Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our Trip to Kansas

My Grandma wasn't feeling well on Wednesday morning.  When they took her blood pressure, her heart rate was 30 bpm, which is way too low.  They took her to the hospital and after her heart stopped twice, they decided to put in a pacemaker.  She had surgery Wednesday at 9pm and she was out and doing good within the hour.  Thursday she was ok, but feeling nauseous from the surgery.  I spoke with her but she wasn't her normal self.  Friday and Saturday she seemed to be doing ok, so they sent her to a short term rehabilitation hospital.  I spoke with her again Saturday evening and it was so good to talk to her, but she wasn't feeling well.  Sunday, when Aunt Pat went to see her, her hands and feet were ice cold from not receiving any blood.  They took her back to the hospital and determined that she had a blood infection.  They weren't sure if it was in her kidneys (which were not working properly) or had to do with the surgery.  We got a call Sunday night that she wasn't doing well but they were trying their best.  We talked and decided I would go see her if she wasn't better in the morning.  We prayed, for healing, for just one more day so I could go visit.  However, I got a call at 4am that she had passed away.  It was probably the saddest moment I have ever had in my life.  I still wish she was here, I wish I had seen her one last time, I wish I had heard her say "I love you" one more time, I wish for one last hug.  I miss her all the time, her unconditional love, her way to make me feel better at any moment.  She was by far the most loving person I have ever known and we are a little lost without her. 

Cody didn't want me to drive alone, so we left Tuesday early afternoon when he was done with classes.  Harper didn't nap in the car like we had hoped, but she was good almost the entire way, so we were thankful.  I got a bit carsick so I drove for awhile while Cody did a crossword and took care of Harper. We got in town at 8pm and went to Pat and Don's house to say hi to everyone.  While I caught up with my cousins there, Cody gave Harper a bath.  After an hour or so of just enjoying being together and speaking words of encouragement, we went to Barb's house for bed.  Almost all of my family was able to make it, minus Scott in Arizona, Dayton was in bootcamp in San Antonio, and Cole and Marie couldn't get away from work and school in Pennsylvania.  So almost 70 family members all to celebrate her amazing life.  

Kristen and Brian got there around the same time as us and we all stayed with my Dad at Barb's.  Wednesday morning, we all got up and had a family visitation at the funeral home.  I knew that this day would be harder than the actual funeral, but also just as important.  Somehow even though I knew it was true, I was still praying she wasn't gone.  Kristen and I went together and said goodbye to her, and came to the reality of how lucky we were to have her in our lives.  My grandpa just kept telling us how she was always his girl, always so beautiful.  What a love, 70 years!

After the visitation, we had lunch at Pat's, a nap at Barb's, and then back to Pat's for dinner.  The Bausher's were staying with Pat and her kids and some other cousins were there.  We spent the day getting her picture boards made and writing some things for her funeral.  It was a long day but also a good one.  I can't even explain with words how the Klusman family sticks together when it's needed.  The kids did great while they were there.  Grayson loved having the "big kids" there to play with (2nd cousins) and the "big kids" loved having Taylor and Carleigh there to hang out with.  They ended up entertaining themselves well.  Reese and Harper played or ran around.  They really do love each other but they fight like sisters.  I absolutely love these two!

After Pat's, we went back to Barb's house and just hung out while the kids went to bed.  It was fun to just enjoy being together, to talk and laugh in the midst of the sadness.  My dad played with the kids and riled them up right before bed of course, but they absolutely love their Pop.  Taylor and Carleigh spent an hour taking funny pictures and posting them to snapchat.  It was nice to spend quality time with my family.  The boys were driving up at the time and didn't get in until 3am.  It was a 12 hour drive but they did good.

