Sunday, April 30, 2017

Letter to Bumma

This is what I shared at Bumma's Celebration of Life Service on April 19th. I penned it in the form of a letter to her because I knew that's the way I could most intimately share my heart. If you recall, I wrote a letter to Lily that was shared at her Celebration of Life Service as well. That's where I got my idea to do this. It's really weird and sad that the person I wrote these words for will never hear or read them herself.

My Dearest Grandmother... my Bumma,

When it comes to expressing my heart, I'm not shy or one who finds it difficult to do so, yet when I sat down to tell you what you mean to me, I felt stumped. I realized that all the words in the world could never fully convey the depth of my love for you and my sorrow that I must now live the rest of my life without you. My heart is broken into pieces that will only ever be put back together again when I see you again. And I know I will. But that doesn't take away the pain of life without you now. That doesn't make me wish any less for you to be there for those important family milestones... graduations, weddings, births, and so forth.

I'll always wish for one more day together, one more "I love you" exchanged, one more memory made, one more picture taken, one more laugh shared, one more inside joke. But I know I'd always wish for more, no matter how much more is more.

So many memories are flooding through my heart, some more notable and others just small moments shared between us.

How you'd pat your hand on my leg, how you called me "Wose" or "Wosie" because my middle name is Rose, going with you to Compassionate Friends meetings, accompanying you to the Pregnancy Center Banquets, when Aunt Nana brought you to the beach in North Carolina to hear me speak at *my* first banquet, on your BIRTHDAY no less! The way you faithfully prayed for my future husband and for God's will in my life. The way you were a constant listening ear and godly perspective.

Mundane moments felt so special with you... helping you pick out your hip new glasses, you teaching Emmaline and me to knit at Virginia Beach, getting smoothies together in the Summer and that time we got caught in a rainstorm, chauffeuring you around town in your white Buick, with the windows down, music on the radio, and us just chit-chatting away, going to Chile's Peach Orchard and Mint Springs, laughing about "lap cat" and how much she loved nestling up on your lap over anyone else's. Even animals could sense how wonderful and trustworthy you were. Like how Adam's dog Bernerd loved you too and didn't realize he was simply too large as a St. Bernard to get on your lap like he wished he could. How you liked me to give you manicures and pedicures and how I'd paint your nails bright colors in the Summer. It was a blessing to serve you even in something so small. You being a little fashionista and dressed so beautifully, with layers, patterns, colors, and pins galore, outfitted of course by The Olive Tree. Was there really even a reason to ask you where something came from? ;) Bumma, in your 80s, you had way more energy than I do in my 20s. You were tough as nails, as Joseph liked to say. I can still hear you say, "for Heaven's sake!"

You loved butterflies, which those who were close to you knew well. And I do as too. That was a special thing for us to share. Even though you loved butterflies too, they made you think of me, and you so thoughtfully gave me the butterfly things you came across.

Many of my fondest memories are those my siblings and cousins and I share with you. We adore you and had such fun with you. You always tolerated us and most of the time even *enjoyed* our crazy shenanigans... we loved how you'd make us your famous Mocoa Cocoa and how I was convinced nobody else could ever make it as delicious as you... I'm sure the special ingredient was your love. We had numerous special times at Massanutten Resort through the decades we annually went there... hiking to "our tree" where we engraved our initials, going to Le Club where we'd relax in the hot-tub and have ping-pong tournaments. Spending magical Christmases together there. How you'd wake up at the crack of dawn and we'd hear you slipping along in your green slippers to the kitchen. You taking us to shop at The Green Olive Tree and how it nearly fully clothed us for our entire lives. How you'd always be collecting things for us that you saw there that reminded you of us and the way it warmed our hearts knowing you were always thinking of us. How we joked that we had the "VIP NVB" pass when we'd shop after closing hours. You taking us all out to eat at Sal's Pizza in Crozet and how we'd always order the same thing - mozzarella sticks and plain cheese pizza. Oh, with lots of ranch, which I got you hooked on too. :) Watching the Olympics with you and Adam last August and how we'd all 3 curl up together on that little love seat and we'd eat ice cream and get nervous holding each other's hands as we watched our favorite American athletes compete. Going to Greensboro last year for Anna's Nationals Swim Meet and how much fun we had there and how proud we were of her. How gullible you were. It was really a reflection of how you trusted without reservation. How Daniel and I would say your name... One of us would start with "Bum" and the other would complete "ma" to keep you from getting frustrated. ;) How you always had the best stories that we'd get you to tell over and over... like how your childhood friend Teddy tried kissing you at age 12 or 13 in a barn and you ran away wondering what was wrong with him?! We'd still joke about Teddy and how he actually *did* sneak that kiss in, but you just left that part out. ;)Your tours around the area that you loved so much, especially Greenwood where you were born and raised. How you'd even take my friends and I on tours, even friends who passed through and wanted to meet you when I wasn't around. You never met a stranger and loved it that way. Like that one time you hopped in the RV with some of our friends from North Carolina and gladly took them all around telling them all about the area. My mom said you were Crozet's tour guide extraordinaire. We'd joke that every tree on every corner had a story behind it. How we'd jokingly call you "Nancy" even though you preferred "Nancy Virginia" just because your response was so funny. How much Emmaline resembles you and how I bet she will even more so as the decades pass and how sweet it'll be to see you in her. How Hope called you "Gran Fu-Fu" and how you'd give her anything Chinese-related you'd come across. How we had to teach you the same things over and over again on your smart phone because your brain was simply raised at another time that didn't grasp all this tech stuff. But it wasn't annoying, but absolutely adorable. I'm so thankful I have your other grandchildren to reminisce with, cry with, laugh with, and miss you with.

