31 October 2014

The funeral week.....

Warning - this post has a lot of pictures.  They are all stuck at the end.   I warrant it does not have enough pictures, but, it does have lots.

The week I did not know I was going to have began on Sunday and I was sitting with my family in Sacrament meeting at church.  Sacrament is a place without phones.  They should be silenced and forgotten during church meetings.  This time, however, I answered a phone call and I quickly slipped out a side door.  It was Eric, my brother who had just visited with Dad.  Eric said, Dad won't last much longer, Beans; you need to call him.  So I called my Dad and spoke with him for what we both truly knew would be the last time.  He knows what we said, and I know what we said.  I will leave it here to tell posterity that my Dad, Wayne Norman Brumbley knows that his Savior lives and that he, on that day in October, was ready to make that leap.  Dad gave me a list of things to do - always organized - He told me that he loves my mom, Juanita, and his first direction to me was to make sure she is always taken care of.  I promised I would do everything she would let me do to take care of her.  He next made me promise to stay close to my brothers and be there as much as I could for them.  So Eric and David, if I bug you with text and calls, please blame Dad.  Third he told me to hold James tight and be a good mother to those wonderful and amazing grandchildren of his.  I promised my Dad I would.

He told me that he loved me from the first time he saw my picture (he was serving in the Air Force in Vietnam when I was born, so he just got a picture.)  And while we fought some days, he loved me every day.  Every day, Dad. 

So, I told James it was time to head east and we made some amazingly quick arrangements.  It was our plan to meet David in St. Louis and leave his car with our cousin David and his beautiful wife Amy.  We met there at about 11 pm that night and headed east.  About three hours into our drive, Eric called.  Dad had died just after midnight their time.  October 20, 2014.

We got a hotel room for the night, since we were no longer trying to race to Maryland, and we arrived at Mom's about 9:30 on Monday evening.

The next few days were busy with making arrangements, seeing the funeral director and organizing for family and friends who were coming in.  President John, of the Wilmington Delaware stake was at Mom's side the whole time to help with anything she needed.  Food poured in and people just stopped by the house to hug Ma and tell a story.

Ma decided that the viewing would be Thursday evening - Dad's 71st birthday.  That night almost 200 people filed through the line to greet family and share a story about Dad.  I was so excited to see my old seminary teachers, Miller and Sister Engle.  How nice of them to come.  So many people with such great things to say.

On Friday morning we had the funeral service - all open casket since Ma thought they made Dad look so good.  Some of the same people came, but, more come to the service and they had to open the overflow in the chapel and the gym to seat everyone.

Jimmy Dayton, Steve Walker and Ernie Matthews all spoke about Dad and each had a different take on his life - I think the consensus is that Dad was an honest caring man devoted to his God and his family.  Throw in some funny stories and the Vietnam war, the coin club, the Polar Bar, reunion committee meetings, the bowling alley, years of night school, and a love of Bonsai and mowing the grass.  And that doesn't begin to define the man.  We are all complicated.  But Dad was Dad, to me.

After the service we headed to the lower shore for the burial.  There we had a graveside service with a dedication of the grave and a flag ceremony from Dover AFB.  Bruce Williams spoke and more people came.   I understand there were approximately 100 people at the grave.

Afterwards, we went to the Salisbury building where the Relief Society provided lunch and tables to sit and chat.  More hours of talking about Dad and reconnecting with family and friends.

Friday was a long day.  Friday night we went back to Eric's house and crashed.  We had more food from Abby's family and the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department.  Food everywhere.  We were all up late talking and talking.

Saturday we headed to the beach.  I forgot to stop and get scrapple this trip, but, we did go to Thrasher's and Fisher's.  After the beach Eric and Abby went back home in Mardela.  David, Dawn, James and I drove mom back home in Elkton.  We had face reality - driving back to Arkansas and Kansas in one day's time.

We left Ma.  That's what she wants right now.  She is busy and secure and strong.  She could be all those things in Arkansas, but, I'll argue that with her later.

Losing a parent is hard.  Dad had fought cancer valiantly and he was ready to go.  I miss him.  Yesterday I called Ma, and my first thought, as it always was, was, what time is it?  Is Dad asleep?  I don't want to wake him.

Now, some pictures from the trip.  There are not many because I was busy.  Lucky you.....

I went to Red Robin with Jennifer Priesch and Janet McJilton went with us to the beach - old friends are still great friends being there for me.  Yes, I'm wearing the same shirt on two different days.  I packed in a hurry, ok?

Roadside election sign - Wayne Norman is running for senate.  Pretty funny, huh, Dad?  Rumors of my death have been highly exaggerated....

