Saturday, November 23, 2013

Another Birthday Gift

Well it's Saturday night and I am sick as a dog. Spent the day laying in bed watching the livestream for #1DDay and trying to figure out how to get BBC America so I can watch Day of the Doctor (with no luck so no spoilers please).
I'm waiting on my Chinese food to be delivered while watching Frasier on Netflix. I've started a Dexter marathon but I try to refrain watching it by myself at night. So, I thought there was no better time to blog because it's been awhile.

I had made a rough draft awhile ago but it never felt complete and I didn't know how to word what I wanted to say (a problem I have frequently). And I'm sure you can imagine, whether it's blogging, writing in a journal or just talking about past memories, it can bring emotions to the surface.

But anyway, here we go.

It just turned October and the Arizona weather finally turned "cool" at an average of 75-80 degrees.
It was a Sunday night and me and Zack were craving sushi and it was late at night so we went to a Bashas' got some food but no sushi. There was a Fry's that was not too far away and so we headed that direction to find some sushi (Sushi at a grocery store? Yes, we were desperate).

I was at the stoplight when my phone rang, it was a call from my father. It was 10:07 when he called, and now that I'm thinking about it, that would be midnight his time.
"I have some bad news..." (didn't I just blog about this for a different situation?)
I just remember saying-oh my God, what?

light turns green

"Grandpa Fessler....had a heart attack...."
There was a long pause and I was waiting and waiting for the end of that sentence. I was waiting to hear that he's in the hospital and he's going to be okay.
But that did not happen.
"He didn't make it, Jen. Grandpa died tonight."

I just kept saying oh my heart stopped. I parked at Fry's.

I was confused. My dad's voice seemed so calm. I just saw Grandpa last time I went home. When is the visitation going to be? When do I need to leave? How much time am I going to need to take off from work?

And then all I could think about was, "how is Grandma?"


My grandparents are very unique individuals and you won't ever meet anyone like them. If you could imagine your stereotypical Iowa farm family, that would be them. We lived about 3 hours away from the family farm and I would fall asleep as we drove across I-80. I remember I would ask my dad what was the exact time that it would take to get there and then I would set the timer on my super cool sports watch and go fall asleep (he was always within 1 or 2 minutes if not seconds). I remember I knew when we were getting close because I would tell my parents to wake me up when we got to the "rocks" which was the gravel road that led to their house.
Here is a small list to summarize my childhood memories at Grandma and Grandpa's house:
  • Sleeping in the orange room with a drawing of my grandparents that always scared us grand kids that we would take it off the wall. Then to find out it it was drawn by my aunt, whoops. 
  • There was no dishwasher and so after every meal my grandma, my dad, my aunt, my uncle and some of my cousins would do the dishes as they all shared a laugh. 
  • DO NOT flush the toilet paper down the toilet. Zack thought I was trying to scare him when I told him. 
  • Playing any kind of game after dinner. Cranium, Sequence, Rules of the Game were some of my favorites.
  • Eating any of my grandma's food, especially stew, and homemade pumpkin pie WITH homemade crust.

The last time I saw my Grandpa was when I came home for the Get Your Rear in Gear race. I never was big about celebrating my birthday, especially now because it's more about the remembrance of my mom. But this year, I think it was different and special. An unbeknownst to me, as well as anyone else, it was the gift of seeing him one last time and creating one more memory.
It was the day before the race and I was making salads and dips for the luncheon the next day. My grandparents came and Grandpa handed me a bag full vegetables from their garden. We made taco dip, guacamole and cucumber salad. Grandpa peeled and sliced the cucumbers while telling me about how his mom used to lay out all the cucumbers out flat on a plate (he was quite the story teller, I think I inherited that from him). It was just the three of us around the counter cooking together, it was a very picturesque moment.

For most of you that know me, knows that my lucky number is 13. It started when I was in 2nd grade in Ms. Peterson's class. Growing up, I had planned out my life and that 2013 was going to be the best year. I was going to be married, graduated from college and possibly in med school. I remember Grandpa Al and Judy were talking with Grandma and Grandpa Fessler. They talked about my grandma's incident where she broke her jaw earlier this year, and my Grandpa's journey with radiation. As they were saying their goodbyes, Judy said, "I hope the rest of 2013
 goes a lot better for you."

Irony, huh.

As most of my friends and family would tell you, I can be pretty... emotion-less.
I would say I got my "tough-love" mentality from my mother. Even though I remember when I was younger, she told me to stop being so emotional. I must've changed a little since then.
So when I found myself being over emotional at my grandpa's funeral, I was in shock. You may be thinking, but it's only natural to cry and be sad at a family members funeral but this was different. I had my period of grief and felt like I was at acceptance with what had happened. But I felt like I was feeding off of others' emotions. The way my grandma stayed so strong, watching my cousin's son say goodbye to Grandpa at his casket, watching my dad and his brother and sister mourn for their father. I know my dad went through the loss of his wife which is a different experience of losing a parent. But I felt like I could feel his pain, now that his dad was gone.
Then as we were exiting the church, I heard it. I heard the song that I so desperately wished not to hear; On Eagle's Wings. The very song they played at mom's funeral. Although it was just the musical version, I knew what it was, and I could hear the words being sung. I could hear my mom's voice singing after all those times on Sundays at church.

And that's when I lost it.

I got out of there as fast as I could and the first person I see outside of the chapel was my Grandpa Al and I gave him the biggest hug. I could feel his pain, as someone who has lost a parent, a wife, and a daughter.

I remember at all the different celebrations we had at the Walnut room at the bank, be it a 50th birthday or graduation parties, I always was dubbed as the photographer of people talking at the event. Which I was always annoyed at because I felt creepy stalking people taking their picture or because I'd rather talk to people and be in the pictures because I'm so photogenic.

But after everything that has happened in my life, I realized how important it is to take those pictures, to live in those moments and have something to remember them by.

I know people are going to find this music video irrelevant if not eye rolling because it's One Direction. But when I first saw this video, I cried. I thought of all the photo albums we have at my house. What I would do to be able to relive those moments, and to freeze time. I wish it was like Mary Poppins, when they jump into the picture/sidewalk chalk. I wish I could jump into a picture and just watch. Watch when I arrived to the Des Moines airport to my new family that cold day in January. Watch the all softball games and all the times I spent pitching with my dad on his bucket. Or all the times we stopped at the gas station at 6 am before we left for the tournament and we shared cosmic brownies for breakfast. Watch the time my parents dropped me off at Martin, and moved me into my dorm room. I could go on and on...

Just another reflective post that's a little half-assed to be honest. But it has been awhile since I took the time to write a blog post so I wanted to get something in.
Hopefully, next time I can share something a little more "brighter."

As always, thanks for reading :)


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