Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Our fall has been spectacular.  Doug and I took a drive up Logan Canyon the day before Dad passed away and it was just breathtaking!  The colors are phenomenal this year.  I do love fall!  I love decorating my home for fall, I love the fall colors outdoors, I love fall foods!  It's just the best time of the year... until Christmas.  (wink-wink)

Here are a few pix from our home. I've not done a bit of editing on any of them, but if I wait to do that, it might not happen.

Instead of keeping the trunk closed with pumpkins on top, I opened it up and filled it with some fall goodies.  I like it and am thinking that there needs to be some Christmas decor inside this year instead, as well.  Christmas decorations are literally a month away!

The mantle with my old windows and fall looking shot of the Logan LDS Temple, which we love! (The temple and the painting.)

October Tablescape.  It looks much better at night with candles!  Another post.

I wasn't amused when I plugged in my brand new strand of spooky glittery garland and the lights did not work.  I bought it last year after Halloween, so my own fault for not checking then.

My chalkboard is probably one of my favorite things in our home.  I LOVE it!

This is my cluttery, eclectic, only spooky part of Halloween decor.  The EEK! and the eerie pumpkin bells in the haunted house candle holder.  

Uber-talented Natalie made me this cute vintage witch banner.  I adore it!

This bouquet of roses and sunflowers were given to me by Annie the day before she left.  They are perfect fall colors!  They were sitting next to Dad on the cabinet.  Zeej and Grace informed me that I needed to put Dad in a better place until we take him to his gravesite in NC.  They have also taken to the idea of taking Dad for drives with us, like to Sonic, the grocery store or for rides around the neighborhood.  We are a bit on the twisted side, I realize, but Dad would get a kick out of it.  He never was one for sitting around very long. (I know... but remember... everyone has their own way of greiving, right?)   Seriously, though, he is now in his next to final resting spot until we get him back to NC.

It's been a wonderful fall but it's coming to an end very quickly as the wind has blown the leaves off the trees and the rain has begun.  Bring on November!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

for real!

In the middle of Dad's death and all that went along with that, Grace came home with an announcement.  Ben proposed and she said yes!  She's sporting quite the beautiful ring, which he had custom made for her and it's so Grace.   They are quite excited about it all!  Grace just floats around smiling all day and looking at her beautiful hand!  They are planning a winter wedding and I am trying to wrap my head around this all!  Being a new Relief Society President and planning a wedding at the same time is going to be interesting!  Here's a few pix of the future bride and her beau.

Ben waited two extra weeks to propose because the ring was being custom made but still wasn't ready.  So, he bought her this beautiful ruby promise ring to propose and she patiently waited another week until the real ring was done.  I love the promise ring as much as the engagement ring.  I really need to get a photo of the real one... but that would require her being home for a second, which does not happen very often these days... she's either working or with Ben.  Imagine that!

Congrats to Ben and Grace!  They make each other very happy!

Thursday, October 19, 2017


My sweet friend, Annie is moving away...far away.  This has been a hard one!  Annie and I connected the minute that we met each other on our very first day in Young Womens together.  We'd never even seen each other before that moment.  BUT.  As time passed, we soon discovered that we had crossed paths many times in the past twenty years.  Annie was at one of Liza's bridal showers.  We both had been at many social gatherings through the years and we know so many of the same people.  She's about as shy as me.  So whenever the two of us went anyplace together, it was always a lot of stopping and talking with mutual friends.  Her husband, Corey, was one of Buddy's Sunday School teachers when he was a teen.  Crazy how we had crossed paths and sadly, never connected before we did two years ago.

We have been called Thelma and Louise.  Our Bishop sees us and says, "Here comes trouble!"  The Sonic employees call us trouble.  We are known by our husbands as trouble.  And the funny thing is that we never get into trouble...Well... except the time we brought bales of hay into the cultural hall at church and the time that we... well, maybe we did do a few things to deserve the title. But, we did clean it up!  And the girls in YW always teased, "Do we need to separate the two of you?!" because we did giggle and talk a bit.  Oh, how I've grown to love this kindred spirit and oh, how my heart aches that she is gone! 

