/> Raising Angels: September 2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Pray for me and I'll pray for you in some of the holiest places in the world.

This will be a week of wonder and prayer. I believe in miracles. I have experienced some first hand. I have seen some others. I will intercede to take part in even more.

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever!

See you soon. Ciao!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pray for Sunny Weather

I am putting together the last minute things and cleaning the house while the boys are in school. I just checked the weather in Rome and it says rain every day for the next 10 days.

Please, please add warmth and sunshine to your prayers for us. We'll see Rome rain or shine, but I'm pretty sure seeing it dry will be a lot more fun.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Clock is Ticking

The clock is ticking loudly as I type. We're at T-minus 37 hours and counting until we board the first plane to Rome.

Surprisingly, I've got everyone pretty much packed, laundry done, and errands run. I find this hard to believe myself but I was determined not to be rushing around at the last minute. I really wanted my last day with the boys to be peaceful and fun instead of me saying, "Wait just one more minute while I finish..."

This morning I took Nelson's 7 a.m. Adoration. He's been working so much he's hardly seen the boys this week and he wanted to spend the morning with them. I was happy to oblige.

I worried my way to the chapel. I wondered what was wrong with me. I never used to get like this before traveling. What changed? Children. There's just something about being on a different continent than two of my babies that makes me a little crazy. It's not the kind of worry that they won't be okay. It's the kind of worry that if the plane goes down, they won't remember me. I want to be the one to raise my children.

I tried to calm myself in Adoration. I listed what I know. I know I'm supposed to be making this trip. I know after much prayer and discernment that the boys are supposed to stay home (think a 3 1/2 hour ordination in St. Peter's with no nursery, cry room or bathroom - think formal dinners and church tours). I know that if it's my time to go, it doesn't matter if I'm flying over the ocean or driving down my own street. I also know that God knows all of this and He will take care of all of us.

Faith is a beautiful thing. Prayer is so powerful.

I can't wait to see Aaron. I can't wait to see St. Peter's with Nelson and Mackenzie. I can't wait to meet the Pope.

Well, a girl can dream can't she?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Too Cute

I'm trying a new approach to daily mass with the boys this week. Last week, as we sat out in the vestibule and they were marching and chasing each other in circles, I calmed them down and held out a carrot.

"If you can sit still and be quiet tomorrow (Friday), next week I'll let you sit in the big church," I said hoping to provide a different kind of motivation.

Eyebrows went up. Lights went on. Boys sat down.

After a long talk in the car Tuesday morning, we arrived at the church. Aiden's feet hit the ground running. He couldn't wait to sit with the big people. Much to my surprise, he did incredibly well and I praised him profusely. Dawson, besides the fact that I don't think he understands the word whisper, or the phrases be quiet and don't talk, did okay too.

I thought we'd try it again today. They found ways to occupy themselves until the priest walked in. When he did and we finally sat down, Aiden whispered (I mean he didn't yell), "Mama, Father looking at me."

"Yes," I whispered trying to end the conversation before it began, "I see him."

"Why he do that?" he wondered out loud. "Because I so cute?"


I took this quiz to find that I am Cinderella. Mackenzie will be so proud.

I love this princess. She is graceful. She is beautiful inside and out. She has a servant's heart that I find admirable. She is a friend to the poor. She suffers terribly and yet never loses hope. She is transformed by an angel and meets Prince Charming. And, everything has a happy ending.

Who wouldn't want to be like her?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Target Trouble

Today I was trying to knock a few things off my list before leaving the country. I was in Target (because I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart even though it's going to kill me) when I was hit with a very weird thing.

I rushed to the bathroom with both boys in tow. I chose the handicapped stall so they would have some room to walk around. Twenty minutes later, after having stomach cramps, sweating buckets, shivering like a leaf and thinking I might pass out, I decided it was time to call someone. I feared I wouldn't be able to walk out of the place let alone drive my boys home.

I tried my mom, the nurse, and couldn't reach her. Then my phone started beeping low battery. I called Nelson and in a whisper told him I was sick and I needed him to call my mom and get me some help.

Minutes later (now at 25 total bathroom minutes and the boys asking, "What's wrong mama? You okay mama? Are you finished?") a Target employee came in and asked if there was anything she could do. I was humiliated but knew I needed help so I asked her to take my boys.