Thursday, we went to the church and had a family time to visit and say goodbye again.  We received some beautiful flowers from my Dad's work, Kristen's girlfriends, and my mom.  Her funeral was absolutely beautiful and she would have loved her pink roses.  My dad gave the eulogy, as well as having Dane, Jeff, and Michelle speak.  Jamie gave the prayers, and I read the scriptures.  Towards the end of the mass, all of her grandchildren were given a rose to place on her casket and it was truly one of the most heartbreaking and amazing things I have experienced.  To think that all of my cousins love her as much as I do, to know that immense amount of love for one special woman.  We had a lunch back at the church after the cemetery and it was great just to sit and eat with family.  My family took turns sitting and talking with my Grandpa and he loved being with so much family.  We took a huge cousins picture and even got a 2nd cousins picture (minus Harper who was not having it).  We changed clothes and started the long drive home.  We stopped at my grandparent's house to see it one last time and while we were there, Harper wanted one of my Grandma's hanky's.  She played with it for almost an hour on the ride home and I know it would have made Grandma so happy.  It was a long week, but it was a beautiful tribute to the amazing woman that she was.  

After we left, the rest of the family went back to Pat and Don's house for dinner and a relaxing evening.  I'm not sure what they did, but I'm glad they got to spend time together.  Especially Dane and Eric since they had just gotten there and still had to drive home the next day.  My Dad spent a bit more time with his family and they headed home the next day.  I'm so proud to be a part of this family.  They are such an inspiration.  

My Sweet Grandma Klusman

My sister, Kristen, wrote this blog after my grandmother passed away.  I read it, bawling the entire time, knowing how true every word was.  I called her and told her that all of her memories were the same ones that made me smile about Grandma.  I hadn't realized that we both had such amazing memories of her and our childhood.  I still don't have the words to write about my Grandma, so I'm stealing her words.  

On February 17, 2014, my sweet Grandma, Gladys Marie Klusman, passed away. She is preceded in death by her parents; her brother, and her son, Robert Klusman (my Uncle Jim who passed away last month).  She is survived by her husband of 69 1/2 years, Carl Klusman, and her children, Larry and Mary Klusman, daughter-in-law Barb Klusman, Pat and Don Lunbeck, Gary and Kristi Klusman, and Sharon and Jamie Bausher.  She is also survived by her sister Helen and her brother Jack.  She has 22 grandchildren, and when you add in all the married-in cousins, that's really 33 grandchildren.  Plus, she has 30 great grandchildren.  When I say I have a large family, it really all started with this women.  In just our immediate family, if you count uncles, aunts, cousins, and cousins' kids, it totals 73 people!

It feels weird to say that I was shocked about her passing when she was almost 90 years old, but I was. She had a pacemaker put in the week before but everyone said she was doing great and recuperating well. Sunday evening we learned that she was in ICU with an infection and her kidneys were shutting down. The phone rang a little before 4am and immediately I knew she was gone. I laid there sobbing while Brian held me and I spent two hours replaying my life and all the memories I had of her. I even looked through my phone because I thought there was a recent voice mail from her hoping I could just hear her voice one last time, "Kristen, it's your Grandma," but the message was just 30 seconds of silence. It just happened so fast and I am so sad that I didn't get to talk to her one last time to say goodbye. But while I'm sad that she's gone, I know that she had an incredible full and happy life. Spending the few days with my family in Kansas was a great reminder of her legacy.

Gladys was born March 1, 1924 in Bucyrus, Kansas. She was one of four children and they lived on a dairy farm in a small town. She was rough and tough and loved to run with the boys. She used to tell us stories when we were young that her brother Lindy would sit on top of her and hold her arms and spit in her face - and then she would say, "my goodness he was onery." Which was one of my favorite words she always used. She also used to call the couch the devan, say pop for soda and wash sounded like worsh.

I've listened to my grandparents tell stories about their first date, proposal and engagement a ton of times growing up and the stories never got old. My grandparents started dating when they were 17 - my grandfather asked her to go see fireworks only he showed up with both his parents. But they were quickly inseparable - even working together doing chores on their farms. My grandma told me that she was so sad when my Grandpa enlisted in the army and left for Texas - she said she cried for days. When my Grandpa got to Texas he said he missed her so much that he called my Grandma and said "Gladys, do you remember that you said you might want to marry me? Would you like to come to Texas and get married?" and she said, "Yes, I suspect I do" so she got on a train and went down to marry him.

