May Mayhem: Sad Endings and Happy Beginnings

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve been able to just sit and write about what’s been on my mind lately.  May has been a whirlwind of a month and I feel like I’ve been on the go constantly.  I finally have some time to myself though and was itching to get back to my blog.  So here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

"She's Ready to Pop!" popcorn favour made by yours truly

“She’s Ready to Pop!” popcorn favour made by yours truly

At the end of April, Mariah (my step-daughter) and I helped my mom host a surprise baby shower for my sister-in-law Sarah.  I took the Friday off work and we headed out early for an hour-and-a-half mini road trip to my hometown where my parents still live.  Friday, we stopped in to see my Grandpa at the hospital and then spent the afternoon decorating and prepping things at the church basement where the shower was to be held.  We had fun getting creative, using Pinterest ideas, and setting things up.   Saturday, the fun began.  We headed over early again to put the final touches on the shower preparations as the guests streamed in.  Shortly after, Sarah arrived and was very surprised to see the room full of friends, family, and loved ones all there to celebrate her and her bump (which had grown exponentially since the last time I saw her!)  We had a lovely afternoon playing traditional shower games, feasting on treats, and visiting with a lovely group of ladies.  Sarah and the baby were spoiled with piles of beautiful gifts and the afternoon was a success overall!  As the few remaining guests prepared to go, a few of my aunts were nice enough to stick

Mariah and Izzy playing shower games

Mariah and Izzy playing shower games

around and help us disassemble and clean up the party.  That evening, Mariah and I relaxed at my Mom & Dad’s content with the successful party we’d thrown and even more excited for my soon-to-be niece to make her arrival.The next day (Sunday) Mom, Dad, and I went back to the hospital to see Grandpa after receiving a call from the nurses saying he was having a hard day.  Grandpa (my Dad’s dad) had been hospitalized two weeks prior after those at home could no longer care for him due to his increasingly bad dementia (and a myriad of other illnesses and conditions). It was a particularly tough visit for me because for the first time ever, I saw my Grandpa cry. He hated being in the hospital, was lonely, and had a hard time understanding and accepting that it was the best choice for his care and well-being.  Not only that but his dementia left him confused, often not remembering when his loved ones had been in to visit him, and referring to my Grandma (his wife) as his Mom.

I left that day with a sadness that I was unsure could be cured.  Poor Grandpa, I kept thinking.  Eighty-eight years of a fulfilling, busy, happy life and now to be laying in a hospital, too deaf to communicate, and too sick to care for oneself.  I cried a good portion of the way home and desperately prayed that if all that was left of Grandpa’s life was suffering and sadness, that he’d soon pass and be able to rest peacefully.

Me with Grandpa and Grandma a few years ago at their farm house.

Me with Grandpa and Grandma a few years ago at their farm house.

Well, sadly, those prayers were answered about a week and a half later.  My Mom contacted me on the evening of Monday, May 4th to tell me that Grandpa had come down with pneumonia and one of his lungs had shut down completely.  The doctors had put him on a breathing machine but his heart was working in over-drive and once removed from the machine, they didn’t expect him to make it long.  I cried good and hard as this news hit home and I realized that we were going to lose Grandpa.  Although I knew that his’s quality of life had diminished greatly, it was still very sad to hear that he was at death’s door.  The family had decided to keep him on the machine until about 11 p.m. that night until some more of the family members arrived.  My Mom, Dad, and cousin Bonnie (who is a nurse) stayed by Grandpa’s side throughout the night as he miraculously continued to breath on his own and his heart beat wildly. By 9 a.m the next morning (Tuesday May 5th), my Grandpa took his last breath and his suffering ended as he passed peacefully with family members by his side.

That day after work, I hurried home (an hour commute), packed my bag, made arrangements for my step-kids to stay with their Mom, grabbed our dog, and headed for my parents house. Brad met me there the next day after he was able to get some time off work. We spent the next three days going back and forth between my Mom and Dad’s house and my Grandma’s house visiting with cousins, aunts and uncles, and other family members (some I hadn’t seen in months or years).   We  shared memories and stories of Grandpa’s life and looked at old pictures.  We remembered Grandpa’s wonderful sense of humour, his love of his huge family (eight children, 22 grandchildren, and many more great-grandchildren), and of course, his passion for his 700-acre cattle farm. As we visited and spent precious time together, countless neighbours and friends arrived with meat platters, fruit baskets, and fresh homemade buns which kept our tummies full while our minds were too busy to accomplish such mundane tasks.

My grandparents on their 60th - they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage next month.

My grandparents on their 60th – they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage next month.

That Friday we had Grandpa’s visitation at the funeral home  where I was actually able to keep my emotions in check until I saw my Grandma lean down and give Grandpa’s kiss a cheek.  I found solace in my sweet 3-year-old niece Isabella though who despite being too young to understand was appropriately solemn and well-behaved the entire time.  She gave me her sweet smile and let me hug her tight which helped immensely. Of course, being surrounded by family also helped too.

The next say, we had Grandpa’s funeral where we celebrated his long, wonderful life.  My brother and 7 of my cousins were the pall-bearers and I was honoured to say a eulogy in honour of Grandpa.  My Dad also spoke and thankfully his courage and ability to “keep it together” during his speech allowed me to remain calm and well-spoken during mine.  I was however, grateful that I got to stand behind a podium as my legs shook uncontrollably the entire time!  It was a very nice service and after, the family once again gathered to receive even more of Grandpa’s friends and family.  He truly was a much-loved man who will be so greatly missed by many!

