For this post to make sense, I'm feeling the need to play the name game. So for your reference, there is a list at the bottom of this post...
As we were growing up, we were pretty close with our cousins (on Mom's side). My mom has one brother -- Uncle Bubba. He and Aunt Stephy have two boys, who age-wise fit right in the middle of the five-year-span that my siblings and I cover.
The six of us got to spend days upons weeks over the holidays and during the summer at MeeMaw and PeePaw's house. We always had so much fun together. So much in fact, that we were always sad when it was time for one family to go to the other grandparents' house for various holiday celebrations. In fact, Caleb and Josh (my cousins) often went with us to GweGwe's house (Dad's mom).
But we didn't usually get to go with Caleb and Josh to TuTu and Grandpa's house (Aunt Stephy's parents). That's because they lived in Hawaii. It was a really big deal for Caleb and Josh to get to go, and needless to say, for the four cousins to tag along was simply out of the question.
BUT, TuTu and Grandpa have a summer house in Illinois, too. We did get to go with them there one summer. Lots of good memories there, too. They had the best treehouse...
Well, as many of you may remember, PeePaw passed away just about a year ago. Our family rallied together -- laughing, crying, hugging, and caring for one another as families do. MeeMaw (who had just lost her husband of 59 years, and is not well herself) moved in with Mom and Dad, and everyone has pitched in anywhere and everywhere that they can. There was no fighting or arguing. Mom and Uncle Bubba split the load of responsibilities and have been a beautiful example of the way that families should work.
Then a few months ago, the need arose for Aunt Stephy to undertake the enormous task of moving TuTu to Texas. TuTu is not well, and the travel was expensive and difficult, but it was simply what needed to be done. So Aunt Stephy and her brother worked it out, and TuTu is now living in the Alzheimer's unit in a nursing home here in Glen Rose -- the same one that PeePaw lived in for a little while.
To do this, she had to say goodbye to her husband of 60+ years. For health reasons, he had to stay behind in Hawaii. Everyone thought that this was their heartwrenching last goodbye.
But circumstances changed, and Grandpa was able to make the move to Texas about a month ago as well. He was able to move into the nursing home, too and got to see TuTu again. Though she didn't seem to know exactly who he was, she did claim that of all the people in the room, he was her favorite.
Aunt Stephy got to see Grandpa several times a week, and got to spend Father's Day with him for the first time in many years...
...and then Grandpa got sick. He passed away yesterday morning. Aunt Stephy and Uncle Bubba were both able to be there with him, holding his hand and watched him peacefully slip away to a place that we are promised is so much better.
Aunt Stephy needed to meet with the funeral home this morning to take care of the arrangements, but Uncle Bubba had an appointment that he really couldn't miss in Waco to take care of some of the details of PeePaw's estate. Mom was tied up and unable to help, so my Dad went with her. My dad went with his sister-in-law to take care of funeral arrangements for her father that he barely knew -- and he was happy to do it and she was so thankful that someone she loved and trusted could be there with her.
Now, I don't know if you were really able to follow all of that. It's really a pretty confusing little story. But I think it is simply beautiful. It's a story of family love, regardless of blood kinship. It's a story of selflessness, making sure that others are taken care of. It's a story of family the way that family should be.
And I praise God that even though the circumstances have been sad, I have been provided with this wonderful example. Thank you, God, for blessing me to be a part of this family. I pray that our tears of mourning will soon be dancing in your holy courts...
The Name Game:
Mom's brother -- Uncle Bubba
Mom's brother's wife -- Aunt Stephy
Mom's Dad -- PeePaw
Mom's Mom -- MeeMaw
My cousins -- Caleb and Josh
Aunt Stephy's Dad -- Grandpa
Aunt Stephy's Mom -- TuTu
Dad's Mom -- GweGwe