Happy Birthday Ma Sue

08 Feb

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s seventy-eighth birthday.

She died fourteen months ago and we’d planned a celebration this afternoon to scatter her ashes.

The folks who bought her farm loved her dearly and graciously agreed to allow her clan to return her remains to the land she cherished.

She enjoyed many things, but watching birds was one of her favorites. Even after she was sick it was something she could do through the many windows of the farmhouse. Therefore, after much discussion, we decided an appropriate memorial “marker” would be a birdbath. My sister-in-law found one on line that could be personalized, it was ordered and delivered. (Man, is that thing heavy!)

Hubby and his two siblings wrote a beautiful ceremony. He ordered an engraved memorial candle for the center of the birdbath to be lit during the celebration. We considered releasing balloons, but after some research learned that would be irresponsible to animals and the environment. We talked about releasing Japanese lanterns…I’m not sure what became of that.

There were more details, I’m sure, but I sat on the sideline on this one while Hubby and his brother and sister made the plans.

Their mother’s sisters were driving up from Mississippi and Mobile. His brother would be flying in from Arizona. Pretty much everyone else was within an easy commute.

But then yesterday morning we got the weather forecast: Winter advisories with the prediction of snow.

The farm is about an hour north of here and it is rural, very rural. It’s hilly and curvy with narrow roads along the way. When a storm blew in MIL pretty much stayed home or, before her husband died, they might venture out in a large, heavy truck.

A decision had to be made about what to do about the ceremony. Fast. Brother had a plane to catch. Aunts would be driving up soon.

The aunts, living south of here, weren’t excited about the prospect of traversing snow and possibly ice on the trip. Brother said his ticket could be changed.

They decided to postpone the event until the weather is warmer and maybe a little more predictable. Besides, it would have been miserable standing outside with the wind whipping off the lake. I haven’t been warm for weeks and I’m not sure I have enough clothes to have avoided frostbite…even though the farm’s new owners had graciously offered to provide hot beverages in their home after the ceremony.

Calls, texts, and emails spread the word. It wasn’t to have been a big affair, but she was so loved, we didn’t really know who would show up. We hope everyone got notice.

As I write this a dusting of snow coats my deck. I haven’t checked the weather channel, but suspect it’s heavier north of here. I think it was a good decision.

The plan now is to spread her ashes when the Irises are blooming. She loved irises!

Happy Birthday, Ma Sue. We love and miss you.




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Empty Next

24 Jan

Six weeks ago Youngest Son and his Lovely Wife of two years moved into our basement. They’d been living about three hours away while LW finished her degree (Summa Cum Laude, by the way). They returned to Nashville and decided to stay with us until they found jobs and a place of their own.

When I told friends our kids were moving in with us for “a while” I was advised to set boundaries, make house rules, etc.–none of which we did. They’re adults, we’re adults; we knew it’d be okay. My primary concern was they have two small dogs and I’m allergic to dogs (and cats). But I took a lot of Benadryl and all was well.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity to get to know my precious daughter-in-law. I’ve adored her from the day I met her. She’s smart, focused, and loves spreadsheets. It’s great having another Excel geek in the family.

We shared some meals but much of the time they were going out or our schedules didn’t mesh. I loved it when they cooked for themselves before or after we’d already eaten. They brought their food up from the basement (sometimes including their pots and pans) and created their masterpieces. Eavesdropping on them interacting in the kitchen kept me in stiches.

They are the cutest couple and compliment each other’s strengths. It’s so much fun to be around them. I’ve enjoyed having them here. Getting to hear first about their job searches and then about their first days on their new jobs has been a real treat. Yep! Both are now gainfully employed in positions they think they’ll love…which means they’re moving out…tomorrow.

It wasn’t planned, but their cohabitation couldn’t have come at a better time. It was a distraction as I mourned my dad and helped me as I struggled through my grief. Needless to say, I’ll miss them. But, as Hubby reminds me, their new apartment is less than half an hour away, much closer than where they were before.

~ Kay


Things that have made grieving easier during the holidays

08 Jan

I knew the holidays would be difficult. My dad died right before Thanksgiving. My godson is seriously ill. December was the one-year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death. I was right. It’s been tough.

But my brilliant husband remembered that the hospice we used for his mother offered grief counseling services. (My dad’s hospice was out of  state.) Hubby set up an appointment with a grief counselor and went with me for my first session.

John, my counselor, is helping me understand there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I don’t need to “get over it” quickly. My feelings are my feelings and whatever they are, it’s okay to feel them whenever they come up for me. Seeing him has helped. Watching sappy Christmas movies probably hasn’t (but that didn’t stop me from recording every single one).

One of the things I’ve done during this holiday season has paid attention to things that have made me happy…truly happy. These things have made my grieving easier. Following are some of them…in no particular order.

My step-son returning home from active duty

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My Fabulous Hubby


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Our Christmas Tree (oh yes, it’s still up!)




Little girl hugs








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Holding a new baby

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Writing a story for someone special


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Friends who took the time to acknowledge my loss


~ Kay


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Baby, it’s cold outside

06 Jan

My toes are cold; my nose is cold and so is everything in between. The heat is on and I’m wrapped up in a blanket, but I’m still chilled to the bones. I’m not sure I’ll ever thaw out.

