Oh how wonderful it was to be home with family for the holidays! From Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Brookhaven, Mississippi.

During the holiday season, I chose not to take another three month travel Occupational Therapy assignment so I could be home with family. I know you don’t get that time back with family, and one of the benefits of travel therapy is  that you can take time off in between work assignments – although not getting paid… But the time with family was/is priceless. I did work a few PRN days at a nursing home in Pigeon Forge, TN when they needed coverage and it was nice to be in with that therapy team.

In addition to visiting my family, we also visited Karole’s brother, Kim, in Brookhaven, MS. His wife, Kristy, was out of town but we got some one on one time with Kim, stopping by his work, staying at his beautiful antebellum home (and enjoying LOTS of SNOW there for an extremely rare snow that blanketed South Mississippi on the night of our visit!), and going out to dinner with him. He played the guitar and sang for us, baked biscuits and served them with syrup, “sort of like Uncle Benny used to make”. And I got to explore the beautiful and eclectic art collection in his home – but more importantly I got to see the artwork HE had created and was in the process of creating. Truly AMAZING! Their family never ceases to amaze me with their artistic talents. Karole, Kim, and Kevin all have been blessed with an innate ability to CREATE…whether it be in written format, music, sculpting, mixed media, design, etc. We also briefly saw her niece, Joey, and her nephew, Stewart, while in MS.

We visited with Karole’s Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill in their home in Summit, MS. Aunt Peg recently turned 85 years young and she had a surprise birthday party after we left town (which sadly we couldn’t attend) but were thrilled to see the turnout of people and the smiles on everyones faces in the pictures. We looked through TONS of pictures and she told stories of the past. It was a wonderful glimpse into Karole’s past and a very special moment for me. We went out to eat with them at the Picadilly cafeteria (a first for me) and just sitting across the table with Karole’s mom’s sister, Peg…the only living sibling from their family…was mesmerizing to me. It seems I have a million questions for her, but only asked a few. Since Karole’s parents died young, her dad at age 32 and her mom at age 33, she really doesn’t have memories of them because she was only three when her dad died. So meeting people in her family who knew them really is my way only way to get to know them. During our lunch at Picadilly with Aunt Peg and Uncle Bill, I thought of my own sister and brother-in-law, Nancy & Eric, and their three kids, and how if the tables were turned and our family had lost both of them at a young age and left the kids without both parents …how deeply saddened I would be and the depth of grief I would have to overcome…Peg has had to do this!  Bless her soul. She is strong, sweet, and funny. Peg clearly is very proud of Kevin, Kim and Karole…it’s in her eyes when she speaks of them.

Our trip to MS also warranted us a nice visit with Karole’s cousin, Gale Nelson, who, upon seeing Karole said, “Karole-Nay!”, short for Karole Renee, which I had not heard her referred to before. Gale told me Karole used to refer to herself as “Karole-Nay” when she was little….so cute! Gale was delightful and interesting. Our time together was easy and fun. I loved hearing their old stories…another glimpse into Karole’s family.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas time with my nieces and nephews, my siblings, my parents, and being a part of the McGill/Reagan and Clabo traditions….all were very special (also getting a quick visit in with my cousin, Julie, her two kids, my Aunt JoAn and her husband). The Reagan traditions have changed because Lisa & Beville and Beville Mac and Brittany lost their homes to the fires in Gatlinburg, but we still got together just in a new/temporary home for them. The Trentham/Bohanan crew are still adjusting to new traditions after leaving the East Side Motel to begin anew at our family home tucked away on Trentham lane. Thankful for time together no matter where or how.

For Christmas, Karole and I created a a scavenger hunt for my nieces and nephews for them to get their main present from my parents…tickets to an NFL football game in Atlanta, GA. It was a blast watching them solve riddles to find the clues! Our time with the Clabo crew for Christmas was, as always, memorable, but Aunt Louise will always be missed. And Karole got inaugurated as a dishwasher at the Clabo house and she passed with flying colors! I hear she and her brothers had a lot of practice at dishwashing growing up in their grandparents’ house! To top the time off in Tennessee was getting to see LOTS of basketball playin’ and my four youngest nieces and nephews rockin’ it out on the court. So proud of them! My oldest nephew, Dalton, is now employed with First Tennessee Bank at one of their corporate offices, and I’m equally proud of him too!

