Thursday, January 13, 2011

the end of '10, part II: October

My brother in law got married on October 10th and I was asked to photograph. I'll let the pics speak for themselves. I just love fall weddings in the south. The out-of-town family got to come down for New York and stay a few days with us and it was so good to see them all and get caught up. Plus it brought a much-needed smile to my face after such a tough September.

she waited...

she smiled...

she walked...

...down the aisle.

he anticipated...

they stood by their man.

she beamed...

they sealed it with a kiss.

they did it!

we posed...
(my MIL, me, new sis in law, bro in law, my hubby and my FIL)

they radiated...

they danced {the thriller dance}...

we lit and released...

they wed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2010--the last 3 months

as you faithful followers know, the last 3 months of the year are my most busy, career-wise. (see this 2009 post to remind you/inform you if you're new here.)

thus, my blog hiatus. but now that things are more settled down, i'll give you a little recap of what went down on my side of the world these last 3 months of twenty ten. let's start with september.

september 25, 2010.

my grandfather died. unexpectedly. like, wasn't even sick, just-got-a-great-health-report-four-days-prior unexpected. i was blindsided, as was my whole family. i guess even though i shouldn't have, i always expected to be prepared for the day i said goodbye to him. but he wasn't sick. he wasn't in a nursing home, he didn't have cancer. he woke up that morning, he went out to his shop like he always did, he built two beautiful wooden picture frames and then went to walmart for a new watch band. after coming home from dinner that night, he lay in the bed and talked with my grandmother. she says they talked every night about everything. as she reached over to turn out the light, he had a strange look on his face. when she asked him if he was okay, he responded that no, he wasn't. and then he whispered to her that she was "the best wife, mother and grandmother that anyone could ask for" and that he "loved her with all his heart." and then he closed his eyes. and then he was gone.


papa & grandmama, Thanksgiving 2009

i miss him so much. i knew the holidays would be tough, but it's the ordinary days when you least expect it that the emotions just reappear, when i realize that he's really not here anymore that are the hardest.

but then i realize that he really is here in his own way--because he is all around me. so many things remind me of him. i am blessed by the fact that he was a talented woodworker and craftsman and that my home is graced with so many of his handmade pieces of furniture.

i spoke at my papa jack's funeral on the day after what would have been his 79th birthday. i still don't know where that strength came from that day to maintain my composure in front of the hundreds of people who came, but i did. and, with this little wooden box in one hand, and one of his red bandanna handkerchiefs in the other, and here is what i said:

As I sat this morning trying to gather all of my thoughts and put them into words, the same thought kept coming back to me. HE WAS A GOOD MAN. It is so cliche and probably spoken at so many funerals. But in this case, it is so true. My Papa Jack WAS a good man, through and through, right down to his core. Iʼve had many people in the last few days tell me that itʼs hard to even think of anything negative to say about him. But you all know that.  You know how true and good of man he was, and thatʼs why youʼre here.

I want you all to pull out your programs and take a look at the front. There is something on the front of this program so significant that you probably just looked right over it. Most folks do. Itʼs something so small, yet so big. The little thing Iʼm talking about it that little line, the little dash in between the dates that Papa was born on this earth and the day that he left this earth. That little dash.

That small little dash represents all of the time that Papa spent here in this world, and the many wonderful things he did while he was here. It stands for all of the smiles, the tears, the peaks and the valleys.

And that dash represents all that he was to all of us: a son, a brother, a soulmate, a father, a friend, a grandfather. And what a grandfather he was. I loved to just sit and talk to him. He reminded me the of the beauty in simplicity and the joy that comes from living a simple life. He taught me the importance of loving what you have, and not longing for what you donʼt. He was satisfied with just a cottage below, just like in the song. He taught me that life is about quality and not quantity. He was a GOOD MAN.

And he had the best stories and told them in the best way. When I went off to college, I used to love to bring my friends home and take them out to meet Grandmama and Papa. They would all tell me afterwards, “ Lindsay, you have the best family.” Many of my friends were given tutorials by Papa about the lay of the land and were told stories about the “good ole days.” And many of them would leave with one of his “do-nothings.”

Papa loved to work in his shop. He would spend hours working on projects. He was very particular and everything had to be just right and he took great pride in that. Many of you in this congregation today probably own something that Papa made, whether it be a tray or a table or a birdhouse. He made all of us grandchildren a box last year for Christmas. Let me tell you, I would rather have this little wooden box than win the lottery because I know how much time he put into making each one. I pulled mine out yesterday and was looking at how absolutely perfect it is. And then I turned it over. HANDCRAFTED BY JACK B. LYLES

He had a woodburning stamp that he hand stamped his creations with. I thought to myself, how special. And I started thinking, you know? He has his stamp on way more than just his woodworks--he has his stamp on all of us. Whether we inherited his strong work ethic, his incredible talents or his receding hairline, we all were in some way "handcrafted by Jack B. Lyles." What an incredible honor.

I can only hope that I spend my dash like my Papa Jack did. He lived life to its fullest and he loved with all of his heart. He was so proud of his four children and lit up with pride anytime he talked about Mama, Mike, Peggy or Randy. He loved us grandkids and we all know that we each made him proud in our own special ways. He said to me not too long ago, “Lindsay, youʼve done real good. Real good.”

And he adored my Grandmama. It was evident every time he looked at her that the love he had for her was the real deal. How blessed are we as a family to have parents and grandparents who loved each other like that? He was a GOOD MAN.

So in closing, Iʼd like to read to you this short little poem called “The Dash.” It is my hope that I and all of us grandchildren can be at least half the person my Papa Jack was and to continue doing “real good.”

The Dash Poem
by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak At the funeral of a friend He referred to the dates on her tombstone From the beginning to the end
He noted that first came the date of her birth And spoke the following date with tears, But he said what mattered most of all Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time That she spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved her Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own; The cars, the house, the cash, What matters is how we live and love And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left, That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough To consider what’s true and real And always try to understand The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, And show appreciation more And love the people in our lives Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, And more often wear a smile Remembering that this special dash Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read With your life’s actions to rehash Would you be proud of the things they say About how you spent your dash?

©1996 Linda Ellis

In loving memory of my wonderful Papa Jack 
September 27, 1931-September 25, 2010