Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Circle of Life

Yes, I know, I have been an absentee blogger again. I am so sorry and hopefully things will return to normal someday soon. I seriously doubt it though. After all, look at the title to my little page on the internet. My world has been WAY crazy and WAY mixed up as of late, but doesn't seem quite so "little" any longer. Many things, HUGE things, happened in my life over the past week. Things that are life altering and will have a profound affect on me. These things have touched me in a way that I am compelled to tell my story to everyone that will listen.

It all began last Friday. I received a call from my father letting me know that my step-grandfather, Papaw, was not doing well. You see, Papaw had a ravenous form of cancer that had been attacking and eating its way through his body for the past several months. Daddy told me that Papaw had spiked a fever and lost consciousness Friday morning and things didn't look good. I explained that I had a commitment on Friday evening that I had to keep, but I would be up (to Dandridge) first thing Saturday morning. I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked into my grandparents' living room on Saturday morning. There lay my Papaw in a hospital bed. The man who had always been so strong and intimidating was now just a frail and weak little man. To say I was taken aback is quite an understatement. I last saw Papaw in June and he was his normal self, laughing joking and teasing. But, Saturday I could tell things were probably not going to be the same again. The hospice nurses were telling the family that Papaw was facing his final hours of life. He was pretty much none responsive. His eyes were mostly glazed over; however, occasionally we would say something to him and he would respond with a grunt or a squeeze of the hand. We all just prayed that God would let His will be done in a quick manner so that Papaw wouldn't have to suffer any longer.

Papaw came into my life when I was 8, and Daddy and Fris got married. With me growing up in Florida and Papaw being a truck driver, I only saw him in the summer when I was visiting he was not out on the road. Needless to say, we weren't as close as I was with my other grandfathers; but, I loved him nonetheless. As an adult, I didn't really do anything to grow our relationship. I would see Papaw at holiday gatherings and family functions, but never really went out of my way to go to his house for "no special reason". I invited Papaw and Mamaw to Kaylea's birthday parties every year, but they only came to the first two. Once again, we were family members and we loved each other, but we weren't actively involved in each other's daily lives.

It was strange though, when I saw him laying in that bed, all of our history seemed to be erased. I sat at his bedside and held his hand and wiped his brow. I rubbed his arms and legs and kissed his cheek. I told him I loved him and not to worry, everything was going to be ok. I sat with Papaw all day on that Saturday and didn't want to leave that night, but I did. ThiThi and I came home and cooked food to take to the family bright and early on Sunday morning. When we returned Sunday, I sat and held his hand and wiped his brow; rubbed his arms and legs and kissed his cheek. And I told him I loved him and not to worry, everything was going to be ok. Once again on Sunday evening I didn't want to leave him, but I did. ThiThi and I came home and tried to get some rest; then back we went on Monday morning. When we returned on Monday I sat and held his hand and wiped his brow; rubbed his arms and legs and kissed his cheek. And I told him I loved him and not to worry, everything was going to be ok. When it came time to go home I didn't want to leave, but I did. This time, however, ThiThi and I told Fris, Mamaw and my brother that we were going to come back and sit with Papaw through the night. At that time, we didn't know why we wanted to or felt called to come back, but we just did.

Over those three days, many times the question was asked, "Why doesn't God just end Papaw's suffering?" "Why hasn't God taken him yet?" And many times, the answer was, "God isn't through with Papaw; He is still using him to do His work." Then Papaw's preacher said, "God has great plans for Papaw, but now He is using him to touch someones life and bring them to Him." It was also suggested by the hospice nurses that Papaw wasn't ready to go and he was waiting to make sure his family would be ok. They encouraged us to talk to Papaw and tell him that we would be ok and that he could go now. All of us took our turn and we had that conversation, but Papaw was still holding on.

On Monday evening, ThiThi, Papaw's son David, Papaw's sister Mary and I sat up all night. We took turns holding his hand and talking to him. There were times when he was unconscious and at other times he was aware of our presence. He actually tried to talk to Mary and David at one point, but unfortunately we couldn't understand what he was saying. We kept telling him we were all ok and he could go Home now. But for some reason he just hung in there. About 10am Tuesday morning, ThiThi and I were getting ready to leave to come home and we were saying our goodbyes to Papaw. He mumbled, "Mom". ThiThi asked him, "Papaw, do you see your Mom?" He replied, "Uh, huh." (His Mom died about 20 years ago) Then he began squinting his eyes real tight as if the sun were shining in his eyes. ThiThi asked him, "Papaw, do you see a bright light?" He replied, "Uh, huh." We both kissed him on the forehead and told him we loved him and then we left.

Naturally, we both were exhausted. On the way home we made plans to take naps and return later in the afternoon. When I got home I glanced at my answering machine and the message light was blinking. I was almost afraid to play the message, but knew that I had to. Imagine my surprise and excitement when I played the message and heard a lady from the Sevier County Schools asking me to call her back that day to schedule an interview for a Teacher Assistant position. If you don't remember, I have been trying to get this very job, with no luck, for the last 4 years. Of course, I immediately called back and she wanted to know if I could come in for an interview at 1:30 that afternoon. Naturally, I told her I would be there. Then I hurried to shower and wake myself enough to drive to Sevierville. My interview went very well and was over within about 20-30 minutes. At its conclusion, I was offered the job. Yeah, me! I was so happy; finally the prayer that I had prayed so many times over the last 4 years had finally been answered. I left the school board office and immediately went to take my physical so that I could start to work on Wednesday morning. After my physical I called Bub with the good news.

When I called Bub, I was absolutely giddy. I finally had the job that I had pretty much given up on. As a matter of fact, my application had expired the Friday before my interview, because I hadn't renewed it at the beginning of this school year. I was telling Bub all of the oddities of getting the job offer and when I paused long enough for him to speak, he said, "Jenni, I am so happy for you. I hope this is everything you want. Now, I hate to do this to you, but I am going to have to burst your bubble. Papaw died. Missy called and said that Papaw passed away around 2:00." I almost had to pull off the road. You see Papaw died at almost the same time that I was offered my job. All I could do was cry and wonder.

All I know is I believe in prayers being answered; however, we can't set the timeline for when they will be answered. God works in His own time. For whatever reason, I wasn't meant to work at the school until now. And for whatever reason, Papaw's time to go Home wasn't until 2:00 on Tuesday. After meeting the children in my class, I know God has special plans for me, as well. We have a few children with special needs and I think God has placed me with them for a reason. And as for Papaw, I know that he is in his special place. He is happy and free from all of his pain. And I just hope he knows how much I love him and that he was a true blessing to me!


Angie said...

I am so proud of you.....!!! And, you're right--God has timing like we can't even begin to fathom.

Email me, and tell me more details about your job. . .and do you promise to stay there until Caroline gets there?

Memommy said...

Jenni, I am ssoooooooooooooo proud of you. I will love you forever.

overtly trite said...

congrats on the job but you do realise this screws up ladies lunching!