We flew to Florida on New Year’s Day to visit our seven-year-old godchild who has spina bifida and has had some major complications recently. I was cold the entire time we were there. Florida. I wore fleece the whole trip.

When we got home yesterday, the temperature was 58. Now it is 8. No, I didn’t drop a digit. We got hit with an arctic blast last night that lowered our temps 50 degrees in less than 24 hours. That has to be a record! (I haven’t checked; I’m just saying…) It’s supposed to get down to 2 degrees tonight with wind chills in the minus teens. We southerners aren’t built to sustain this kind of weather.

I have on three layers. I’m about to add a couple more then don my UGGs and go to tap. I’m sure we’ll all work extra hard today just to stay warm.

At least we have heat, electricity, and the pipes haven’t frozen—yet.  Tonight Hubby and I can snuggle in front of the fireplace under three or four blankets. I can’t wait. He can always warm me up.


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01 Jan




HAPPY 2014!



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Seasons Greetings

24 Dec










Drew home 5








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A Special Gift

20 Dec

It’s been a month since my father passed away and frankly I’m not doing so great. I saw a grief counselor with our local Hospice today and I think he is going to guide me through the journey that only I can walk.

But earlier this week I received a gift that still renders me speechless. (For those of you who know me, that’s some feat!)

My sleep patterns are off. I can’t fall asleep until three or four in the morning even with the help of prescription sleeping aids. I usually sleep until eight or nine in the morning, but for the most part, I’m pretty sleep deprived.

Wednesday Hubby was out of town on a business trip. I don’t sleep well when he’s gone anyway, so I’d read, tossed and turned most of the night. When I finally went to sleep it was a deep sleep. The phone woke me around 8 a.m. I don’t even remember who it was or what they wanted.

I’m really bad about checking my voice mail which is a part of the phone system, but something told me to check it that morning. I had one message. It wasn’t anything important so I deleted it midway and hung up. It’s funky the way the system works: sometimes when you hang up before the message is finished the phone rings and the message continues until the end before it allows you to delete it.

So, I deleted the message and promptly the phone rang again. I knew I’d deleted it mid-message and expected it to be same voice mail. Boy, was I in for a surprise! Apparently, the next message in the queue was one left by Daddy several weeks before he died. I knew the message was there and had saved it, so I didn’t think it was a message from the grave, but nevertheless what he said was as applicable that morning as the day he called.

He said, “Hi darlin’. Sorry I couldn’t get to the phone when you called. Just wanted to let you know I’m ok and that I love you. I’ll talk to you later.”

WHEW! What a special gift — a blessing at a time when I needed the connection.

Our higher power works in mysterious ways. Thank you God for this unexpected blessing. I will always cherish it.

~ Kay


Time to breath again

28 Nov

It’s been a week since my Dad died…a tough week filled with lots of tears.

But during that week, and the weeks before, I heard from so many people. Today I’m dedicating my blog to all of you.

I wish I could have responded to each person individually, but it has taken every ounce of resolve I have to write the notes I have to send for flowers, food, visits, etc. And I find I’m rewriting many because the ink is blurring from my tears. Of course, tears won’t hurt my keyboard—at least not much.

From you I’ve gotten phone calls and voice mail messages, text messages, private facebook messages, comments on Twitter, my blog and both of my Facebook pages, cards and notes in the mail, and more. I’ve responded to a few, but for the most part I’ve just absorbed and savored them. I assure you I’ve read or listened to each and every one—most multiple times.

I’ve heard from college and high school friends, sorority sisters, former boyfriends, former teachers, relatives on my mom’s side, Hubby’s relatives, friends of friends and so on. During “crunch time,” I had a couple of friends who wanted to Facetime each evening to “see” how I was holding up—not always a good thing.

My friends, thank you so much for keeping my family and me in your thoughts and prayers. I’ve felt your strength and love and it has helped.

Have a happy Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for you.



~ Kay


Goodbye Daddy

21 Nov

Rest in Peace


Joel Gomillion


January 1, 1935 – November 21, 2013





Kay and Daddy 1956Easter Sunday



Greg Kay Dad Summer 2007 Daddy Kay and Greg May 2004


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I will always love you.

~ Kay


GUEST POST — People Die The Way They Lived

20 Nov

Hubby’s first guest post was so popular, I invited him to give it another shot. Here’s what he had to say:

~ Kay

“People die the way they lived.”

I have heard that said, and have oft repeated it.

Standing by, watching my father-in-law hang on to the last threads of life, I am wondering how this relates to his life. It is curiosity and a desire to facilitate his passing along with my natural tendency to try to control that drives this process.

Is there something left unsaid or undone? Is that relevant to him? He left many things unsaid and undone when he was able.

Is it now that he is leaving that he needs to apologize and say goodbye?  That was not his way in life and he has done that in words.

Is he waiting now to hear himself as the words softly spoken echo in his consciousness? That would be a loving stream to carry him on to the next world.

Is he dreaming that he is alive and his body is just sleeping? If so, may he wake up in a new world where there is no waiting for answers.

Or is his body, strong from carrying huge burdens in life, just not yet ready to give up that job to the power he trusts with his soul?

We are spirits in a skin suit, and he has thick skin.

Until the appointed time, I can only wonder about these questions. When my time comes, I hope that my dying will be like my living–more full and loving because I pondered his.

~ Greg