Hello! I have been trying to work on writing updates now that our extracurriculars scheduled are in full swing, but that is turning into a challenge. I decided that it might be better to write a few small updates instead of one VERY LONG UPDATE! BUT… there was a post I had written a few weeks ago, but I wanted to wait and let the girls process the loss of a loved one before sharing anything about it, but I didn’t feel like that I could genuinely give an update without sharing that weekend. I struggled with how to write this particular blog. Now that some time has passed, and I have had time to process everything I decided this would be the best way. So, bear with me because this is hard…
Steve’s grandfather passed away the week before school started. He had a massive heart attack on a Sunday and passed away as a result of the heart attack on the following Tuesday. He lived in Mississippi, so we couldn’t be there while he was in the hospital or support any of the local family during that time. After learning the news of his grandfather’s passing, Steve put in for bereavement leave, and as soon as we knew the details of the service and dates approved, we planned a trip to Mississippi. This falls in the middle of all the back to school open houses. It felt super crazy. Dealing with the girls’ anxiety for school, preparing for a trip, and the grief of losing their grandparent. Being honest, I did not have a close relationship with this man. I have decided not to discuss him in this blog. Anything I had thought about saying felt ingenuine because it not how I knew him. I can tell he was a very generous man that loved his grandchild and great-grandchildren very much. He was a very hardworking and dedicated man. The older girls loved the few times he came and picked them up (in Georgia) and would take them to Mississippi for a visit. Some of their best memories of him were from trips to the Zoo or the aquarium and probably hundreds of trips to Walmart where they would spend hours looking at everything.
On the Friday night after Makayla’s open house, we hopped into the car, made a pitstop at Arby’s and got on the road about 6:30 pm. We and hit the Alabama line by 9 pm, where we stopped at the rest stop for a little break. We really didn’t stop anymore and made excellent time and arrived at Steven’s great Aunts house around 1:45 am. We visited for a little bit but then went to bed because we were all so tired. The next morning, we were all up about 8 am. We loaded up and went to see Steven’s grandmother. The visit was quick because she had to get to the funeral home. We had a few hours before we needed to head to the funeral home, and we were all antsy with emotional energy, so Steven decided to take us to the Watermelon Festival.
A little back story about the Watermelon Festival: since Sissy was an infant, I have been told by Stevens parents that we needed to take her out to this Festival. They are from a small town in Mississippi, and this is an annual event and this year just happened to be the 50th Annual Watermelon Festival. It is always the first weekend in August. According to the Water Valley Chamber of Commerce, “The first carnival was held on Thursday, August 27, 1931. At that time, the entire nation was in the grip of the depression. In Water Valley, a bank had failed, the railroad had pulled out, and unemployment was high. Local businessmen were concerned about the spirit of the townspeople, so they decided to host a carnival to boost morale.” I think that story was so cool. I love the idea of the community it represents. Apparently, it is a full weekend event, Thursday evening music festival at the Civic Auditorium, on Friday there is a Street Dance with a fireworks display, and Saturday is full of day of entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts booths, contests, parades, an antique car show, a 3-K run. We were only able to visit the craft booth section, the antique car show and we did visit one food vendor (some of Stevens family was selling fresh catfish!! It was sooooooo good!) I also feel like I need to point out that this is an outside event in August IN THE SOUTH! It was hot and humid. (Please ignore all the sweaty red faces!!) We spent about two hours wandering around, looking at what they had, but it was enjoyable, and everyone was so pleasant and friendly. I enjoyed it. It definitely let the girls forget for a minute the reason we were visiting Mississippi that day.
Afterward, we went and showered got dressed and headed to the funeral home, for visitation, funeral, and graveside service. I am not going to share much about this because it’s a personal family event. All I will say is my husband didn’t feel like the funeral gave him the peace and closer he needed. On the way back to his grandmother’s, it rained for a few minutes, and then we saw the most prominent, brightest rainbow! I bring this because of my personal beliefs and experiences. I believe that seeing is a rainbow after a funeral is a sign that this loved one has “arrived home.” The rainbow is a sign of hope and a promise, so seeing it after the loss of a loved one is their way of telling you they are at peace on the other side. After my great-grandmother, grandmother and great- Aunt, I saw rainbows either in the sky or from light reflecting in a puddle, etc. It’s always such an encouraging sign for me, and I think being able to share this moment gave my girls some comfort too. Honestly, Steven was ready to leave because of some stuff going on, but his Great-Uncle (grandfather brother) asked him to spot by that evening, so he decided to do that before we left. I am happy he chose to do this! I think it really helped to hear from his uncle has his grandfather had spoken about him and was proud of him. Steven was exhausted from the day and decided to nap before we headed home. We ended up sleeping through the night! Steven woke up and said wanted to do something on the way home.
Regrettably, for the last few years, we haven’t been able to coordinate visits. Steve and his grandfather had been trying to plan a trip to the Huntsville Space Station, and something always came up on his side or ours. Steven woke up the day after the funeral wanting to take the girls there on the way home. So that is precisely what we did. I try to keep spiritual conversations out of my blogs, but if I left it out of this one, it would be completely unauthentic. The whole time we were there, you could see signs that this is what his pawpaw would have wanted. The girls found things that made them think of him, and they had a whole section with the Vietnam War, which he was a veteran from his service then. Lou even saw a flagged covered coffin and said, “it’s just like Pawpaws flag.” As crazy as we felt by taking a side trip on the way home from a funeral, it felt like it was the exact place we needed to be. To add it, after we left, we saw another rainbow confirming and validating our feelings. It was fantastic. The rest of the ride home was a blur, and we all went straight to bed and slept until morning! I even left them all sleep-in!
It was such a crazy, stressful, rollercoaster of emotions weekend. I am so proud of my family ability to look for the good even in the thick of a lousy situation… even if it was a tad untraditional. As always thanks for being part of our (extra) crazy! Until next time…
Here is the link where I found the information about the Water Valley Watermelon Festival: https://www.watervalleychamber.com/watermelon-carnival