Selling a house should be something I can do in my sleep. Well, typically I can. But, there’s one place that will always be home, even though it’s time to say goodbye.
My mom spent many years designing this home herself and once my parents could afford it, we bought the land and started building this dream. We would drive out there to see the progress and walk the land looking for arrowheads. There was so much history in those woods surrounding us and Dad loved telling us new stories about General Lee and his men camping out there on their way up north. I remember it all from the tagged trees to the brick mason. Finally, it was moving day, but the electricity hadn’t been turned on yet. We were so excited to move that we took sleeping bags and slept on the floors the first night. I was only nine when we moved, but I remember every detail. A new story began.
Now, we say goodbye. So soon. Or, so it seems. Goodbye to the Bronco I would drive up and down the dirt roads when I was 13. Goodbye to the creek where Paul and I would hunt for shark teeth. The half acre garden Dad and I would plant and pick veggies from. The salt lick in the backyard for all the deer we watched before heading off to school. The talks with mom on the back deck. Neighborhood cookouts. Watching the bunnies have babies…again and again. The bathroom where mom and I would hide during a hurricane. The playroom where I would sneak a cigarette that I didn’t inhale or hide the beers that I didn’t drink. The star stickers I gazed up at before bed every night. Goodbye to the sleepovers with best friends. First kisses. Watching 60 minutes on Sunday nights. Graduation parties. My grandparents. Surprising my family for Christmas. The owl in the big oak tree. The morning I “ran away” but only made it two houses because I was scared Bubba would bite me. Bike rides through the woods to Lauren’s house. Burnt biscuits. Goodbye to all my dolls and trophies that lined my playroom walls. Opening student gifts with mom on the last day of school. Getting accepted to NCSU. Meeting Will for the first time. Seeing my Dad hold Will for the last time.
Goodbyes aren’t something that I have ever been good at. I have my own way of coping and it works for me. Saying goodbye to my Dad almost three years ago was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but this feels like the last chapter. It was the last place we were all together and where he took his last breath. Those walls saw my successes and my failures. The good times and the bad. Family milestones and even the tears. It built me, helped me write my diary entries and kept all my secrets. My mom has started her new life in Raleigh and although I moved out over ten years ago, it is still where I call home. I’m not sure that will ever change, but for now, I look at the empty pictures online with the neutral colors and it looks just like one of the homes I walk through with my clients. But, it’s so much more. It is my forever home. And, this is goodbye.
I remember…I woke up late for my 9am Tuesday class on NC State campus and rushed to catch the wolfline for my first class of the day, Cultural Anthropology. I arrived 15 minutes late and oddly enough, they were just beginning class. An hour later, I jumped back on the bus and headed back home. People were crying. Others were comforting them and it was obvious that these people didn’t know each other. Strange, because everyone on the bus typically keeps to themselves with the same mission everyday – find your seat, get to your destination and focus only on the hustle and bustle of the day that lies ahead. Not today though. I remember seeing tears, hearing mentions of a crash and some asking questions as if they were expecting these strangers to have the answers they needed. I was too nervous to ask because I didn’t know them and didn’t want to pry into their personal lives. It obviously didn’t have to do with me or anyone I knew. It seemed there were enough people around them to comfort them. Once I get in my car, I hear the radio stations talking about it. The screams from newsrooms and the breaking news that another plane had crashed. I clinched the steering wheel and called my roommate, Jamie Pritchard to tell her. She hadn’t seen the news yet and once I arrived home, we remained glued to the TV watching this horrific accident become a historical tragedy. We cried with the rest of the world.
I love you more than you ever knew and I don’t think I was able to ever tell you that. There were times when you were in the other room and I wanted to spend time with you, but I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to talk about you dying. We only had a month to say goodbye and it wasn’t long enough. It never could have been long enough. I would have told you that I love you so much it hurts. I would have told you more. After becoming closer with you these past couple of years, we became connected. We were so much alike. I’m so proud to be so much like you. Even though you’re gone, I still feel close to you in spirit, as a part of you lives inside of me.
You were the best Dad I could ever ask for. I am so thankful to have had you in my life for as long as I did, and although it was way too short, I was lucky enough to have a Dad like you for almost 32 years. You went out of your way every single day of your life to make sure your family was well taken care of. Everything you did for us was done out of love for your family, and I know the sky was the limit when it came to any one of us. I know you still watch out for us, because caring for your family was your biggest priority in life and I know you wouldn’t stop now. Everything reminds me of you, today and every day.
It’s not the same without you here, and I know it will never be the same. My heart is still aching for you, and I know it will never go away. I see your face, your smile and hear your voice in my dreams and sometimes it feels so real that I wake up and the entire day is sad because you aren’t here. I know you are happy and watching Will grow up from above. He loves you and sometimes it is hard to watch him laugh because I want you to be able to share those moments with us. It brings me peace and comfort that you’re doing okay and you’re already reunited with so many others we’ve loved and lost.
