Friday, December 21, 2012

My Best Friend

Words can't describe just how much Love I had for my Mammaw and how deep her love was for me. She took care of me and was there through the most difficult and challenging times of my life and in return, I was fortunate to do the same as she aged over the years . To lose the only blood family I feel that I have is a pain that few must experience. Christmas and the holidays have always been hard times and now, they will be even harder.  I surely miss my best friend that always made me laugh and is the reason that I am the woman I am today. If you were to ask any of Kathleen Moore's nine grandchildren or ten great grandchildren was their Mammaw Moore the best in the world, the answer would always be yes. Her heart was so big and her 88 years of life was nothing but genuinely loving and caring for anyone and everyone she'd come in contact with. Out of the many roles I've been called to play in life, being her granddaughter, primary care giver, and close friend is by far something I've held of the utmost importance.  It is such a blessing to have grown up under the love and care of my best friend for 21 years. I really miss that sweet lil ole woman dearly, but beyond humbled and thankful for the amazing relationship we had and above all the relationship Kathleen Moore had with the Lord.

                                                                       GROWING UP

Still living in what used to be my Mammaw's house is very hard, yet rewarding. All of the sweet memories I have are very vivid and strong when here at home. My Mammaw was the biggest sweet tooth you'd ever meet. She always had a bountiful stash of sweets and treats here. This woman practically raised me and taught me everything I know. I stayed at her house more than my own all of my life. Here in the Lakeshore neighborhood, Kathleen Moore was a very popular lady. I remember spending time each day putting together goody bags with my Mammaw to pass out to everyone down the block. We'd hop in her blue oldsmobile car and go house to house visiting all the other home bound senior citizens in the area. My Mammaw knew Everyone. I learned so much history from hearing story after story from my Mammaw and her friends. This house was known for being the best house to come to during Halloween. All the trick or treaters would come by the dozen to see what awesome candy Kathleen Moore had to offer each year. She always loved kids. She would always take in neighborhood kids in as her own. 

When school was out during the holidays or summer break, my Mammaw and I would have a blast. Each morning I'd wake up she would fix me a grilled cheese sandwich , with the crust cut off, and sometimes bacon. Then we'd be lazy and stay in our pajamas till around lunch time watching re-runs of the Golden Girls and any other old classic show you could imagine. It always cracked me up when she'd make us watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire because she secretly had a crush on Regis Philbin, haha. Around eleven o'clock or so we'd finally change and clean up to seize the day of activities! She refused to leave the house without her make-up on, though all she ever put on was lipstick and face lotion. She was always so pretty and beautiful even as she aged. I've looked at so many pictures of her from her youth and her skin was always so soft with a clear complexion. After we'd get dressed we'd pick a place to eat, if we didn't end up eating at home. We'd either eat at the original Ray's PeGe, Dainken Trail, or McDonald's. While out and about we'd stop by the bank and she always said she had a few "extra" dollars left over that she didn't know what to do with so she'd take me to the dollar store to pick out something fun. I usually found a new coloring book that she would help choose. My Mammaw not only let me buy coloring books and color at her house, she'd color with me and enjoyed it equally as much if not more. She literally saved Every single coloring book page her grandchildren colored while at her house. She always had us put our name and the date on it and told us we did a great job. She also saved a lot of her own coloring book pages with her signature on it, haha. After eating lunch back at the house we'd occasionally go to the beauty shop for a hair appointment. Of course, she was popular their too. My Mammaw was always a talker, she loved to socialize with others and catch up. She also was the best listener. She was always there if you needed someone to talk to just for the sake of talking. When we'd return home we'd watch her soap operas like Bold and the Beautiful or As the World Turns. Then I'd help her clean house and grocery shop. Every time I'd spend the night we would lay down in her bed and put the t.v. on to help us fall asleep. We'd talk for the next hour or so about anything and everything. We shared many giggles and sweet moments in the midst of our deliriousness. She'd tell me her dreams that she had for herself and for me.   

