Month: June 2014
Dearest Emi and Ava,
I’m writing this one from the road on my iPhone.
Tomorrow morning very early, we and your cousin Destiny (12) are heading to the airport in Little Rock to catch a flight to Disneyworld!!
You three are so excited!
Me? I’m a little terrified. This is the first time I’ve had to plan a trip in over a decade and I am the only adult with you three girls. What did I get myself in to!?
You know, your mom used to be our vacation planner. She was so good at it. Down to the finest detail, she planned everything. We rarely had a worry at all because she had it covered. I just had to show up and carry luggage.
But this one has been a bit crazy. I’ve been late on getting reservations for meals, ordering tickets, almost forgot the Magical Express, and almost didn’t get Mika boarded at doggy-day care.
But those weren’t any major source of anxiety. However, PACKING WAS!
Oh, my goodness! This is something I wish I would have learned from your mom. I didn’t enjoy trying to get us packed. Fortunately, I found your mom’s “cruise packing list” and worked from that. And Jenn (the Nanny) did great on getting you two ready. Packing though is not for me!
There are three special things I want you to know about this trip.
First, your mom loved Disney!! We as a family have been huge Disney fans, but your mom lit up when we did anything Disney. It was one of favorite places. I’ll have to get in to that more in another post. Your mom’s and my love for Disney has definitely rubbed off on you two. And hopefully, you’ll feel that way for decades to come!
Second, we are staying at the Grand Floridian on the Disney property. This is the same hotel that your mom and I stayed at on our Honeymoon over 12 years ago. We loved this resort and I’m excited that we are going back to it.
Finally, this is a very special trip because this is the last trip your mom booked for us herself. She started planning it last year and had all the reservations already done. I just had to fill in the details. In her final days, we talked about this trip and she told me how much she still wanted us to go and to have fun.
So, I am looking forward to this week. I’m looking forward to seeing your faces when we get to the parks. I’m looking forward to seeing your smiles on the rides. I look forward to fulfilling a promise to your mom that we’ll go and have a great time! ….all in her honor. I know I will be thinking about her constantly. And she’ll be smiling down on us. 😄
This is going to be awesome!!
I love you! ~Dad
Dearest Emi and Ava,
I don’t know why, but tonight has been tougher on me than most of the last 90+ days. I miss your mom so incredibly much.
Only 3 months ago I had my last conversation with your mom.
Only 3 months ago I held her hand for the last time.
Only 3 months ago I kissed her for the last time.
Only 3 months ago we said “goodbye”.
In just a couple hours, it will have been three months from the moment that I told your mom it was okay to go. That we would be okay. And to save me a place.
And within a couple hours of that…..she was gone.
But as I am struggling with my own emotions in this moment, I think about your mom and how she handled herself over the last 5 months of her life and one word seems to keep ringing in my ears…
Your mom was brave.
So incredibly brave.
I said in the last post that we are defined by how we deal with adversity. And there is no doubts that your mom defined the core of her character in how she carried herself during her battle with cancer.
From the first day that she was diagnosed to the last day of her life, she was our rock.
I remember when she was talking with the doctor on the phone on that first day. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but your mom wrote the word “cancer” on a piece of paper.
My heart sank. I know hers did too.
When she got off the phone we held each other and cried. Then prayed. Then held each other some more.
In the first showing of her strength on Day One she said, “He could have taken me at any moment, but He gave us time”. It was a pivotal moment at the beginning that helped shape how we would approach the coming months. We leaned on God for our strength and he gave her a double blessing of it!
Throughout the journey your mom repeatedly exhibited her courage and bravery – whether in talking with doctors, family, friends, or even you two – she held fast and strong even when the tough moments came. She mustered strength to do things with us even though I knew she was tired. She entertained guests even though she was exhausted. She laughed and tried to create as many great memories as she could.
She talked about difficult topics and planned with me – so that I would have answers to give you and so that we would have her touch on our future. She did things that were uncharacteristic – like a video for our church to share her testimony. She fought through her own situation for the betterment of us all.
It’s all I can really say at this moment.
