[Sorry in advance – this is going to be long!]I have all these conflicting emotions right now. I’m happy and I’m sad. I’m grateful that last week is over, and yet that means I have to move on and go back to normal life. Everything is just strange right now.Frankly, last Saturday and Sunday were not the best days I have ever had. They are kind of blurry and unreal. But I wanted to write down some of the amazing things that happened last week that I am grateful for. I don’t want to forget. And, true to form, it’s going to be a list!*First, I cannot believe the outpouring of love and support that my family got. Whether it was neighbors bringing over food, people stopping by, the hundreds of emails and phone calls, people being willing to watch my kids at a moments notice so we could go to Utah, in-laws who were willing to do whatever we needed to help make our road easier, a friend I haven’t seen in 9 years coming to support us at the memorial service, the hugs, lunch from the ward and from our family after the funeral and memorial, my ward bringing dinner, the shared tears . . . the list could go on and on. It was overwhelming and amazing. I am so grateful for everyone who showed their love and support last week.*On Monday, Mom and Jeff put together a large picture frame full of pictures of Dad. Kelsey and Mary were fascinated by it. It was very bittersweet to see my little daughter go up to each picture, and for the first time, say “Papa” in an excited tone of voice. I’m grateful she got to know him, at least for a little while.*Emily had a little angel necklace that she was wearing. At one point, the angel broke off. Jon was going to try to fix it, but Emily wanted us to give it to Grandpa. We took it to Utah with us, and put it on his casket. I’m grateful that my kids adored their Grandpa.*At the funeral, there was a sign it book. My kids all wanted to sign. Instead of writing “Robbie”, my son signed “Robert” for no apparent reason. I am grateful that my kids will carry on a part of my Dad.*As a family, we had a chance to go see my Dad at the funeral home. We weren’t going to take Adam because we thought he was too young. But he really wanted to go. We thought he might be scared, but he wasn’t. In fact, the day of the funeral, he wanted to see him again. I am grateful for the bond that Adam and Dad had, and that it seems that bond continues even after death.*At the funeral, my amazing in-laws took care of my kids. But, Robbie came and sat with me. It was such a sweet experience to have my son by my side. He would look up at me, wink and squeeze my hand. I leaned my head on his head and was sad. I am so grateful for the amazing kids that I have and the strength that they give me.*Dad had more friends come and say goodbye that I even thought possible. We haven’t lived in Utah for 16 years now. Yet, we probably had 75 people come to the memorial. These were people who knew and loved Dad. At the funeral, we had about 400 people. I am so grateful for friends, and that friendship is something that can endure time and distance.*In a tribute to Dad, we ate our way through Utah. My Dad loved food, and all our trips to Utah involved outings to Sizzler, Atlantis Burger, Neisens Frozen Custard, Paces Dairy Ann and a Chinese place I can’t remember the name of. We were pretty sick by the time we left! I am so grateful for memories and family traditions that we can carry on!*On Wednesday night, Jon and I went down to Temple Square. We walked up to see the Christus. It was such a sweet experience. I sat and looked at the Savior, and I KNEW that my Dad was still alive. I am so grateful for the atonement, and that through Jesus, we will all be together again. As Jon and I walked around, he pointed out that this could have been a testimony shaking thing. But it has not been. I amso thankful that we have the comfort of the gospel.*After the memorial service in Utah, my Dad’s cousin had all the family over for lunch. I don’t know most of my Utah relatives very well, as we moved when I was 15. But, I love them! They are absolutely amazing! They taught us the Dutch Birthday song (Lang Zal Ze Leven) and let us eat Dutch New Years Bread (Ollie Bollen). We sang “There Were 3 Jolly Fisherman” which Dad loved. Uncle Wayne (my grandpa’s brother in law) told us jokes. It was so nice to be with them. I am grateful for extended family who took care of us and loved us, despite not seeing us in a while.*We went up to the cabin for a few hours. In the spring, as the snow melts, a very cold stream forms. It dries up in a few months, but when it’s running we always put a watermelon in, let it get really cold, and then eat watermelon and have seed spitting contests. So, we did. Jeff, somehow, kept hitting me. I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose . . . I’m so grateful for places that we love.*I spent the entire week with my family. I thought I might be a little overloaded, because after the wedding two weeks prior, I was ready for a break. But it wasn’t. I felt such strength and comfort being with them. They are all amazing. I don’t know how I could have done this last week without them. And they had to put up with me for a whole week, so kudos to them! I am so thankful for my family and that we can be together forever.So, that’s it. I don’t know if I’ll write much more of what is going on in my head. I’m sure there will be good days and there will be bad days. But I need to start moving forward. That is what Dad would want. I’ll carry all my good memories with me, and I’ll try to teach my kids the traditions that my Dad loved. So, ONWARD! Thank you to everyone who touched my life last week! I love you all!
