Mommy's heart for Baby Jacob

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reflections from Mom's Farm, Week 1

It's been a week since the boys and I came to my mom's.  It's been one week since I cried at my Sammy finishing Kindergarten.  Since I'd accomplished so many projects at home. Since I'd noticed so many changes that I bemoaned about in my blog.  I thought I'd share some of what we've been up to since getting a nice little break away from home...

My mom, step-dad, and grandma live on a small farm about 3.5 hours away from us.  Mom calls it a "hobby farm".  It never was a real working farm, even when my Grandpa was still alive.  But it did always have a big booming garden, plenty of chickens and the occasional horse, mule and sheep.  My mom and step-dad have animals now too:  a miniature donkey named Chico, a miniature horse named Shadow, several chickens that live in chicken coops such as "the Condo", and the "High rise", ducks in a duck house at the pond, barn cats and most recently bunnies. 

Mom's house has always been a place of peace for me.  You can't be outside walking around the beautiful land and not feel the peace, it doesn't matter what season.  It's out in the country but not too rural to be away from pizza delivery.  :) 

Going to Mom's will always mean going "home" for me.  It doesn't matter where she lives, it will always be home.  This home is extra special though.  My grandparents lived in this house and my mom and step-dad bought it several years ago in order to take care of my grandma.  Grandpa passed away in 1993 and Grandma had a stroke some time after.  Being wheel-chair bound, she needed someone to care for her.

Her house is full of memories from my childhood and young adulthood...the smell of her pies in the pantry, the crowded, yet always warm kitchen table bursting with food at family gatherings, the big red barn out back, Grandma's chickens...Mom and my step-dad brought life back to the farm when they started adding animals of their own.  It's just always been a special place to go and I love that my boys get to experience it too with their Grandma and Pa, just as I had when I was their age.

Below they are helping Grandma shuck corn the very first evening we arrived... My Grandma can only use her left hand, but does pretty well at every day tasks.

On Monday we went for "chicken dinner".  Notice there's no "a" before chicken dinner.  :)  That's how it's referred to around here.  Barberton is known for their chicken houses--restaurants famous for their fried chicken.  One chicken house started running a special on Monday nights so Mom and Grandma wanted to take advantage of it.  So we piled into Mom's car and went for "Chicken dinner". :)  It cracks me up to hear it referred to that way, but hey, it's quite tasty regardless of what it's called.  Every dinner comes with hot rice, fries and coleslaw.  Yum!

I went out after we came home to take some pictures. I had looked through Mom's kitchen window to see the sun setting and the rain droplets shimmering.

I like experimenting with different angles, different ways of looking at the same thing. 
These are taken with just a camera phone so aren't the best, but it was fun anyway. 

If you would have asked me years ago if I'd be taking as many flower and nature pictures as I do now, I'd have laughed and said you had me confused with Mom. :)  She's taken too many flowers pictures to count through the years.  Ever since Jacob's loss though, I've found myself so drawn to nature photography more than ever before.  And its just one more thing that Mom and I share a special passion for.

There are flowers Mom planted on the seat of Grandpa's wagon. 
My Grandpa had built this wagon back in the 1980s.  He passed away in 1993.  He had always hoped to ride the wagon in a parade, pulled by one the mules that he owned prior to getting sick.  Mom has done her best to protect the wagon through the years and keeps it on display on her patio.
I wish they could get it into a parade in honor of my grandpa, but I'm not sure if it's stable enough to move, and I don't think Shadow or Chico would be up to the task of pulling it unfortunately.

 A close up of Mom's flowers.

 I like how this leaf looked like a heart, especially with the sun highlighting it.

For some reason I decided to look up...and there was a rainbow. 
It was already starting to fade and as I quickly scanned the sky I knew the whole rainbow had been visible, as they so often are at Mom's place. 
I watched a video years ago done by National Geographic that talked about creativity.  It used photography as a learning tool.  One key lesson I learned from that video was to always "turn around"...meaning you never know what's behind you, what's above or below you. 
Change how you look at things.  Change how you see things. 
Only when you do can you be sure to see what you're meant to see, it's when you see what is most beautiful.
The video showed how much more beautiful of images the photographer caught simply by turning around and shooting what was behind him...he saw things that he hadn't previously seen. 
This lesson has stayed with me in my photography, and I try to remember it in life as well....
probably more than ever before since losing Jacob.

And so here was the other end of the rainbow that I was so grateful to spot right before going in the house.  I called the boys out to see the last of the rainbow over Mom's pond.  Rainbows have always brought me such peace.  I know they are a symbol for baby loss moms, but they've so often spoken to me of hope.  It's like my own private smile from God.  That things will be okay.  I love when I get to see them.