Fortunately for you, you are your mother’s daughters. And you have just as much strength in you. And you know where to lean for more strength. I pray that you never have to go through something like this, but when you need it most – it will be there – and you too will be brave.
I love you. ~Dad
Emi (11), trying to convince me to let her have a Skype account, handed me this letter:
Regardless of whether or not she gets Skype, I think what this letter signifies is that I should be preparing to pay for her to go to law school.
Dearest Emi and Ava,
As I’ve started posting these memories of your mother on our family blog, I’ve received several comments and questions back from people that have had an interest in our journey.
Recently, one question has really stuck with me and made me think about what I’m posting.
They asked, “Did you two every fight? Or was everything just bliss?”
The answer made me laugh at first, but then I realized – I guess I do paint a fairly rosy picture with many of the good memories and positive traits of your mom – especially with the recency of everything.
I also realized that because I think so highly of your mom and the relationship we had, that I hope and pray that you will have something similar with your husband in the future. In fact, in a desire to influence you as a parent, I hope these memories start to become ingredients (so to speak) for a great future relationship for you.
But I admit, it has caused me to focus pretty heavily on the “good stuff”.
So tonight, I think I will take a different slant on this and answer the question that was asked. Here goes…
I miss your mom tremendously and I still love her to the core of my being, but I think it is important for both of you to understand that your mom’s and my relationship/marriage wasn’t perfect. That’s mainly because she wasn’t perfect and neither am I.
I know some people reading this are completely shocked at the fact that I’m not perfect…. but, alas, it’s true. Have I mentioned before that sarcasm abounds in this family?
But isn’t it weird that after I’ve told you about all these great traits your mom possessed and about the awesome memories that we experienced with her that I am now telling you that she isn’t perfect? I don’t think so. I want you to understand the fullness of who your mother was (and is), because each of you possess so much of her inside of you.
And I’ve learned that greatness is not just found in what we would consider to be our best qualities, but also in those that surface when we deal with adversities that come along from time to time during our lives.
The reality is that none of us are perfect. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (who is perfect), but are saved by the grace of our savior Jesus who sacrificed himself for us because of his perfect love for us. He is a great example for us to strive after, but because of our human nature, we can be self-centered, angry, egotistical, jealous, and a whole host of other imperfections that can damage our relationships or marriage if we let them.
And now that I’ve dropped the bombshell on you that your parents weren’t perfect, here is what I DO want you to know. I LOVE YOUR MOM deeper than I have ever loved anyone and I know she loved me deeply too. Your mom and I worked VERY hard at our marriage. We worked hard to make each other happy. We worked as a team to raise you two. We worked hard to lift each other’s moods and to create a great atmosphere for our family. We made mistakes along the way, but learned from those and grew our marriage stronger as a result. We held each other accountable and challenged each other to be better. We focused on growing together. We were best friends. But this HARD WORK wasn’t they type that you shy away from, it’s the type that both of you grab hands and run full speed towards and throw all of your energy in to…..because it is absolutely without a doubt worth it.
From time to time, your mom and I would disagree on things (which happens in any relationship), but what I appreciated most about her was her willingness to listen, her patience and desire to understand, her gentle persuasiveness, and that she held me accountable. 99% of the time our differences in opinion were resolved easily and without fuss. But your mom wasn’t a pushover and didn’t give in too easily. I think we both picked and chose our battles, but she definitely stood her ground when she thought it was right – which is something I respected and admired about her.
Your mom could also be a little stubborn. We’ll let Mimi and Papa determine which one she got that from, but I think we all know. 🙂
I could also be a little stubborn. Just a little. 😉
Did we ever verbally fight? Yes. Never in front of you though – which is a good lesson for when you have kids in the future. This is something your mom and I talked about before we got married and early in our marriage that we would make sure never to do – fight in front of the kids. There were a few times when tensions were rising or we were getting angry when you two were around, but we both loved you so much (and each other) that we held it until we could discuss later – out of your presence.
Something else interesting is that we rarely ever had “serious fights”. In 12+ years of marriage, I think we kept it to where we could count the number of times that we had a “serious fight” on two hands, which I think is pretty good. I really don’t have a good benchmark there, but we just rarely let things get to that point.
