Saying Goodbye & Sweet Sixteen
I made my way back to Charlotte on Saturday, October 1 from the Hurricane Ian experience and was very thankful to be home safe with my family. I hadn’t been feeling good the last week and took a Covid test while I was at my conference, which was negative. However, when I got home, I went ahead and took another one on Sunday morning and the result was positive. So, I began distancing myself from the family for a few days until it cleared.
On Sunday, October 2, Dadaw passed away and was finally in peace. That day, heaven gained an angel who represented all things wonderful in this world: a man of courage, love, dedication, humor, selflessness, faith, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, humility, and so much more! He touched the lives of his family, friends, and many more that he never even met in ways that are immeasurable. It was very surreal to know that he was no longer with us on this Earth, but now looking down on us and guiding us through life to choose the best path, just as he did.
Hanleigh had her Madagascar, Jr. play rehearsals throughout the month and Brayden had her field hockey games as well. I enjoyed dinner with Kendall and we had a date night out with the Farrells and Whitcombs in Pineville at The Garrison, followed by cocktails at Zinicola. Hanleigh went to SCarowinds with a bunch of her friends and Brayden attended her homecoming football game. We’ve ventured up to Raleigh for the NC State vs. Florida State game and it was incredible…very exciting all the way to the end, resulting in another victory!
We met Kyle, Cammy and Cooper at the Charlotte airport and flew to Louisville for Dadaw’s funeral service. It was an adventurous flight considering that when we were walking down the jet bridge to board, Hanleigh said she was feeling sick to her stomach and that she needed to throw up. We quickly turned around and went to the bathroom, but no luck. We reboarded and then about halfway into the flight, she got sick in the bag they provide you, thankfully! This kind of came out of nowhere and we thought it was because she scarfed down a pizza right before we boarded. More to come on that later. When we landed, we met the entire family for dinner at Rafferty’s. The food was delicious and it was good to see everyone, even under the circumstances. The next morning, we made our way to Cave Hill Cemetery for the private burial. I was able to see family members that I had not seen in at least 30 years, which was pretty incredible. Sometimes life has a way of bringing people together in ways that you never would anticipate. Everyone from great uncles and second cousins to long-time friends of the family, people came from all over to honor my amazing grandfather. Trent and Justin were pallbearers, which was such an honor. The service was conducted by the former minister of Crescent Hill Baptist Church, the same church that Mimi and Dadaw went to the entire time they were in Louisville. Ironically enough, this is the same minister who left St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte (the one I grew up going to) and then came to Louisville at the same time we moved to Charlotte in 1982. He did an incredible job officiating the ceremony and honored Dadaw’s life in the most beautiful way. He spoke to the kids and told them that Dadaw, while not a physical being on Earth anymore, is above and his soul and his light will help guide them through life and make things easier for them to endure. It was very comforting and the perfect way to word it for the younger kids. We left by resting our hands on the coffin, saying a prayer to him, thanking him for everything, and for being blessed to have known him. After the private burial, we made our way to the Crescent Hill for a private lunch with the extended family and time to just relax before the larger service. It was great to catch up with all the family members I mentioned earlier. We reminisced and laughed, telling stories about Dadaw that had many of us giggling. When we celebrated his life during the funeral, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and touched by his impact on everyone. People from all walks of his life, including church, work, family, and friends, all have the utmost respect for him and it was evident in how they spoke about him and his character. Abby and I read two of his favorite Bible verse passages, Kyle did an incredible job of highlighting all the ways in which he made an impact on his life (while mentioning some of the more humorous stories and read his favorite poem, “If” by Rudyard Kipling), Aunt Patty very eloquently discussed her perspective as his daughter, and Dad delivered the eulogy (which was one of Dadaw’s favorites). I know Mimi was beyond moved with the outpouring of support! I am honored to have known you, Dadaw. May there always be ice cubes for your red wine and chocolate cake to put in your teeth. Thanks for being the world’s best grandfather and one of the best men that I’ve ever known!