I will continue living my life as you’ve taught me, and trying my hardest to never give up, because I’m capable of doing anything I put my mind to. You will endlessly be my motivation to achieve my goals, keep my head up and make smart decisions.
I am forever grateful to be your daughter, to love as you did and to care for others as you did. You’re my hero. I miss you today and everyday. Happy Fathers Day!
Cancer. Sure, I’ve heard people talk about it and I have even known people who knew people who have died from it. But, until it is a part of your world, you never know how dreadful that word can be. It puts the fear of God in you and challenges you to dance with the devil.
After six years of living life as a gypsy, from Vegas to Austin, I had something pulling me home. My nephew was growing up and I wasn’t there to see it, my long distance relationship was becoming more serious and most of all my heart couldn’t stand being away from all the joy my family was experiencing watching Will grow up. I wanted to be closer.
I began packing my life into boxes and planning my departure back home. When I moved away six years ago, I swore I’d never be back. I viewed moving back as a step backwards. But, my daddy always taught me that NC is the land of the free and there’s no better place in the world. I always begged him to come visit me in Vegas, but he said he wasn’t coming unless he was driving a Uhaul back with me. So six stubborn years later, back to NC I went.
As Reese and I drove home, we talked about our lives. Her mom and Dad were both battling cancer, her dad was getting better but her mom’s brain cancer was slowly taking her away from us. I promised that since I was going to be in Goldsboro for a few weeks, in between my move to Raleigh, I would spend all my free time taking care of her mom so that her dad was able to take care of himself. She lived four hours away with a demanding job…this was going to help ease her worries.
On August 14th I arrived home. That was the day we found out. My dads ‘gym injury’ was stage four kidney cancer. Kidney, bones, liver and spine. My dad was a rock. How could something be taking over his entire body and he never know? For over two years? This disease has been there for two years eating away at him and we’ve been completely clueless. I was in shock. I had so many questions but there were no words.
The day we found out, my dad asked my mom to get a blank notepad. He wrote in that every day. He said his goodbyes, he planned his funeral, and he mapped out my moms best interests and everything else that only a loving husband, great provider and caring father would think to plan out for his family’s future. They gave him a few years. We had time.
They started him on medicine immediately and we had to be with him at all times. During the days, we would go grab breakfast and drive around Goldsboro with the top down. We bought Will a lifetime membership for hunting and fishing. He drove me by places he wanted mom to buy if she wanted to ‘downsize’ after he was gone. We looked at SUVs for all the driving she would be doing to Raleigh after he was gone. Many days we would stay home and I would stay upstairs because I couldn’t stand hearing him talk like he wasn’t here. I wasn’t as strong as I appeared to be around him. Once my mom would get home in the afternoons, I would go to the hospital to stay with Reese’s mom and be back home in the morning by sunrise. Once she moved to Duke, Reese came home so it was easier to split our time. So much at once.
I needed a break. So did Reese. I had not dealt with any of the emotions and it was wearing on me. I came to DC for the week to unwind. My mom took over all doctor appointments, milkshake dates and even cruised around town in my convertible like two love struck teenagers. The medicine was starting to show side effects – swollen mouth, nausea and for two days he had nothing to eat or drink. Not a single sip. He had a doctors appointment Friday morning and as mom told him at dinner the night before, “If you don’t eat something, they’re going to put you in the hospital”. He had never been in the hospital and it was hard enough to get him to a doctors appointment.
Around 7:30 that morning my mom called me. I’ll never forget that moment – four hours away, just as I feared before moving home. I was so far away. I should have been there. So many emotions ran through me that morning as I tried to pack quickly and get on the road. The entire ride home, I wasn’t sure I heard her right so I kept convincing myself that it wasn’t what we thought. Laney was vomiting in the back the entire way so I kept climbing back to clean up her mess and to help forget about mine. Over and over, I kept replaying my moms phone call in my head and since she was so upset on the phone, I probably just misheard what she said. Maybe he was just being admitted to the hospital or his symptoms were getting worse. But, then one of my family friends texted me her condolences and I knew I couldn’t just pretend to hear what I wanted this time. Reality started to sink in and for the rest of the drive, I just hid my phone as we rode down 95 South for what seemed like eternity.
Everyone says the next few days are typically a blur, but I remember the smallest details. Everything. Every word spoken, every person present, every single thought. For the next week, we planned the goodbyes for my dad and then, a few days later, Reese’s mom passed as well. I hope they watch over us everyday and are always so proud. Because there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish he would call me when I’m on the road or when Carolina Girls comes on the radio or just to tell me he misses his little miss magic. I’m sure it gets easier…I’m just not there yet.