When Grandpa came home from the war injured and couldn't work on the farm anymore he and my Grandma worked for State Farm for over 40 years. She worked all day and came home and raised five kids. My dad would say that she would come home from work, be talking to you in the kitchen and somehow a 3 course dinner would appear on the table. She was an incredible home maker and her husband and her children were her entire life.

I have the most incredible memories of my Grandma. We moved to Texas when my parents divorced when I was 5 but whenever we vistied my dad several times a year in Kansas we always spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I think the four of us were so close to my grandparents because they were already retired and they had a lot of free time to spend with us. But I also think my Grandma was sad that my parents were divorced and gave us extra special attention and love which was exactly what we needed.  One of the things my cousins and I all talked about during the funeral was that Grandma made each one of us feel like we were her favorite grandkid.  And that is an incredible thing considering how many of us there were.

We loved staying at their house - there was always so much to do. I'll always remember pancakes and orange juice in little juice glasses for breakfast at the table with the yellow banana chairs in the kitchen. Going out fishing early in the morning and Grandma tying her scarf around her hair that had just been styled. Telling us that we could only have one pop a day but never really sticking to it. Always using our first and middle name whenever we were in trouble and "tsking" at us to stop bickering. Playing golf and swimming at the country club and the time I almost drove the golf cart into the lake before she saved us. Playing restuarant at the bar in their basement. Playing cards and dominos for hours and hours. My Grandma was really good at cards but would never pay enough attention and always throw away wild cards. I love the sour face she would make when she realized she threw away a wild card and it would make us laugh so hard. Going on walks around the neighborhood. Taking naps on the couch. Sitting with her reading her CountryLife and Good Housekeeping magazines (and when I was 16 she sent me a Good Housekeeping subscription because she thought I really loved them). Camping trips to the lake and sleeping in their 5th wheel. Spending time with them on their annual trips down to the Valley. Long distance phone calls and letters updating us on where they were traveling or new additions to the family. Birthday cards with quarters taped on the inside when we were really little, dollar bills when we got a little older and checks when we were much older. I swear she sent me a $25 birthday check until I was 30.

But more than anything I'll miss her hugs and the "I love you's."  I think my Grandma's biggest legacy was the way she loved others and taught others how to love. My family are big huggers and I think that started with her. About 30 minutes before we need to leave, Brian will tell me, "start saying bye now" because it takes forever to hug that many people. As any good grandmother would, she loved us unconditionally. She told us she loved us every time we talked to her. You would call her and she would say, "Oh Kristen Marie it's so good hear your voice. I love you. I miss you!" and we when we would hang up the phone she would say, "Oh I love you so much." When we would visit Kansas and leave to go back to Texas, she would cry and tell us how much she would miss us.  She was never judgmental, never disappointed in us.  When Dane showed up at the funeral with a pink mohawk, it might have been a bit crazy, but I know 100% that my Grandma wouldn't have cared.  She probably would have even liked it!  Two years ago for Halloween, my grandparents went to Pat and Don's house for a halloween party with their family.  When Chad and Michelle picked them up, my Grandma had all these necklaces on.  Michelle was worried that her Alzhiemer's was acting up.  But my Grandma simply asked Michelle where her costume was, because she had dressed up as a gypsy.  Isn't she amazing?  

I'm incredibly sad that she's gone for all very selfish reasons. I know how much I'll miss her, her phone calls, the visits, the birthday cards every year. I'm sad that when the time comes for Brian and I to have another child they won't get to meet her. I'm sad that my children won't remember their great-grandma. I'm sad for my dad and his brothers and sisters who lost their mom. But I'm also relieved. Relieved that she's in heaven where there is no Alzheimer's, no Parkinsons, no anxiety, no tears. And I know that I have incredible memories of her that will last me forever.

