Sad time for family

Have you ever been in a situation where you were certain that it had to be a nightmare and not real? That has been the case for me and my family this past week. I kept hoping someone will awaken me and tell me it was all a horrible dream, even though I knew that wouldn’t happen.

My younger son, Bill, and his wife, Missy, had gone to Bristol, Tenn., for the NASCAR race, leaving Friday night. They were excited about going to see the race and have a much-needed mini-vacation. Just before midnight on Sunday, I got the call no parent should ever have to hear. My much-loved son had had a massive heart attack and didn’t make it. Missy got back home on Monday afternoon with the help of friends who had gone with them. Everything still seemed unbelievable and horrible. Because he had died out of the area, many things were complicated and took time.

Tuesday, final plans were made for a viewing on Thursday and funeral on Friday at McCurdy’s Funeral Home in Beverly. Burial was in the cemetery at Waterford where many of his family, including all four grandparents rest in peace.

As in most small communities, family, friends and neighbors gathered and brought love, healing hugs and food. If such a terrible thing must happen, it is comforting to live in such a place so one can have help dealing with the horrible grief brought on by such loss.

One comforting thing was that they had such a wonderful time last weekend, doing what they loved – going to a race. They were relaxing with their friends at the camp ground when he collapsed. They had shopped for shirts to bring home to their kids and Bill was excited thinking about this. As parents and grandparents, we all know that one of the best parts of a vacation is choosing gifts for the little ones. It was truly a bittersweet moment when Missy got them out of the suitcase and gave each child the gift that had been chosen for each child.

Bill was a great son and a well-liked and kind man. He would help anyone who needed his help and give the shirt off his back if someone needed it. I did not realize how many people he touched with love and kindness until this happened. Thanks to all of you who have comforted me by telling me what a friend he was to you. I loved the “gentle giant” (6 foot seven-inches tall) that was my son and he will always live in my heart.

The girls, Cassidy and Baylee, at ages 12 and 13 are at a hard age to lose their father. Austin graduates this year from high school and feels the loss deeply. Dad had been at all his football games – he was No. 81 on the Waterford High team. His oldest daughter, Corrine, has lost her greatest admirer and 2 1/2-year-old grandson, Braydon, who keeps asking for PaPaw, will never have anyone who could love him more. We all are devastated, but know we have to keep it together for the sake of those five young ones. We should never have to bury our children and they are our children, even when they also have their own family. Please pray for all of us, if you pray, and if not, just keep us in your thoughts.

We all know we are not promised tomorrow, but we get busy and forget to keep telling our family how much we love them and appreciate them. Too often, we are too busy to stop and just enjoy being together. Just because our kids are younger than we are doesn’t mean that we will always have them. Remember, they are a gift to us to raise and love. None of us are going to be here forever, so we should show our love and respect to all our family and to others as well. Life is too short to spend it fussing about anything or anyone.

Make prayer a part of your life. It really can help you over the bumps in the road of life. Thanks to all of you who have helped us during this sad time.

Next Sunday is Easter Sunday. This is the day we celebrate the risen Christ and our promise of eternal life, quite appropriate for our family and others who have lost loved ones at this time of year. Everyone celebrates Easter in one form or another. To the little ones, the Easter Bunny and the eggs and candy he brings give them joy. Many folks still get a new outfit for spring to wear on this day.

However you celebrate Easter, enjoy it with your family with fellowship, love and good food. Ham is traditional and easy to fix, but make whatever your family likes. One treat my mom taught me was to make cupcakes, frost them and add colored coconut to the top to make a nest, then put a few jelly beans for eggs in the nest. Use a green pipe cleaner to make a handle and you have a miniature Easter basket. You can also do that to the top of a cake and even add Peeps or small chocolate bunnies, but omit the handle. To tint coconut, put coconut in a jar and add a few drops of color – green for grass – put a cover on the jar and shake until the coconut is tinted. Make your favorite cake recipe, or, if time is short, use a cake mix. They are good and if decorated, everyone thinks they are great. Use the time you save to give your little ones (big ones, too) a hug.

Buy a cooked ham that you just need to warm up and add a glaze or sauce for it. One easy sauce is canned cherry pie filling heated. It is simple to use brown sugar, a touch of mustard and pineapple to make a glaze. Fix a vegetable, salad, some buns, an Easter cake (as above) and you have an Easter dinner that will make everyone happy and you aren’t spending all your time in the kitchen instead of with your family. I know these aren’t fancy recipes and not many of them either. I will give you more next time but right now, as this is written, my heart is so heavy that my brain doesn’t want to think. It has been such a sad time for all our family and it will take some time to try to get back to normal. On this Palm Sunday, plan your Easter day and get the food ready for it, but use time to think about how you can show special love to your family. Give them a special hug and tell them you love them.

Contact Patty Christopher at jkoenitzer@aol.com