On Tuesday the boys and I went for haircuts.  Because my mom can't leave my grandma unattended, they came too.  After haircuts we stopped off at the library to sign up the boys and I for their summer reading program.  Yup, I signed up too!  I only found out a few years ago that libraries often offer the reading program for adults too.  How cool is that!  Not like I should need any incentive to make time to read but it helps.  I've already read a book by one of my new favorite authors and it felt soooo good to take time to read!
Later that evening, I went out again to take pictures around the farm.  In honor of Flag Day, Mom put out all of her flags. I love taking pictures of flags in the sunlight.

 Another view of Grandpa's Wagon, this time with flags displayed in the flower box.

Mom had told me to check out Jacob's Garden so after admiring the flags in the setting sun, I walked around to the backyard to see Jacob's Garden, a small flowerbed where we started planting flowers for Jacob--first on his due date and then last year for his First Angelversary.  Mom said the lilies we planted last year at his due date where now blooming.  I am so thankful that Mom designated that small flower bed such a pretty space to remember our sweet Baby Jacob.  Last year I spent a lot of time weeding it and planting additional annuals around.

Jacob's Garden just looked so pretty this trip.  I love all of the lilies, Mom said the light pink ones were "lollipop lilies"...perfect for Baby Jacob. :)

I can't wait until we buy our own home. I plan to do the same thing at my house.  I eventually want to get a paver for Jacob, a small bench as well as angel statues and lots of pretty flowers.  I don't think I'll ever have enough flowers, there's always room for more flowers!

Wednesday was grocery day!!  This is a big deal for my grandma.  She and Mom can hit anywhere from 2-4 stores in one day AND stop off for a fast food dinner before calling it a day.  Right now they've got it down to just two stores.  They start at one grocery store, mom pulling the cart behind her with one hand while she pushes Grandma in her wheelchair with the other.

I checked Sammy into the kids play area.  He looks forward to this every trip.  We only started it about a year ago or so.  Benny is old enough now but I'm keeping him with me.  He's content to help me shop and that way he gets a say as to what ends up in my cart. :)  I know one of these days he'll start going into the play area as well.  And I'll be sad.  It will be the end of an era. No more babies to ride in my cart.  I remember all of the times I'd shop with Benny as a baby, toddler and older. I'd be chatting away to him.  I loved it.  It was our Mommy-Benny time.  Just the two of us as Sammy often shopped with Daddy at home, or then started going into the play area up here at Mom's.  I know it sounds silly, but it's one more thing that will soon change that I will miss.

I remember when I was pregnant with Jacob thinking about our grocery shopping arrangements.  Isn't that a silly thing to think about?  I wondered how Alex and I would do it.  Alex would have to take Sammy and Benny in his cart while I would Jacob in his baby seat in mine. I get all of the food, while Alex typically gets the heavy drinks and dog food.  I knew I'd chatter away with Jacob in my cart too.

As Benny and I passed by the baby section the other day at Giant Eagle, I found myself feeling those slight tugging memories of when I used to shop in that section actively...Mom would give me diaper or wipes coupons, I'd check out their baby toy section.  I tried not to think about what I used to as I passed that section.

We met up with Mom, Grandma and Mom's good friend Linda in the small cafe in the store.  A family tradition,  Mom and Grandma enjoy any samples they picked up, coffee and sometimes a small sandwich.

We then ferry over to a second grocery store for more deals and where Sammy again hits the play area and Benny looks forward to riding in the car cart--the little plastic car out in front of the cart.  Then we head to eat, typically either Burger King or Taco Bell.  And then home where Mom gets Grandma into the house and restroom before coming out to load her wagon cart full of groceries to take into the house.

As if Wednesday's shopping day wasn't enough, we went out Thursday to Goodwill, or "GW" as it's referred to in our family.  It was their 35% off day.  I love coming home and doing "show and tell" with Mom and Grandma.  Grandma is always so proud that she gets out of there with the lowest bill!  It's just a quirky little thing that we all enjoy, but again, I've found that so often that's where the most special memories are made. :)

That night we continued pushing hard on Mom's room.  She and I had started it earlier in the week and had been chipping away at it every day.  We were switching things from one shelf to another in order to make more  more room.  Mom and I laughed...alot.  It was the first time during my visit that we shared such a joyful time and that we laughed so freely and with such giddiness.  It could have been the late hour, or perhaps it was the stress of trying to get it done that night that made us like giggly school girls.  Something about seeing a cloud of dust land on Mom's head makes for good memories I guess. :)  Whatever it was, I'm grateful for it.  I have so many of those memories with my mom and I treasure them all. 

