some pretty nice heifers and steers. He’s also got to raise a wheat crop that was one of the best the Scott Farm has ever been able to – even after three years of ugly drought. He’s also gotten to show his boys what it’s like to be a part of a farm – both the good and the bad. And for that, I’m proud. It may not have been our choices to live without him, but we’ve been able to deal.

This quote popped up on my social media feed this morning and it helped get the tears out of my eyes and the lump in my throat. “If you don’t leave your past in the past, it will destroy your future. Live for what today has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.” As much as I don’t want to leave him in the past, I have to.

Until we meet again, you old fart.

100_0482

Steve at the farm with his dog Dolly.

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.

IMG_3605

The aftermath of Christmas 2013 at our house.

 

Almost perfect

During the last couple of weeks on my Facebook feed, there have been friends of mine who have “liked” several news stories about babies that showed up on my newsfeed. Being a mother I clicked on them, even though I knew they weren’t pleasant topics.

The first one was a blog post about OB nurses and the hell they go through helping deliver babies. Just about every thing the blogger talked about I had experienced in the delivery room, except one. I read in angst as the nurse described a mother losing blood and flat lining. One sentence stuck with me, (although I don’t remember exactly what it said) but it was to the effect that the new baby will never get to be held by its mother. I about cried and I’m not a crier.

What if that had happened to me? I am a worrier and I play out situations in my head with various outcomes. With my youngest son, busy nurses didn’t get me up in a timely manner after my c-section and I couldn’t get out of bed when they finally did return. I get light-headed thinking about how hard it was to stand up and the overwhelming nausea I felt when I finally did. I nearly passed out trying to make it back to my bed. The nurse kept telling me she was going to have to give me the smelling salts. Let me tell you that stuff was awful. I was completely out of it and apparently my blood pressure had tanked. It reminded me of the time I got a lung full of anhydrous ammonia when dad was farming and I was helping switch tanks as a kid and the hose popped off.

The second link that I clicked on was about a couple who had a decided to go ahead and have their baby who had a genetic disorder, trisomy 13. Always fatal, the disorder doesn’t allow children to live more than a couple of days if they survive birth at all. As I watched the video of the couple with their final moments with Thomas, I nearly cried. The dad was so gentle and tender, explaining all the things they could fix on his little boy. I remember with my first son feeling the trepidation of getting tested for trisomy 13. I was 32 when I had Shaun and with age there are more chances for birth defects. I was relieved when we found out he was perfect as far as chromosomes and genetics go. Although I was now 35, I had less worry with Chance taking the test. I think it was because I had been through the agony of waiting before. Our second test again was a good result.

Yesterday I noticed someone had liked a page on Facebook called Prayers for Shane. Of course I had to go look. Not knowing what anenecphaly was I went searching for an explanation. I was taken aback by the photos and what the disease does to the poor babies. But none the less, the little ones were beautiful. Last week on the Prayers for Shane page they had photos of the young family and the new baby Shane. The little guy passed away within hours of his birth. My heart ached for them. Made me want to squeeze my babies a little tighter when I get home tonight.

At some point I will have to stop reading all things related to babies and pregnancy. Being a worrier, those kinds of posts will likely get the best of me. My boys are perfect in their own ways and I need to remember that. Regardless of what they do to annoy their mother, they are mine, they are here and I love them. I don’t like the word blessed because it gets overused, but I am truly blessed. My boys are healthy, happy and pure joy.

Chance and Shaun showing off their pumpkins.

Chance and Shaun showing off their pumpkins.

 

It’s all a process

When I wrote last about Chance needing a helmet to fix his flat spot on his head, it was July. Here we are in September and he’s closing in on actually having a helmet to wear.

The helmets aren’t cheap and aren’t ordered until funding is secured. The clinic we went to suggested we try doing a pre-determination request with our insurance. Nearly two weeks later we got the answer I was expecting, “No. It’s not medically necessary.” Another call to the clinic again gave me a list of funding sources. I called a couple and after the first call I was rather discouraged. The guy basically laughed at me and told us we make too much money. I’m sorry, $2,800 is quite a chunk for people who work hard and have good jobs to come up with all at once. But, where there is a will, there is a way.

A week ago we took Chance back to the clinic in Wichita to get “casted” for a helmet. The process involves a cap with sensors that is connected to a computer. An orthotist then scanned his head using a “gun” – much like what they use to scan items in a store. The scan sent information into a computer program and wha la, there’s a 3D model of Chance’s head on the computer screen. From this they make the helmet for him to wear.

When faced with the option of what color to get Chance’s helmet in, I was drawn to the camo. He’s a little boy, and what mother of a little boy doesn’t gravitate towards camo? My husband wasn’t as keen on the camouflage as I was, so we opted for a solid color. Then it was a choice between white or black? Creative parents huh? I questioned the orthotist as to what we could do to the helmet to spiff it up on our own. Stickers were completely acceptable. Well there you go. Chance will have a half Oklahoma State Cowboys and half Kansas State Wildcats helmet! He may not know the difference between the teams or even if they exist, but people will know his parents are college football fans! At least when people stare (and I know they will) they will have something interesting to look at!

Chance waiting to get scanned for his helmet while big brother entertains him.

Chance waiting to get scanned for his helmet while big brother entertains him.

 

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.

