Monday, July 13, 2009


Today has been a very hard day.

I woke this morning with a weight on my heart. You know that feeling that is half awake/half asleep? That feeling of "I need to remember something..."? And, knowing instinctively that you really don't want to remember? That is the feeling I woke to today. My mom isn't here. I can not go see her. I can not call her. I can not hug her. I can not have her 'make it all better.'

Today has been a very hard day.

From the moment I got over to Pop's until the time I left-an hour ago...there have been people there. Everyone wants a hug and everyone wants to know what happened...and everyone is talking at the same time. And, it is very loud. And, I have a headache. And, Pop looks so small and lonely. His 'Ella' always was in charge of these big shindigs. She had everything arranged, and everything in place. He didn't know what to do...and where to go...his helper, his partner, his other half was not there.

Today has been a very hard day.

Joy, Pop, and I went to the funeral home to finalize plans that had been made earlier. But, things were not in place as they should have been. Things were not done as they should have been. What we were expecting and what transpired were 2 very different things. (I'll explain more about this later). So, we were disappointed and yes, a little bit angry. But, knowing mistakes can happen...we tried to make the best of it...we tried to think about what really mattered. And, then another oversight...Lord, what's going on? And, why is this happening? let's go from here.

Today has been a very good day.

When I got to Pop's, I found friends..already hard at work. Patty was busy organizing the kitchen. Food had already started pouring in. And, she was tackling it. Suzanne was busy writing everything down, and keeping records of plates and such. Tara and Lori were busy greeting those who were arriving. Joy and I set about finding some papers we needed. Looking up, I found my friend, Shirley coming in the door from out of town. I was so happy to see her. She set about helping Patty and teaching her how to make coffee! I found Mom's dress and we began to find her accessories, things we needed to take to the funeral home. Patty left, and Tina arrived...along with Jan. Pam came and Shirley came back. They handled the kitchen. They thought to get plastic containers to put the food in and they organized it all without a dab of help from me. Actually I usually start twitching when I stay in a kitchen for very is not a pretty sight. Whenever someone came in that needed to eat...there was food...and plates...and ice...and napkins...and!

Today was a very good day.

We took Mom's clothes and Pop, Joy and I headed out to the funeral home. A very pleasant young man met us at the door. He ushered us back to a conference room, and we began the process. Questions...dates...names...who...what...etc. We got it all answered. And, then we got some unhappy news...things were not as we expected. Mom's casket was supposed to have a pink lining...and it was white. Now this is just a little thing...but not so little today. The fact is that Mom and Pop had their 58th wedding anniversary last week. They went that day to the funeral home and picked out their caskets. 5 days ago. My mom picked out the stainless steel casket with a pink lining. And, that is what she wanted. And, that is what we wanted her to have. But, the original salesman had ordered the wrong thing. We either had to change to a different casket...that we didn't like...or accept the white lining.We were not happy...Pop especially. And, he told this nice gentleman just what he thought about this. Pop was not ugly or unkind...just firm. This man was as patient and helpful as he could be. He called this place and that place and another place...but the best we could do was to delay the funeral 2 days for one to be shipped. Nope...not going to happen. So, I told him again that we were not happy with this, but,we knew it was not his fault,,,and we would make the best of the situation. Then there was another problem with the way things were explained to Pop...and thus began a long explanation again and again and again. But, this guy never lost his cool (though I am sure he was thinking, "How did I manage to pick THIS family?" Patience prevailed...and all was well. Until they could not find the records of the marker that Mom picked out. I took the brochure...Joy and I made a quick decision...and moved along. We could have gotten someone who was not patient and understanding...who tried to pass the buck. But, he tried everything he could to please us. And, when we left...with a 25 pound ham in our hands...we were at peace with all that was arranged.

Today was a very good day.

My dear friend, Pamela, who lost her father 4 years ago to the day, has always had a special place in Mom's heart. Mom has always said that she wanted Pam to sing at her funeral. Pamela used to sing solos alot, but hasn't in several years. Her father's death went much the same way as Mom's and it has been very hard on her. Today, when I asked her to sing...a million things passed through those eyes...and in a very long few seconds she said,"Yes, yes I'll sing for Mrs. Ella".

Today was a very good day.

We have seen so many people who loved Mom...people who said how she had changed their lives. People have stopped by with this story to tell about her, that funny joke she loved to play, how she led so many of us when we were young women...into the roles we play today; roles which include the leading of other younger women, who will take our places. She led by example. She led well.

Today has been a very good day.

The young man who takes car of Mom and Pop's lawn drove by with his equipment...just to make sure everything looked tip top "for Mrs. Ella." He blew off the sidewalks and touched up the lawn...and she would have been so proud. As I got in my car to leave, Pop was out watering the flowers. Mama's flowers which she took such a joy in growing. He was doing what she would have done if she were here.
I left Tina and Jan in the kitchen. They were putting up all the food...and fixing Pop a dish of warm peach cobbler and a glass of milk. They insisted I leave. And, I felt so blessed to have friends -all day long- who say..."I am here to serve. I am here to help you make it through this, I am here to ease your burden. I am here because I love you and your family."

Today has been a very long day.

Good-night, Mama. All is well.


Kat said...

If you need me, I will be there for you too. Just ask and I will come.

I'm so happy you have so many there who love you and loved your Mom and Pop. My prayer I prayed earlier is being answered.

I'll keep praying. Take care of YOU sweet friend.