Her husband got a fabulous offer to leave USU and go to Cornell University to do his magic there!  AND best of all, Ann's family are from the NY area, so she will be close to them for the first time in almost thirty years.  So, who could not be happy for them!?  I prayed for them to get this job, knowing that it would mean they would leave us.  The girls adore them.  Quayd just loves Corey.  Doug thinks they are more than amazing.  They will be greatly missed.

For the past two days, I have been their "moving agent".  I've spent two days at their home, as the movers and packers came to load their whole life into a giant Semi-truck. The emptier their home became, the emptier my heart became.  I teased Annie, "You choose the day my dad is cremated to leave me!?"  The timing was awful, but there would have been no timing that would have been good.  I remember the times I have moved away and left close friends... so excited for our new beginnings but so sad to say goodbye.   

Quayd has slept here at night to keep watch on the house until the movers were done.  The first night, he and a former missionary companion stayed up watching movies and playing X-box.  Last night, the girls slept over with him and they had a little game time too.  It's not something that happens much at home, so they loved it.  I've enjoyed being here and taking some downtime to blog and think about life.

We have face-timed several times a day as they travel across the country.  Today, they are in Ohio.  They are getting close.  My heart!  BUT, I will now have a reason to travel to New York! 

We've been uber impressed with United Moving Company, as they have packed and loaded.  I've enjoyed their incredible backyard view of the country club golf course.  THIS would have been hard to leave too!  We spent part of Sunday afternoon in the backyard and there was not a leaf on the ground.  Fall has arrived in all it's glory.  Corey and Annie are getting out before the Utah winter sneaks in!

I could not be any more thankful for the love and good times that I've been able to share with this wonderful friend.  Many friends and ward members have asked, "How will you get by without Ann?!?"  Truth is... I'm not sure myself.  But, I will celebrate their new beginning!  Life is good!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

my dad's tribute

James Clayton Bell was born on September 8, 1939, the son of Charlie Clayton and Mary Grace Locklear.  He was the first of three children, followed by “Sister Sue”, as he called her, and Bobby Ray, all born and raised in Pembroke NC.  He learned to work hard and smart in his childhood, following his dad’s example.  Buddy could have written volumes of adventures of his younger years, as a very wild and brave (or crazy) young man, including dangerous and very fast joyrides in his daddy’s cars (and even wrecking a few of them), making moonshine and burying it in the woods, and there were so many girls and women and friends, wherever he went.  He was good-looking, always well-dressed and had a million-dollar smile.  He was proud that he didn’t have to wear cover-alls to school and always wore shiny loafers, instead of work boots. Once he gave some of his gently used clothes to a boy who had outgrown his own tired and worn clothes. Dad said he felt so good when he saw the boy wearing them to school, looking so sharp.

His life was one big adventure!  His tales of his childhood and life long friend, David Paul, were insane!  It’s a miracle that the two of them survived some of the crazy antics they did together! 
James was known as Buddy Bell, all of his life. It was never “Buddy”, it was always “Buddy Bell”. In 1956, he moved to Baltimore to live with some of his Bell Cousins and met Ruby Brown, as he called her, “the most beautiful white girl” he’d ever seen.  He was walking along Pratt Street and Ruby was sitting on a porch stoop with friends.  Buddy walked across the street, introduced himself, and the rest was history.  Dad said that he and Ruby never left each other’s side from that moment on.  Several months later, they eloped at “South of the Border” in Dillon, South Carolina. In his words, “I didn’t want Mama to meet Ruby without us being married.”  He loved his mother. 

Ten months to the day from their marriage, Ruby gave birth to me, their first child.  Four years later, their second child, Ricky, was born.  Dad built a home on Clifton Street, next door to Grace and Clayton, with the intent of living there forever.  Clayton, at the time, owned several businesses in Pembroke, including the Pool Hall, a cafĂ© and the Produce Stand on the corner where the old Hardees is today.  Granddaddy’s produce stand was like the town Chat-N-Chew and what’s known today, as a convenience store, like a 7-11. I would sit on the top of the coke machine, listening to Dad visit with his uncles, Dewey, Buck, Chalmers and Carl Walter. Dad loved his uncles and aunts. 

