Last week was painful. We lost the "foundation" of Ryan's mom's family. Sunday, we knew she wasn't doing well, and went to visit. But, for the most part, she seemed like herself - just very tired. She looked at pictures with us from our vacation ... and made jokes. We had asked if we could move her to her bed for a nap when we left ... and she said, "No, someone's job is to hold this chair down, and I'm doing great at it." (As she playfully grasped the sides of the chair.) I'll always remember, that as she looked through the pictures - she pointed out to me, "You have a beautiful smile." That was one of the last things she ever said to me. But it was SHE who had the beautiful smile. Seriously.
The very next day, she dressed herself, and went to breakfast - stunning the staff. But on the way back, she stumbled...
Ryan decided to stay with her, and was holding her hand and stroking her hair when she peacefully left this world.
At that point our world came to an abrupt stop. I think some of us were in denial, instead thinking that this tough lady would once again rebound - and be with us forever. We were in denial, that this person, who attended every single event in our lives ... wouldn't be there anymore. Smiling.
Ryan was tasked with compiling a video of pictures of her life. And he threw himself into it. Hundreds and hundreds of pictures...with different children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends. But one thing was always the same. That smile.
Ryan spoke at her funeral: talking about how everything was her "favorite." She was always happy with whatever she was doing at that moment - and even happier if she was surrounded by people. So, yeah, that's what I take away - the smile. She always said she "never remembered the bad stuff." I like that. That lends itself to easily always having a smile on her face.
And through the pain of that miserable week - while there may have been tears on my face, there was a smile in my heart. So many people stepped up to help us out. I want to thank them out loud.
When I called my mom, to say what was happening, she literally dropped everything (seriously, I heard things hit the floor) to drive from Indiana to our home to help with kids and routines and folding laundry. This was a tremendous, incredible, huge help. She helped keep the balls in the air, and the household in movement. Thank you, thank you.
Our neighbors also came through. It was very difficult not to burst into tears, when Arturo (and yes, he looks as big & burly as the name suggests) came to our door with armloads of food and a card all our neighbors had signed. Everyone had pitched in. Only moments before I was thinking to myself: "I wonder if the kids would notice if we didnt feed them dinner tonight." That food helped so much. We seriously ate only that for the next few days - in fact, Ryan's mom stopped by around lunch time, and we convinced her to eat something .. and we were able to easily offer up a nice plate, thanks to the food that had been dropped off. Seriously, it HELPED. And the gesture meant so much, thank you, thank you.
Our neighbors also took in kids on various days. Someone ate dinner at one house one night, another spent the night...and the Wrights were simply assigned "Kyle duty" the day of the funeral - and ferried him around to football and soccer. Huge help. They also supplied us with another night of food. Thank you, thank you.
And my work people were helpful - just with their words. Yes, I said work people. In the past, that would not have seemed possible ... but things have changed. I appreciate that when I kept sending emails concerned about loose ends, that my boss finally just replied: "We got it. Go be with your family." Small gesture, big impact. Another boss cried with me on the phone. Helped me put things into perspective. Thanks.
And my kids. Bless their sweet little hearts. I'll never, ever, ever, ever, forget the looks on their faces when we told them. Or how each of them handled their it in their own way - fit for their personality.
Nick, after running to his room to cry in to a pillow recovered and turned into "helper." He kept trying to find me bookmarks as I went through albums to find pictures. Then he remembered he had his own album in his room. With a picture of her. With a grand smile. Nick then insisted that I get her a flower, like the one she wore as a corsage in that picture. Pink. And he told me, "Momma, I want to get a flower like that one, and put it on her rock." Sweet boy.
So I did. I got a flower like that one. And it only came in a package of three. One for each boy. And I left it with her rock. And I'm sure that made her smile.
No, Mamoo, YOU have a beautiful smile. And it's what I'll always remember.