Of course then I thought, 'What if she takes them? Why did I do that?' I tried desperately to get myself together and by the time I was able to actually stand on my own, she was back...with my boys.

I made my way over to the bench to sit down and in walked Nelson. I sent him to get me some juice (as this had happened once before). Next his mom walked in. I hadn't even thought to call her. She works right around the corner. She sat with me and the boys while Nelson was away. By the time Nelson got back, my mom showed up.

Of course now I was attracting quite a few looks. Mom strapped the blood pressure cup to my arm as people slowed down to stare.

"Well yeah," she said as she unwrapped the cuff, "your pressure is 80."

"You mean that's the top number?" Nelson asked. "What's the bottom one."

"Zero," was her reply. "And that's coming up from what I'm sure it was while she was in the bathroom."

Well at least I know there was a reason I felt so bad. But that didn't change the fact that I was a bit embarrassed by all the attention, not to mention I felt bad that I had drawn so many people away from their day.

But the more I thought about it the more blessed I felt. I don't know a lot of people who can manage to have 3 family members race to their rescue at the drop of a hat. Even though I felt bad about feeling bad, I felt really loved and protected.

Some decent amounts of fluid later, I am feeling better. But mostly I'm feeling really, really fortunate to have a family who is there for me when I need them the most.

Thank you.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Two of My Prince Charmings

Life with the kitten has been a roller coaster ride. I finally gave in to a pet because my kids adore any animal and Mackenzie has been begging us for any live creature to call her own.

I thought a cat would be a nice compromise. It would be an animal she could love and one that I didn't have to care for. I’m so busy caring for humans right now that I have been adamantly against adding an animal to the mix.Then there was a birthday and the cutest kitten staring back at me. I gave in knowing that cats are low maintenance animals.

Since then I have had to clean up messes in three different rooms. I have threatened to send this cat back if he does it again. I mean really, I'm enjoying having two who are potty trained and one who is one the way. I don't need any more you know what to deal with.

On top of that, I have had to fish him out of every cabinet and corner of the house, not to mention once out of the toilet. Now tell me, after you've finished laughing that is, how a cat who hates water wants to jump in the toilet.
If we don't send him back, I suggested that we at least try changing his name to one that he can live up to. Then, I watched this happen last Thursday and decided that maybe, just maybe, he might have a little charm in him after all.

Five More Days

Five days. Five more days to do a million things. Five more days until we leave for Rome.

They say time flies when you're having fun. Yeah, that's true. But it also flies when you have a lot to do. Every time I cross something off the "to do" list, I add 5 more things in its place.

Ready or not, on Saturday I will board that plane. I will fly to Italy. I will enjoy my time. I will witness my brother be ordained a deacon.

Five more days.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Let Me Just Enjoy Today

I ran into the mall today because I had an hour and a half between dropping off the boys and my next appointment. As I rounded the corner in one store, what to my wondering eyes did appear but a Christmas display full of holiday cheer!

I found myself feeling very irritated. I mean really. It isn't even October yet. Can't they just let us enjoy the fall? I'm still wearing shorts for crying out loud. Let's just do one major event and holiday at a time please.

Then it hit me. This all too often is the way I approach my own life. I just wanted to graduate from high school, then college. All I wanted to do was to be married. I couldn't wait to be a mother. I try to imagine a day when I won’t have to cut up the food on three plates before I can eat my own. Some days I actually figure out how many years it is until we can use Mackenzie as our baby sitter. Other days I think about how nice it will be when I’m retired…so to speak.

It’s something I've been trying to work on. When Mackenzie started Kindergarten last year I suddenly realized how quickly the time goes. I began to look at my children through different eyes. I realized that they are so very precious right where they are. I started blogging so that I wouldn't forget everything about right now.

Let's not put up our Christmas trees yet. Let's enjoy today. The weather was beautiful. Both boys went to school without crying. Mackenzie made a 100 on her spelling test. We went to watch my niece's soccer game and she was more interested in running off the field to hug Mackenzie than chasing the ball. At night prayers Aiden prayed, "O my Jesus forgive us our sins and save us from the fires of help." Mackenzie begged for one more round of "Jesus Loves Me" before falling soundly asleep.

And here I sit thanking God for the gift of today. It was nothing outstanding in the eyes of the world, but miraculous all the same. A day not worth missing because of eyes set so far on the future that they can't see today.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

All Is Not Lost

It was another rough morning with Aiden. In fact it's been a rough year. The "terrible two's" are nothing. It's the terrible three's that are a trial by fire.