I don’t want to write this. I’ve been putting it off, all the while knowing that I needed to do it. That somehow, writing would help me cope with it. I hope that is true.Yesterday afternoon, my dad, Robert VanDrimmelen, passed away. I cannot even begin to explain the feelings that I have. I have never had to experience anything like this before, and it is extremely humbling. I feel so helpless to help my Mom, who is suffering worse than any of us. I feel shocked, because I somehow thought that my parents were immortal. I feel gut-wrenching sadness to know that I will not get to see my dad for a long time, and that my children who adore him will probably not remember him. I have cried more in the last 24 hours that I ever thought possible. It doesn’t take much. Everything reminds me of him. It’s as simple as bridge mix at the store (which he loved), or his cookies in the kitchen closet. Or, his computer that switches to the screensaver that says “Grandpa is weird.”I love my Dad. He was my best friend growing up, and has always been there for me, now matter what. I could tell millions of stories about the amazing man that he is. Everyone loved him. He was one of those people who made you feel special, no matter who you are. He honestly cared about people and spent his whole life in service to others. Last night, as I was as Wal-Mart, I noticed a bunch of carts that people hadn’t put away. I almost got in my car and drove away, justifying that I didn’t need to do it. I’d had a pretty rough day. But something stopped me. My Dad would not want me to be selfish, even in a small way. So, I returned those carts, and prayed that my Dad knows how much I love him, and how much I want to be like him.I am so grateful that my kids got to know him, at least for a little bit. And, I realized, they will carry a little bit of him with them, even if they don’t know it. Robbie was named after him, and will carry that. Emily is left-handed, just like he is. Adam loves barbecue sauce, just like my Dad. Kelsey has the same infectious smile that makes people want to be by her.I’ve never been very good at goodbyes. I think that’s something that I got from my Dad. I’m sure he’s sitting there looking down on us telling us to “Suck it up, and stop being wimps.” And, I promise, I’ll try. It’s just going to take some time. I’m so grateful for the gospel, and the testimony I have. Not once have I questioned whether I will get to see my Dad again. I KNOW I will. It may take a while, but I’m sure he’ll be waiting for us, probably keeping the snowmobiles warmed up and ready to go. I will miss you Daddy. I love you.
Today my dog pooped on the floor. And not even the easy kind. The kind where I had to scrub my carpet. Ewww, gross. She’s such a good dog, and we’ve never had that problem with her. I went to the laundry room to get the carpet cleaner, and noticed a burning smell. I checked the washer and noticed it had stopped in the middle of a load of laundry, and wouldn’t start again. Great, now I have a poopy floor and a broken washing machine. That’s not a problem at all for a family of six. We don’t need clean clothes, right?Fast forward 30 minutes. I’m making pizza dough for the missionaries who are coming to dinner. My Kitchen-Aid mixer is kneading happily away . . . well, for a few minutes. It starts making a weird noise, so I go investigate. Guess what? My Kitchen-Aid motor seems to have finally decided to die. Great timing. Fabulous.Fast forward a couple of hours. Enter Emily. Since I haven’t had a stressful enough day with a broken washing machine, steam cleaning the carpet from the amazing pooping dog, broken mixers, along with cleaning my house all day, feeding the missionaries, and watching one of Robbie’s friends, she decides that NOW is the perfect time to throw the mother of all temper tantrums. I might have lost it a little bit at that point. I’m pretty sure I grounded her forever. Luckily, Jon came home and restored reason, and she was released from her room at dinner time.Thankfully, that is the end of my tale for today. Ah, the life of a mother. I wonder if Jon would switch with me . . .Editorial note: In case you can’t tell, I’m actually okay. I’m not stressed out. I’m not angry. I’m not even that tired. I just think it’s funny. Plus, I’m probably going to get a new washer out of the deal. I’m still deciding if the Kitchen Aid is a necessity. So, none of you need to worry about me . . . well, unless I break something else! 🙂
Dum-dum-dum-dum. Dum-dum-dum-dum. (That is the wedding march . . . I’m trying to set a tone here!) My little sister got married last Saturday, and it was a fabulous day! Here are some pictures, and some of my favorite things:*When Jennie and BJ came out of the temple, they didn’t know what to do with everyone staring at them, so they started dancing. If ONLY I had my camera set to video . . .*Randi and CJ, Jeff and Debbi, and Jon and I all rode together to the temple. Three VanDrimmelens and the people crazy enough to marry them in one car? Well, it was entertaining to say the least.*Mmmmm, paninis at the wedding lunch. Enough said.*Even though it was pretty warm, the outdoor reception was so much fun. My reception was great. Randi’s was really elegant. Jennie’s reception was FUN! I had a total blast! Mom had one neighbor across the street who came, and then came back later because they thought it was so fun!*Make sure you look for the picture of the candy table. Randi went to a wedding in California about a month ago and they had a candy table. So, we kinda stole the idea. And it was awesome! Basically, there were a bunch of bowls with different candy in them as well as bags and ribbons. The guests grabbed a bag, filled it with whatever candy they wanted, tied it up all pretty, and took it home. On Monday when I was at Mom’s house, I went in the backyard to get something and noticed where the most traffic had been because the grass was trampled down. You know, by where Jennie and BJ stood, in front of the food. The best one though? There was a perfectly matted down circle where the candy table had been. So funny!*The 5 nieces/granddaughters looked so adorable. They all had white and blue dresses. For most of the night, the girls danced around to the music. I think my grandpa may have shot about an hour of video solely of the girls dancing. I called them the dancing princesses!
