Burying My Granddaddy

My mind has been filled with the following thoughts/explanations:
"He had a good life"
"He's no longer sick."
"He's with our Heavenly Father."
"He's hugging his parents."
"He didn't suffer for very long...God called him home."

All of these are true. All of these bring me a sense of relief and comfort. All of these bring me one more reason to be excited about heaven. I'm sure all of us have felt this way when we bury a grandparent. We have these conflicting feelings of great loss and a "shrug our shoulders" this is the natural cycle of life mentality.

No thoughts change the fact that I buried my Granddaddy, a man who was always bigger than life to me. A fascinating character (and I do mean character) who served his family, his country and his God (not necessarily in that order) until the very end. I thought he was invincible. I thought nothing could get the best of him. I thought I would have him forever. In a way, I'm still a naive little girl.

Last Sunday, he took his last breath. It was an 8 month struggle with Esophogeal Cancer. God granted His mercy. He did not really suffer long before he was called home. This act of God was an answer to a prayer, a plead from our family. God granted our prayer. I am grateful and empty all at the same time. God is understanding. I believe God understands how I miss him. How the thought of not hearing his deep, boisterous, voice on the telephone will hit me little by little over time. He understands that it makes me sad to know we won't have verbal sparring matches when I come to visit. He understands my broken heart that there will be no more visits...not on Earth at least.

I'm not sure that I will ever be able to properly convey how much this man meant to me, so I will simply leave you with a short biography on the life of a great man.

Hal Cooke was born on February 1, 1925 in Boone, North Carolina. He was a Veteran of World War II and Korea. In Korea he flew over 120 combat missions and was decorated accordingly. He was a pilot with Eastern Airlines for over 30 years. He married Polly Godfrey - a very wise decision - and they were three months shy of their 65th wedding anniversary when he passed away last week. He raised three great kids and has a host of grandkids and great grandkids. He was an adventurer. He was intelligent. He was interesting. He had an incredible sense of humor. Most of all, he faced his battle with cancer like a soldier. He never complained. He never cursed God. He died like a true hero.

He was a believer of Jesus Christ and he has now met God. If you remember nothing else, remember this. There is no hopelessness in death when we believe in Christ. I am sad, but not without hope. His journey started and ended before mine...we'll catch up one day. That gives me blessed assurance.

Chicken Nuts and Drinking

That is my son's favorite meal from Chick-fil-A. It's too cute to correct. So is the fact that he calls his friend from school, Yucky. The boy's actual name is Lucky. I would be lying if I told you I didn't now call them Chicken Nuts. Just a confession.

Action Doesn't Always Equal the Proper Reaction

Apparently kids don't get the law of "every mommy action requires a perfect kid reaction". This is to validate us as mothers and isn't it really the reason we do these things at all? We want wide eyes, grateful hugs and "I love you's" out the wazzoo.

So here was the plan at Christmas. Sam was going to get a train table. I put a lot of work into this. There was a lot of planning and a lot of blood, sweat and tears...okay there was no blood or tears, but there was sweat. I recreated a town with tracks and trains that would rival any old Sodor. There were people, trees and an airport that I hot glued to the table in the perfect locations. The train table was a thing of absolute beauty. I couldn't wait.

On Christmas day, we went to my parents' house where "Santa" - who is WAY more fascinating to Samuel than Jesus is right now...but we'll get there - was going to leave his train table. It started out fun. He was excited. He screamed Choo Choo. He ignored all others for the attention of his train table. He was fascinated with the track, the trains, and the bridge. He played happily by himself. That lasted ten minutes. Someone tell me how to explain the scientific principals behind magnets to a two year old? He was getting so upset when his trains would or wouldn't stick together, depending on his goal, that I thought I was going to have to put him on blood pressure medication to continue to play. The whines and banging coming from the foyer was getting louder and closer together. I kept wanting him to explain his objective instead of getting mad. Right, if you can get a two year old to explain their "objective", you will make millions. The scene went from total kid elation to trains being thrown, tantrums being had and all those cute trees and people I had perfectly glued to the table being wiped out by a certain toddler with a 'tude.

I was devastated. By the end of brunch, the perfect train table looked like it had been hit by Tsunami Samuel. I contemplated setting out FEMA trailers and passing out VISA gift cards to help the wooden train workers get back on their feet. Oh the carnage! It was senseless destruction. Well, senseless to a 30-something year old. To a two year old, they were actions that had to be taken. Can't get the train to go under the bridge? Well then the bridge gets it. Punishment was swift, harsh and there were no trials in Samuel's world.

In the end, I stripped down the train table to a very simple track and decided that as he gets older, he can recreate Sodor in his own time. For a few days I was really disappointed as I would glance at the all but empty train table. I remarked several times to Andy that it looked like we'd given our son a coffee table for Christmas.

But we've all managed to come to terms with the train table. It is now merely Sam's play area. It's perfect for storing bins of toys underneath and he can set up his hot wheels, his trains or his Diego-go doll and play as he wishes. Below, you can see the before and after pics.

All in all a good Christmas!
Sam's Mom