Just for future reference, I love Aiden dearly. He has the most bubbly, friendly, energetic personality. He has great manners, loves his siblings and is showing signs of impressive intelligence.

On the other hand, he is strong-willed and exceptionally emotional. Unfortunately for me most of his outbursts happen in very public places. I'm guessing this is God's way of telling me that I still don't have this humility virtue down.

It dawned on me the other day that maybe instead of praying so much for him, I should start praying more for myself and the grace and wisdom to make it through this stage.

This is a stage. We will get through it. We will be better for it. If I'm wrong about this, please don't tell me. It's the only thing that gets me through some moments.

But, God being God always knows how to pick me up. During the time we were dealing with this morning’s outburst in yet another public place, I discussed with him that fact that Jesus is in his heart. He knows when we are being disobedient. When we act out in these ways, we make Jesus sad. He didn't turn around immediately but he did make it into his catechism class.

On the way home in the car I told him that I was very disappointed in his behavior. I told him that I was glad he changed his mind and decided to participate in the class and that I hoped that he would do better next week.

He thought for awhile and then asked me, "Mama, is Jesus right here," pointing to his chest, "in my heart?"

Relieved that at least something positive had come from the morning, I enthusiastically said, "Yes, Aiden. He lives right there in your heart."

He looked down a moment, looked back up and asked, "He don't want me to squish him?"

I laughed and thanked God. All is not lost.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm Glad It's Still a Foreign Language to Her

Mackenzie and I had some time before our Mother/Daughter pizza party tonight so we decided to walk to the event which was a short distance from our home.

As we rounded the corner of our street I saw a rather interesting man walking directly towards us. Instead of crossing the road, he stayed on our side passing a little too close for my comfort.

I grabbed Mackenzie's hand tightly as he approached, smiled and kept right on walking. He began to proposition me rather bluntly and loudly. I ignored him and walked quicker.

Mackenzie looked at me and said, "Mama, I can't understand him. Can you?"

"No," I said, praying she believed me.

"Oh," she replied, "he must be speaking Spanish."

10 Days Til Rome And...

We're T minus 10 days until our departure for Rome, Italy where my brother will be ordained a transitional deacon in the Catholic Church. I've been so busy and distracted by the busyness of life that it has snuck up on me.

We got our tickets over 8 months ago, the apartment over 6 months ago, as well as childcare for my two baby boys who are staying behind. Everything has been peaceful and in order until yesterday.

I discovered that some flight plans have changed. I realized that Muslims are threatening to take the life of the Pope and we're headed directly to an American ordination that will fill St. Peter's. And, Dawson's caregiver has taken ill and can no longer keep him.

All of a sudden I felt like my prior planning was not preventing poor performance. After thinking and praying for a solution, my cousin graciously offered to come into my home and take care of Dawson. In fact, she was moved to tears that I asked her. I was blown away by her most generous offer.

I pray for the people watching my children to have a miraculous amount of grace. I pray that my boys are the angels I know that they are for the whole time we're gone. I pray for our safety both on the journey and in Rome. And, I pray for my brother's peace and joy as he approaches ordination.

If you think of it, will you pray those prayers for me too? You know…ask and you shall receive.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sweet Cheeks

As I was editing the photos for the previous post I blew this picture up to get a closer look. I scrolled it across the monitor and laughed hysterically when I got to this point.

Mackenzie came over and giggled at Dawson but after looking a bit closer at herself said, "Ooh look Mama. I have sweet cheeks!"

A Day at UGA

On Saturday we drove to Athens to attend Family Day at my brother's fraternity house. They started with breakfast and the game, and we joined them for dinner and the house tour because we didn’t think the kids would last all day. I actually asked Kevin if he wanted us to bring the kids. He said that we could leave them at home if we wanted to but I could tell he really wanted them there.

How great is it to have a little brother who wants to show off his niece and nephews? I love how much he loves my kids. He became legal this month and he still calls my house every other day to speak to them. They can yell, "Go Dawgs! Sick 'em!" with the best of them (much to the chagrin of my other family members - all Bama fans - but in all fairness Kevin was the only one of us born in Georgia so he has every right to cheer for Georgia...as long as they're not playing Alabama).

