Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Pawpaw

My Pawpaw, Onnie Benjamin Cross, passed away on Monday, June 18th after a short illness. He was 92. He had fallen on the 9th and broken his hip, and had surgery on the 11th, but it was all to much for him. We had VBS that whole week, and my mom said there wasn't any reason to come yet, so I just prayed. On Sunday the 17th I decided I needed to go no matter what, so I booked a ticket for Monday morning and flew home. When I landed in Dallas for my layover and turned my phone back on, I got the news that he had passed in the middle of the night. It was really hard to hold myself together while still on the plane. He had been struggling with Alzheimer's for the last five years or more, so I was relieved in many ways that he was at home with his Savior and not struggling any more, but of course its hard to lose someone who has done so much for me.

A really strange thing happened on the Saturday before. Campbell asked me to get a bear out of his stuffed animal net in his room. He asked for this green bear that had a rattle in it. I about fainted. My Pawpaw gave Cooper that bear the first time he met him when he was just a newborn, and its been passed down from stuffed animal collection to the next. Campbell had no idea where that bear came from. But he carried it all over the house and slept with it for the next week.

My Pawpaw was brave. He served in the Marines for 4 years. I asked him one time why he chose the Marines over another branch of service and he said it was because he loved the uniforms more. He served with honor and dedication. He was stationed on the USS Phoenix on Dec. 7. 1941, anchored at Pearl Harbor. He didn't talk about it much, but it obviously was a life turning point for him because he had a clock in his living room for as long as I could remember set to the time the first bomb dropped. I did a report on him in school and I remember him telling me like it had just happened yesterday. When I think of how many men died that day and that my Pawpaw was unharmed I thank God for protecting him or my family wouldn't be here today. After getting his education at University of Texas, he spent the rest of his career working on Air Force bases as a civilian engineer. He loved the military.

My Pawpaw was generous. When I was little my grandparents would pay for me to go on trips with my aunt and uncle to see the world so I could fall in love with traveling like they did. When I turned 15, my Pawpaw gave me his car, an '82 Oldsmobile that I drove for the next 4 years, eventually having to staple the fabric ceiling back up, but it was a gift. I started college in it, but it didn't last long and died one weekend when I was home working. He loaned me his little gray station wagon for the weekend but when I tried to return it he told me to keep it. It was amazing how many people I could fit in that car through out college. When I started Seminary he generously paid my tuition so I could further my education.

My Pawpaw was gentle. He didn't talk a lot but when he did, we listened. He was quiet and calm. When I was sick as a child and my mom had to work, she would call my grandparents to come over and my Memaw always sent him. I realized later that was perfect because she would have been running around the house cooking, cleaning or talking on the phone. But he would just sit next to me and read his westerns. I remember feeling safe. I asked him to walk me down the aisle at my wedding and again, remember feeling so safe on his arm, but also laughing at how nervous he was to say his one line "Her family and I". 

My Pawpaw loved his family. When camcorders came out that was the best hobby for him. He came and filmed every soccer game my brother played, every recital I played or danced in, and every birthday party we ever had, even if it was embarrassing to us. Once a year or so he would come over and give us a box of VHS tapes, labeled and dated. He loved to make family trees and label every picture with names and dates. He loved when I brought the boys to see him. He was so proud to show his home off to them and show them off to his friends. He couldn't remember their names but I told him I couldn't get their names right half the time either.

My Pawpaw was funny. When I found out I was pregnant with my first boy, I had lunch with him and told him that I was going to name my son after him. He got a very scared look on his face and asked "What are you going to name him?" I said, "Benjamin Cooper." He smiled and said, "Oh good. Don't name that child Onnie. He'll get made fun of his whole life." When he started walking with a cane, he said he had it to beat the women off with. When people would ask him how he was doing, he would say "Well, I didn't see my name in the obituary this morning, so I got up." Even the nurses that met him in the hospital that last week, fell in love with his sweet, funny spirit.  

My Pawpaw was faithful. He was married to my Memaw for 43 years before she passed away in '87. And then married Margaret, and they were married for 24 years when he passed. And I can tell you, neither of them were the easiest to live with! Maybe that's why he was so quiet, gentle and calm.

My Pawpaw loved music! I didn't know that much growing up, but while at the Glen Retirement Center the last 5 years, he was known as the "Music Man" because he would play music on a little CD player in the common areas for the other residents. He took his job very seriously, changing out his CD's every hour. One time his CD player and CDs were stolen and he was devastated, could not understand how someone could do that. But he got another CD player and restocked his collection and kept going, this time locking them up at the end of the day. He loved to show my boys his CD player. He was so proud of it. I went through his collection the other day. I knew he loved Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and big bands, but I didn't realize he was a Kenny Rogers fan.

