Monday, May 23, 2011

Life Changing

This past week has been absolutely life changing; an emotional roller coaster. One second I was fine and then I would be bawling. It wasn't all bad though; I have felt very loved and treasured by my friends and family's words, acts and service.  I am not even sure where to start or how to write about this and the whole week is kind of a blur anyway...

I hadn't thought much about the work ahead after my grandma actually passed... but let me tell you it is a lot of work to clean out someone's house. We didn't have the luxury of leaving things just as they were and coming back to it when we were ready to deal with it... I can totally understand why people hire companies to do estate sales now! It was so hard to see all of her treasured possessions (trinkets her children and grandchildren had made her, cards, letters etc) and trying to decide what to do with them. It was emotional; but only when you slowed down enough to think about it.... so we didn't slow down. My mom, Aunt Mei-lan, Kenny, me and sometimes my brother took apart each room, closet etc. After a few days I just wanted the whole thing to be over. My body ached from lifting and moving and I was an emotional mess... but at the same time it was sort of the last thing we were ever going to do for grandma and I didn't want it to be over...

In this whole situation I am most thankful for the love and respect my Uncle Rick showed us as the executor of the estate. He was extremely laid back and did what was best for the family with no regard to money. My mom and I had discussed how hard it would be to have a yard sale with all of grandma's things... when she mentioned it to my Uncle he said, then don't have one. Simple as that: problem solved. We donated probably 4-5 truckloads of items to Goodwill throughout the week... probably could have made tons of money at a yard sale... We did sell numerous items on craigslist and even took things to the pawn shop. Kenny and I purchased items from the 'trust' as did Little Jake and Kelly, but the prices were fair and that it is what it is.

Saturday Kenny made several appointments for people to come over and view the furniture items. The hardest thing to watch was a man come in and buy my grandma's recliner... it made me sick to my stomach (I was again thankful for no yard sale!).

Kenny has been absolutely amazing through this whole process, as always. He was emotionally supportive (I had my moments of brattiness ) and caring to everyone.  He wheeled and dealed, sold and delivered furniture, picked up food, ran errands etc.  He did have the help of my brother and cousins at times, but he handled every transaction. There was one deal in particular that we couldn't wrap our heads around. A woman wanted to buy the spare fridge; microwave etc and Kenny agreed to deliver the items.... With everything that was going on we didn't see why he would take the time, effort and gas money to deliver the items (I would just say no). I think the man just has a soft spot for single mothers who don't necessarily have someone they can count on to do those 'manly' things. Sometimes I take for granted that we have Kenny to lift and fix for us... what would we have done if we didn't?

It was so amazing to have my Aunt Mei-lan here for the past 3 weeks! She is such a great woman; selfless, hardworking, humble, funny and easy to get along with. She came to help my mom take care of my grandma, but stayed to help clean out the house and be with my mom. This is the first time we really got to know her and I really enjoy her. She is such a wealth of knowledge on cooking, culture, etiquette and more. It was cute how her and my mom got along so well- we teased that they were having a long slumber party. The two of them had 10 years to catch up on! After the house was cleaned out, they spent their days at my moms house--Aunt Mei-lan worked there too and helped my mom clean out her craft room, closet and kitchen. The last weekend Aunt Mei-lan was in town everyone stayed at our house and Aunt Mei-lan helped with food preparation, shopping and even sewed the arm of our couch that Shelby had chewed! Awesome! 

Kenny Jr. came to town on Tuesday afternoon and he it was such a blessing to have him around. He has such a huge heart and is just fun to be around, you can't help but smile. He took us all (Aunt Mei-lan, Mom, Kenny and I) to see Hangover 2 on Thursday night, which was really sweet. He also did a bunch of yard work for Kenny and I to prepare for the open house on Saturday... it was SO much appreciated since we had to work Thursday and Friday and were short on time.

We had such an amazing support team from "Church Family". Monday night, Shirley Barker brought us dinner. She is a friend of our friend Jackie. We (my mom and I) have only met her briefly at the retreat last year, but she felt compelled to bless us with a complete, extravagant dinner. She made us yummy creamy chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, fruit salad and cookies. It was delicious and more than just filling our bellies it warmed our hearts and made us feel loved. This woman is about to lose her own mother to Alzheimers after a 10 year battle, and still took the time not only to prepare this meal for us, but also to drive 35 mins (ONE WAY) to deliver it to us. My mom and I asked Jackie what we could do to say thank you and she told us "There was nothing for us 'to do', its just people who live for God trying to show is love. Its Church family and God takes care of his children."

It didn't stop there either. Tuesday night Merrit, a friend I just met at Jackie's church retreat in February, brought dinner. Meat loaf, mashed potatoes and green beans with bacon!