So Kevin, a belated happy birthday to you. I am proud of you. You have made and continue to make good decisions. You have set high academic goals for yourself and you're achieving them. You are a good friend and you have chosen good friends as well. You are very active on campus and a large part of that is through your service to the Catholic Student Union. It does my heart good when you call me with your theological questions. I know you are standing strong and defending your faith.

Keep on keeping on brother. Be good. Study hard. Have fun. Pray always.

I love you.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Total Concentration

This morning before school, I asked Mackenzie to write the numbers 1 thorough 10. I watched as she formed each one in perfection.

"Great job girl," I said to provide some positive reinforcement, "so far you've done them perfectly."

She grinned as she proceeded to get carried away with 7 and write a Z instead.

She looked up and giggled realizing her own mistake before I said, "Oops."

"Great job mom," she said in her light, matter-of-fact, miss-know-it all way. "Thanks for messing up my total concentration."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I Fight to the Finish 'Cause I Eat My Spinach

It's hard to get my kids to eat their veggies except for the fact that they love raw carrots as much as potato chips.

We had a surprise party for my sister-in-law this weekend and I made one of her favorite's, the spinach dip recipe on the back of the Knorr Vegetable Soup box.
I almost jokingly asked the boys if they wanted some yesterday as they begged for snacks and this was the result. They gobbled it up like I had just given them the best junk food ever.

I'm not sure it's the healthiest way to get them to eat spinach but I might try this more often. Now they think they're Popeye.

They thought it was, in Aiden's words, "Yum, yum, yum, delicioso!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Greatest Thing About Being Catholic

Last Sunday at mass I was still in my rather melancholy mood. Dwelling again on last week's events paired with the realization that one of my good friends is moving away, probably for good, had me very reflective at mass.

I wouldn't say I was depressed, just sad and a little emotional. When I went forward to serve as a Eucharistic Minister, I prayed for all the things on my mind. It's amazing how easy it is to be focused when you're kneeling at the altar rail preparing to distribute the Body and Blood of Christ.

Most of the time when I serve I am assigned to one of the cups but this Sunday I was assigned to distribute the hosts. As I gave the Body of Christ to people I found myself looking into their eyes and saying a prayer for them.

When I returned to my seat and knelt down, I was overwhelmed by what I had just done. I had held the Body of Jesus in my hands. I had given His Body to other believers. I was moved to tears.

Suddenly nothing else in the world mattered. What I had the privilege to do was the most important thing. How blessed I am to have the opportunity to serve in this way. How blessed I am to believe in a God who would send His only Son into this crazy world just for me.

Today, I as braved mass again for the first time since last week's fiasco, I found myself so grateful that I am a Catholic. I know that no matter what else happens in mass, I will receive Jesus in the most personal way. I know He will be with me. I know He called me to this vocation of motherhood. I know He will give me the grace to walk through it. I just love being Catholic!

Of course these thoughts helped me be much more calm with the boys during mass. That calmness translated into the boys behaving much better at mass. That translated into me actually participating during mass (well some of the time anyway). That translated into me being able to reflect on these things.

God always knows just what I need.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Ago

Five years ago today I was zipping up my suitcase and heading out the door to fly home on a 10 a.m. United flight. As I scooped up baby Mackenzie to bring her home after my uncle's funeral, my phone started ringing non-stop. Everyone was begging me not to go anywhere.

The friend of the family I was staying with came upstairs and told me to come to the den with him. There in front of the television I watched in disbelief as the second plane flew into the World Trade Center.

I stayed at my uncle's for nearly a week before getting on the first plane back home. Of course the airport was a mess and getting on the flight a fiasco. As I ran to the plane, the last one on with Mackenzie in my arms, I didn't have time to think. Once I strapped us in my body began to shake. What if it wasn't safe? What if after all of this, our plane goes down?

Then, it occurred to me. I have faith in a God who is bigger than all of this and the simple fact was that if He felt it was time for me to go, I was going to go no matter what the time or circumstances were.

As I reflected after the events, I began to see the good. Suddenly, an almost godless nation was on its knees in prayer. Polar opposites were standing side by side, hand in hand as brothers. Ordinary people rose from the ashes as true heroes. An otherwise seemingly apathetic country was flying its flag from every nook and cranny.

How dare I ask God what we did to deserve this. Shouldn't I be asking instead what I did to deserve to live in a country like ours? Today I am still in awe of how God protected Mackenzie and me.