*Jennie looked beautiful! I can’t believe my little sister is married. Congrats Jennie and BJ!*P.S. Jeff, I will upload all these pictures to the family site after I post this! (Just thought I’d save you the trouble of asking!)
My crazy week is officially over. My kids finished school on Wednesday. My brother and his family have come and gone. My little brother is home from Detroit. My little sister is married. Remember how I said I was tired earlier this week? It doesn’t even compare to how I feel now. But it has been a great week! And I promise to post wedding pictures and other stuff later.I will miss Joseph (my nephew) and Robbie beating on each other. I’ll miss the cute dancing of my nieces. I’ll miss Kay (my niece) running up to me and giving me random hugs. I’ll miss Mary screaming every time one of her uncles looked at her. I’ll miss Mary saying “ouch” every time those same uncles touched her. I’ll miss sitting around and making fun of my brother and his baldness. I’ll miss hugging Brad every time I walk by just because I can. I’ll miss having my awesome sister in law here. I’ll miss Mom cooking dinner for me, because frankly the break was nice. I’ll miss the craziness of feeding 9 kids at one time. I’ll miss all my cousins and aunts and grandparents being here. I’ll miss working together to skewer 1200 shiskabobs. I’ll miss Mom and Randi crying every 3 seconds because they were so happy. I’ll miss Aunt Sherrie’s awesome wedding food. I’ll miss the fun and the laughter and the tears and the joy and just being together.So, my family, we’ve enjoyed the craziness, but I think we’re all ready for a break. I didn’t cook dinner once this week (as compared to my Mom who cooked for 20 pretty much every night!), and Jon and I don’t remember the last family dinner we had at our house. So, tonight, we stayed home, just the Gee 6. It was so nice. We had a deluxe dinner of wedding leftovers and sandwiches. We played “Big Fish, Little Fish”, which was highly entertaining. We read scriptures. We gave the kids baths. We played charades (which mostly consisted of the kids crawling around on all 4 limbs and making us guess which animal they were). And then we put the kids to bed. It was nice to not rush home at 9:00 and try to get the kids to sleep because we had to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow. It was nice to have some time to ourselves. I’ve enjoyed my family time – both with my big family, and with my little family. And now, I’m ready for some much needed rest!
Okay, I know I already posted today, but I need to decompress a little bit. Just a couple of thoughts.We just got home from watching Brad get released from being a missionary. (If you have no idea who Brad is, read post below!) I don’t know that I have ever had that experience. It was actually kind of hard on me emotionally. It wasn’t anything really formal. But that moment when the Stake President said that Brad was no longer a missionary and he could take off his name tag was weird. Because it wasn’t really a happy moment. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am ecstatic that he is home. But I realized how much a mission must mean to people who serve. I don’t know that I can ever fully understand that. But it has to be really hard to devote everything you have to something for 2 years, and then all of the sudden, you are not that person anymore. I felt sad that Brad can no longer do something that he loved so much, at least in a formal sense. Just kind of weird. But, selfishly, I’m still really glad that he’s home!I am tired. And I mean EX-HAUS-TED! I absolutely love having all my family here. (My brother Jeff and his family are here because my little sister is getting married on Saturday.) But I am so tired. And it’s the last week of school. And Jon is in Chicago at a conference, so I have the kids all by myself. I must have had some sort of nervous breakdown in the car on the way home, because my kids are being really nice to me. Example #1: Emily is rallying all of the kids to make me breakfast in the morning. They spent about 10 minutes in the car planning the menu. (It’s going to be toast and cereal because that’s all they could figure out they could do!) They decided that they will get up and make me breakfast so that I can sleep as long as I want. Example #2: Out of the blue, Robbie told me that he has heard of these beds from a place called Sleep Experts. He told me that I should get one so that I could sleep better and not be so tired. Of course, they are pretty expensive. Robbie informed me they cost about $10,000. So, that’s probably not going to happen!Anyway, that’s it. I suppose it’s pretty sad that I only had two thoughts today. Oh well, I”ll take what I can get!
This is my brother Brad. Growing up, Brad was crazy and entertaining and annoying, all at the same time. He was smart and competent, and everyone called Brad when they needed something done. He seemed to be good at pretty much everything he tried. My kids adored him – he was crazy Uncle Brad. These few pictures give a pretty good idea of who my little brother is.
Today, that same little brother returned from serving the Lord in the Michigan Detroit Mission.He’s still a tad crazy, and still pretty entertaining (note the shoes!), and as for annoying . . . well, he did try to give me a wet willy. I’m glad that my little brother I remember is still there. But more than that, I am so impressed with the amazing man he has become. His competence and smarts and willingness to help anyone who needed anything made him an wonderful missionary. I am so grateful for the example he is to my kids. Not a night went by that we didn’t pray that Uncle Brad would be a good missionary. And if we forgot, Adam reminded us. I am grateful that Heavenly Father answered our prayers. And I’m so excited that Brad is home, wet willy’s and all. Randi put it best when she said that it’s just like Christmas! Welcome home Elder Nerd Boy!