Monday, September 08, 2014

Unexpected Trip to Florida

On June 25th, the world lost a good man, and Heaven gained an angel. Grand-Patch to my children, Patch to me, and Dad to my Dad was almost 92 when he passed away. It was completely unexpected and completely devastating to all of us, but most especially to Nana, who survives him. I feel extremely lucky to have had my grandfather so present in my life for 35 years and to know him as well as I did. He was someone to look up to. He was kind, gentle, moral, and religious. As my Dad and Uncle both said in their eulogies, he lived the way of Christ, not in a showy way, but just in the small everyday things he did. He helped people, he distinguished right from wrong and followed the path of right, and he never raised his voice. He was a World War II veteran, having served in England, as a First Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he married my grandmother, raised 3 children and worked as a machinist running his own company in New Jersey. Upon his retirement, they moved to Naples, FL where he was active in his community. They lived in Naples for 24 years before moving up to Jacksonville in April to be closer to my parents. He was married to my grandmother for 67 years. He led an amazing life and I could go on and on about all the things he accomplished, the awards he won, or the people he helped. It is all impressive and it makes me proud of him. But to me, he was just my Patch. He played with me when I was little. He came to all of my big events. He spent almost every Christmas at my house - I can't imagine Christmas without him. He played games with me. He taught me several card games and loved to play them. He took me out for ice cream every time he visited, whether my parents knew it or not. He was a constant presence in my life. And then I had kids. And I watched him play with my children the way he played with me. He would still get on the ground with them to play, help them put together their new Christmas toys, or watch a movie with them. It was a joy to see my children get to know him. I wish we saw them more often, but with living so far away, we didn't get to see them as much as I would like. But my children knew him and loved him. And I feel so blessed that Matthew got to meet him before he died too. Not that he will remember it, but I will.  I have so many memories with Patch growing up, but I only have pictures of him with me since I got married, so I posted a few of my favorites below, starting with the last time we saw him a few weeks before he died.

 Some Christmas pictures throughout the years.

 These were when they flew up to Chicago for Ben's Baptism.
 Grand-Patch and his first Great-Grandchild, Ben.
 This was from our wedding.
 More Christmas pictures - I love this one of him playing with Abbey.

 Grand-Patch with Ben
 These next few are when we went to Naples for Ben's first Thanksgiving, which was when we also celebrated Nana and Patch's 60th wedding anniversary.

More Christmas pictures

So on July 5, we flew down to Florida again to attend his funeral.  We knew it was going to be difficult with the kids, but we all wanted to be there.  We talked to the kids a lot about how difficult the weekend was going to be and how to behave during all of the funeral activities.  But, we did have some fun with them while we were there during appropriate times, like when we landed on Saturday afternoon.  That was a perfect time to get out some energy in the pool.

Matthew seemed to enjoy the pool!

He really liked floating on his back, which is a lot of kids don't like.

And unfortunately, the funeral was set to be on July 7, which is Abbey's birthday.  So Madgie made her a cake and we celebrated the night before.  Thank you Madgie!  And by the way, Abbey was so good about not truly celebrating her birthday.  She understood what was happening and why we couldn't quite celebrate.  She handled it so well and I was very proud of her.

And there was even time to go for some rides in Patch's cool cars...just keep it under 88mph Patch!

At the funeral, the kids were so well behaved.  I was so proud of them.  Ben wore his suit (and it was HOT) and the girls wore pretty black dresses and they were quiet and respectful during the whole funeral Mass.  And then we got to hear my Dad and Uncle give beautifully touching eulogies.  It was a beautiful service.  And a big thank you to Aunt Ginny.  She was in the back with Brendan and as I brought Matthew back when he started to fuss a little (as it was during nap time), she offered to hold him in the back so I could go back and participate in the Mass.  I really appreciated it.  My cousin and I brought up the gifts and Paul was a pall bearer as he was also close to Patch after having known him for so long.  Side story, Nana and Patch were at our house and answered the door to Paul on our first date.  So he has known them since the beginning of our relationship!  It meant a lot to Paul to be able to serve at the funeral too.  After the funeral, we went to the Jacksonville National Cemetery, where Patch was given a proper military ceremony with Taps being played by my cousin on his trumpet and the folding and presenting of the flag to Nana.  It was beautiful.  And after the ceremony, the casket was moved to the burial site and we saw him being lowered into the ground before we left.  It was very moving and emotional.  Then it was back to my parents house for a reception. This was the only picture I took during the day.  This is at the cemetery with the flag at half mast.

