Sunday, March 22, 2009

Life and Death and an Extended Field Trip

This has been a rough couple of weeks for us. My grandmother in south Mississippi passed away after several days of struggle in the hospital. I am thankful, though, for the chance to see her and to speak to her a last time. I tried to leave Cullen here while I travelled, but he was insistent on seeing his MawMaw before she died. My sister, Windee, and her son, Walker, rode with us to the gulf coast.

As difficult as it was to see my grandmother struggling so hard just to breathe, I actually think it helped the boys accept her passing a little easier. No one wanted her to have to continue suffering that way. Cullen asked a million and a half questions, so we had some lengthy discussions about life and death and heaven. He also wanted to know if his Dad and brother and sister would be driving down for the reuinion after MawMaw passed away. (Of course, they did.) Reunion is actually a good name for a funeral in some ways. We did get talk to cousins that we've gone years without seeing, some of whom Cullen was meeting for the first time ever.

One of the days we were there, we took the boys for a much-needed outing to the Explorium Science Museum in Mobile. The hands-on exhibits were really impressive; Windee and I played as much as the boys did. Here Cullen and Walker are testing how much strength is required with different placements of the fulcrum in a giant lever set-up.

A table of different microscopes with a variety of slides caught Walker's interest.

Virtual heart surgery was one of the hands-on activities that Cullen enjoyed, though he was a little squeamish at some of the graphics!

A life-size puzzle of basic anatomy was a good way for Cullen to get an idea of the size of his own brain, lungs, etc.

We watched an IMAX movie on the Colorado River that was absolutely wonderful, though it made me a little dizzy. :o) There were so many things to do here. These few pictures show such a small part of this museum. We hope to go again next time we are down that way to visit.

After the museum, we drove by the USS Alabama park. It was too late to buy tickets for a tour of the ship, but there are plenty of old military craft out on display. We let the boys run around in the late afternoon sun looking at all of them. This ship's bell turned out to be much louder than either of them expected!

This old Soviet tank was not bordered by chain to prevent touching, so the boys climbed up and played soldier for a few minutes. As they climbed down, we did notice a rather small and very faded "No Climbing" sign. Oooops!

Cullen considered the peephole in the hotel room door that evening just as interesting as anything else he had seen that day.

While waiting a day or so for the funeral, we drove over to my grandparents old home in south Mississippi, in which my aunt and uncle now live, and spent a little time with extended family. Way behind the house, past the old fishing pond, is a large area of swamp. The kids managed to get into the little creek that feeds into it before any of the parents really had time to stop it. They all required showers when they got out to get the smell of swamp mud off of them!
Cullen didn't care so much for the slimy mud between his toes when it was time to climb out!

Of formal school work, there was absolutely none the entire week and most of the week we returned home and recovered from travelling. This time was filled with learning life lessons, with spending time getting to know distant family and with seeing how people who love each other can help make even the worst hurts a little easier to bear for each other. These are lessons even more critical than adjectives or fractions.

This last photo is of Cullen, Walker and my daughter, Taylor, in the little town park in Lucedale, MS. Spring was so evident in the warmth, in the blossoms and bees. It was a beautiful reminder to me of the promises and the hope that we hold dear from our Father - of the reason we can laugh sometimes in the midst of grief, knowing and trusting the One who holds our future.


{ jamie } said...

Beautiful post. Learning those kinds of lessons you talked about are certainly more important than knowing all the times tables!

And that museum sounds like loads of fun!

Ami said...

I am glad that you could find moments of joy and laughter in this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I am praying for you dear friend. I enjoyed reading your journal...I could hear your voice in it. I would love to talk to you sometime. I miss you. Monica