Ok. We are going to fast forward through the years to 2001. Being raised by my grandparents, I was very close to my granddaddy. He was my friend, my buddy, the man I looked up to. He taught me to drive. He taught me how to plant crops, harvest them, milk cows, feed chickens and collect their eggs, slop the hogs and butcher them for meat. He taught me to laugh, and to find humor in everything. I loved him more than I had loved anyone. He was always a big, strapping farmer. That was his nickname among his chronies, Farmer. Noone called him Walter. His family, pre Granny family, called him Baldy. I have no idea where that came from. He was a WWII veteran of the Air Force. He worked long hours in the potash mines in New Mexico. He ran heavy equipment for years. My granddaddy could take two nails and a couple pieces of wood and make a fort. He couldn't read or write very well, but that didn't stop him. I never knew he couldn't read when I was a child because he would always help me with my reading. He had a way of getting me to read to him without letting on that he couldn't read the book. He rarely went to church because he said it was full of hypocrites and he could talk to God right there from his Lazyboy. He could cook the best stew you ever ate. My granddaddy was amazing.
When he was diagnosed with Colon Cancer, I was devastated. I had already lost my husband, my step father, and my mother's dad. I didn't want to lose Granddaddy too. He waited too long to go to the doctor. He hid all his symptoms from everyone. By the time he finally told Granny, it was too late. Stage 4. Chemo helped for a little while. It is very painful to watch a big, strong man shrivel up to about 135 pounds. Living here in PA, I didn't have to watch him go through all the sickness. I missed the really painful parts.
I remember our last Christmas together. Granddaddy thought everyone should get something even if it was a pencil wrapped up in shiny paper. Noone should have to go without a present on Christmas. He was all smiles on Christmas Day. We took lots of family pics that year. Granddaddy didn't have the energy to stay up long, so we would go visit with him while he laid in his bed. He loved to listen to gospel music. He would go back in his room and tune the tv to a station that was playing gospel music and would just lay in his bed and hum along.
In February of 2001, I was working as an assistant manager at Papa John's Pizza in Wilkes-Barre. I had gone to work that Friday, just like always. Around 4 pm, Tim shows up at work. It was odd because he very rarely came to the shop. He asked me if I could leave. I had no idea what was going on. He told me I needed to call my Aunt Linda in Va. I went into the office and placed the long distance phone call. The news was devastating. Granddaddy wasn't expected to last through the weekend and if I wanted to see him, I needed to come down now. I slipped to the floor, tears flowing down my cheeks. I had just talked to him on Wednesday. He sounded like his usual cheery self. Aunt Linda explained that Granddaddy ate his last meal Thursday morning and slipped into a coma that afternoon. He was on liquid morphine for the pain now.
I called my manager in tears and explained the situation. I left with Tim and went home to pack. I was so out of it, I didn't even pack Tim any shirts. My mother in law came over and gave me one of my father in law's anxiety pills to help calm me down. Little did I know at that time it would knock me out so that I slept almost the entire ride down. I view that now as a blessing. I think I would have drove Tim nuts during the 7 hour ride.
We were supposed to move into our new house that weekend. We had bought a trailer and were so excited because it was ours. I had been painting and cleaning for two weeks. I was so hyped about moving in. That would have to be put on the back burner now. My car was in Wilkes-Barre, but my mother in law assured me that my father in law would go and pick it up for me. So, with everything handled, we left for VA.
We got there around midnight Friday, February 16, 2001. I went straight into my Granddaddy's room and fell on my knees at the side of the bed. Laying my head on his frail chest, I began to cry. Oh, Granddaddy, I thought, I am so sorry you are so sick. You shouldn't have to suffer like this. Tim came in a few minutes later and knelt beside me and took my Granddaddy's hand. He had already watched his grandfather die from ALS and he knew how hard it was.
I decided to sit up that night and just talk to him. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him. He had to have morphine drops put inbetween is cheek and gum every 2 hours to keep him comfortable. I thought to myself, "What kind of existance is this for my Granddaddy. He doesn't deserve to suffer like this." I really didn't want him to go, but I didn't want him to stay like this either. So, I began to pray for God to take him home. I knew that he was saved and would be spending eternity without cancer with the Lord. I talked to him about life with him as a child. I told him how much he meant to me. I told him how much I loved him. I thanked him for all that he had done for me. I just sat in the chair beside his bed holding his hand talking about nothing in particular.