LivingTheLife said... dear friend...I know the exhaustion you are feeling, the frustration that you have been through and the pain in your heart. I know this b/c I have been through it all myself...but I don't think I could have in a million years so eloquantly & articulately written as you have about those feelings...I feel so blessed to know I know many, many others feel the same. Your mom was such an inspiration for many, even those of us who never met her face to face. I know she is smiling upon you now, that you will rely on the faith she so patiently instilled in you and that you will get through this. I think by writing your feelings down, by expressing in words how you feel...has to not only be cathardic but also a diary for what is going on in your heart and mind during this time. There are days I have to really focus and concentrate as to what happened after both of my parents died...only to become frustrated when I am unable to remember certain things. Continue to write, to share and to talk about all your feelings, thoughts and prayers. As your friend, I care...and I want you to know...I'm here to listen to anything you want to say, anything you want to fuss about or anything you want to rejoice in. Take time to rest in His word, take time to grieve, take time for yourself...but most of all take time to remember. You will remember only the good things, which I know far outweigh the bad...Your family, your memories, your friends and most of all...your faith are going to be the things that comfort you during the coming days. I wish I was there to hug you, to laugh & cry, and to listen to you and your family remember so fondly your mom. I will keep you in my heart, thoughts and prayers in the coming days.

All my love to you and your family....

God Bless You and keep you in the coming days.


Just Breathe said...

That was a beautiful read and I am so sorry for the problems you had to face today. How wonderful to have such dear friends and family.
My Dad and I made all the arrangements for my Aunts funeral last year. She had no children and my Dad was all the family that was left. It feels good when you get it all worked out. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I lost my mother 27 years ago. Take care and God Bless. She is very proud of you. Take real good car of your father, he will really need you now.

Sherrie said...

So sorry it was a hard day for you. So thankful that you have so many wonderful friends to take care of you and support you. I know the pain you are feeling. It is like no other!!! I just looked at your family pictures again. What sweet, precioius pictures you all just recently made. I will be checking the paper for the funeral arrangements. I love you dear friend!!!!

Musicaljean said...

Oh, Tonja, my heart is just aching for you. I am praying for you and all your family.

My mom died the day before my birthday in 1982. Our family spent to much time together the first couple of days, which to me was very strengthening and comforting. I dreaded going home to my empty house midway through the second day (my birthday.) I'll never forget what I saw when I walked to the front door to check my mail. An enormous pile of cards lay on the floor under the mail slot in the door. One of my friends had organized a card shower for me, even before they knew mom would pass away that weekend. (She had been very sick with cancer.) It felt like God was saying, "See, I'm still here."

Lynne said...

Tonja, I'm just so sorry about your mom. This was a beautiful post. I agree with Teresa about writing about your feelings.

Please take care of yourself. I'm so glad that you have such wonderful friends to keep watch over you and your family.

Love Being a Nonny said...

The part where you said Pop was watering the flowers, because that's what she would have done...for some reason that got me. And I felt for him. For the loneliness and sadness. I felt for all of you. And I prayed. I prayed you would have wonderful memories. I prayed you would have peace and that you would have the strength to get through all of this. Your mother would be proud. Yes, she would.

My Vintage Studio said...

Hello. I am so sorry to read about your mother's death. I will include your family in my prayers. This is my first visit to your wonderful blog. My DH and I have been doing some home searching in the Fairhope area...this is how I found your blog from the list on the Alabama bloggers. Hope your day is blessed. Sharon

andi said...

I know you are exhausted. I hope you were able to sleep. {{{{}}}}}

Maggie said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Gram said...

I know the ups and downs of what you are feeling all too well. I also know that you have the best tools to get you through this time - God and friends. You are in my prayers.

jana said...

I am so sorry to hear about your mom. After being with my parents for a month, I can only hope that is the way they go home. I can't stand the thought of my dad lingering for five or more years without his mind or capabilities. He seems so sad. And yet I know what you are feeling because I can't stand the thought of not being able to go home and see him and hug him and tell him I love him more. I pray God's abundant grace for you today and in the coming days! Love you and will miss you greatly next year at F.P.

realestategirl said...

Tonja, I have a puddle of tears on my desk in front of my keyboard. I feel your heart, my sweet friend, and your words, thoughts, feelings have transported me to 3 years ago when my Daddy passed away. And I had the support of you, and all my sweet "B Club" girls.

Just know that I am here, crying and feeling all of these things with you. Wish there was something I could do, but know that praying for you is the most important. Please let me know if you need anything. You are loved, my friend.

marychristina said...

What beautiful postings despite your grief. My sympathy and prayers, Mary

Anonymous said...

Tonja, Mother sent me the link to your blog. Know that I am praying for you and Joy and Mr. Townsend during this time. I have so many good memories of your mom and the impact that she and your dad had on my life as fun youth chaperones, faithful hospital visitors for Mother and Daddy and an great example of a Christian marriage. Please give Joy and your dad my love.

Sheila Carpenter Gentle

Debbie said...

I know there is so much to do. I can not be there in body, but I am in spirit. I am still praying for you and your family. Sounds like you have a great friends to help you through this hard time. Debbie

Anonymous said...

Ms Tonja...I work with Tara and have read so many of your posts. We talk often, at work, about our families. I am very close to my grandparents, just as Tara has been with her "Granny and Papa." I was so saddened to hear about your mother, and will certainly keep your family in my prayers.

God has most definitely blessed you with your writing ability. So many times I have been brought to tears by the sweet stories you share. They are such a testimony of your faithfulness and the love you have for OUR Lord.

May God bless during this most difficult time.

Michelle Whitehurst

Dianne said...

Tonja, this is a very sweet post. I am so happy to know you have such sweet people there taking care of you and your family right now. My heart and prayers are with you now, and will continue to be there, as you move through the next few days and months. You've let so many of us come to know and love your family through your blog...we are grateful for that. Please continue to write and let us know your thoughts and gives us direction about how we can pray for you all. Know that I care, Tonja....very much.