Saturday, September 27, 2008

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

My grandmother, Edna Butler, passed away a week and a half ago.
My Maw-Maw Nina. That's what we always called her. She was an amazing woman.

I remember countless trips to the Audubon Zoo. We loved it! My grandparents kept a membership there so we could go anytime we were with them. My Paw-Paw would make corned beef sandwiches to take with us. Yum! I still love those sandwiches.

During my elementary and jr. high school years, we lived about an hour away from them. So, we got to see them quite a bit. I would lazily walk home from school each day, but if I spotted their maroon Oldsmobile in our driveway I would break out into a run.

Memories I love.

  • Hanging clothes on the clothes line
  • Trips to the Esplanade Mall (the biggest mall I had ever seen as a kid!)
  • Making cookies and brownies in her big, pink, mixing bowl.
  • Going to church with her. She always lead the music. In Primary, Sacarament and Sunday School opening exercises. She would stand up and say, "Good Morning!" And everyone would answer back in unison, "Good Morning Sister Butler!"
  • I loved learning and hearing stories about all things Irish, English and Scottish. She was born in Belfast, which is part of the UK. She and my mother even got me involved with Scottish dancing when I was younger.
  • Her grandfather clock, chiming all night long, when we slept over.
  • She would hand us little dixie cups and a bag of M&M's. We would count them out one by one to make sure everyone got the same amount.
  • She always had tons of stories to tell. She had a fantastic memory.
  • "Swimming" in her jacuzzi.
  • Saying prayers with her at night.
The summer before I started high school we moved. We were now three hours from my grandparents. They were getting older and by the end of my freshman year they moved in with us! I loved it.

I remember one time my parents were out of town and I was sick. I felt absolutely miserable. She sat on the edge of my parent's waterbed ( not always the most comfortable place to sit for too long). I held her hand and then placed it under my cheek and fell asleep. When I woke up again, she was still there. That still amazes me. She stayed there the whole time while I napped because I loved the way her hand felt on my face.

She has been very hard of hearing as long as I can remember. I loved to talk to her about things that were going on. She wanted me to tell her all my secrets, she promised she would keep them. Of course I believed her, but considering how loud I had to talk so that she could hear me everyone in the house would already know! :) So then, I had to wait until everyone else was gone.

She died on Tuesday, September 16th. My mother called me that morning to let me know that she thought it would happen soon. When I got there, two of my brothers were there. I have one brother and one sister that live in the Houston area, which had just been hit hard by Hurricane Ike. My brother's house still did not have electricity, but he and his wife are both school teachers and didn't have any school all week as the city tried to recover. They wanted to come as soon as possible, but the lines at the gas stations were 3-4 hours long. Knowing that they had a 3 hour drive ahead of them, they couldn't wait that long. They had to siphon gas from other vehicles so they would have enough to make the trip. They made it in time. Maw-Maw Nina was surrounded by family who loved her dearly when she passed.

A couple of days ago someone told me, " I'm sorry about your grandmother." I just smiled and thanked her. But then I think to myself, "Have you heard about my grandfather? He got the love of his life back. One year, four months, and two days. That's how long he waited to be reunited with his eternal companion." I can only imagine the joy he felt that night. We cried, but I'm sure he was smiling.

My grandfather's funeral was really hard. I think that's because he was the first to go. Her funeral was different. I alternated between feeling sad and smiling. To me it truly felt like a celebration of her life and good-bye for now. My parents had bagpipers play as they put her in the hearse and at the cemetary. They played two of her favorites, Amazing Grace and Danny Boy. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful service.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remember Rita

That's what our local officials are saying. Remember the storm that ripped through here 3 years ago. I don't want to remember Rita. I don't want this thing to be anything like Rita.

Rita was the first storm I've ever evacuated for. Ever. When I was growing up and a hurricane was forecast, my job was to scrub the tub and fill it with water. So when my phone rang one morning and my mom asked what were we going to do, I was confused. People were leaving and I didn't understand that. After going to a gas station and finding out that they ran out of gas just before I got to the pump, I was in full panic mode. I remember the stress, the tears and trying to get my family ready to leave as fast as I could.
My parents still had Katrina evacuees at their house when we headed out of town. We drove as far as Athens, Texas that night and got some sleep. The next day we made it a little further North into Texas. After the storm had passed, Bobby headed back to help and I went to Plano to stay with a friend.
I remember being in Wal-Mart when Bobby called and said that we had some damage to our porch but our mobile home was fine. Such sweet relief. More tears right there in the middle of Wal-Mart. Tears of relief.
It would be two full weeks before Bobby let me come home with the kids. We still did not have electricity, but my parents did. We stayed with them for a few days and then we had electricity and could go home.
As I drove back into town after people had worked for more than two weeks cleaning up the damage, it was worse than I thought it would be. More tears. This is our home town, our community, our neighbors, our friends. It was so hard to see.
I know that we were very lucky, especially since we lived in a mobile home at the time. So it's not my personal experience with my home that makes comparing this to Rita so hard. It's that I really don't want our community to have to go through that again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My little hummingbird feeder

We had never had a hummingbird feeder before. I never really thought about it. Until one day, several months ago, Bobby came home from Wal-mart with one. I thought, "That's really kind of ugly." But he seemed really pleased about his gift for me, so whatever. We hung it up right outside our big kitchen window where I stand to do dishes.

I can not tell you how much I have enjoyed our little feeder. The boys absolutely love it too. They get so excited when the little hummingbirds come around. It has been quite common to see one or two birds feeding there each day.

Yesterday, when I looked out the window, I could not believe how many I saw. They were flying all over the place. After some had flown off and I was able to get a good count, there were 6. I think there must have been about 10 when I first looked out.

Now, I cannot imagine not having a feeder for them. I love it! Thank you Bobby.