We are indeed a blessed country. God has given us much more than we could ever, ever deserve. For all that went wrong, we have been saved and protected from so much else.

Thank you Jesus for our freedom. Thank you for our faith. Thank you for your loving hand of protection.

May we never forget the lessons we learned from that day. May we always see each other as brothers and sisters in You. May we learn to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Amen.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

How You Know Their Heroes Are The Right Ones

At the park today we were spinning the kids on the merry-go-round and Mackenzie was yelling, "Faster Daddy! Spin me faster."

"Okay, hold on," Nelson said as he sent her flying.

"No Daddy faster," she screamed. "I mean faster than Jesus!"

Ciao Aaron

This is a part of what made my day sad yesterday. Aaron left once again for Rome. When we arrived at the airport to say our goodbyes it felt as if it was just yesterday we were excitedly awaiting his arrival. How come time flies when you don't want it to and when you do, it creeps by instead?
On a positive note, three weeks from today, I will be boarding a plane at this very airport to fly to Rome to see him be ordained a transitional deacon. Twenty one more days. I can't wait.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Bad Day

Today did not start well. After that it got worse. And, so far I'm not heading for a great ending either.

I think the stress of the last couple of weeks finally got to me. Until this morning I had been holding it together like a champ. Working on little to no sleep, my grandfather's death, the trip from you know where, my little girl going back to school, my brother heading back to Italy, taking care of a new baby (the kitten, who by the way has been named Prince Charming), I managed to put on a brave face and push through.

Aiden was HORRENDOUS at mass this morning, so much so that I am seriously contemplating taking that off my list of things to do. By the end of mass he was yelling, "PLEASE don't spank me when we get to the car!" over and over and over. People say that one day I'll laugh at all this. Today I did see anything humorous about it at all.

At the grocery store a complete stranger yelled at me, loud enough that everyone's head turned. I had gotten distracted during the check out talking to a friend and did not realize the cashier was finished. The stranger felt the need to let me, as well as everyone around me, know my mistake.

It broke me. I don't know what happened. Tears are still welling up as I type. Thank God my friend was there or else I would have lost it in the store. I was too embarrassed to do that in front of someone I knew. As soon as I got in the car though, it was over. I even prayed for the stranger. Honestly, it didn't make me feel any better.

Sometimes life is just hard. I know that. Some days you just need a pat on the back. A reassuring word. Something nice to happen. Instead I got yelled at.

Thankfully, my mom called me on my way home and listened to me. However, I am tired and I just can't seem to shake those hurtful words.

Because of this I plan to make tomorrow a be kind to strangers day. You just never know what someone is going through. You never know how much a smile or kind word might mean to someone who hasn't heard one in a long time. In fact, I'm going to make it my mission from here on out. I'm sure I won't do it perfectly but a little effort will hopefully prevent me from ever making someone feel the way I do today.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Maybe in October

Okay after my long list of things to do last week, I was really looking forward to the start of school yesterday. Don't get me wrong, I love the long, lazy, no schedule days of summer but after three months my body and mind crave a little discipline and scheduling.

But first we endured the Illinois trip. This is a 13 hour drive when you don't factor any glitches. Baby, we hit them all! We hit Atlanta in rush hour at the beginning of Labor Day weekend. We had a three year old who had to go potty in the midst of that. We pulled off the interstate to find a bathroom only to hit worse traffic and a blocked off exit back onto the interstate.

We made it through all that and stopped for dinner to let the kids eat and play awhile hoping they would sleep during the remaining hours. It was in those hours that Dawson got sick and threw up everywhere. One long stop of bathing the baby in a gas station sink while trying desperately to clean out the car seat later, we thought the worst had passed.

We finally pulled in to the hotel around 6 a.m. By this time Dawson was running a temperature of 104. We got up to the room to crash before the 3 p.m. wedding only to find that the crib we had ordered was locked up and unavailable until 8 a.m. That meant I went to sleep after being awake almost 24 hours wedged in a double bed with both of my boys.

Dawson was still running a fever and very lethargic when we woke up. As we were walking out of the hotel, he threw up again all over my silk dress and the hotel carpet. We cleaned that up strapped him in the car and, you guessed it, he did it again.

On a positive note, he did not throw up at the wedding(which by the way was really nice), although I sat out in the vestibule armed with a bag and a towel just in case. We managed to get some Tylenol down him between the wedding and the reception and after a brief rest back at the hotel he turned the corner and was chipper and eating at the party(which was also very fun).