Disagreements? Yes. Fights? Rarely.
The reason I share this is because someday when you’re married, you and your husband will “fight” or argue or disagree. It’s human nature. BUT you need to know how to work through things and come out better on the other side.
The good news for your mom and I was that neither of us held grudges and we couldn’t stay mad at each other for some strange reason. I think it had something to do with her flashing that “April grin” at me that would melt my heart.
I do remember one time that we had a prolonged fight that lasted a little over a week. And while the fight was dumb, how the fight ended was funny! I remember that we were trading sarcastic barbs towards each other in the kitchen at the Hendrix house. Back and forth – back and forth. Finally, she said sarcastically, “Do you even know what started this fight?” …..It caused us to just stop and look at each other for about a minute. ….and then we burst out laughing. Neither of us could remember what the fight was about or why it started. How stupid we were. How egotistical. How spiteful. How full of ourselves. How selfish.
And this is why I wanted to post this. Since the question was asked, I’ve thought about some of the arguments and fights that we had. None of them were ever worth the energy spent. They weren’t worth the moments of hurt. They weren’t worth the time spent. The precious precious time spent.
Looking back now, I can tell you that all time is precious. We only have so much time on this earth allotted to us and none of us knows how much it actually is. I would gladly trade the collective hours we spent arguing or fighting for more hours of good memories.
So, my charge to you – Spend your time wisely. Spend it loving and creating great memories. Spend it lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. Spend it investing in each other and your family, not being selfish or petty.
I don’t think your mom and I were experts at any of this, but we did work really hard to make the very best of our relationship and of each other. And as a result – we grew stronger every day and have tons and tons of great memories that will bring smiles to our faces for years and years to come! 🙂
If I can offer you a few final suggestions, let me offer you this. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Be selfless – not self-centered. Take time to cool down if you need it. Listen. Try to understand each other. A good marriage takes work. Speak softly. Work towards a solution. Apologize. Don’t hold grudges. Learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them. And finally – Pray together……even when angry…..especially when angry…pray. It’s amazing what the power of prayer can do in your relationship.
I love you! ~Dad
Dearest Emi and Ava,
Today is Father’s Day! And WHAT A GREAT DAY! I am blessed to be the father of three wonderful children.
And today specifically, I get to spend time with ALL three of you!! Time to be silly, laugh, and just enjoy each other!
I thought about this post a lot and initially thought it would be it’s own stand alone post about us on this holiday, but as I thought more and more about it, I realized something. Your mom was one of the greatest influences on my “daily daddiness”.
Now, I had great influences in my life! My dad, for starters, was a great example of a father and someone I have absolutely modeled myself after. I was also fortunate to be around other great dads growing up that contributed to my view of what a father should be. In my adult years, I’ve found many men that continue to contribute to that view of being a great father that I continue to strive for! And of course, the example of fatherhood laid out in the Bible is a major foundation in my life.
But your mom shaped and molded me over the last 12 years like no other. Her gentle whispers here and there helped refine some of my rougher edges…..especially since we only had girls in our house.
You may hear it said – especially for you girls – “Don’t enter in to a relationship expecting to change your future spouse.” And I think that’s true. But I do believe that as you spend years with someone experiencing life, they have the opportunity to influence you as you grow. I don’t think your mom every set out with an intention to change me (at least never vocalized it to me), BUT your mom’s influence, whether through praise or subtle words of caution, helped me grow over these years in to who I am today.
Now, I don’t think I’m some super dad, nor do I think I have it all figured out (again – especially when it comes to girls), but I feel like I’ve been pretty well equipped.
You see, your mom helped me understand who each of you were as little girls and how I needed to treat you. She encouraged the craziness and silliness that makes our family fun. She encouraged the affection and care that makes our family close. In our remaining months together she provided me instruction and thought around continuing to raise you, even if she wasn’t here.
She taught me Emi that you’re logical and want straight answers. As the oldest girl, we need to let you have freedom to grow and not to stifle you, all while ensuring that we don’t put too much on you. Some of your mom’s gentle wisdom came when she wisely encouraged me not to tease you about things. This was tough, because I’m kinda sarcastic and enjoy poking at you a little, especially since you poke back – which is fun. So I listened and as a result, I’ve found that you talk to me more. Smart, your mom was.