Clayton taught Buddy how to lay brick and, together, they built a successful business.  Buddy was contracted to build the Mormon Church in Pembroke.  During that time, the members of the church befriended Buddy and his family.  He and Ruby were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the same morning that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Their activity in the church was short-lived, but he was well-loved by the members.  Buddy also built the Mormon Church buildings in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Buddy wasn’t always responsible as a husband and father, but he did love his children.  When I was five, I “ran away” to see Granddaddy at the Produce Stand.  I walked from our Clifton Street home to Main Street, but, when I got to that busy intersection in town, I stood on the other side of the street by the railroad tracks, calling out for Granddaddy to come and get me because I knew I wasn’t allowed to cross the street.  I was in BIG trouble! When Dad got home that night, Ruby had already spanked me, but she didn’t feel it was enough.  She insisted that Buddy spank me too.  He took me to my bedroom, swatted my behind once and then lay on the bed and cried harder than I did.  That was the one and only time he ever laid a hand on me.  He told me years later that that hurt him more than anything he had ever had to do.

Buddy liked his women and his “good times”.  He was the first to tell anyone that Ruby was the love of his life, but, he was a rolling stone and she was never enough.  In effort to try to keep the marriage and family together, they moved many times to “start over”. Buddy moved his family to Baltimore in 1966 for a few years and then relocated to Miami, always, seeking new beginnings in greener pastures. The move to Baltimore gave us opportunity to enjoy being with Granddaddy’s Baltimore family.

While living in Baltimore, Buddy started a band.  His cousins, Jackie and Jimmy Huggins, would spend hours and hours, at our home, at night, singing tunes from the Beatles, Eddie Holly and Elvis.  Buddy had taught himself to play the guitar and wrote many, many songs.  He was a natural at guitar and singing. He loved to perform.  He was anything, but shy!  He wrote a song called, “Little Children”, about how children grow up too quickly.  I would cry every time he sang it. Again, I never doubted his love for us.  But, Buddy’s free spirit, as wonderful as it was, was possibly his biggest challenge, making it difficult for him to stay close to home and family.

Buddy made everything fun and/or funny!  He would gargle in mercurochrome, making his teeth and tongue and mouth as red as could be, and then sing and roll his eyes and pretend to be Joe Cocker, screaming, “I get by with a little help from my friends!” He loved to make us laugh!  He would play practical jokes, often, hiding things to spook us.  Once he left a nickel on the floor to see who would pick it up first. When I did, he said that he’d been waiting for me to do that and gave me a dollar.
In 1969, we moved to Miami and were soon joined there by Uncle Bobby, Aunt Lillian and her family, as well.  Clayton and Grace would make many trips to Florida to spend time with the family for the rest of their lives.

Ruby did her best to protect me from the “Grown-up” things that were happening in my world.  But, there was no secret that the marriage was not a happy one.  Dad would be gone for days.  We always knew that he was coming home because a dozen roses would arrive shortly before he did. In Florida, Dad was gone more than ever and things really began to change.   

Buddy and Ruby bought a home in North Miami in 1969.  They had big hopes for their future in that home, but within a year, they moved again…this time to Ohio, to be near Ruby’s sisters.

In Ohio, things seemed better.  “Uncle Buddy” was the favorite uncle of his 7 nieces and nephews.  Every weekend, all the cousins would come for Friday night sleepovers. Dad would make Chef Boyardee Pizza for dinner and pancakes every Saturday morning.  He would play games and stay up late with us!  When he was there, he was 100% there!  We had such good times.  His brothers and sisters-in-law so loved him and his great sense of humor. 

As a child, I remember Dad always siding with us, whenever Ruby was upset and enforced her strict rules.  She’d say, “You can’t leave the table until you eat all of your eggs.”  She would turn her back and Dad would stuff our eggs into the milk carton or throw them away when she wasn’t looking.  He’d always put his finger to his lips, wink and say, “Shhhh, don’t tell your mama.”  He was just a big kid himself!

