Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Preacher Pa

I must have been 5 years old when I went on my first "date."  I remember feeling like a princess.  Riding on the metro train and then being taken into the big city of Atlanta.  I remember sitting on a high bench at a bar in a restuarant and having a strawberry sundae.  And I remember feeling loved. 

I remember putting my toes on the edge of the diving board and being so scared to jump in.  Almost jumping, and then backing away.  I remember him catching me when I did finally jump and being so proud of me for having been so brave. 

I remember going to visit he and my grandmother in their home and wondering if he could see our car as we turned into Lake Junaluska assembly from the front porch of their home, where I knew he was sitting in his rocking chair waiting for me. 

I remember how he smelled like Old Spice and mouthwash, how he would wink at me as he crossed the room, how when he talked, the sides of his mouth never parted, and how he loved my grandmother. 

I called him Preacher Pa, but as a little girl, I would say "Pepa."  My Preacher Pa, Art O'Neil, Jr., was one of the greatest men I will ever know.  He had strong hands, kind eyes, and one of the sweetest voices I've ever heard.  As a child, I would visit him at Simpsonwood, and I felt as close to a princess as a girl can feel.  He had a picture of me on his desk (or was it a bookshelf?) and I knew that I was special.  I've always known that I was special to him, I've always known that he was proud of me, and I've always known that he loves me.  Always.  How does someone get so lucky to have that sort of influence on their life? 

On June 24, 2011, I gave birth to my sweet Sallie.  I knew it was coming because we had scheduled a c-section, so the morning of, I styled my hair, put on my makeup and jewelry, boxed up my homemade cupcakes (for the nurses) and headed to the hospital.  We were there at 6:00 in the morning, and by 9am, I was holding her in my arms.  I had given life to a person.  I had delivered a person into this world.  I had (my body had) created this tiny human being then after months of growing and nurturing and loving, she was born.  She had been created.  As I held her there in the hospital, I knew without a doubt that God had been in charge of this little life since before she was even conceived. 

Less than 2 months later, my sweet Preacher Pa, decided to stop his treatments for Kidney Disease.  I witnessed his body becoming more frail and when my big strong grandfather had to have help into and out of bed every day, I knew that it was time.  I watched as he prepared for the coming weeks.  I was there when he made his funeral arrangements and chose which hospice company would come and what he wanted to be done with his body.  Like me, preparing for my c-section, he was preparing for a birth also.   The hospital bed was brought in, candles were lit, his favorite hymns were being played, and  friends and family were coming by.  Within just a couple of days he began to whisp away.  He began to sleep longer and longer and on August 30, he fell into such a hard sleep that he couldn't be awaken.  I was there that evening.  I didn't want to leave my grandmother.  My dad had just left to take Nathan home and I was nursing Sallie.  I remember my grandmother sitting by his bedside and whispering in his ear.  Directly, she stood up and went to the door and when she came back to his bed, it was noticeably more quiet.  His snoring had softened and was becoming more shallow.  I'll never forget her saying, "Y'all come here, I think he's dying..."  and as we all stood around him - my grandmother; my cousin, Rachel; my uncle; my mom and I holding Sallie, his spirit left his body.  After all the years of growing and nurturing and loving - he was born!   He had been created into the spirit of God.   As I stood there at the hospital bed of one of my favorite people, I knew without a doubt that God had been in charge of his life and had been in charge of his death and that my Preacher Pa was in heaven. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Better late than never!

Tonight, after I kissed Nathan goodnight, I went into Sallie's room and turned on her sound machine.  When I came back into the living room, she was holding her "mongy", pointing at the rocking chair and swaying back and forth.  She's never done this before, but I knew that she wanted to rock.  So, I rocked my baby.  I rocked and rocked and rocked.  And I soaked in the smell of her and the feel of the warmth of her sweet little body and I drank in the blessing that she is to me.  As I was holding her, she was sucking on those sweet little fingers and with her eyes closed, leaned her forehead into my lips over and over again as if she were saying, "kiss me, mama."  I melt.  This is my motherhood.  I'm not a good blogger, but tonight I realized that I've GOT to get some of this stuff down before it slips away and I forget it all...

You are al-most 15 months old.  You are so sweet and you have so much personality!  You can say, "Juice/Shoes (they sound the same!), Dada, Bigda, and basketball (biggle-biggle-ball).  You do a LOT of pointing and grunting, but it works for you!  You make sure we alllllll know what you want and in a way, I sort of like it.  It's honing our skills at being able to read each other's minds.  :)  You can run and you are beginning to climb, you know where your eyes, nose, mouth, hair and belly is.  You are the BEST sleeper!  You recently fell from the highchair at Memaw's (my first trip to the Emergency Room!).  You bit through your bottom lip and pushed your top left tooth into the gum, but it didn't fall out!  We are hoping that it will continue to straighten itself out as it slowly moves back into position.  I think this shows a) that you don't have quite as good of balance as your brother and b) that you are going to be a very active little girl!   You squeal at the top of your lungs with laughter when you see an animal - any kind!  It's so sweet.  And you loooooooove your daddy and your brother.  You give sweet hugs and kisses by leaning over and saying "uh-uh".  You don't like for Nathan to get into trouble and you try to do everything that he does!  It's such a sweet and precious relationship that y'all have!  You won't remember and I hope I'll never forget how in the morning when we first wake you up, he always says, "Good morning, sweet princess!"  :)  This is the greatest joy of my life, right now!  It reminds me of when he first saw you in the hospital.  When he first came in, I was holding you and he climbed into bed with us and touched you and looked sweetly at you.  But then, several minutes later, someone had placed you in the bassinet and you'd begun to cry.  Memaw was holding Nathan and was standing next to the bassinet and he said, "It's okay, Sallie!  Don't cry, I'm your brother and I'll protect you!"  And he will, he will love you and protect you all of your life.  I'm so thankful for the two of you!

You just turned FOUR!  I can NOT believe that it's already been 4 years since you were born!  You are so big and grown up and smart and sweet and strong.  I just sometimes wonder how in the world it's even possible for you to be mine!  I'm not (first of all, old enough ;) ) and second of all, smart enough to have risen such an amazing little person!  You are going to school at First Methodist 5 days a week with Miss Karen Moon and your friends are Luke Hice, Cade McKnight, Griffin Conoly, Kate Sears, Kathryn Ross Pass, Addy Welden, etc.  The teachers always have the nicest things to say about you and they all think you are so smart and well-mannered!  You have such a strong love for your family, for Preacher Pa (who passed away a year ago) and Meme, for our house ("We have a fun little house.  Don't we, Mama?"), for Sallie (you'll stop your bike when you're riding just to come give her a hug), for Mason (sometimes we won't have seen him for weeks and you'll say, "I'm glad I have a brother."), for sports (ALL sports), and for God ("What does God's mommy look like?")  You do test us and are not a very good sleeper and you do like to get your way and you are VERY active, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I never knew what life with a boy would be like and I'm surprised at how much differently it was than I expected.  I love you so much, sweet boy.  You are my favorite little boy in the whole world and I'm so grateful that you are mine.  I hope you will always know how much you are loved and how wonderful I think you are. 

Love my sweet, sweet babies...