She taught me Ava that you are our ‘feeler’. As the youngest, you wear your emotions outwardly and that sometimes I just need to kneel down to your level and give you hugs for no reason at all. She taught me that you are very in tune with what is going on around you and the shear thought of disappointing us can make you sad. I remember one time that you did something wrong and I merely shot you a look of disapproval and you ran upstairs to your room and cried. Your mom simply raised her eyebrow and said, “Now you need to go tell her you love her.” She was right -as usual. Patient with me, your mom was.
I think the best thing a mom and wife can do is help her husband become a good daddy. And your mom did this better than most I know.
I hope that one day when you have children, you will help guide your husband in becoming a great daddy. And take lesson from your mom – it can be done softly and subtly, but have major impact.
I never expected your mom not to be here at this moment, but I am so thankful that she gave me two of the greatest gifts ever. You.
I love you! ~Dad
Dearest Emi and Ava,
Today marks 12 weeks to the day from when your mom went to Heaven.
I know we all miss her dearly, but one of the things I love is that we talk about your mom fondly around the house.
I love the fact that your mom is NOT a taboo subject. We pray for her still every day and mention her often in our conversations.
We tell each other stories and even say, “When mom was here….”. Funny as it is, Ava, you told me the other day, “When mom was here, we didn’t run out of milk.” I’m not sure that was a positive comment pointed towards me, but it made me laugh nonetheless. All I could respond was, “You’re absolutely right.”
One thing I noticed though was that most of our vacation pics involved sand. Yes, sand.
Your mom LOVED to vacation where there was sand. I think I’ve already mentioned her love for water in a previous post, but she really loved the beach more than anything – whether the Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, or Caribbean.
As we daydreamed and discussed vacation locations, the beach always seemed to trump other locations when it came to your mom. Yes, we’d end up going other places too, but she was happiest on vacation when she could just relax on a beach, dip in to the water, and then go back to relaxing. No agenda. Nothing to do. Just relaxing.
In one of these posts, I’ll tell you about the time we went to Palm Island in the Grenadines because that is a story unto itself. But I will say this, one of my favorite memories at the beach was at Palm Island and the many walks we had on the beach talking about life and just sitting together not talking about anything at all. It’s also the place where we witnessed the most beautiful sunsets together.
I could tell too when your mom was starting to get serious about preparing for a beach vacation, because when I’d come home from work her freckles were darker than normal. Why were they darker? Because she was starting to fake tan so she wouldn’t burn when at the beach. I know that’s one of those things I probably shouldn’t make public, but for me the memory of seeing those darkened freckles brings a smile to my face. It brings back those days of excitement before we went on vacation and were full of anticipation of great times. Plus, I loved your mom’s freckles.
When we went to the beach together as a family, your mom was an “all in” participant. She would swim with you, build sand castles, stroll with her feet in the water and search for seashells. She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty – all in the name of fun. BUT – she did not like it when fish or other sea animals came around. They kinda freaked her out.
I remember one time we were at the beach and were probably about knee deep in the water having a great old time until your mom noticed the little fish around her feet. She started jumping and screaming and ran out of the water. I laughed sooooo hard! …..until one went up my bathing suit leg and I did the same dance out of the water. Then she laughed soooo hard!
You know, it’s so important to find those places that you enjoy and visit them often. I loved the fact that your mom loved the beach and we were blessed enough to relax and enjoy them with her. As you grow up, find those places that make you happy and build great memories with your loved ones there. One thing I can tell you for sure is that we will be going to beaches a lot in the coming years and your mom will be smiling down on us (freckles and all) as we do.
I love you! ~Dad
While out and about today, Emi told Jenn, “I’m so happy my dad didn’t hire an old woman“.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this comment, nor do I know how she defines old. She tells me all the time I’m ancient. So, “old” must be somewhere less than 42.
Note from the author: I would like to use this time to iterate that age was not a determining factor in the hiring of our nanny. 😀