One night, when I was twelve, Dad came into my bedroom in Ohio, sat on the side of my bed and just bawled and held me. He asked me how I would feel if he and Ruby got a divorce.  I said, “No, Daddy, that would be awful.”  He didn’t say another word and it was never mentioned again.  In my mind, Dad always gave me what I wanted. I had said “no” to the idea, so that was the end of that. I didn’t realize when they told us that we were moving back to Miami and Dad was going ahead to find us a home”, this was the beginning of their divorce. Dad went to Florida in the spring of 1971.  We followed when school ended and he never moved back home again. 

During the next years in Florida, Buddy’s life went another direction. His life took turns that no one would have ever expected.  His choices brought him many momentary pleasures, but nothing of lasting value.  During the next thirty years, he married and divorced a few times, fathered another son, and learned some hard lessons in life.  We have taught our children that “the Choices we make today determine our Happiness tomorrow.”  Dad’s choices, at this time, left him with a much different tomorrow.

However, this was Buddy Bell and he was one of the few people who could come out of a federal penitentiary and say that he, actually, enjoyed his time there. He could make friends anywhere with anyone.  He did not judge people by color or religion or status. He loved people!

It was while he was away that Dad learned to be quite proficient at leatherworking.  He made purses and wallets for each of us and we will always consider them our treasures.

No one could tell a story like Buddy Bell! He could find the good in things and make you laugh about anything! He had an amazing sense of humor and a gift for gab with anyone!  I remember, as a young girl, walking through the store.  Dad stood and carried on a full conversation with a mannequin, like it/she was talking back to him! People stopped and watched him, just staring. He even shared a piece of popcorn the mannequin, putting it right into her mouth! People thought he was crazy, but, I thought he was great! 

After the birth of our first son, Dad came to visit us in Utah. My husband, Doug, was in awe of his ability to made everyone feel like they were special.  Aside from the passing of Granddaddy, Grannie and Uncle Bobby, there were only a few contacts during that time. Whether he called me daily or every few years, I’d pick up my phone and hear Dad’s sweet southern voice, “Is this the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world?”  I’d say, “Dad!”  He’d respond, “I love you so much, Darlin’.”  Every. Single. Call.

Dad could not sit still!  He was always on the run. When Uncle Bobby was in the hospital, we woke up and He was antsy to get to the hospital.  We’d drive the distance, get inside and five minutes later, he’d say, “Let’s go.  We’ll come back later.”  We’d get back to Grannie’s and he’d be ready to get back to the hospital. We went back and forth over and over like that for three days.  He was definitely a mover and a shaker!

When our daughter, Liza, got engaged, she insisted that she wanted to meet her grandfather before her wedding.  I had not heard from him in several years and had no way of contacting him. A few phone calls and three days later, Dad called and announced, “If my granddaughter wants to meet her granddaddy, then I’m gonna come out and meet her.”  Two days before Liza and Buddy’s wedding, Dad and Aunt Sue came out for five of the best days of my life. 

During Dad’s wedding visit, he spent every spare moment at my dining room table, reading every word, studying each photo in great detail from almost forty scrapbooks that were a record of my entire life from birth to the present.  His eyes filled with tears, as he witnessed the experiences of my lifetime, and of my children’s, for his first time. Dad acknowledged, “I’ve missed it all, haven’t I, Baby?”  I believe that this was one of those moments in his life, where he knew that life was catching up with him, how much he had lost because of his choices and, most of all, just how important family is.

That few days was incredible.  The night before the wedding, we gathered in our living room with his posterity, all eyes on Dad, as he told story after story of his life until the wee hours of morning. (Some of the stories, Doug and I weren’t sure we wanted our kids to hear!) We were all belly-laughing, as he talked about David Paul, Uncle Bobby, his “college” experiences, fast cars, women and outrunning the law several times. He was larger than life, yet, a gentle man.

