My last post I told you my Daddy was down to his final days. Well Daddy died August 14 . . . during the set up of our antique show. With 50 vendor booths setting up throughout our property and everyone needing a piece of me, I quietly slipped away for an hour to say my final goodbye to Daddy. I returned, put on my big girl panties and continued to help the vendors get moved in for the show. About an hour later we got the news that Daddy was in heaven. It was so hard and rather surreal . . . to be realizing someone you have loved your entire life . . . in fact the very someone who was the first man you ever loved . . . was now gone forever and now was celebrating in heaven. In the meantime, canopies went up, rows of antiques, crafts and other splendors were being set out and silly things, such as lining the trash cans with bags, stocking toilet paper in honey buckets and making sure bee traps were in place happened. My husband was extra sweet and treated me so gently during this time. But I knew I had to just make it through and be strong.
So many thoughts and emotions have taken place since Daddy went home to Jesus. I have cried and I have laughed. I have hugged a lot. We have done the "must dos" . . . the picking out a grave marker, talking with the funeral home and planning the memorial service. The service was carried out, dinners were made and greatly appreciated, photos were taken. I knew I was forever changed and yet the sun still rose and set just the same as it does everyday. My life was all about this loss and yet the news still played stories of forest fires, crimes and the tragedies others were experiencing. My Mom was alone and I mourned for her, but groceries still needed to be bought and chickens still needed to be fed.
Now, 10 days later, I still marvel at it . . . not at the death or the mourning . . . but at the fact that no matter how big the storm or life changing your circumstances, the ordinary, everyday things of life still continue. As I first pondered this, it seemed almost wrong. It seemed to me when Daddy died, there should at least be a pause or a small bump in time . . . a moment where everything held it's breath and acknowledged that something had changed for eternity. Shouldn't the birds have stopped their chirping for just a moment? Shouldn't the sun have choose to hide for a while, in honoring the mourning? And why on earth did our rooster feel he should still be crowing? But, as I pondered my feelings and tried to process the concept of living and dying, the concept of eternal and temporary, I began to realize the blessing of the ordinary.
An ordinary day of doing laundry and cooking dinner, running errands and feeding our chickens may not seem exciting, but I realize now there is something healing and cathartic about routine and "normalcy." And I realized, it speaks to the promises of God. If God is always with us, always watching over us, then of course the ordinary must go on. A caring God knows we need daily sustenance. He knows we need to keep up on our laundry. He knows the news needs to still be told and the weather patterns must still continue. Without this, we lose our sense of order. Our sense of familiarity. He is a God of order, not a God of chaos. He knows we are creatures of habit. He knows we need the security and safety of what is familiar. So, after pondering it, I realized I am thankful for all the little normal things that happened and continue to happen, even though my life has forever changed. I still sneeze, I still get tired and hungry. I still find certain things annoying. I still crave dark chocolate covered espresso beans. And I breath in and feel God in my everyday. And I thank God for being there day in and day out. In the everyday and the extraordinary. In the homecomings and the goodbyes. In the tears and the laughter. Thank you God for caring enough to continue to bless me with ordinary days.
I want to share with you the remarkable man my Daddy was. So, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I thought I would share the words I wrote and shared at my Daddy's memorial. Each of us kids wrote a tribute to my Daddy. He was an amazing man. Here is my little tribute to the first man I ever loved . . .My name is Brenda. I am the third of four kids. who were given the honor of being the children of Jim Brown.
My Daddy was a special man. He was, for the most part, a quiet man. Gentle and kind, he was content to be a worker bee and never needed to draw attention to himself. He has a quiet strength and a quiet faith and all who knew him could see the goodness in him. He was never “preachy” but just lived his faith through the way he treated others.
My Daddy adored my Mom. She was, without a doubt, the love of his life. He met her when she was just a tiny little girl and helped her up to reach the drinking fountain. They began dating when she was only 15 and he married her when he was 23 and she was 17. Dad was always willing to do just about anything for my Mom . . . from hauling decorative rocks from Mica Peak to hauling driftwood home from the ocean, if Mom batted her baby blues, Dad was always happy to oblige my Mom. Over the years he did many home remodel projects that she would design and he would make happen.
Growing up, my family spent a lot of time together . . . from pizza nights and game nights, to camping trips and long drives to the middle of Timbuktu. Dad loved spending time with us and was always ready at the drop of a hat to go on an adventure. Mom was the adventure planner and Dad always made sure to carry it out . . . but often with his own twist. Such as our long back road excursions . . . one time it landed us on a logging road with no where to turn around for hours on end . . . another time it led to a nudist camp. Dad would just laugh and just move on to the next adventure.
