Today was a LONG day. I'll get to the 100 hugs in a bit. My parents joined us to ride to the church. Ruth wanted them to sit with us in the family area. Of course, with a family her size, the family area was pretty much most of the church. When we went down to the fellowship hall for lunch, I looked at the 5 rows tables (probably 24' of seating each) & thought, "But where will the non-family members sit?" We did all fit, by the way.
The service was very nice. It was not sorrowful or mournful. Tears that were shed were just from fond memories. The pastor shared some of his own memories, then shared what Phil had written. We sang, "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "It is Well" (Vicky, Phil's cousin, said after reading the story behind the song on my blog she couldn't sing out loud; sorry about that sweet Vicky!). At the end, we sang, "Shall we gather at the River" because Ruth said that Bill loved the old Baptist hymns, especially when Tennessee Ernie Ford sang them. We probably didn't sound like him, but we did sing it!
The Scriptures reminded us that death has been swallowed up in victory through Jesus' death on the cross! And that one day He will wipe away our tears.
Phil's cousin (his cousin Pam's daughter) Whitney sang "The Prayer" by Josh Groban and it was beautiful. This 14 year old girl sounds like a professional singer!
The church ladies (yes, the "church ladies" look the same and are just as sweet and busy workers at all churches, I think!) made lunch for us. They had sandwiches, chips, veggies, fruit, and a ton of sweets. I quietly slipped into the kitchen to see if any of the sandwich filling was left that I might have. I was just going to ask & when they said "no" slip back out, but then they were all trying to fix me up with something, and one had a friend with celiac, so she asked, "What is it exactly that you can't eat?" I usually just say, "I can't eat bread" or "I'm allergic to wheat" but this lady caught on when the others said to scrape off the inside of the sandwich & I said I can't do that. I told them not to worry because I was certainly not going to go hungry with all the food they had out and here at the house!
After all the hugs and, "Are you THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW?" (which I was beginning to think might be a bad word the way they asked!) and "Are the girls twins?" (if only I had a dime for every time we get asked that---and a dollar for the look on their faces when I tell them they are 2.5 years apart!), we were able to eat, then load up the van & head home. Several friends and family came back to the house, with more food! We visited and visited some more, looked at albums trying to figure out who everyone was, and then ate some of that delicious food. Oh, the girls also sold several boxes of Girl Scout cookies that we brought with us! One of Phil's cousins has a daughter who is about 7 mos. older than Bethany (but about a head or more taller). The 3 girls played outside for a bit, then I suggested they go for a walk. I wouldn't send my own girls on a walk out here alone, but Kayla seems so much older that I felt okay with the 3 of them going out.
About 8 or so, the last of the family had to leave. The girls are in pj's watching a movie with Grandma. One or both of them will sleep with her tonight. I think we will ALL sleep well tonight! I can hear Ruth laughing at whatever they are watching. I think she'll enjoy her time with them more than she was able to these past few months.
We still will have one more service to bury the ashes at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. That date has not been set yet. Maybe that will be on a weekend and some of the ones who couldn't come will be able to.
Now to those 100 hugs. I've mentioned that Ruth has a big family. She had 7 brothers, and all of them had kids. I lost count trying to figure out how many. Phil is the only ONLY CHILD, and a couple of the brothers had 4 or 5 kids. And they've had kids. And some of those kids have kids. Then, there is my family that extends beyond the "inlaw" part. My sister-in-law's (Robin's) parents and her brother and wife, my inlaws, and my family have had Thanksgiving together for years now. One year we had 4 grandmothers (3 of them great grandmothers) with us early in our marriage. Of course now the moms are grandmas. Bottom line is we are all just one big family. So today Robin's parents came, too. And all kinds of cousins & friends on Bill's side, and lots of church & neighbor friends. Natalie was next to me in what became the receiving line. Bethany was kind of hiding behind her. We got hugged, and hugged, and hugged some more. Natalie is a very touchy girl (in more ways than one!) so I think for awhile she enjoyed it. Apparently at some point, however, her attitude must have changed. She came to me tonight & said, "Mommy, I think I've had 100 hugs today." She told Phil, "Daddy, I've hugged so many people today. I don't think I can hug anymore." They were both troopers (apart from the occasional "I'm bored" or "I'm hungry") these past few days. Natalie has been anxious to sell more cookies, so I told her she could bring them out and the neighbor and uncles bought up a bunch. Now we need to find the list and go door to door tomorrow.
The 3 of us will head back tomorrow so we can go to a dr's appt. on Thursday. Then we have a cookie booth on Friday. We'll come back on Sunday, hopefully in time for a cookie booth we have at 2.
Thanks again for all the prayers and words of encouragement. I'm sure for Ruth the next few weeks will be difficult as all the family is gone. Though, tonight she talked about joining her brother & sister-in-law on a trip to Germany later this year! I think that is a sign that we will all move on for the years we have left on this earth.
Have a restful night.
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