For almost three decades, Doug’s conservative, Mormon family, had heard stories about my Dad’s wild and crazy life.  I wanted them to meet my dad, so we hosted a dinner for over fifty friends and family at the church. Doug’s family were not sure what to expect. Doug’s youngest Brother, Danny, touched my heart, when he said, “Ya know, Soph, I gotta tell ya, I was a little nervous about meeting your dad. After all these years, I expected to meet “Guido the Gangster” but instead, he’s just a big teddy bear.”  Danny could not have spoken truer words.

That week with Dad was magical for the five of my six children who had the opportunity to get to know him some.

After the wedding, his old habits reappeared and we didn’t hear much from him, until a few years later, when he was diagnosed with throat cancer.  After his surgery, he was told that his days were numbered.  His health was deteriorating rapidly and he wanted us to have one last visit to say goodbye.  Because he was not strong enough to make the trip to Utah, we decided that I would visit him instead.  Dad wept and said, “I can’t believe you would come all this way to tell me goodbye.” 

That five days were five of the happiest days of my life.  Dad was weak and tired, but, he never complained.  He stayed wrapped in a blanket in my rental car, as we drove from cemetery to cemetery in the cold rain. I walked in the rain, reading headstones and then he would tell me stories about the people I mentioned.  When I asked him about a woman named Roxanna, he took me to a cemetery that was out in the middle of a field.  I love working on our genealogy and this woman’s name had baffled me for years.  She was listed under nine different names, but always connected to James Locklear.  When I walked through this cemetery, I found the headstone of Roxanna Monroe, Dad’s grandmother.  He saw my excitement and got out of the car, in the pouring rain, and walked out to where I stood by her grave. 

Dad, then, recalled that he’d come to this cemetery when he was a little boy, almost seventy years before, to clean these headstones.  We stood there and wept together, as he said, “Baby, these are our people.  I can’t believe this.  We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for these people.”  He had made a connection with lives gone before us and again recognized the importance of family.  It was a beautiful moment that I will cherish forever.

Dad had decided that he would have no more cancer treatments and he was nearing the end of his life…what he called “Plan A.”  It was a tearful morning when we said, what was to be our last goodbye, on Kent and Ronda’s doorstep before my return to Utah.

Immediately at home, I gathered my family to share all of the details of my trip.  Liza was fascinated and insisted, “I want to go too!”  We called Dad and told him that Liza and I wanted to come and see him again.  He began Plan B,  chemotherapy, that next week!  Six months later, Dad was cancer free when Liza and I had the time of our life, visiting him again and connecting deeply with our southern roots and our wonderful family, who we lovingly learned to call “our people”.  We loved every second of our time together!  Dad was slowing down, but, Liza grew to adore her grandfather more than ever.

A few months later, Dad even flew to Utah for Thanksgiving.  My youngest three children, now old enough to appreciate the time together, were able to make a connection with and adore him, as well.  As I decorated my home for Christmas, he sat watching and repeatedly said, “You got it all figured out, Baby.  It is all about family, isn’t it?” 

He sat in my kitchen for two days, watching, as I cooked and prepared our Thanksgiving meal.  Dad made no secrets of the fact that he didn’t not like many of the ingredients he was watching me add into my Thanksgiving recipes.  On Thanksgiving, as we gathered for our feast, Dad tried every single thing on the table and said, “Darlin’, I’ve eaten at some of the finest restaurants in the world and I’ve never had a better meal than this.”  He ate the leftovers until they were all gone, and once he was back home, he called, wishing he had some more of my cranberry apple salad! 

That was Dad.  He just made people feel good.  He would tell strangers, “Did anyone ever tell you how beautiful you are?”  Many times, I saw him offer restaurant servers, “I have a $50 bill in one hand and a $20 in the other.  You choose and you can keep the change.”  The server would choose and Dad would always say, “You chose the wrong one” and give them both.  He was generous and kind.  He also loved to propose marriage to servers.  He’d say that the minute he saw her, he recognized her as the one he had been dreaming of all his life, then he’d propose. He’d make the plainest Jane feel like a million dollars with his complements, and could find something beautiful in everyone.