THEN Wednesday night Jackie brought us yet another meal! Pulled pork, rolls, coleslaw, amazing beans (very unique and tasty!) and a peach pie! She also brought Aunt Mei-lan fresh cut flowers and my mom and I nice potted flowers. It was SO very nice. She brined the pork for 24 hours, and then did 10 hours of slow cooking… lots of time and love put into that meal.
On Friday, Jackie Fry (my Piano teacher) brought all 12 of us dinner... spaghetti and meatballs with bread and 2 PIES! Yummo!

It is hard for me to be on the receiving end of these wonderful gestures, but so inspiring. I want to look for more opportunities to reciprocate these types of service oriented gestures.

I so appreciate having 5 days of bereavement leave (Kenny and I both got it) to get things done. I am also thankful for family being in town, but I somehow think I could have enjoyed them more, been a better host or done better entertaining... I just didn't have the gumption, you know?

Having all the family around we did do a few fun things-

Saturday I took my mom, Aunt Mei-lan and our friend Jackie out to Scrapbooks Etc for the scrappin' sampler. We had a fabulous time! Aunt Mei-lan really enjoyed the crafting and Jackie really clicked with Aunt Mei-lan. On the way home we stopped at the Chinese cultural center to do some shopping. Jackie and Aunt Mei-lan were in hog heaven! We tried some new foods and explored the seafood and deli sections which had some cultural differences from a traditional grocery store.

Sunday Barb had Kenny and I over for dinner which was a nice break from the insanity of everything going on. 
Little Kenny look at pictures of his dad
Monday was Aunt Mei-lan's birthday so we tired to make it as special as we could for her. We had a nice breakfast/lunch out at IHOP and did a little shopping. She is very easy to please and didn't expect us to make a big hoopla for her. We got some blizzards from DQ and relaxed that afternoon. When everyone came by for dinner I played the piano and mom sang happy birthday to her... it was really a sad rendition, but Aunt Mei-lan seemed to like it. HA HA

Kenny took Aunt Mei-lan for her free dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts
Little Kenny, me, Kenny, mom and Aunt Mei-lan
  Wednesday we went out for Mexican food for lunch - 

Wednesday, Little Kenny, Brian, Crystal, Little Brian and Jacob and I went to Waazee World to try out lazer tag. Little Brian and Jacob actually did really well with it! We took them in for a little tour before we paid, because we weren't sure if they would be scared since it was dark in the room. They seemed fine so we went ahead. Little Kenny smoked us all and won the first game. It was a lot of fun and I would love to try it again.

I already mentioned Thursday Little Kenny treated us all to the movies (Hangover 2), but afterwards Aunt Mei-lan treated us all to dinner at Stirfry Paradise a Mongolian grill. 

Friday Uncle Rick, Jason and Chris came into town. Kenny and I were lucky enough to get off early (1:30) because of the holiday. Little Kenny picked up my brother and the boys and we all met up at my house. It was so nice to have everyone together at my house. 

Friday night we (Little Kenny, Kenny, Brian and I) went out. We had a really, really great time together and laughed a lot. 
 The guys all rode the bull :

 Saturday was the open house. I was SOOO stressed since it was at our house. Everyone was very helpful in setting up and getting things ready. Little Kenny always asks to see what needs to be done and the other follow ; )

I don't know what I expected but no one outside the family showed up. Dad, Mom, Uncle Rick, Jason, Chris, Brian, Little Brian, Jacob, me, Kenny, Little Kenny, Little Jake, Kelly, Jennifer and her son Zack and Aunt Cathy all showed up. We pretty much just stood around and talked and looked at pictures. Since Grandma didn't want a service I guess it went as well as it should have.

Jacob with marker on his hand
After the Open House everyone was just hanging out, napping and playing video games. Little Kenny fell asleep on the couch.... I felt this was my perfect opportunity to give him a permanent marker heart tattoo... well he woke up mid-heart and attacked me! I called the boys to come help me and Jacob was SO concerned! Him and Little Brian tried to assist - which was adorable. Kenny came in from the other room and told my brother, "I don't know what your sister did, but I am sure she deserves what he is doing" Brian came in, hesitated for a moment deciding which of us he wanted to help and then he helped ME!
Jacob and Kenny waiting at Olive Garden 

That night we all (except my parents) went out to Olive Garden for dinner. It was a great time and I loved that Uncle commented about how well the boys behaved in public! Also, Uncle Rick let us feel like a rockstars and pay for dinner... the things is we didn't really pay, because he gave us money for all the work we did the past week. If you know Kenny you know he would NEVER take money for helping family (or others really), but agreed to take the money to buy everyone's meal.

When we got back from dinner my parents came back over and we all stood around and talked for a while. I don't think any of us wanted the time together to be over.

Sunday everyone left and it all started to sink in... The house was empty and quiet. Back to real life. 

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