I sliced my finger wide open while attempting to make sandwiches.  I did not make sandwiches.  Wow it hurt.  As of the writing of this post I still don't have feeling in my fingertip.

Maryland's lower shore.  Just beautiful.

Ma's brother Kenneth and her sister Tammie came in to be with her.  They loved Dad, too.  The cutie in the back is Sam, Tammie's husband.

More family - Ma at front and center with James in red next to her and to her left are David and Dawn.  I am directly behind Ma and to my right are Eric and Abby.  Behind me is my cousin, Tara and next to her are her husband Jeff and their two boys - Quinn and Conner.  Tara is Dad's brother Robert's, oldest daughter.  They drove up from North Carolina.

Thrasher's on the boardwalk - David and Dawn - not a fan of the vinegar.

Ma, Eric and Abby - all for vinegar.

The beach.  Ahhh.

James and me on the boardwalk.

Ma.  She's strong and perfectly capable.  One day I hope to be this strong.  But, she does miss him.  I know she does.  She said to me something once that I have never forgotten.  Well, she does that a lot, but, this one is germane here.  She said, I know that everything will be alright when I hear your dad say, Hey babe, I'm home, as he walks in the door.  That's what I prepare for all day.

Cute picture of David and Dawn.
Cute picture of Eric and his favorite condiment.

Quick snapshot of the Arc as we drove through St. Louis.
Little three all dressed up and ready for trunk or treat at our church.

Rachel in her Lost Boy costume.  She was in the high school's production of Peter Pan and the week we were gone was crunch week with five performances.

Samantha dressed as a fawn for a sweet 16 costume party for her friend.  Nailed it.

And this is Krista Hazeslip.  She is actually all dressed in costume to teach kickboxing and step aerobics at the rec center.  But don't let the costume fool you.  She really is a superhero.  Without a moment's hesitation she took our little three in for just over a week and fed them, cared for them, dressed them in costume, ferried them around to practices and games and in all ways took amazing care of them.  I had not a worry in the world about the little three because Krista is my superhero.
The big ladies were home alone.  Rachel was at rehearsal til 8 almost every night and still working at Subway.  Samantha was at dance practice after school, but, home in time to get the little three after school, packed for the next day and ready for Batgirl to come get them for the night.  I left them, only slightly worried.  I told them to take care of each other.  That's exactly what they did.  And while they did not wash a single dish while we were gone, and they did miss seminary once, I am still proud of the way they handled themselves on the homefront.
Goodbye for now Dad.  I'll see you when I get there.

22 October 2014

Norman Wayne Brumbley

Norman Wayne Brumbley
23 October 1943 ~ 20 October 2014
My brother summed up my feelings with this facebook post from 21 October 2014:::
As universal and inevitable as death is, there are as many different perspectives on its reality as there are men and women on the earth who will eventually pass through it. I know that some of you reading this status see this life, and the death that ends it, very differently than I do, but there are some aspects of the experience which are common to everyone, no matter your views on the afterlife, or the lack thereof. One moment, one day, one year, someone is a part of your life; a piece of the identity you’ve built for yourself, however large or small, is there within your reach, a phone call, a plane ride, a Skype call away. Then the next moment, the next day, maybe twenty years after you last thought of them, they’re somewhere else, somewhere you can’t reach them, hear them, touch them.
Nothing I say can simplify the complexity of emotion that accompanies the death of someone close to you. It goes beyond sadness, beyond any definition you can form of the word ‘grief’ before experiencing it for yourself. Their absence changes the world in which you live, and consequently changes who you are as a resident of that world.
My father died this morning a little after midnight, after a long struggle against cancer and all the thousand natural shocks that come as a byproduct of such a condition. It’s taken me a long time to collect my thoughts, not because I don’t know how I feel or what I believe about what’s happened, but because it’s difficult to feel anything through the haze created by the demands of this kind of pain. No amount of knowledge or understanding I possess is capable of mitigating the ache of his absence. Testimony and faith are capable only of providing hope and encouraging patience in us as we work through the pain in the moment of its demand. I miss him, and will continue to miss him until the day I meet him again.
My father is one of the most admirable men I have ever known, not because he lived a perfect or extraordinary life, but because he held himself to such a standard as to close his mortal existence without regrets. I had the privilege of living through the latter half of his life as his son, and I count it as one of the greatest honors I will ever possess, to call myself his. I have done the best I know how in every phase of my life to honor him, and I will continue to do so for as long as I live. My son will never know him, as I had hoped he would, but he will learn as much about him as I’m able to relate, even if our account of others, especially of the dead, will always fail to capture the entirety of the person themselves.
There is a long and honored tradition of tropes and trite catch-phrases surrounding the reality of death. Someone being in a better place, or happier now, or resting peacefully. Gone into the next room, blinking for an exceptionally long time, the list goes on. All of these phrases seem as petty and hollow as they sound, even if they all come from the genuine hearts of those striving to mourn with those who mourn, as we are commanded to do. I will not subscribe to any of them, but my own thoughts on the subject may sound just as Hallmark-worthy as the others. This is what I know, beyond the doubts this world presses us to feel about our course through this existence.
What I know is that my father is alive, in the only way that matters. We are not bodies who have spirits. We are spirits who have bodies for a time, and then move on with our existence when they can no longer sustain us. My father, like all the rest of us, is a creature of eternity. The bonds of our family and our love for each other extend beyond this life, and nothing so temporary and terrestrial as death has the power to change the truths of our divine relationships one to another. I will strive to live the length of my own mortality in such a way that he will be proud of who I am as his son, and when I leave this world behind, I will see him again. My father is with his father now, and that is enough.
- David Brumbley