Bumma, each and every memory feels like a treasure to protect. I never want to forget a single thing. I fear the memories fading or disappearing over time.

We always had a special bond through my childhood and teenage years. But that bond deepened in an indescribable way when I lost my baby. You understood my heart, my feelings, my pain in a way nobody else could, because you too had put a baby daughter in the ground. You loved Lily so much too, which was evidenced in the poems you wrote her, how you faithfully decorated her special spot for me since I live out of state, and even put up with my at times perfectionist tendencies, among many other things. I realized that you loved Lily of course, but you also loved her and tangibly showed that love partly because of how deeply you loved me. The two are so intricately tied together. When Aunt Nana told me a couple days ago how often you'd want to go by the cemetery to check on things and make sure everything was beautiful and tidy, it melted my heart.

You were much more than "just" a grandmother to me. I feel I am grieving the loss of so many relationships with losing you. You're my grandmother, of course. But also one of my very dearest and closest friends. My sister in Christ. My mentor. My grief counselor.

You were one of the few people in this world who I felt completely comfortable with, completely myself, completely seen, understood, and known... and yet completely loved despite all my flaws. You were one of the people who will love me most in the span of my lifetime. You loved me since the time I was merely a desire and a prayer in my mother's heart.

I close my eyes and I picture your face, your hands, your voice... all so familiar, so known by my brain and my heart. And I can hardly grasp that I will never experience these parts of you again. But I am incredibly thankful for each tangible thing I have of you. What a gift it was to discover those voicemail recordings I have from you on my phone. I never want to delete any of them. When I need to feel you near, I will listen to these messages, to the sound of your voice and how you'd always start and end your messages in the same sweet way. I will watch the videos, look at the pictures, and read your letters, with your chicken scratch that people had a difficult time deciphering... but I learned the art of it. ;)

I feel like I can still feel you, even though I also *don't* feel you anymore. I feel our bond, not severed by the separation of realms. Though I no longer feel your life in this world anymore. But my spirit knows yours is alive in Heaven. That's why it's difficult for me to figure out how I talk about you... I don't like to say you "were" something, but that you still are. Because life in Jesus never ends.

With each vivid memory I've shared and how I've attempted to describe how much you mean to me and how special you are, I know that everyone else in your life could share their own priceless memories too. I know that each person feels such a depth of love for you as well. I'm merely representing one relationship and story out of man. You are unforgettable, even to those who briefly met you. My friend Elise said you felt like a grandmother to her as well. You had enough love for anyone who was willing to receive it.

I told everyone about you. It is no secret how much you mean to me. But of course you know that. You were my #1 blog follower, as I called you. It was always so comforting somehow in knowing anytime I shared something, I could count on you eagerly reading my words on the other end. I loved that you kept up with my life and loved my blog so much. It hurts knowing you won't ever know another thing I post. You won't be there on your iPhone 6 checking your email for the updates.

Everywhere I went with you, people knew you. We jokingly called you the "Queen of Crozet" and said anytime we wanted or needed something, all we needed to say was that *you* were our family member. ;) When Thomas was 3 or 4, he asked why you were so famous! When I was in public with you, people would light up when they saw you and smother you with hugs and joyfully say, "Oh, Nancy Virginia!" They'd smile at me and tell me what an angel you were. But nobody needed to tell me that. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have you for a grandmother.

