Monday, December 23, 2013

1997, losing two grandpas and still going on

Merry Christmas      1997

in front of the cabin people paint memories
And Happy Thanksgiving, because as I sit writing this, today is Thanksgiving and I am once again snuggled into our favorite cabin on the Dunes in Gold Beach, Oregon.  Even though we only rent these cabins occasionally, they have become our emotional refuge.  We discovered Gold Beach only six months after we were married in 1984.  We were here in a fire warmed, pine paneled cabin when we got the call telling us we would soon have baby Austin, His birth Mom was in the hospital.  We were there watching the waves crash and the gulls soar and the black tail deer forage among the marsh grasses within a week of springing Emerson from the neonatal intensive care unit after his birth.  We have celebrated birthdays here, hosted family and friends and it was here on the morning of February 1st that my Mother called to tell us that my father had escaped the pain ridden existence which his cancer had forced him into.

the Irelands viewing tower

to the beach

fun to build a cabin while at the cabin

Ireland's Rustic Lodges
 Dad's Death, though expected, was an emotional bombshell which cratered our hearts and still has us reeling in its aftershock.  Then two months later when our children's daycare "grandfather" died on the treadmill the day that he was to come home from a week long, heart attack induced stay in the I.C.U. - we found that we still had heart enough left to be wounded all over again.  And our world, at the end of 1997 is an emptier place than when it began.

Austin and Emerson especially have struggled to deal with the reality of DEATH happening twice.  They often say how sad or angry that their Papas both had to die.  They seem to have created their own image of comfort from a day which really happened in August of 1996 when Papa Paul and Papa Dale were at our house for a barbecue.  They spent time tossing a ball onto the sloping roof of our house and racing to catch it as it fell.  The boys tell us that their Papas are playing catch together again and that they sometimes stop to watch Austin and Emerson and be proud.  Austin told me, "The part of you that loves someone is too strong to die." and even three year old Emerson said it pretty well, "I'm sad because Papa died but I'm not sad that I loved him."

We have received a ton of support in cards and letters and sympathy from friends and family but each time I try to sit down to try to put onto paper my gratitude, I start to cry. So, now, on Thanksgiving day, let me tell you how much it meant to get those paper jugs.  To have you tell us that you care makes us feel loved and supported in a time which could have been very lonely and frightening.  And it was frightening to see the healthiest, most vital man go from racing my brother Lance to the top of Battle Rock and helping my kids back down, from riding the ferris wheel and climbing rocks in August of 1996 - to being thin, yellow and barely able to stand up in October, to looking older than my 98 year old great grandmother and being confined to a hospital bed in his living room in December.  When he finally died, it was a relief but God, We Miss Him!  Still it was special to be given those months to realize how precious our families are and to see his courage and sense of humor never fade no matter what happened to his body.  Right to the end, his conscious moments were spent telling his family that he loved us.

And so, on Thanksgiving, I turn my thought away from what I lost so quickly and force myself to see the treasures I still have and appreciate them for they are ours for all too brief a time.  I celebrate having been loved by Paul and Dale and I am so glad that my Dad knew how to live for today.  He always told us he loved us and took the time to enjoy this world with his family and friend.  We are still blessed to have many wonderful friends, one special Grandpa for our children, and three dynamic, beautiful Grandmas, and a loving family.  We love being in this world that can be cruel but that has, most often given us great beauty.

A big change for our family this year is that only one of us has been working since June, so the boys have been home instead of at Grandma Nadine's, finally able to sleep til 11:00 if they choose instead of being pried out of bed before 7:00 and dumped into a car set as they have been since they were six weeks old.  First I (Dixie) worked summer school and then went on Child rearing leave for a year beginning in september.  I'll go back in the fall of '98 when Austin starts Kindergarten and Greg will take a year off which will take us to the 1999-2000 school year when Emerson starts kindergarten.

Greg has valiantly gotten up and gone to work each day so that I could stay home and play with the boys.  We have doe a lot of fishing and hiking in the redwoods or beach.
Each of them is taking a dance and gymnastics class and some swimming lessons. Austin also did some horse riding.  They like doing school with Mom, starting to read and add and subtract but mostly they love music and singing songs that they make up.  We really enjoy our time together but surviving on one income requires some adjustments, but with no daycare bill or car payment we're doing it.

I'm also working on some children's books which I have wanted to write and illiterate for years.  I don't know if I'll ever be published but I have had a lot of experience reading and teaching from "Kiddy Lit." and my kid at home and at school always ask for more stories.

Greg is also taking a Spanish class two nights a week.  He's pretty good at languages and he's teaching some of it to our boys but language classes always make me sympathize with my handicapped students.  I don't learn easily.

Austin at 4 years, 8 months is still a joy and amazement.  He only has one volume, extremely loud, but he's full of enthusiasm and he's so smart.  He's racing a bit, knows all his letter names and sounds but prefers to look at the pictures and retell a story in his own words.  He is a funny mixture of fear (won't go in another room in our house alone even in the daylight) and courage (jumps off the high dive at the pool, rides a big horse, tries new flips and handstands in front of an audience.)  He's mean and gentle, sweet and sassy, WONDERFUL and we love him.

Emerson at 3 years, 7 1/2 months is very much our character actor.  He's more independent and plays aloe for hours and he's surely quieter, but quiet and independent can be a dangerous combination when teamed with his imagination i.e. a $1,400 damage to our van when fireman Emerson decided to wash his "fire truck" with a river rock "sponge."  He is Chief Cornplanter to John Smith, Long John Silver or Black Dog and if he has chosen a role then we all have our parts assigned, "Mommy's the witch and Austin is Hansel and Daddy's the woodcutter and I'm the Witch's helper."

It's hard to be happy at Christmas without my Dad but impossible to be unhappy at Christmas when blessed with two such marvelous sons. We wish you and yours much peace and health in 1998.  Merry Christmas and when you look at the picture of us at the local park remember that you are looking at people who love you and value your friendship,

Dixie, Greg and Austin and Emerson Goode

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