The last time that I saw Dad, there was a sadness about him.  He realized that his life was winding down and that, although he’d experienced quite the life, he had also missed out on so many of the things that really matter. He’d lived a big life, but not the one he could have had. He had loved, but not always the right people in the right ways.  He’d had fun, but he’d missed the joy.  He sat, twiddling his thumbs (which was a habit he inherited naturally from his mother) and staring off in deep thought. There was an emptiness that could not be filled and he knew it.

When I think of Buddy Bell, I don’t think of the sadness or the things that he missed out on or chose not to have in his life.  I think of the good times, of the laughs and the love when we were together. He was not always there, but when he was, he was the best father that I could imagine. Buddy Bell lived by his own rules, and sometimes that didn’t go well for him, but he made the most of whatever life brought. Perhaps he lacked self-discipline or perhaps he lacked faith. He knew how to have a good time, to be a good time, to give others a good time.  He never found exactly what he was looking for, but, he did make a difference to so many who knew and loved him.  We may never know or understand this, but it is not ours to understand or to judge.  He was a son, a father, a brother, a husband, a friend. Buddy Bell was my father.  To know him was to love him.  To be his friend was to be his family.

It's my belief that when we “graduate” from this life, we will be met by loved ones and continue to learn and to progress. We carry with us the love and all the knowledge we gained in this life.  I hope that Dad will, with eyes wide open, finally, capture the value of family and service and the love of Christ.  I think that in this last few years of his life, he was beginning to realize that.  It might have been too late for his physical body to act on it, but, in his heart, I believe he knew.

He did not have all the joy in life that he could have had…BUT! In spite of his weaknesses and addictions and challenges, he blessed me and many who loved him with good laughs and good memories.  I hope that we can all remember Buddy Bell for the good that he did in his life.  I will, forever, think of him with love and gratitude. I pray that we can see him thru God’s eyes.  He was a child of God, a son of a Heavenly Father who loved him, unconditionally.  I pray that we can see him through the loving eyes of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes all things right, who atoned for our choices, good or bad. That’s how I choose to see and remember my father.  I adored him. 


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

family ties continue beyond the grave

I have not had the time to sit down and share my thoughts until today.  This entry began on October 9th.

On Monday morning, I received a phone call at 5:30AM, which I knew could not be a good thing.  It was my cousin's wife, telling me that I needed to call the hospital.  My father was in the ICU and no one could get any information about him except me because I was listed as his next of kin. I called the number immediately, which was a direct line to the ICU.  When I said who I was, the nurse immediately said, "Let me let you talk with the doctor."  The doctor took the phone instantly and said, "Miss Sophia, I have some bad news to tell you about Mr. Bell."  These words could not have come as more of a shock.  

The doctor then explained to me that, the night before, Dad had been eating in the dining room of his retirement living center.  He choked.  They administered CPR repeatedly, but Dad was non-responsive.  He was on full life-support and had no brain activity.  He explained that Dad would not recover from this.  (We discovered over the next twenty-four hours that Dad had apparently had a heart attack, which caused him to choke on the food he was eating, but he passed instantly from the heart attack, not choking.)  I was in total shock.  After answering a few of each other's questions, I conference called my cousin, Ronda, who was on her way to the hospital.  I insisted that the doctor remove him from life support immediately because Dad had a DNR and would NOT have wanted to be kept alive like this.  The doctor told me that he would give us time to think and discuss it and that when Ronda arrived at the hospital, we would visit again and decisions could be officially made.

Two hours later, the doctor came back into the room and they called me again.  Ronda said that Dad looked pretty bad.  I had been texting back and forth with Ronda and her daughters, who loved my dad like no one else on this earth besides me.  They were all there, gathered together, surrounding Dad. Ronda put the phone by him and I was able to tell him goodbye, not that his mind was able to comprehend, but I knew that his spirit was lingering near.  The doctor honored my wishes, instantly, and three minutes later, all life support was removed.  Dad lived for just over an hour on his own.  I was in complete shock.

I posted this on FB and instagram about my dad.  That hour wait gave me time to think about what I would say. Immediately, I had phone calls from North Carolina and Baltimore family, some that I have not heard from in years, some total strangers.  Close friends dropped in and out all day long. There were so many decisions to be made.  Kent and Ronda and their girls met that night and called me several times throughout the day.  We decided that Dad's body would be flown to Utah and cremated here.  Our local mortician has been wonderful and treated me like I was their own family.  