Because of how you loved reading my writing, I knew I had to send you off with a letter, safely tucked beside you in your casket, under your sweater by your heart. And I knew that I needed to share the letter.

It's going to take a while to retrain my brain from thinking I need to tell you something or invite you somewhere with us. I've had you all my life and it's bizarre trying to adjust to you not being there, especially so suddenly and unexpectedly. Each day without you brings multiple realizations of things we'll never do or experience again. Each thing is something new to grieve.

Our family matriarch, you were the glue that has held us all together. What are we going to do without you? You make each of us want to live in such a way that honors you and would make you pleased. I don't say proud because you were always proud of us, simply because we are *yours.* We promise to always get together on a regular basis and have family unity the way you earnestly desires and prayed for.

You were always there for my special moments and milestones, and now I'm rejoicing with you over yours... graduating your earthly journey and making it Home.

I promise I will never forget you. I will always honor you and celebrate your life. I will share about you with others. I will decorate your special spot at the cemetery beautifully. I will continue to love you in the only ways I can now. How will I share with my future children about their great-grandmother when all I want is for them to know you themselves? Are you reduced now to memories and stories? You are in those things, yes, but you are even richer than mere memories and even more deeply embedded into everything. You are in the legacy of faith in our family. You are in each conversation of silliness and healing and love. You are in each dream and hope for the future. You are in all our hearts and lives.

Each of us who love you, and will carry this ache of missing you, rest in the comfort of knowing you finally made it "on your way" to your final destination. The ripple effects of your well-lived life will span generations.

Give Lily a hug for me. It brings me so much comfort to think that two of my favorite people now have each other.

All my love forever and ever, until we meet again and pick up just where we left off, your favorite "eldest" granddaughter, Hannah Wosie 

And again, here is the tribute video made with love for our grandmother.


Mother's Day Wreath

A Mother's Day wreath from my friend Danielle. 😌 💕 💐


Lily Remembered at Wrightsville Beach

My sweet friend Emily remembered Lily at Wrightsville, North Carolina. I love how she said Lily's name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and we write it here to remember and celebrate this! Her name is written in Heaven! ❤️ 🌊 🐚 🐬 🐠 🐟 🐢 


Lily Remembered at Dauphin Island

My sweet friend Tayla remembered Lily at Dauphin Island in Alabama! 😌 🌊 ☀️ 🐚 🌴 🐠 🐟 🐬 🐳 🐢 ❤️


Lily Remembered in the Bahamas

Lily was remembered in Nassau, Bahamas recently. Thank, you, Jesska! ❤️


Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Beloved Bumma

It's been nearly a month since I posted my last blog entry. The last few weeks have been crazy busy and full of the unexpected. I went to Illinois for a friend's wedding and to visit my cousin in Chicago. Then something that seemed potentially quite exciting was unfolding, but now it appears to have all unraveled.

Honestly, I've been dreading writing this post, because I knew what it'd have to be. And I knew that my #1 blog follower wouldn't be there to read it. She read the last post I wrote and even commented on it. Now she is no longer here to read what I write and that breaks my heart.

My darling grandmother, my "Bumma," passed away unexpectedly on April 14th - Good Friday. Her mind was sharp as ever and her body seemed strong and tough as ever, up until April 13th. All that week, she went about her normal busy routine. Early on that Friday morning at around 2:30 a.m., she woke up in severe pain. She unfortunately didn't call anyone in my family to let them know. Around 8 or 9 a.m., my Aunt Sarah called her about something. That is when Bumma told her she wasn't feeling well. Three of my aunts went over to her house to take her to the doctor. That is when they saw how white she was and knew they needed to instead call the ambulance. They took her to the Emergency Room at a local Charlottesville hospital, where they immediately wanted to do a CAT scan. It is then they discovered she had a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. There is the potential for it to be treated if found before this point, but once it ruptures the fatality rate is extremely high, even with surgery. And with her being 85, she was even more fragile. She had been suffering since early morning and by this point it was late morning and she was slipping away. My uncle and two of my aunts were with her and I'm incredibly thankful they were able to comfort her and speak love to her. They called several family members and we were able to say our goodbyes. I'm so not ready to say goodbye... to my best friend whom I adore and will miss the rest of my life. Thinking of Lily and Bumma together brings comfort to my hurting heart.