The next day (Sunday), we enjoyed one last visit with some of our extended family before heading home.  It was fun to watch my young nieces play with some of their second cousins and to visit with several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins who live out of town.  Later that day, we packed up and after five long days, headed home to prepare to return to work on Monday.

Monday came, and despite being exhausted, was a pretty ordinary day until I got home and received yet some more news from my Mom: my sister-in-law Sarah was in labour!  This, of course, was news we had been waiting for (although she was eight days ahead of her due date).  I immediately began making plans for the coming weekend to go out of town again, knowing my newest niece was on her way!

Aubrey - five days old

Aubrey – five days old

At 6:10 am. on Tuesday, May 12, my beautiful niece Aubrey Noreen Palmateer was born weighing 7lbs and 12 oz.  All day, I checked social media constantly for pictures and updates!  Like the proud Auntie I am, I showed everyone I could (including my third-grade students!) her adorable picture.  The rest of the week passed in a blur as I counted down the hours until Friday when I could go and meet my new niece!

Friday arrived and since Brad and the kids had decided to stay home for this trip, I was able to hit the road straight after work and make it to Mom & Dad’s just in time for dinner (bonus!) After dinner, we headed over to Grandma’s where my brother Mike and his wife, Sarah, met us with their beautiful new bundle of joy.  I specifically remember the moment when Mike sat the car seat down and pulled back its cover – there she was!  So tiny, beautiful, and perfect!  My new, precious little niece only four days old.  I felt emotional so immediately that for a few seconds I thought I was going to cry.  It’s amazing what a new addition to the family can do to prove to you just how precious life is!

As most families do when a new baby is born, we played what my brother likes

Aubrey meets her Great-Grandma

Aubrey meets her Great-Grandma

to call “hot potato” with Aubrey that night.  We passed her around, from Auntie Kelly, to Grandma, to Great-Grandma, to Aunt Barb, and around again – all getting in our fair share of snuggles and cuddles with tiny little Aubrey.

On Saturday, Mom and I made a quick shopping trip to stock up on My Little Ponies and Play-dough before heading to Quebec to my brother’s in-law’s for Isabella’s birthday party!  We had fun watching the girls play, enjoying delicious appetizers, and of course, playing more “Hot Potato” with Aubrey.  This time, she was awake though and spent nearly an hour looking around with her beautiful, dark blue, almond-shaped eyes.  During this time, I cradled her in my arms and gently stroked her soft, silky hair and skin while whispering to her how much she is loved and how beautiful she is.  It was such a special time that it almost made me want my own baby!  Almost…

Izzy ready to blow out her birthday candle

Izzy ready to blow out her birthday candle

Finally it was time to watch Izzy open her birthday presents.  Three-year-olds are the best people to watch open gifts!  She literally squealed with delight as she pulled each item from it’s pretty, tissue-filled bag.  If only we had thought to video tape her!  So precious 🙂

After gifts, I volunteered to be the “favourite” Auntie and brought my two older nieces and their cousin to the park to play.  It was fun to push the girls on the swings, help Lea master the monkey bars, and watch the girls dig in the dirt and make up imaginary adventures.  After a good hour at the park, we walked back to the house, me holding one of Izzy’s tiny hands while she goofily sang “Mama had a baby and its head popped off” while popping the tops off of dandelions with the other.  Have I mentioned how much I love her?!

I spent that night at Mom and Dad’s, cuddled and relaxing on their couch, and watching the Blue Jays game with Dad.  There is something so relaxing and peaceful about my parents’ place.  It felt wonderful to be there, enjoying a quiet evening with just the two of them, after a busy, fun-filled day.

Mom, me and Aubrey

Mom, me and Aubrey

Eventually Sunday rolled around and I could no longer neglect the long list of things I knew I needed to get done at home.  Since being out of town so much in the last few weeks, chores and spring jobs had piled up and been neglected.  Before heading out though, Mom and I swung by Mike’s place for one last visit with the baby!  An hour later, after being serenaded by Izzy on the piano, and snuggling Aubrey, my heart was full and it was time to make the trek home.

Finally, we come to today.  Thank goodness for holiday Mondays!  Life has been a bit of a blur lately (even had trouble focussing at work which is not usually an issue for me!)  As I mentioned, the list of chores had really backed up since we have barely been home lately.  Brad and I managed to get groceries done last evening which left today to finally tackle yard work, house cleaning, and laundry.  Thankfully the weather cooperated and we managed to get a significant part of our to-do list completed:  rake the lawn, muck out our flower beds, tune up the lawn mower, mow the lawn, burn up some old brush, tidy up the yard; do laundry, dust, scrub the kitchen, clean the bathroom, vacuum the floors, etc.   Despite completing all of that, we still had time to relax this afternoon and watch our Blue Jays finally win a game!

So now here I am – my house is clean, the yard is tidy, and most of the household “jobs” are done.  A freshly cleaned house and a checked-off to-do list are two of the best things I can think of!  We barbequed steaks for dinner, the kids helped clean up without complaining (amazing!) and now I’m sipping coffee and catching up on my blog!

Best of all, I feel like life is about to go back to normal for a little while. While I immensely enjoyed my time back home with family, it was definitely a whirlwind of a month and I am looking forward to getting back to routine and a semi-normal schedule!





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