This picture just sends me into tears every time I see it.  This was when Grandma was in the hospital the last week and my aunt and uncle took Grandpa up to visit her.  My grandparents would have celebrated their 90th wedding anniversary this September.  They've spent very few nights apart in their whole entire life.  My grandparents have been an incredible role model for all of us for what a marriage should look like.  I have memories of my Grandpa holding my Grandma's hand and giving her a "smooch" while they puttered around the kitchen fixing us waffles for breakfast.  When my Grandpa said goodbye to her, he stood next to her casket holding her hand and said, "Oh, you were always such a pretty girl.  My pretty girl."  To be blessed with that kind of love.  

But more than anything I know that she lives on in me. She helped raise me and shape me into the person I am today. Because of her I know that I hug my friends and family and tell them I love them often. They're important to me and I want them to know that. Because of her I hug my children every day, mutiple times a day and tell them how much I love them. Like her I will make my husband and children my most important priority. I hope that as I grow older that I'm surrounded by so many people who love me like she was. She will be missed by so many.

 Enjoy dancing in Heaven, Grandma.  I know you are happy and taking care of your family up there now.  I miss you every day and I can't wait to meet you in Heaven. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Be My Valentine?

Our play group had a Valentine's Party with crafts, games, lunch, and cookie decorating.  It was such a fun day.  We love this group.  None of the moms are judgey and the kids are all super sweet and play well together.  I'm sure this playdate was supposed to end at noon like all the others, but we stayed until 2pm and it couldn't have been more fun!

We went to Sarah's and got to see her new girls' rooms where they built loft beds and play houses.  It was awesome!  The kids played back there the whole time and had such a good time.  

Little Leah stayed with the moms, as well as Hudson, because they are too small.  But I swear the little girl always gives me the biggest smile!  She is just so loving and happy!  I have never seen such easy babies before - these two are perfect all the time!

We did a hand print salt dough craft this time.  Each kid got to play with the dough and make it into a circle, put their handprint in it and then paint a heart in the middle.  I love seeing how these kids are all so different with crafts and messes.  Aaron, boy to the core, is great at staying relatively clean, wants to paint the heart himself, and showing the camera his amazing craft with a perfect smile.  Clara is a sweet girl who just wants someone to put a ring on it.  Joey and Anna were kinda in between wanting it to be just right and wanting to run off and play.  Jack and James were both wanting to play and eat the dough and it might have taken a few tries to get their handprints just right.  And Harper of course wanted to eat it because she thought it was cookies.  In the end it, it turned out to be such a cute craft that I know I will love forever! 

After more play time, the kids had a lunch of heart shaped sandwiches, fruit kabobs, and banana bread. The moms had 7 layer dip and random bits of the kids stuff, and it's possible we may have eaten almost an entire 9x13 pan of the stuff.  But it was such a fun day just relaxing and playing.  After lunch, the kids got to decorate heart shaped sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles.  Let's just estimate that each kid used about half a can of sprinkles - they were all over those things!  Most kids only wanted to decorate one because then they just wanted to eat it, but they had a blast.  

Towards the end, we had the kids hand out valentines and they were soooo cute!  Joey was worried and sad because Harper couldn't have the twinkie because of her allergy.  Aaron was the most shy boy all of a sudden and giggled passing his out.  Harper didn't understand why people were putting stuff in her bag, but all she wanted was the candy anyways.  I just think little people are so cute!  

After all of the party stuff, we decided to head outside because it was absolutely beautiful and warm.  Goodness, we miss summer!!!  The kids all jumped on the trampoline and climbed on the fort.  It was a good hour of getting more energy out and enjoying the outdoors.  The moms just kept talking, did we ever stop?, and it was nice to have all this time to really get to know each other better.

We just kept playing, ignored the time, and had truly the best day ever.  The kids loved it and had a blast and the moms had a nice, relaxing, moms day in.  
Happy Valentine's Day!