It was a huge honor and responsibility for my mom and I to be entrusted with the sacred task of writing my grandmother's obituary. I only wanted to do justice to how wonderful she was and is and make my family feel we captured her life well. It was difficult to write in a short amount of time, when we were still reeling from the unexpected pain of goodbye and could barely formulate words. I'm sure we will wish we had said something different or think of something we forgot to include that we would've liked it. In fact, there have been several of these moments so far. But the Lord helped us and I think it gives a precious glimpse into NVB.

The picture we used for her obituary was taken last August at Mint Springs in Crozet. It captures how joyful, colorful, and full of life she was.

Nancy Virginia Shroyer was born at home at Blair Park in Greenwood, Virginia, on September 19, 1931 to Linden and Virginia Wiley Shroyer. She was blessed to live most of her entire 85 years in her beloved Albemarle County. Nancy Virginia grew up loving the fresh air and wide open spaces, her horse Rocky Boy, the Blue Ridge Mountains, her family, school, and all the charms of small town life. She graduated from Greenwood High School, Virginia Intermont College, and Madison College where she earned a degree in education. She went on to teach fourth grade in Richmond and Charlottesville.
Nancy Virginia married the love of her life, James Kirk Bain, in July of 1955. Whatever James Kirk put his mind or his hand to was done with excellence, especially in choosing Nancy Virginia as his bride. Their 7 children came quickly over the next 10 years to complete their sweet family. After raising their children together, she served her husband as office manager for his CPA firm in Charlottesville. Her unwavering devotion to the care of her aging parents was an example to one and all and she never failed to answer the call when needed by her doting grandchildren.
Always thinking of others before herself, Nancy Virginia wholeheartedly poured herself out in service to Jesus by volunteering. She helped establish The Green Olive Tree in Crozet nearly 40 years ago with 6 Christian friends, where she worked diligently since then. She was also a faithful volunteer with Hospice of the Piedmont for over 30 years. Nancy Virginia heard Jesus say, when entering Heaven, "Well done my good and faithful servant." 
She was always "on her way," somewhere, as the license plate on her white Buick proclaimed. She enjoyed delving into discussion with fellow bookworms at her book club, playing Mahjong and Bridge with friends, various Bible study and prayer groups, exercise class, art and writing classes, among many other activities she immensely enjoyed. 
In each of her endeavors, she left her forever imprint on a community that will deeply feel her absence. Known for her seemingly boundless energy and her contagious zest for living, underneath it all was love. She loved Jesus first and foremost, her family, friends, and literally everyone she encountered. She never met a stranger and was willing and eager to share a story, a joyful smile, and a word of encouragement with anyone. She displayed a gentle and quiet spirit, always believed the best in people, and was funnier than she realized.
Nancy is survived by her children: Ginny Kirk Allen and husband, Chuck; Nancy Corley and husband, Bill; Linden Bain and wife, Kristen; Helen Cook and husband, Scott; Sarah McGahee and husband, Steve; and Ellie Gathright and husband, Tim. Also, survived by grandchildren: Joseph Allen and wife, Kala; Adam Allen; Hannah Rose Allen; Daniel Corley; Emmaline Allen; Hope Cook; Anna Corley; and Thomas Gathright, and great-grandchildren: Owen Markert, and Harvest Allen.
She was preceded in death by her husband, James Kirk Bain; daughter Rachel Ross Bain; great-granddaughter Lily Katherine Allen-Ball; her parents; brother Donald Shroyer, as well as many others who we know she is rejoicing in seeing again.
Nancy Virginia went to be with her beloved Lord on Good Friday, the very day Jesus died. On a day that we reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus and His death at Calvary, we rejoice that because of the sacrifice of our Lord, Easter Sunday is coming. This is the hope to which Nancy Virginia clung and what gave her courage through the ups and downs of life. Shortly before she passed, she confidently and peacefully said to her daughters who were with her, "I'm almost Home." Each of us who love her, and will carry this ache of missing her, rest in the comfort of knowing she finally made it "on her way" to her final destination. The ripple effects of her well-lived life will continue for generations.
Visitation will be held at Anderson Funeral Home in Crozet on Tuesday, April 18 from 5 to 8 p.m. Burial will be held at Hillsboro Cemetery in Crozet on Wednesday, April 19 at 11 a.m. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, with the location pending.
In addition to flowers, donations can be made to The Hospice of the Piedmont - 675 Peter Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22911.


This is a tribute video my cousin Anna and I made on behalf of all of Bumma's grandchildren. I am so thankful I held on to many voicemails, videos, and photos... Will be sharing much more later.

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