I could go on and on, but it feels good to introduce you to my Pawpaw. I will miss him so much. The last few years when I would go home to visit, when I left him, I always made sure I said a strong goodbye in case it was my last. I saw him last after Christmas, and am very content with my goodbye. It was a good one. We all did fine at the funeral, but at the graveside, a Marine played "Taps" while two more folded the flag on his coffin and gave it to my brother and that was very emotional. He would have been so proud of those handsome Marines there for him. I wish they could have met him. They would have fallen in love with him too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review of "Dawn Comes Early"

Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley is the first in her series "Brides of Last Chance Ranch" set on a cattle ranch in the Arizona territory. Kate Tenney, a unknown and frustrated novelist, decides to try her hand at ranching and answers a notice advertising for a ranch "heiress." If she can survive working for the current owner, the ranch will become hers, but the work is harder then she anticipated, and she wasn't looking to fall in love with a local man. In the end, she has to choose between becoming a land owner and a wife. While making that decision she learns much more about herself then she ever expected.

It took me a little bit to get into this story because it was more of a western then I had thought it would be, but once I got to know the characters and really was pulling for the character of Kate, I couldn't put it down. Brownley does a great job of describing the characters and surroundings and I really felt like I was working hard with Kate as she woke at the break of dawn to get to work. And I struggled with her as she makes a decision about her future. The ending actually surprised me but I realized it was the first in a series and I would love to read the next one!

I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for a truthful review and was not required to give it a positive one.

Welcome to Summer!

I officially declared yesterday, June 25th, the first day of my summer. Yes, I know most of your summers started a month ago, but not mine. The first week of my boys' summer was the week before VBS, and since I was one of our directors, that week was busy with all the last minute crazy details of getting ready for VBS. Then the second week was VBS itself, very successful but tiring. And then last week my grandfather passed away (another blog on that to follow) so I spent the week at home with my parents celebrating his life. So last Friday was technically my first day at home with nothing important to do, but starting summer on a Friday just didn't sound right, so therefore, Monday June 25th started my summer.

The good part about that is that my summer is much shorter now! Back in May I made a comment on Facebook about how I had 3 hours of freedom left before I had at least one kid at home for three months, and I know that lots of moms were looking forward to spending summer with their kids, but I was not one of them. I got lots of implied (inferred?) flack for that. Some people commented that I should enjoy every minute with them because they grow up and then that time with them is gone. Yes, I understand and appreciate that and know that it is true, but it doesn't help right now. There were also some comments from home schooling moms about how summer isn't any different for them. Home schooling moms are saints to me, and God has not called me to that sainthood. Some people verbally told me they totally understand and feel the same, but they did it verbally, as if they were embarrassed to think that way. And then someone posted on her facebook page, not to me directly, but I got it, that she was tired of moms saying they weren't looking forward to summer with their kids when as a working mom she would like nothing more then to be home all the time and we should count our blessings. I do totally count my blessings that I can only work part time. I know its a gift, but again, that doesn't help when I'm home with 3 boys in summer and its 103 today outside, not counting the humidity, and because I don't have a paycheck in the summer, there is not extra money to go do fun things like water parks, etc. We also have one still playing baseball so he can't wear himself out during the day to prepare for his evening game. Maybe its because I have 3 boys. They are harder to come up with creative things for, at least for me who is not a creative mom. And even worse, 1 of the 3 is constantly moving, cannot entertain himself, and if left to his own devices will find something to get in trouble with. God has made me an introvert, I need quiet periodically to recharge, and that doesn't happen often in this house in the summer.

But it is summer, so time for some goals. That seems to help.
1. Clean out and rearrange the play room, again.
2. Fix my blog. I have lost my music and my slide shows recently, lots to fix.
3. Work on photo albums, not scrapbooks, just photo albums.
4. Come up with at least one fun, out of my comfort zone, thing to do with the boys each week.
5. Get the boys to read a book, or two.
6. Clean out toys that have been left in the dust.
7. Organize all my computer photos. Way too many!
8. Research starting my own home business. (I have something I want to sell, but I need to do some more looking in to it. For those of you who know me well, know that I have never wanted to sell anything, but I'm actually excited about this possibility.)

I know there were more, but now that I'm writing them down, I can't remember them. The picture at the top is a banner I made for the boys for the last day of school when they got home. I drew pictures of all the fun things we could do this summer. Positive thinking! I can make it!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Prayer Request

Please pray for my Pawpaw, Onnie Cross. He is 92 with Alzheimer's and fell this morning and fractured his left hip. He's in the hospital, scheduled for surgery on Monday. Please pray for my parents as they care for him. VBS starts Monday or I would so be there. Pray that I can not worry about him but get through my week giving God the effort and the glory he deserves. Thanks. I'll update on Monday.