Friday was Polka Day!  Grandma was chomping at the bit to go as usual and we pulled up to the Slovene Club a bit after 2:00.  We buzzed to get into the members-only club basement and saw the tables full!  I always worry about where we will sit but we fit thankfully.  Grandma goes at the end nearest the band.  The two long tables are full of older people--mostly ladies but with a handful of gents here and there (aside from the band which is all men except for one woman).  Some of the polka guests play cards, others enjoy popcorn and singing along to the music.  Then there are the line dance ladies--they take such tiny and dainty steps as they dance carefully in front of the food table--no big hops or stretches here--all just slow, nice and easy steps to the various polkas and waltzes.  I wonder if that will be me some day? :)

At the end of the two-hours the band gets into their final medley and most everyone gets up to clap and sing along.  The boys love to do this, especially the "bells" sections of each song.  And who could forget, "E-I-E-I-O" or "O-H-I-O"?  Both boys have been coming to Polka Fridays since they were babies.  We'd bring them in their car seats when they were tiny.  Jacob would have joined the fun too...I like to imagine him there now, I'm sure he'd bounce along to the music just like Sammy and Benny did.

 Lest anyone think my boys are totally in to polkas and that they don't do anything else... :)  Nope, they are still boys who take a bag full of toys, dump them all over the table and have action scenes amidst the bells (see green in the picture) and popcorn. :)  Most of the older people have never seen such characters--aliens from Ben 10, Batman guys, you name it.  That's my Great Aunt and Uncle behind Sammy.

The "Slovene Circle" -- there were three birthdays to celebrate today.  Everyone joins hands and polkas in a circle while the birthday people get to dance with everyone in the center. 
Benny jumped up with my Mom (in the red next to Benny).

Sammy asked Joanie to dance, a sweet lady who misses her grandchildren and enjoys seeing the boys.  This is Sammy's second time to ask her to polka.  He kept up perfectly!

 The final medley!  Everyone jumps up to clap, shake bells, sing, etc. 
The boys have enjoyed this part of polkas since they were old enough to stand up!

 Part of the band

 More of the band...my step-dad's sweet uncle is in the back playing the bass

 Final medley...O-H-I-O!  I think this is the "H" that Sammy is doing!

My Grandma getting a hug, she always gets emotional :)
We finished out our first week at Mom's with a trip to the cemetery right down the road.  It's a national cemetery and my Grandpa and two of my Grandma's brothers are buried there.  It was quiet that day.  Flags still lined the entry drive leftover from Flag day but only a few flowers had been placed for Father's Day.  Grandma got teary-eyed as she held the flowers Mom had picked for her to place on Grandpa's grave.

Seeing Grandma crying made me weepy too...it doesn't take much.  I hugged her, joked about how my mom was digging out old flower vases from the trash so they could put Grandpa's into something more sturdy and watched as my boys walked the many rows of stones.  Sammy informed us that there were 1105 stones (he saw the numbers on each).  I thought about so many of the men who were buried there who served in the different wars like my Grandpa and Great Uncles.  I blew a kiss to Grandpa before we left.  He is the same Grandpa that Mom and I said would have held Jacob on the day he died--right on Grandpa and Mom's Birthday.  I'm sure they are having such a ball up in Heaven.  He was the sweetest man.

 I miss you Grandpa, I wish you could have gotten to know my wonderful boys!
My aunt leaves seashells for each person in their family, including Grandma, Grandpa and all 8 kids. 
Our family has always loved the beach.
 Mom arranges Grandpa's fresh flowers.

 I love when I get to go to the cemetery, I feel closer to my grandpa there.  I want to tell my boys more about him now that they are a little older.  My aunt made the sign for Father's Day.
After seeing the seashells, Benny decided to add something for Grandpa's stone--little pieces of grass. :)

Later that night I felt a little melancholy...I wish we had a specific place to go to remember Jacob. I know that's a common feeling amongst baby loss moms.  Jacob was cremated and while we could probably some day inter his remains somewhere, I think I'll be happy enough to just create my own memorial garden for him with a paver, little seat, etc.  That's definitely something I look forward to when we move.
So that's a peek inside one of my trips home...just up to a small farm in the country.  It's where I look forward to life slowing down even  for just a bit amidst Mom's activities.  It's where I look forward to my walks around her property visiting the animals, photographing the flowers, remembering the past and all who had walked the same paths through the years.  It's where I treasure every giggle that my boys and Mom share, every chuckle that Mom and I share when no one else is around.  It's where I see the past connecting with the present all around me and I am so grateful that our family gets to experience so much love here.

We have one more busy week here at Mom's and with lots more memories to come I'm sure.

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far my friends!  I also hope you enjoyed that one simple lesson that I shared from the video I watched years ago.  Always look behind you, above you, below you...you never know what you might see...like the rainbow I spotted at the last minute.  And especially if you find yourself facing difficult times, remember to change how you view the situation, and may you then find that rainbow too.  I find that I look for rainbows now wherever I can.  I'm grateful that in so many ways Mom's home feels so much like one big rainbow to me. :)

I'll be back with more about my trip home...

Kim :)

1 comment:

  1. It looks like a lovely down home good time! I miss Tenn and all that fried chickin and corn shucken;) I was thinking when you said you wish you Grandpa could of gotten to know your boys that he already has a very special relationship with Jacob. I hope you do get a lovely garden when you move for your sweet boy. I would love to plant on e but I am BAD with plants and would be sad if I killed it. Love all the sweet pictures :)