I've always struggled in academics. Having both ADD and dyslexia makes school work and reading very challenging. I've always loved to write, however. She always told me how that made us alike, our love for writing things down and expressing how we felt. When I started to really get into the whole writing thing, she began to let me use her old type writer at the house and told me to write however much I liked and to always let her read. I'd spend hours on that type writer and would write several poems and short stories to give to her to read. She always told me to never stop chasing my dreams. She Loved music as well. Though she never played any instruments, she constantly listened to music. I grew up always hearing Big Band music on the record player at her house. Any genre you could think of, she listened to. She'd bob her head and tap her foot when she heard a melody and would hum it everywhere she went. She is probably the only little old woman I knew that actually enjoyed hearing a loud drum set being played. Though she was never able to make it to any of my concerts since I began playing, she always encouraged me and cheered me on. Sometimes I'd give her a shaker or tambourine so she could play along with me while I played drums. We always had fun jam sessions and she never seized to amaze me with her taste in music and the support she constantly bestowed. 

Every weekday during the year I'd be dropped off at her house early in the morning before school. She'd fix me breakfast and watch Saved By the Bell with me. She'd make sure I had all my books and would encourage me to do my very best. I'd walk down the street to Lakeshore Elementary and walk back once school let out. Eveyday I'd walk back to see her waiting in the carport for me. Her face would light up when she saw me walking towards her and she'd tell me how excited she was that I was back home. Little did she know that I was bullied throughout elementary school and was acting out due to the things that surrounded me growing up. The way she'd look me in the eyes and tell me how she knew the good things I was capable, it was life changing to say the least.  We'd sit on the carport a little while watching the squirrels and eating a snack that she always had ready for me. She'd make sure I did my homework then we'd watch some television. She would study the guide channel to see when my favorite nickelodeon or cartoon network shows would come on so she could have it set on the t.v. when I'd get home from school.  I'd be at her house till 5 or 6pm if not later. I'd stay there till my Dad would get off work and then we'd drive all the way home, which I never wanted to do. Here at her house, I found a safe Haven. I felt as if when here, nothing could harm me or make me sad. This is the only house I've felt comfortable in and feel that I could call home. Later on when I got to Junior High and High school, I would still come there every morning and afternoon. She'd let me practice my music and wanted to know all about the things I was interested in. She began to buy me journals that I could write in wherever I went. She told me that I can do whatever I put my mind to as long as I continue to work hard and have a good attitude. 

                                         The Big Move

 My Junior year of high school, my Mammaw got in a terrible wreck. She was hit nearly head on by a large truck when she was on her way to visit her sister. The car was totaled and I was convinced she didn't survive. I remember praying so very hard for her to be healed. I prayed for more time that I could spend with her. That year was a very rough year for me in many ways. I'm so thankful that she survived the wreck and that I was able to spend another five years with her. Her head was hit pretty bad and she was never quite the same after her wreck. She's always been a tad forgetful as I grew up. After the wreck, her dementia increased and her mind began to loose a lot of memory. Words can't describe how much it hurt to look into her eyes when she realized she couldn't remember basic things. She truly hated forgetting and always wished she could recall things. From then on I made it a point to always try my best to help her. 

I decided to move in with her at her house towards the end of my senior year of high school. I felt as if she needed someone to help take care of her. She could no longer drive nor remember how to cook. All the special memories I had of growing up with her was then to be acted out again in return. I would then study the guide channel and record her favorite shows as they came on. I'd prepare our meals and take her to the beauty shop and let her stay as long as she wanted in order to see and talk to everyone. I'd take her to Cracker Barrel or Grandy's after big doctor visits to cheer her up. Sometimes I'd bring her to the mall to see where I worked and I could fix her ice cream. I'd bring her treats and sweets for her to enjoy throughout the day. We'd still color in coloring books. I'd write things for her to read. On occasions I'd still crawl into her bed, watch t.v. and talk with her till we both fell asleep. Nothing brought me greater joy than to see her face light up when I'd come home. She would stay up at night till I'd come home just so she could tell me good night and that she loved me. During my freshman year of college I became more busy which made the balancing of both school and being a primary caregiver difficult. It definitely stretched me in many ways all of which I know God was able to use me. The summer before I moved out I traveled to Malawi, Africa. I let her help me pack and prepare to leave. When I returned, she wanted to see every picture and hear every story from my trip. The fall of that same year I had to make the tough decision to move. I chose to live on campus the next two years in order to focus more on school and work towards my music degree. It was getting to where she would need 24 hour care that I was not able to provide while being a full time college student. She told me she wanted me to get that degree so I could then go out and do great things. I moved out but continued to visit weekly if not daily. When I went to spend Christmas in South East Asia that following December, she wanted to know everything about the trip. She helped me pack all the scarves, gloves, hats, and socks that I would pass out to all the children I'd come in contact with while overseas. She loved seeing the pictures I took and hearing the stories I had to tell. She said she always knew I'd be a traveler and would get to see the world one day. 