This post about family and the holidays wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our Thanksgiving with the Buchanan/Krump/Barr crew in Nashville, TN. They are Karole’s family, although not blood related. They are a loving, rambunctious, intellectually stimulating, fun crew and spending time with them is always a delight. They create a space of belonging when you are at their home, a safe harbor from the sometimes craziness of life. Although, don’t get me wrong, there’s craziness there in the Buchanan home….a young adult dressed in a full blown turkey suit gobbling loudly and flapping her “wings” delivering small gifts to each person there (another first for me). I thank Poppy & Richard for their love & prayerful protection over Karole all of these years, a love like they share is few and far between. And to think, Karole and Poppy’s friendship began almost 35 years ago when they were camp nurses in Mentone, AL at Camp DeSoto.  Just goes to show you never know in what facet of life a forever friend will be in your midst.  Always keep your door open… even if it’s an infirmary door!

During the month of January, Karole and I also fulfilled a commitment to house sit for friends and cat sit for their fur babies (we love you Fu & Kit Kit… Oh and you too, Linda & Phil) for the month while they go on a month long camping adventure! Staying at their home is a treat b/c it’s on the golf course on a dead end street. Private and beautiful. We will just leave out one, not so peaceful moment, we had when Pam Yancey visited from Alabama!

January is my month to get caught up on all of my yearly medical appointments so I stayed busy going for my mammogram, gyno appt, dentist, dermatology and to my internal medicine doc for my yearly physical. Karole also switched her health insurance from MS to TN so she had some appointments of her own. I joined my mom and dad for several of her appointments, too. Not a very exciting post to discuss medical appointments, huh? Well, it’s part of living!

I haven’t spoken of this in any posts, but my mom’s health is not good and it is a game changer on how our family’s life is lived, especially hers and my dads. It’s not how I pictured their retirement, and I’m certain not how they pictured it either, but I remain grateful.

My dad has always been like superman to me…he can do anything! He is loyal, kind & giving (sometimes to a fault), hardworking, funny and loving. He has spent many years being a caregiver to his parents and then to my Nana, my mom’s mom…and now it continues with my mom, his wife of over fifty years.

My mom has always been superwoman to me, too. She is dedicated, has always supported us 110%, has been loving and God-fearing our whole lives….but it seems she has hung up her cape and is tired, dealing with chronic pain, among many other things on a daily basis. She is still the same woman on the inside that she has always been to me, but several mini-strokes in her brain have caused a shift in her being, which certainly makes her different.

Seeing your parents age and have difficulties is HARD, but I am thankful for God’s love, guidance and protection through all phases of life. Instead of planning weekend get aways with my mom and sister like we had begun and wanted to continue, I am buying things like a padded bedside railing to help her from falling out of bed again,  a nicer gait belt with handles to help dad when assisting her with walking, a lighter transport wheelchair so my dad won’t have to lift such a heavy wheelchair in and out of the back of their car when they go out. My heart aches for both of them and I wish I could do more to help them. But I, like them, just try to make the best of everyday we have together!

Many of you out there know of Karole’s story about her parents…both sadly died very young and Karole and her two brothers were raised by her grandparents. When I am dealing with issues that affect my parents, whether it be financial, medical, etc. and my concern is “out of the roof”so to speak, I think of Karole not having those issues. Initially, I think what a relief that is for her and her brothers, but then I think of the absolute wonder of my childhood with my parents at the helm and the priceless time with them. From seeing their smiles up in the stands year after year supporting me in sports, to holding me when I was hurt, to minimizing the “huge” zits I had on my face and telling me how beautiful I am, from picnics in the Great Smoky National Park, to making snow cream and watching our family movies reel to reel. Don’t get me wrong,  I know Karole and her brothers were supported and loved by their grandparents and have amazing memories, but I wish they had known the lifetime love and experience of their parents here on earth. It has been a blessing for me, and despite any tribulations, the fact remains that I wouldn’t trade a single thing. I am proud to be a Trentham, raised by wonderful Godly parents. I will continue to love and support them where they are at all times. This post was/is about family and the holidays. And that’s what family is sometimes..a mix of unbelievable love, sometimes sadness, anger, heartache, silliness, etc. It is a plethora of emotions and feelings…the holidays stir all that up in me like a delicious cup o’ joe…sometimes bitter…sometimes sweet….but goes down warm and soothes my soul.

2 Comments

  1. Martha Hoefling

    February 15, 2018 at 1:44 am

    I have enjoyed reading about your adventures and home life with family.

    Reply
  2. Carrie Clabo

    February 17, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Karole did a great job washing dishes. We loved celebrating Christmas with both of you.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instagram

Follow Us!