The next day it was time to fly back.  So we took one last picture of the kids with Grand Patch.
We love you and miss you.

Then it was off to the airport to fly home again.  See you soon Madgie and Patch!  We hated the reason for the visit, but it is always good to see you!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

4th of July

The 4th of July is always one of our favorite holidays where we live. We start the day with our awesome parade. Every year, Aunt Domi and family come up for the parade and we have a great time. And since we moved last year, we can now walk to the parade, which is nice and easy.  Abbey's kindergarten teacher (she was also Ben's teacher) lives on the parade route and always invites her class to come to her house to watch the parade, which is a lot of fun as the kids get to see all their friends.  Here is a good group shot of some of the kids that were there.
Unfortunately, my camera was out of battery (which I didn't realize until right before we left), so we just have a few phone pictures.

Matthew was a good sport, sleeping most of the time in the stroller, but when he woke up, he was just happy to hang out and play with his feet (a favorite past time of his).

The above picture is Ben with Mrs. Balogh, the awesome kindergarten teacher who invited us to her house!  The below picture is my good friend, Rachael, who has triplets in Ben's class. 
After the parade, it was time to load up in the wagon and walk home.
After a traditional July 4 BBQ, we had the afternoon to relax and play with the cousins, which is our yearly tradition.
After a rest and some dinner, it was fireworks time!  I stayed home with Matthew, but Daddy packed up the wagon with these three and went to meet up with some friends to watch the fireworks at Arlington Park (also within walking distance...did I mention I love the location of our new house?).
It was a long day and these girls were tired.
Apparently, Juliette wrapped herself up in the blanket on the ground and went to sleep - she is lucky she wasn't stepped on!
This picture cracks me up because Juliette got moved to a chair and this is Rachael trying to wake her up when it was over.  Juliette will fall asleep anywhere if she decides she is tired.  Love that girl!
And Ben and Daddy at the fireworks.  It was a great day and a lot of fun! 

Backyard Mass

Our Church had a really cool thing this year where you could invite people over and have a Mass said in your backyard. It could be for a celebration of some kind or just a get together. We loved the idea and quickly jumped on board to host one at our house. So on July 3, to kick off a fun July 4 weekend, we had some of our friends come over for a Mass with our Pastor, Fr. Matt. Since it was the start to the holiday weekend, about half of the people we invited could not make it, but we ended up with about 60 people, which was a good number for our backyard. There was some playground playing before Mass started though.  And Fr. Matt brought his own set up, we just had to provide a table.  It worked out really nicely that the "Altar" was up on our deck so everyone could see.

Thanks so much to my friend Rachael for taking pictures during the Mass!
We were blessed to have a beautiful night weather wise so it was lovely being outside for Mass.
Fr. Matt had all the kids come up for the consecration.
And Fr. Joji came by as well for the Mass and to hang out a bit afterward.  We had an ice cream sundae bar set up after Mass for people to enjoy.  Our good friend Mike with Fr. Joji and Matthew (Matthew gets passed around a lot at parties!).
Fr. Matt likes to hold Matthew whenever he sees him, which is really sweet. I am always afraid Matthew is going to spit up all over his black shirt though! I always warn Fr. Matt that it might happen, but he doesn't seem too concerned about it.  It was a really nice evening and everyone had a good time.  It was a perfect start to the holiday weekend and we hope to repeat the fun again next summer.