May 20, 2007

Two very different birthdays

Three weeks to the day after we found out my Dad passed away, we celebrated the birth of our neice, Kensley Addison Chalmers. Shan's sister was admitted to the hospital on Friday, and the wait began... So, we waited... and waited... and waited... and then decided to head for a hotel for the evening, as we were told the baby would most likely not be coming any time soon.

[Begin sidebar] We leave the hotel and drive to the nearest hotel. After some discussion, I go inside to get a room. "Sorry, we're all booked up tonight." What? In Texarkana? Okay, so maybe all travelers prefer that hotel... Playing it smart, I call information and get the number to the next hotel we see... "Sorry, we don't have any rooms for tonight." Huh? What the heck is going on in T-Town? Next hotel, same answer. Well, dang, who would have thought we'd be hunting hotel rooms in Texarkana? Finally, ol' reliable Hampton Inn says, "If you come right now, I'll get you into a room." "I'll be there in less than two minutes." We were, and she did. :-) It was the weirdest "suite" I have ever seen, though... It was really just one giant room, with a couch, two beds, a TV, a very nice 'vanity' area, and a 'kitchen' area. Strange... Oh, and the reason everyone else was booked up? A multi-state middle-school girls' basketball tourney was in town... Who knew?![/end sidebar]

We wake up, have breakfast, and head for the hotel. And, we wait... and wait some more... Around 10 or so, Shan's mom came out and said, "She's at 8!" (Meaning Shan's sister was at 8cm). About an hour later, we got the word that Jess was at 10 cm, and things were movin' fast.... Around noon, we got the word that Kensley had arrived at 11:45! She is so cute, and very alert! In fact, when someone said something about "Aunt Shan," Kensley turned her head and looked right at Shan! It was one of those "Now, THAT is cool!" moments! :-)

We spent much of the rest of Saturday at the hospital, then on the way home stopped by Cold Stone for a treat! :-) Hey, I'll take (er, make?) any excuse to head to Cold Stone! Sunday, Shan, her Mom, my Mom and Emily all headed to T-Town to see more of Kensley and her parents. Meanwhile, I stayed home and finished cleaning the house, put up some trim on Mom's deck, took Tyler to baseball paractice, then came home to clean up/clean out the travel trailer in prep for a prospective buyer. During baseball practice, Shan called to let me know everyone (including the new parents and their prized possession) were heading home. After everyone was back home, my Mom, Shan, and I went to visit my Dad....

You see, today is my Dad's birthday. (Another sidebar - Why do people say 'would have been'? It is STILL his birthday - he WAS born on this day... anyway, I digress) So, we went to see Dad and to do some cleaning up of his resting place. Mom was smart enough to bring a shovel. We have had lots of rain recently, and that has caused the mound where Dad is to have some caving-in and general unevenness. So, while Shan and Mom cleaned off the flowers that had been there since Dad's service, I took to shoveling dirt around to fill in places and make things look better. And, in the tradition of my Father, I was certain the cops would come by in time to see me with a shovel, digging at Dad's grave... Luckily, I was spared that, but I have to admit, it was a little strange digging in a place where shovels are generally frowned upon.. :-) Leave it to Dad.... :-) For lack of a better term, we 'celebrated' Dad's birthday, and cleaned up his area. We also noticed that a marker had been placed! That was very nice of the funeral home. I have been by Dad's spot several times, but hadn't noticed the marker under the mound of flowers and arrangements.

Unlike the celebration of the birth of Kensley, this birthday was full of painful tears. Knowing Dad is in a much better place does not keep those of us still here from feeling an empty space in our hearts. We know we must continue on, for the sake of our children (and grandchildren, in my Mom's case), for each other, for all the things we have yet to understand. But, that doesn't keep us from feeling that empty space. Dad will always be with us. We will never understand the "WHY" of his being taken from us, especially so young, so close to seeing and doing the things he always wanted. I think the one thing we hate the most is that my Dad left this world in his room, physically alone. I say that because he was not alone emotionally, and he knew that (had come to know that, thankfully!). We know things could have been so much worse (for him, given the area he was in...for us, if he had been here when it happened), but that doesn't take away the pain, the missing, the wanting just 'one more day.' I wish I could say, "Happy Birthday, Dad." I know for him, right now, it is a very happy birthday. But for us, it is his birthday, and though we are very, very happy and blessed that he HAS a birthday, it breaks our hearts that we had to spend it without him. We love you, Dad.

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