Around 5:30 am February 17, 2001, I told Granddaddy to go home. I told him that Granny would be taken care of. I told him that I had Tim and that he was a good man and would take care of me. I let him know that it was ok to let go of this life and move on the his new one. I sat with until about 6:30am and then left to go into the kitchen where my dad and my granny were having coffee. Tim was still sleeping. It had been a long night and I was tired. My dad went back and sat with him for about 15 minutes. When he came back into the kitchen, I went back again. As I entered his room, I could hear what they call the death rattle. If you have never heard it, it's horrible. For those of you who have heard it, you know what I mean. Once you hear it, you never forget the sound. I knew the end was near. I reached out, grabbed his hand, brought it to my lips and kissed that weathered hand that had seen so much. I told him once again to go home. I left the room.
At 7am, my dad went into the room and I heard him begin to cry. I knew that Granddaddy had gone to be with Jesus. I began to cry again. I looked over at Granny and she knew too. I went into the bedroom where Tim was sleeping and woke him up. He was as emotional as we all were. We all took turns telling Granddaddy our last goodbyes.
Now I had lost my husband, my step father, and both my grandfathers in less that a 36 month period. I felt lost. All of the old feelings came bubbling up. I felt abandoned and alone. Our family began to arrive and the house began to fill. People really have no idea what to say at times like these. Sometimes silence is really golden.
My brother finally arrived and for the first time in about 4 years, I got high. Standing on my granny's porch waiting for the undertaker to arrive, I smoked a joint with my brother. He said I needed to relax, needed to destress. I guess maybe I did. I was afraid of all the old issues with the PTSD coming to a head. As I stood on the porch looking out at the swing where Granddaddy would sit, I swear I saw him. He walked over towards the swing, turned around and smiled at me. He looked great. Perfectly healthy. Now, some people will probably say it was because I was high, but I know what I saw. It was Granddaddy.
Granddaddy wanted to be cremated so we didn't have a viewing. I called off work for the next week, as did Tim, so that we could be there with my family. We had a memorial service later on that week and for the second time in 36 months we were buring someone is the middle of winter in frozen ground. It was a beautiful service. My cousin Laura's husband made a marble box to place Granddaddy's ashes in. It was absolutely beautiful. Granddaddy would have been proud.
We came home after a week to discover that Tim's family had all pitched in and moved us while we were in VA. What a suprise to come home and find my kitchen put together, our bedroom already set up and the house ready to be lived in. What a blessing. Even during the midst of darkenss, a light managed to show through.
Life once again settled into a routine. Tim and I were trying desperately for a child. We both wanted a baby. The doctor diagnosed me as having Poly Cyctic Ovarian Syndrome and told us it would be next to impossible to have a child. My depression kicked in again and my doctor put me back on depression meds. There was such a whole in my heart from not being able to conceive that I thought my heart would break. During this time, we had switched churches and were now attending Mill City Assembly of God. I had been going to a Pentecostal church when I lived in VA but this was alot different for Tim, who had been raised Methodist. I loved it, but it took him a little getting used to. He acclimated just fine.
In 2002, Evangelist Carl Harris came to MCAOG. I decided to go up for prayer. I wanted him to pray for Tim and I to have a baby. I explained to him that the doctors had said I couldn't have a baby. He prayed over us and then told us that it takes about 2 years for couples he has prayed for to have a baby. That at the 2 year mark either the baby has been born or is getting ready to be born. Ok. I could accept that. I began jounaling every night, thanking God in advance for giving us a child.
As the months went by and no baby appeared, my depression began to worsen. Then, my sister in law told us she was pregnant. I was so shattered. She had always said she didn't want children and neither did my brother in law. She had been adamant about that fact. So, I was heart set on giving my inlaws their first grandchild. The night we found out that she was pregnant, I laid in bed sobbing. Tim layed with his arms around me and tried to soothe me. It didn't help. It seemed that noone understood my pain. Again. I felt alone with my pain. Noone to talk to, because everyone I knew had children. I felt overlooked by God. I couldn't understand why He wouldn't allow two people who would be great parents to have a child when He allowed these teenagers to get pregnant at the drop of a hat, or women whom He knew were going to kill their children to have them. I was angry and frustrated all over again with God.
About a month later, my sister in law lost the baby. As angry as I had been because she was pregnant, I was heartsick that she lost the baby. I couldn't imagine how hard that was for her. Thankfully she decided to try again a few months later and this time she carried the baby to full term and gave us a beautiful niece. She even asked me to help her with the baby shower so that I wouldn't feel left out. It was painful but joyful all at the same time.
