Last Monday Zac's grandpa Dick passed away.
We had been fortunate to see him 2 weeks ago when we went up for my shower.
Dick had not been well on and off for the last few years. He had a heart attack, then he broke his hip. Now he had declined and was in a nursing home.
He was the exact opposite of my grandpa, mentally still there, physically failing.
It was hard to see him in the home. Zac was really uncomfortable, because Dick was so uncomfortable. You could tell he didn't want to be there one bit. Watching family suffer and knowing there is not a darn thing to be done about it is hard. A much harder thing than I'd like to deal with at 27. Much harder than I'd like to deal with ever really. We didn't linger too much. Just sat and tried to chit chat, then left to get him lemon drops because they were his favorite. It was awkward. Zac was awkward. We all were....I got to give Dick a hug and kiss....I regret that we didn't get a picture with him with Cliff on board but I was happy to get a smile out of him when we left. I promised him that I would keep growin another Ballard for him.
I have completely mixed emotions about Dick's death. I am glad that Dick does not have to be in the nursing home. I am thankful that he had his faith, and that I can KNOW he is in a better place. That he is restored. I am so happy that he is no longer frail, or suffering. And I'm sad. Sad for grandma Betty, sad for my in-laws, sad for my husband, that they have to deal with grief and loss. Sad that Cliff won't get the opportunity to meet his great-grandpa. But for Dick, I am happy.
Not happy he is gone. Happy for where he is.
As I sat outside at Dick and Betty's house after the funeral, with my family I was happy too. And mostly, I felt lucky. Zac's family is much like mine. His dad is one of 6 boys. And, of course, those boys all have families now. The house was full to overflowing, so Zac's brother and sisters and I all set up camp outside.
At one point, my mother-in-law Lolla asked for all her grandkids to get together for a picture.
This is close to all of them. We are missing Lexus and Kaylee....but this is 14 of my 16 nieces and nephews on the Ballard side.
As they were gathering up for the picture my sister-in-law said to me one of the most poignant things I've ever heard in a long time. She told me that for years, most of her life even, she thought that family wasn't that important. That before she married my brother-in-law, it was never something that mattered to her. Then, after seeing and becoming part of our family, she realized what she had been missing and it seemed to her now, if you don't have family, what do you really have?
Don't get me wrong, I know that "family" is not about blood-lines, but the sentiment is dead right.
What would I have without my family?
I am blessed beyond measure by them. Not just my parents and sisters, but Zac's family too. I am so fortunate to not just love them, but LIKE them. To WANT to spend time with them. I am so lucky to have mothers that cooked and cleaned and really took care of their kids. Mothers that love my fathers, that are their equals and their biggest champions. I have fathers that were the heads of the household, that give great advice and helped shape their sons into men and good husbands. Dads that are proud and hard-working and treat their wives well. I have sisters that include me and brothers that would do anything for me. I have aunt and uncles and cousins galore that I don't just see on holidays and make small talk with, but that I actually KNOW. When I married Zac, we inherited each other's families. Now he is signed up for working cattle on his days off and I have an annual half-marathon to be swindled into running in, but it is awesome.
I do have friends that I count among my "family." And I don't discount that anyone can create a family with the people they love regardless of whether or not they are related. I have friends with broken families. I know that their lives are good, and the dysfunctions are overcome, but I appreciate beyond measure that I didn't have to go looking for examples, mine are right in front of me, and I am so...well, spoiled, because of that fact. I love my family so much! All you Foxes and Ballards. Even those dirty Daniels and stinky Reids.
I think it is sad to have loss be the thing that reminds us of all we have to be grateful for, but it would be even more sad if it didn't. I am reminded to hug and kiss my nieces and nephews. To call my dad more often. And to go to see Grandpa Howard, to be there for him even when he can't be there for me. But most of all, I am reminded to teach the bean I'm growing what is most important (when he finally makes his appearance) because one day I'm gonna be the old lady in the nursing home that needs visitors and lemon drops, and it will be Cliff's kids writing the blogs about family and growing little Ballards to take my place.