I had built the life I wanted. After leaving Vegas, I settled in Austin and found the job that not only gave me the desire to grow professionally, but also personally. Within weeks, I had made so many friends who I knew would always be in my life. Things had changed. I had changed. For the better. I worked a lot, traveled a lot and smiled a lot. After the first two years, I knew there was more to life than working, so I started to explore this great city and grow my friendships. There were many more adventures and memories made. As I approached year three in Austin, my nephew was born. Following his arrival, came many more visits home to North Carolina. One visit in particular was the last one. It was July of 2012, a summer that will forever be a blessing etched in my heart.
Every year since we were little, my brother and I would load up in the car and head to Myrtle Beach with my parents. We met four other families who all had children our ages for a week full of fun in the sun. Our parents were the best of friends. For 51 weeks of the year, we looked forward to that 52nd week in July. As kids grew older and began having families of their own, it became harder to get everyone together. I hadn’t made it to the beach week in years. But, this year was different. It was Will’s first year at the beach. My dad knew that there hadn’t been much time spent on anyone but Will since his birth and he asked if him and I could spend a day together on Bald Head Island. He worked on that island with my Uncle Mike before there were even houses built. I learned so much about his own adventures and the ‘good ole days’. It was a special day. The pictures and memories made that week in Myrtle will never leave me. But, as I left for Austin, I knew I’d be back. Just wasn’t sure when.
As I sat at my office desk, I had a vision of someone calling and telling me something had happened to my dad and I needed to come home. He was gone. I wasn’t sure why I would think such a terrible thought. All I could imagine was trying to leave work, book a flight, pack and sit at an airport all day while trying to make it home to my family. But, nothing had happened. It was just a terrible thought that crossed my mind. A week later, I was driving home from work and it happened again. Stuck in traffic and all I could think about is “what if”. My eyes filled with tears and I quickly dismissed the horrifying thought. Only a few weeks had passed when I called my parents to tell them I was coming home. I was finally moving home. But, I was now 31 and how could I move once again with no job. I was leaving everything I loved, but I knew I needed to be closer to home. My dad questioned me a lot, but I could hear the joy in his voice. “I’ll support whatever you decide to do.” I had no plans for when I arrived, nor did I know that this was all part of God’s plan. It didn’t make sense. At least not yet. And, so it began.
Teresa had enough on her plate. Her mother and father were both diagnosed with cancer in December of 2011 and she had been dealing with a downward spiral of events for the entire year. But, she was ready for me to be closer, too. So, she flew to Austin and we drove home. We decided to take our time and enjoy the sights along the way. But, it was an exhausting haul and after 8 hours of driving each day, there wasn’t much energy left to explore. My convertible was packed to the top with a little Yorkie who only likes to sleep behind my shoulders during long trips. This was a long trip. But, I couldn’t wait to arrive at my parents. They had been waiting over 6 years for me to come back home, and I knew it made them just as happy as it made me. After dropping Reese off in DC, on August 14th 2012, I headed to Goldsboro. I called my mom from I-95 and she said that she was with dad getting an xray because he pulled a muscle at the gym. They thought it was a herniated disc but were waiting for the results and would probably beat me home. I had my own car pulling in the driveway, it felt real. But, nobody was home. This was what they had wanted for so long, but nobody seemed excited enough to run outside before I could get out of the car, as they always did. Something wasn’t right.
I called my mom and she said she would be there shortly. I told her if she needed help, I could throw my stuff inside and come to them. But, she assured me to stay put and she would see me soon. I was sure she meant “we”. We will see you soon. About 30 minutes later, she walked through the door. Tears of excitement ran down her face. But, when I looked behind her and asked where Dad was, the tears didn’t accompany a smile. I knew the tears meant something else. From that moment, my world was forever changed…
Most vegan and vegetarian products will use soy, which is great for reducing cholesterol and has cancer-fighting compounds. However, too much soy can be bad for you, especially women’s fertility and reproductive development, due to its large amounts of estrogenic compounds. You would have to consume large amounts for it to be harmful, but since most foods contain some amount of soy-something, make sure you keep your diet balanced and healthy and you’ll be fine. Also, instead of eating soy cheese and milk, choose almond cheese (which melts) or rice cheese – same for milk. This will help the balance. One more thing, vitamins that are a must: B12, Calcium and Iodine DAILY. Make sure you take B12 and a multi-vitamin daily to keep all the nutrients in your body, that you aren’t getting as frequently as you were before.
A few favorites:
Vegannaise – much like mayo, but can be used in almost everything
Tofu – Love to scramble this in the mornings with seasonings and at night in a wrap with soyrizo