That's when Aiden took over. So just read the trip backwards from here and insert Aiden's name with one stretch during which we literally stopped every thirty minutes for almost two hours and you've got the idea.

We rolled into town around 4 a.m. and got the kids to bed. When I finally fell into bed after being gone only 64 hours (at least 32 of those traveling), it was close to 5 a.m. Nelson woke me to tell me about my grandfather at 8:30.

We were at the funeral home by 4 p.m. followed by dinner at my mom's. The next day included Mackenzie's first day, picking out graveside flowers and a kitty, the funeral and another family meal.

Aaron leaves for Rome on Friday so we went out to eat tonight in honor of him. Tomorrow night we're having a cookout. The weekend is packed.

Today at mass the priest asked me how much longer until I go to Rome and I honestly didn't know. After looking at the calendar I realized that I'm leaving the country in less than 24 days.

Okay, September may not be my month to get back into a good rhythm. Right now I’m just hoping for a good night’s sleep.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It Was a Day...

Today was a day of dichotomy. Mackenzie started first grade which means she's at school all day this year. She's thrilled. I think I'll miss her. She came home already saying that first grade is way more fun than Kindergarten. Let's hope she continues feeling that way.

We checked her out of school early to go to my grandfather’s graveside service. It was really nice. He served in the Air Force for 21 years before retiring so they sent a military group all the way in from the coast to present my dad with the flag, offer a 21 gun salute and play "Taps". It was all very moving.

One thing we do at burials is offer everyone a chance to shovel some dirt on the grave. The first time I saw this happen I thought it was quite morbid. As I thought about it and experienced it more and more, I fell in love with it. It provides a great sense of closure as well as one last chance to serve. I hate it now when I go to a burial when I can't do that. It just seems odd to let strangers bury a loved one.

We were finally able to give Mackenzie her long awaited birthday gift. I finally gave in and allowed an animal in my house.

It wasn't long ago that I was dead set against it. However watching a heart-broken little girl wait on the porch for an hour for a stray dog to come back changed my mind. Besides, cats take care of themselves (knock on wood) and well, Mackenzie's reaction of total glee was enough to make me think we made the right decision.

It was a good day. It was a sad day. It was a happy day. It was a day of firsts and lasts. It was a day I will always remember.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Goodbye Grandpa

My grandpa died this morning. It was very unexpected. We last saw him on Thursday when I snapped this picture. The kids went out to his assisted living center with a few of their friends and sang vacation bible school songs for everyone. Grandpa's seat was front and center. He was so excited and proud of his great grandchildren.

When my mom called at 8 a.m. this morning and Nelson told me the news other than disbelief, my first thought was to thank God that we had the opportunity to see him one last time. To think that I almost cancelled it breaks my heart. Four of the six families who had said they would join us to sing had to cancel. Everyone had really good reasons. That only left five children to sing with mine. We were getting ready to drive to Illinois the next day. It was so tempting to say we'd just do it another time.

But something moved my heart. I couldn't cancel. I knew that once school started it would be even harder to get a group together so we did it anyway. And that is the last time I saw him. My final memory of him was watching him in his wheelchair just laughing and smiling at my children. I saw him beam proudly as he joined the others at his table for lunch. They were all so thankful and impressed. We walked over to him, we each gave him a kiss and said goodbye.

God was good to me. He was so good to give me a grandfather who loved me and was proud of me. He was good to give me a grandfather with a generous and loving heart. He was good to allow my children the opportunity to get to know him and to love him. Grandpa's candy bowl, Cheezits and cashews always made them feel as if they had discovered a treasure at his house. God was good to take my grandpa quick and without suffering. He was good to allow me that last day to see him, kiss him and say goodbye. I will be forever grateful that I had the chance to get to know and love my grandpa.

Today, as we stood by his open casket saying our goodbyes, the kids had a lot of questions but no fear, no sadness. It was good enough for them to know that that was just his body. It was comforting and exciting for them to think of him in Heaven with Jesus and grandma.

We all joined in an Our Father and then mom and dad said a few prayers. When they had finished, I asked Aiden, whose hand I was holding, if he had any prayers he wanted to say for Great-Grandpa.

"Jesus," he said, "please help Great-Grandpa have a nice trip. Amen."

Have a nice trip Grandpa. We love you and we'll miss you.