In July of 2002 we found out that my grandmother had Vascular Disease. She was going to lose her leg to the disease. My family asked me to move down and live with her again and take care of her. I was promised $500 per month to be her caregiver. So, Tim quit his job, we sold everything except personal things and moved from a 3 bedroom, 2 bath trailer to one bedroom. I went down in August and he followed in November. Difficult wouldn't even begin to explain the life we were about to embark on.
Tim got a job at Subway and I was Granny's caregiver. Being promised a monthly paycheck, I figured we would be ok with Tim working at Subway until he could find something that paid more. Well, I was lied to. Noone wanted to pay me a dime because they thought it was my responsibility to take care of her. Her children all had families and jobs and didn't have time to take care of her. So, Tim and I began to try to survive on $7.25 per hour. We couldn't apply for financial aid because we lived with Granny and none of the utlities were in our names. Talk about stressful. Being used and taken for granted was commonplace in my family, so I just dealt with it.
In August of 2003, Hurrican Isabelle came through Virginia. It knocked out the power to thousands and thousands of homes, took out phone lines, contaminated the water supply and many people lost everything. We were blessed. All we lost was our phone and lights. We had to use up the food in the freezer before it went bad, so I was cooking on the grill and storing things in the cooler. 9 days we were without power. It was the first hurricane that I had actually ever been in.
In October of 2003, I took Granny, who was now in a Jazzy, to the grocery store. We were walking down the isles acting a fool when we came around the corner to the meat counter. I immediately ran for the bathroom. When I came back, Granny looked at me and asked, "Are you pregnant?" I looked at her like she had just fallen off the turnip truck and told her she needed a new crack dealer. She knew what the doctors had said and I couldn't believe she would ask me that. I told her no I wasn't and she looked at me and said yes you are. Before we got out of the grocery store 2 other people had asked me the same thing. We drove home and I was car sick the whole way. Granny had a podiatrists appointment that afternoon, so my Aunt Nancy decided to ride with us. I was so car sick that I had to pull over 3 times. Nancy looks at me and asks, "Are you pregnant?" What was it with all these old ladies and asking me if I was pregnant? I knew I wasn't and told them all so. Nancy told me I had better stop at the drugstore on the way home and get a home pregnancy test. Yeah, ok. I did, just to prove them wrong. I bought one that had two tests in it, thinking two test would be enough to prove to them I wasn't pregnant.
I went home, went into the bathroom, took the test and nothing. The test was bad. Not even a line in the control window. I called my mother in law because she has this weird knack of having baby dreams whenever someone she knows is pregnant. She said she hadn't had any dreams since the middle of August. I told her what Granny and Nancy were saying and she told me to wait until the morning and take the other test. So I did.
I got up the next morning, went into the bathroom, peed on the stick and went to set it on the counter. I hadn't even pulled up my britches and there on the test stick were two blue lines. WHAT!!! I picked up the box to double check the reading...one line not pregnant, two lines pregnant. NO WAY!!! I took the test stick into the kitchen where Granny was and asked her what she saw. She replies.."Two lines..What does that mean?" I told her that meant she was going to be a great grandmother. She whoops and starts turning circles with her Jazzy in the middle of the kitchen floor. I called my mother in law back and told her and she started crying. I called my mom and she dropped the phone. Then I thought, "Hey wait, I haven't told Tim yet." I called him and told him to make sure he came straight home from work that I had something to talk to him about. When I told him, he didn't believe me. I showed him the test stick and he still didn't believe me. I made an appointment with the WIC office for the following Tuesday. I went in, peed in a cup, then the lady stuck me in a room. About 15 minutes later she came in and said, "Well, you are going to have a baby." I was so happy I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest.
I had to go to a high risk OBGYN because of my diabetes, age and weight. I followed the doctors instructions to a T. My mother went with me to the first ultrasound. I had one at my first appointment because I wasn't sure when I got pregnant because of the PCOS and my cycles weren't regular. I was 9 weeks. So, I got pregnant during the power outage from Hurricane Isabelle. Imagine that. I wanted to name my daughter, if I had a girl, Ysabella Gianna which means God's gift. If I had a son, I had no idea. I just knew the baby was going to be a girl. Tim and I fought for 6 months over her name. Yep, we were having a girl, just like I said. He wanted to name her Kierstynne Mykayla (the spelling is mine). I didn't want that name. I didn't have a clue what it meant. One day, we decided to stop at a bookstore and I just happen to walk by a display that had baby name books on it. I picked one up, looked up the names and found out that Kierstynne Mykayla means Beautiful Gift from God. Well, as you know, we now have a 7 year old Kierstynne Mykayla.
I have to end this post now as my eyes are crossing. Stay tuned for part 4.