                                                         The End of the Journey

February of 2012 my Mammaw was put into the nursing home. I continued to visit her as much as possible. Though it wasn't the same as her house, we were able to share some sweet times together there watching t.v. shows, coloring, and eating treats I'd bring. I'd decorate her room as much as I could just to see her face light up. You can't help but be happy when you see that woman smile. Though this past year was very rough tough each visit, I don't regret a single minute of it. We knew each other so well, we talked the same, ate the same, and even sometimes looked same. We could finish each other's sentences and know exactly what the other was thinking. We had the same type of humor and always picked on each other. She was always a big flirt and had the men at the tip of her fingertips. Guys at the nursing home would flirt with her and she'd always play hard to get. She was always very protective of me and gave guys that wanted to take me out on dates a hard time. She was very defensive towards every guy except one. The first time my Mammaw met Westley Wallace, she immediately fell in love with him, who could blame her. She began smiling real big and and flirting with him which was hilarious. I always told her that she couldn't steal my man though. She loved it when Westley an I both came to visit her so much that it was all she talked about when we were away. She bragged about me like no other. No one could ever make me feel so confident and brave like she could. She always had words of encouragement and affirmation. She has saved every card I have given her along with ones she has received from others. She also saved every newspaper clipping of my performances and awards. I've also saved everything she has given me which I'm so thankful for now. Living here in this house has been interesting. I moved back in this past May with it now being my very own house. Having your very own house at the age of 21 is a pretty big deal in my eyes. Aside from some decorations and a few modifications, this house is still the same, all the beautiful furniture is still here and being preserved. I will always have a love for this house and neighborhood that means so much to me. Keeping this house up for the time being is the least I could do in the honor of my Mammaw. She raised her three sons in this house. She loved this house and living here and so do I. Loosing her was very hard, yet at the same time I have been preparing for this for a long time. God has gradually helped me over these past few years to let go in a sense when it was needed. I know she is no longer hurting physically. Also her mind is no longer forgetful which brings me great joy to realize. It's weird not getting to take care of her anymore. It's weird driving by the nursing home and not being able to stop by to visit. It's weird being bored out of my mind during the break and not going to the store to get goodies and decorations for her room. I miss the little things. I am beyond thankful for the years of memories I got to share with her. I've never cared for someone so much in my life. In James 1:27 God calls us to take care of the orphans and the widows. I can't think of any better way I could have done this than to have taken care of my Mammaw. There's something about washing an old lady's feet and painting her nails that's very humbling. It was so cool to show love to orphans in other countries in similar ways that I was able to show love to my Mammaw. I certainly plan to continue traveling and serving in places overseas. For a while now I've felt God calling me to possibly go into music therapy as a future career. After the passing of my Mammaw I feel that calling to be even stronger. Sometime after I graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Music Education, I plan to become a certified music therapist. Then I can take care of more old people and orphans and show love to many others who need it all through the art of music. 

Though I miss my Mammaw so very much, I couldn't think of any better time for her passing. God truly works everything out for the good of those who love Him, Romans 8:28. She is no longer hurting and unresponsive in a hospital bed. She is no longer forgetting who she is. She is no longer suffering but rejoicing in heaven where there are probably more sweets than she could ever imagine. This woman was so so so sooooo precious and sweet. Her smile was beautiful and her features were gorgeous. Though there has been some mourning following her death, there is even more of a celebration for the amazing life she lived out loving both God and people. 

"I Love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck." 

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