All the pretty horses

IMG_0145I’ve been trying to write something about the loss of my sister’s horse for a month now, as words have escaped me. I finally sat down and just did it.

Horses come in all shapes and colors, and there’s likely one that will be pretty to someone. My sister got a gray gelding probably 7 or 8 years ago, and he was the prettiest gray I’d seen in a long time. He always managed to grow the longest mane and tail. Granted it was a pain to deal with at times, but it was long and flowing. His gray coat changed colors several times throughout the year, almost as if he was a chameleon.

Okie spent some time on the race track and a ranch. He was the kind of horse you could climb on and ride with no issues. When my horse had colic surgery in 2006 I borrowed my sisters horse Star first so I had something to ride and occupy my time. Okie later came to stay with me and I really enjoyed getting to know him and ride him. You could let him trot all day and never get wore out. Sure he did have his quirks, but all horses do.

One evening mid-March, I got a text from my sister that they had lost Okie. Stopped me in my tracks. My reply, “What? Why?” I was shocked. When I learned of the details, I was heart broke. Okie was such a kind, gentle soul. It was good to know he didn’t suffer long, and I hope he’s found his way to greener pastures where he can run – and that sucker could flat run – and be free once again. It was a good ride Okie, we will miss you!

My sisters son, Klayton and Okie in September 2012.

My sister’s son, Klayton and Okie in September 2012.

Happy anniversary to my blog!

Apparently today is the second anniversary for my blog. I have been feeling bad for not being a very good blogger. My last post was in November 2013, and when I went today to make a short post and found a neat little reminder that it’s my anniversary with the blog. How coincidental!

I started this blog when I was still working from home and needed an outlet while staying home two days a week with my then 8-month-old son. I blogged quite often, and got a lot of feedback. Seems as though the days are busier now, and may get even busier with the arrival of our second son in early February. I’m hoping with one in daycare and the second one at home with me for 6 to 8 weeks, I can get back to blogging more, but don’t count on it. I’m positive I will need a creative outlet while at home.

I’ve come to dread January, mainly because of the weather and cold, but also because of a certain date. Jan. 21. It’s been two years since my father-in-law died on that day. On Jan. 14, 2012 we spent most of the day with my FIL and his mom at a family function and then they came and spent some time at our house with us. On this Jan. 14, I was at work and happened to glance back at some photos of my son and noticed the date. They were taken the day Steve died, but in the morning. If we had only known how our lives would change so much that Saturday, I would have done a lot of things differently. Not much we can change now, but it’s a thought I have often. I sure miss the guy.

I do think Steve would be proud of all the work Spence has put in at the farm. He’s made a lot of improvements to the facilities, particularly the pens and working chutes. He’s built the cowherd up and has continued to keep all the leases on the crop land his dad once had. I’m pretty proud of him for doing what he has with what little he has had to work with and doing most of it himself. I’m sure he’d have all the help he could ask for if he’d just ask, but that’s just not him. He puts his head down and gets the job done, no matter how long it takes. There are some nights where he doesn’t make it home until well past dark, but (even though it doesn’t seem like it now) it’s worth it. It’s worth it to keep the farm in the family.

I also think Steve would get a kick out of his grandson. For being only two and a half, the little stinker surprises me every day. Whether it’s something he has said or asks about, I’m continually amazed. I think he’s gained his grandpa’s love for that farm, and I hope it continues to be a place where he can have fun and grow up.

Shaun's favorite place in the whole world - the Scott family farm on the tractor.

Shaun’s favorite place in the whole world – the Scott family farm on the tractor.

Best April Fool’s day of all

Fifteen years ago today I was a freshman at Hutchinson Community College. I had money burning a hole in my pocket earmarked for a new horse. I wanted something young and fast, and that fit in my limited price range. When my sister told me about a consignment sale at the local sale barn, I just knew we’d find something there. At least it was easier than calling on classified ads in the paper.

We walked through the pens out back before the sale and I was beginning to get disappointed because nothing really caught my eye. Looking back on it, I’m not even sure I laid eyes on the 6-year-old brown mare that eventually would be mine, but I do remember when she went through the ring. She was long, lean and seemed pretty nice. Brown, with a black mane and tail and not a speck of white on her. The trader who had her had his kid crawling under her and weaving in between her front legs. Then they started talking pedigree. All I remember hearing was Seattle Slew, and I was hooked. He was the 1977 Triple Crown winner and is still the only undefeated winner.

I’d conned my sister into bidding for me, and we got my mare bought, $125 more than what I had so I had to sweet talk her and mom into loaning me the extra money. Mom still claims she owns the tail.. Probably the best $1,125 investment I’ve ever made.

It’s been a long 15 years with a lot of highs and some lows. From the first ride on her when she about run off with me, and to realizing how fast she really was. The first jackpot we won in Holly, Colo., and our first rodeo check at Ashland, Kan., to the knocked down barrels that “would have” won, we’ve been through a lot. I about lost her twice (July 2005 and April 2006) to colic and have been sidelined with our fair share of injuries. I’d always wanted to get her bred, but never could find the right stud to pair her with, and when I had settled on one I didn’t have the money. Now she’s 21, and I’m perfectly content with just having her healthy and happy. I wish we could have another 15 years together, but with horses you just never know how long they will be in your lives. I hope she’s around for a lot more. There’s a little boy who adores her, and someday he wants to ride her all by himself.

IMG_0602 IMG_0717