Dad's body arrived and they prepared him for a private viewing for Doug and I.  The family had him prepared for me to see him.  We had been forewarned that he looked pretty rough. BUT, by law, I had to ID him before his body could be cremated. I was very nervous about seeing him.  Not because he was deceased, but, because Dad was always so handsome and well-kept and I didn't want to have a bad vision of Dad whenever I think of him forever.  When Doug and I arrived at the mortuary, Dad looked wonderful. He did not look like Dad because he was so thin.  SO SO thin.  And he has a goatee and moustache, which I have never seen or imagined.  I could not get over how much he looked like my brother, which was the biggest surprise.  At 78, Dad still had a full head of jet black hair and his face looked so good.  

We had told the kids that it wasn't advisable for them to see him, so we'd left them at home.  Once I had seen him for myself, I sent Doug home to get them.  I stayed alone with Dad, while Doug picked up Quayd and ZJ.  Grace was out of town with Ben.  That gave me almost an hour and am so thankful for that time with him.  This gave me the closure that I needed.  That alone time with his body was necessary for me.  The kids were thankful, too, for a few moments to tell him goodbye.

I've written his life sketch, which was read at two services.  One was held at the Pentecostal Church in NC and at a "Celebration of his Life" here. I will post that in a separate post.

On Monday, evening, we hosted a dinner for Doug's family and a few close friends.  We ate all of Dad's favorites (Except banana pudding, simply because we had been given so so many desserts that it some had not even been touched yet.)  We served BBQ pork sandwiches and I made the Eastern NC style BBQ sauce, which is very different than anything they serve in the south.  Dad would have been very proud!  It was the best I've ever made.  I also made hushpuppies from scratch and Zeej fried them, at the dinner as we ate them, there at the dinner, so that they would be perfect like in NC! We had potato salad, southern coleslaw, deviled eggs and I made a crock pot full of cheesy grits and bacon.  Doug's family brought a multitude of other dishes.  We did eat!  Everyone loved the hushpuppies and grits, a first for most of them. I played the Beatles and 60s /70s music that Dad loved.  He would have loved this!

Doug's family have only met my dad once in our 40 years of marriage.  We were so thankful for their support, in listening to Dad's life story, and joining us as we celebrated his life together.  They didn't know Dad, but they gave up a night to be with our family.  It meant the world to both Doug and I, and the kids.  Liza joined us on FaceTime.  She was prepared to come but we made a plan for her and I to take a trip to NC together later, which made more sense.

We began with an opening hymn and prayer, then Doug spoke about Dad and invited the kids to speak, as well.  Quayd blew me away, as he shared that he didn't know his granddad that much, but that he loved the times he had been with him and then, missionary that he,is, he shared the Plan of Salvation and how grateful he is for the knowledge that families can be together forever, through the blessings of the gospel.  The girls shared their sentiments, as well.  Zeej shocked me with a story that I was unaware of.  Apparently, the last time we saw Dad, at Thanksgiving, almost four years ago,  Zeej had left a note on Dad's bed with a few questions.  She said that she didn't expect him to answer, but when Dad went back home, she went into her bedroom and found the questions, each one, answered in Dad's handwriting, lying on her bed.  I had no idea that this had even occurred.  What a gift!

It was a night that I think my dad would have been pleased with.  His family in North Carolina held a service, which I've not yet heard a lot of details, but got a message that it was wonderful.  We will talk more, after I am done helping a friend for the next few days.

Dad's cremains will be placed next to Grannie and Granddaddy's grave in North Carolina. I feel that Dad would want his final resting place to be near his parents and brother.  I feel good about that decision.

Dad was Dad.  I loved him so much, no matter what.  I'll share those thoughts in another post.  It's been a week.  I'm still struggling with the fact that he's gone from this earth.  Even with his cremains sitting in my den waiting to be put away until our trip, it's hard to imagine my life without him.  I will now have to get used to that fact. I am so thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge and peace that it brings to me.