On Thursday night, February 17, Chopper's dad suffered a massive stroke. Friday morning, they called us and said the doctor had asked the family to gather by Monday morning. In a couple of hours we had packed the car and the kids and were on a 2-day drive to Georgia where Chopper's parents had relocated about the same time we came to Texas.
Chopper's dad passed away on Monday -- President's Day -- the 21st and we blessed to be able to get there in time for Chopper to say good-bye and be there as he passed. They decided to bury him in Quanitco Military Cemetery in Quantico, Virginia so we traveled another day north for the funeral and burial and then 2 days back to Texas.
It has been a very long 9 days -- 9 states -- and 5 of driving. Both physically and emotionally exhausting. But we know that Gary is well and whole where he is and that we will be able to see him someday again. And despite the circumstances, it was a joy to see friends and family and spend time together.
Megan was particularly pleased to see that Linus had made the move to Georgia safe and sound. She spent a lot of time at Grandma and Grandpa's house giving him rocks. Don't ask me why but I suppose the natural reaction of a toddler who loves rocks is to share that love with all who will hold still long enough to appreciate them too!
Abby was loved by all, but especially Uncle Billy. He was awfully comfy to take naps on!
These are all 7 of the Whittacre siblings. From the left: Danny, Jeanette (hiding in the back with the blond hair), Joyce, Jeri, Chopper, Gary-David, and Jesse. It's been a long time since they've all been together like this.
Here we are with Grandma Whittacre and the flag presented to her at the burial. This is an amazing woman.
My brother Jeff drove up from SVU for the burial at Quantico and Abby was the only one who would tolerate him. In him defense, the girls at this point were so massively tired and displaced that they had a really hard time with anyone other than mom or dad.
But when he does funny things with his lips, it gets interesting!
The funeral and burial were very nice -- I think that Gary would have liked them. There were quite a few family and friends there and it was well done. I don't really want to go into it piece by piece because it doesn't seem quite right. It was very emotional though and there was a lot of love.
So how do you entertain a 3-year old and a nearly 1-year old through 5 days of driving time? With snacks, movies, books, toys, and a lot of patience. Megan and Abby enjoyed entertaining each other as well though so I didn't have to do it all.
This trip was a little too much driving really but Chopper and I enjoyed seeing things we wouldn't normally see:
Now that is my dream come true -- a quilt shop and a book store next to each other! Too bad it was in the middle of Tennessee . . . and neither one was open because it was a Sunday. Although I guess I can't fault them there.
I had to have this -- it was one of our favorite snacks when we road-tripped when I was growing up.
You see some interesting things but I was NOT quick with the camera -- this pyramid was in Memphis I think, we also drove by Chunky, Mississippi (or was it Alabama?), saw one horrific fatal accident in Tennessee but enjoyed the scenery otherwise, hated the roads and the rest stops in Arkansas, and soaked up all the trees. Oh and President Clinton's Presidential library and museum in Little Rock Arkansas really DOES look like a trailer home. And nearly every church we passed was called the "first". How can they all be the "First Church of Christ" or "First Pentecostal Church" (which was HUGE by they way) -- I want to know!
We crossed the Mississippi twice -- impressive both times.
And came home to this -- a yard that desperately needs to be mowed (after only 9 days!) and a blooming willow tree. I guess spring is in the air.
And oh yeah, Abby started crawling. My easy life as I knew it, has now ended!
Oh and this is cute -- Megan discovered some game at Grandma and Grandpa's house that had little pegs that she decided were like microphones. And we had to sing together. Ignore my singing -- Megan's the cute one.
And we were able to stay with some incredible friends in Virginia and see others as well. I am really grateful for friends -- even more so because it's been so darn difficult here to find good ones. I know it will happen but I guess it's just not going fast enough for me! The love and support that we have had through this (I say we but it's really Chopper of course) has been phenomenal.
Thank you -- we love you too.