I had a special relationship with my Dad in that he was not only my Daddy, but also my own personal art instructor. Not many people can say their Daddy taught them how to paint with a pallet knife. One of my fondest memories with my Dad was something we did many times. when I was small. My dad did quite a bit of freelance art to help supplement the family income and many Saturday mornings, as well as several evenings, would find him working at his art table. I would be happily sitting on the floor below him, my own artwork spread out before me. Daddy always made me feel like my projects were just as important as his projects and allowed me to believe that I too, was helping out the family. The day I decided it was silly to have to buy stamps from the post office and that I could just make some, he never laughed at me or made me feel stupid . . . instead me told me how beautiful my hand drawn stamps were and made me feel like I had really done them a huge favor. In the years to come, he would always offer me gentle suggestions, as I would work on a piece of art . . . saying such things as, “Maybe if you added a little more shading here, this would pop more,” or “that looks great . . . if you just deepen the red, it will be perfect.” He never made me feel foolish or inferior. He always built me up and while he prodded me forward to keep improving as an artist, he made me feel like what I did had great promise and value. In fact, he always made me feel like I had great promise and value.
Daddy loved to have fun. From slip & slides in the backyard to all night (or at least I thought they were) drive-in movies, Dad was always game for something fun. He loved playing “Paddle Pool” with all of us . . . and especially his brothers. They would all get to laughing so hard they would all get the hiccups. I remember one time being out on a little fishing boat with my Dad and Uncle Merle. I remember that I had no idea what they were talking about, but they were laughing hysterically while they both talked about some crazy story about chickens . . . or as they would say “cheekens” with a goofy fake Italian accent. I just remember loving the joy that came out of him and thinking how much I love my Daddy.
Dad loved to putter. He could be found most any day off either working in the yard or working on something around the house. He was very handy and “calling a plumber” or electrician was something we never did. Mom just called Dad and he always managed to fix whatever it was.
And then there is the weirdness thing. Yep, I said it. Our family was and still is weird. For example, Dad had a gifting that he has passed on to us children . . . and, in fact, he married a woman with the same talent. It is a talent of taking any given set of circumstances and turning them into a song. So if he happened to misplace his keys, or spill his coffee, it inevitably became a song. I married someone with this same “talent” and together we continue to pass this weirdness on for the generations ahead.
Our family also has it’s own language. Dad was one of the biggest contributor to this language. Words such as rubber band and stretchy have a meaning only members of our family understand. We know what Barney Noodles is and, if you didn’t have the privilege of growing up in our family, I am sorry, you don’t. When Dad was very sick in the hospital, a few years back, we added the word periwinkle to our private little language. Sorry, only Dad and his wife and kids are privy to this top secret language and it’s deep meaning. And then there was the talking with his hands. The joke was always that if Daddy’s hands were cut off he would be a mute. Pretty much any conversation involved using his hands to explain whatever was being discussed. Even when talking on the phone, Dad’s hands would be moving, explaining what he was talking about. I find myself doing that a lot and realize the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree..
My Dad was an amazing whistler . . . and he ALWAYS was whistling. If he wasn’t whistling (or making up weird songs . . . ) we knew something was wrong. From sun up to sundown, as he puttered around or completed projects at both home and work, he would be whistling. He could also do a special whistle to call us. When we were kids, we might be off riding our bikes in the field a couple of blocks away, but if Daddy whistled we knew to come home right away.
My Dad was always a very patient man and he spent many hours trying to make me understand algebra and geometry. I don’t think it ever worked, but he always patiently would write it out, in hopes I might somehow have an “Ah-ha” moment. That moment never came, but I always loved the time he spent with me, and his gentle approach. There are only a handful of times I can think of where my Dad was impatient or angry. One time was when he was teaching me how to drive my stick shift Ford Pinto. I was terrible and Dad was beyond frustrated. When I broke out in tears, my always soft hearted Daddy, decided we needed to end the lesson with an ice cream cone from Ron’s Drive Inn. I was his little girl and keeping me “tear free” was something he was very good at.
The last several years Daddy has battled vascular dementia that slowly took away his independence, some of his memory and some of his ability to reason things out. Having always been such an intelligent man, you would think this situation would leave him angry and irritable. But not my Dad. Until the very end, when fear began creeping in, my Dad stayed upbeat and happy. While I am sure losing his independence had to be frightening and frustrating, he was kind and gentle. He was a favorite with the various nurses and aides that helped him in his final days, because they all saw the kind gentle man he was.
My Dad passed away a week ago Friday. The timing was so very hard for me . . . I was in the middle of setting up for an antique show we put on each year on our property. I had 50 vendors on our property, all needing me to help them get settled in. It was hard to keep it together and continue with the show, but I knew what I had to do. I had to live up to my upbringing. In my family we were taught to complete what we started, to never give up and to always do our best. I knew my Dad would expect that from me. He had taught us well and on his final day, a test was given to see if I had learned these lessons well. With Daddy on my heart and in my mind, we persevered and completed the show. We always open the show by running down our drive, ringing cowbells . . . to “ring in the show.” This year, as I ran down the drive side by side with my husband Ron, I knew we were not only ringing in our antique show, but we were celebrating my Daddy’s homecoming . . . the bells rang in heaven and Daddy was called home.
I will always be proud and grateful to have been his daughter. I love you forever, Daddy.
Thank you for bearing with me and allowing me to share this personal journey in my life. Our show was a great success and I look forward to moving forward . . . with plans for my family and plans for my business. Yes, I am forever changed, but God is faithful, Daddy is home. My hand is on the plow and I look forward to whatever God has in store for me . . . in this very extraordinarily, ordinary life.
May God bless you as you walk the wonderfully ordinary life He has blessed you with.