We flew back home from Louisville and resumed our typical crazy activities, but with a heavier heart than before. Hanleigh attended her second Cotillion class, but we soon found out that she tested positive for Covid. No clue where she got it, but all of the friends she was with at SCarowinds ended up getting sick, so that could be it. She was actually a pretty good patient throughout the week when she was home, but did have to miss five days of school. Fran turned 76 years old, so Terry, Trent, and Hanleigh took her out to Mac’s Speed Shop for dinner. Meanwhile, we celebrated Brayden’s 16th birthday at Kendall’s beach house in Ocean Isle with two of her best friends (Cora and Marli) and their moms (Samara and Heather). It was absolutely incredible. From reenacting kindergarten photos of the three of them, eating the most delicious Mexican dinner at the house on Friday night, dealing with some golf cart drama when the battery began to fail us during our evening adventures around the island (running and pushing it from behind) to enjoying the Moon over the ocean, shopping at the Curious Mermaid boutique, attending the Oyster Fest just to get a quick bite to eat, spending a gorgeous afternoon at the beach and watching a crazy wedding (complete with too many Adam Sandler references and an Eastern European mother-in-law), having a delicious dinner at Jinks Creek, and dealing with more golf cart drama, it was the perfect way to celebrate our first born. Brayden, you have blossomed into the most beautiful, intelligent, silly, determined, music-loving soul! Your light shines so bright and we love you so incredibly much!!!
We celebrated Brayden’s 16th birthday officially by going to the DMV and waiting the expected three hours (even with an appointment) to get her license. She was unsure if she would have to take a driver’s test, but she did and was freaking out, according to her. She passed with flying colors and now happily has her driver’s license. That night, we went to Taco Molino with Trent’s parents to celebrate her special day. That next day, she drove her car for the first time by herself and both Trent and I were a wreck. Check out the video. There is nothing that can prepare you to watch your first born get behind the wheel of a car with no one in it and drive off down the road. All you can do is say a prayer that you’ve equipped her with the right tools to safely drive a vehicle. Needless to say, both of us watched as she reversed out of the driveway, running over the grass, and drove away with lots of tears in our eyes. It was a reminder of just how quickly the time has gone by. As they say, days go by slow, but years go by fast and that is 100% the truth. We are working on a driver’s contract and rules of the road for her to discuss, review, and sign to make sure we are all on the same page with what is expected of her and what it means to be a responsible driver.
In other news this month, Brayden stayed up really late for the release of Taylor Swift’s new album, Midnights. I think she went to bed around 1:00 a.m. that night listening to the new songs. That’s dedication! We enjoyed an awesome line dance party at the Bartley’s house where we got all dressed up in our country western gear. It was a blast, as always. While we were there, Brayden had some of her best friends over to the house to continue celebrating her birthday. I told her I was going to pop in occasionally to check in on them. It appeared that they were all behaving, so that was good. The next day, we enjoyed a pizza party at another neighbor’s home that we have just started getting to know (Yelena & Jeff), so that was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. That evening, we got a last-minute invite from the Hicks to a private concert with Three Doors Down and Dierks Bentley, which made for a late evening, but it was incredibly fun and our seats were great!
After 21 years of having the same gray couches (they are old enough to drink!) that we bought when we first got married, we decided to suck it up and get a brand new couch and ottoman set from Crate & Barrel. The crazy thing is that we ordered them last December, so it took nearly a year for them to be built and arrive. Thank you supply chain issues! They look awesome and are so incredibly comfortable. Now it’s time to decorate the room!!! The old couches have had countless afternoons and evenings of snuggles, tears, laughs, and endless movies watched on them. It was definitely bittersweet to let them go, but we are very happy with what we have now. Julie & Tim invited us (and the Farrells) to join them for the Firethorne annual Halloween party where we rehashed our and Operation game ensemble. It was a blast, complete with lots of dancing and crazy costumes! That weekend, Brayden joined her friends Melanie and Cam and attended the Duke vs. UNC field hockey game where they met a couple of the players and the coach. I think they were fangirling for sure. What’s hilarious is that Brayden wore her NC State hoodie to the game. That’s my girl. Hanleigh, Trent, and I enjoyed lunch with Mimi at Velvet Taco and then I took Hanleigh shopping to potentially redecorate her room. Unfortunately, the mission was not successful, but we will keep trying. That weekend wrapped up with a pumpkin carving/birthday party at Tiffany & Jon’s house, followed by a Halloween party at the Whitcomb’s home the next day. Brayden dressed up as an astronaut go-go dancer and Hanleigh dressed up as a narwhal. Happy fall, y’all!