17 October 2014

Montessori Pumpkin Patch Trip

More cows - 'tis the season, I guess.  Today JMichael and Josephine went with me to the Hicks Family Farm Pumpkin Patch with our Montessori class.  I got to run around with my kids because each student had to bring an adult along.  We saw more livestock and rode a pony.
 Then we actually did get lost in the corn maze.  Lost.
I  did take a good shot of the little two while we were trying to get out of the maze.
But in the end we walked through the corn to the outside of the field because we were hopelessly, completely lost in the maze.  But hey.  (Get it?  Fall.  Hey.  Hay.  Hahahaha)  What a beautiful day of fun in the fall.

Arkansas State Fair 2014

We hit the Arkansas State Fair - on a drizzly Saturday with no crowds and no lines.  But there were cows.  I made the kids walk through the livestock and needlework exhibits even though they think that a state fair is only about riding the rides.  We tried out some goat milk hand cream and wondered at the photography and drawing entries.  Amazing stuff.  Charlotte wants to enter a photograph next year.
We brought along Josephine's friend MacKenzie, who was happy to show off the pig she won popping a balloon with a dart at the game booth.  Life lesson learned - NEVER talk to the hawkers in the game booths at the state fair.  They will take you for everything they can.  Ugh.

Those dangling feet are Charlotte, Josephine and MacKenzie.  About four stories in the air.  Fun.
Coming back to earth - all smiles.
Fair sized roller coasters.  They all rode another, larger one, too.  Way fun.
JMichael picked the bumper cars.  He was too little to drive, but, Charlotte was thrilled to help out.
The fun house - Charlotte said, look mom, a fun house - like Danny and Sandy went into.  Yes.  My children use Grease as a life reference.
Finally, we saw a diving show.  Oh. My. Gosh.  They did tandem dives; they did multiple flips.  They tricked us; they made us laugh.  And then, at the end, they dove from 85 feet in the air!  Whoa.  It was amazing.

15 October 2014

Spirit Week 2014

High School football is a big part of life in a rural Arkansas town.  Our family goes to games because James enjoys football and because we watch Samantha, who chants and dances with her team at halftime.  During homecoming week, the town shuts down on Friday afternoon for a parade.  The schools let out early, the businesses close up early and the police section off part of the main road through town.  It's parade time.

I took a few pictures of Rachel and Samantha demonstrating their school spirit - Rachel is a junior this year and Samantha is a sophomore - and they dress up according to a theme.

I only managed to get two days - color day (juniors are blue and sophomores are green) and character day.  Samantha was Waldo (and she said ALL. DAY. LONG. people would walk up to her and say, I found you!) and Rachel was Johnny Appleseed.  Cute story - One of the principals called Rachel into the office because a teacher complained that a student had the audacity to dress as a pothead.  The assistant principal, who shall remain nameless, asked her the question - Are you dressed as a pothead?  What book are you specifically referring to?  Ugh.  Rachel gently reminded him that she is a dressed, quite accurately, as a hero of American folklore - Johnny Appleseed.  She was released to return to class, laughing.

The three shots that follow are also from spirit week - Samantha with her friends Patience and Carley on the dance team float in the parade.  Charlotte - also riding a float - for the Piranhas, her swim team.  Charlotte was so excited to ride on the float; this was her first parade and she loved it.  The last shot is the big ladies' shoes on color day.  I cannot tell you how many pairs of Converse my kids have.  We have bought almost every pair of Converse we have ever found in any thrift store.  Classic.  And they go with everything.