Back from Alabama

I haven’t been blogging for a few days because I’ve been in Alabama for my Dad’s 70th birthday party and wanted to spend as much time with family as possible. So now that I’m back home, I’ll recap here.

We got to Tuscaloosa on Friday night and checked into the Country Inn and Suites. This is the first time I’ve every stayed in a hotel in AL, as I’m always with family but as this was a huge secret, we didn’t go anywhere near family until the party. My sister stayed a few feet over at the Quality Inn and our kids bounced back and forth between hotels. Aside from spending time together swimming and watching movies, we ate a lot of Taco Casa.

On Saturday we headed over to the party and hid in the church gym. Dad came in to the fellowship hall and was shocked by all his friends and church family being there but he had no idea of the surprise to come. Our step sister Teresa was emceeing the evening and said, “Well all your friends and church family are here but something’s missing…” then she brought Kim and her family out. My Dad went emotionally haywire at that point, and started absolutely bawling. He still didn’t realize anything more was to come after hugging Kim and her family and sobbing all over them. Then Teresa said, “there’s something still missing…” and brought us out. Dad went through the same thing again and was just crying his heart out. We have never seen him do that like he did. Teresa had put Kleenex boxes out on all the tables. Evidently she knew it would happen! Then after we came out she said, “we have one more surprise for you…can you think of one of your best friends who is missing?” At that point Joe Turbin and Jarrod came out. (Joe’s one of my Dad’s best friends from Maryland. Jarrod is his son.) To say my Dad was shocked is an understatement. He hardly knew what to do.

It was a really wonderful party, with different people coming up to share about Dad and what he means to them. I can’t think of everyone who was up there talking but of course Teresa, Kim, myself, Joe, Dad’s pastor, youth pastor, and several other friends. Many people talked of his example in being a servant to the church. In fact, the way they got him to the church was that he was on his way to a dinner with Kay for his birthday and the youth pastor, David Tennyson called as they were on the road to dinner and said, “can you stop by the church and help me set up some tables for a youth event tonight?” Of course Dad swung right over there to help him before going to dinner. As he came into the fellowship hall to “set up the tables” he walked in to the surprise. People who shared talked about Dad’s Sunday School class and how much he has touched them through his teaching all these years. And many spoke of him being an “anchor” a gentle spirit and an example in serving God. Thank God for those Kleenex boxes. My sister and I both spoke of how much it means for us to hear Dad say, “I’m proud of you.”

He was all excited about us all coming to the house that night after the party and figured out that’s what Ma Maw Kay Kay had bought so many sodas and stocked the fridge! He was puzzled by that earlier. We went over and Kim had to leave on Sat. night. We stayed and went to church with him the next day. It was really great. I love visiting that church when I’m there. I love the music, the people, the pastors. It’s always very uplifting. The pastor had a message I’m convinced was just for me on Sunday night. We left Monday and didn’t want to leave but fortunately we have a wonderful home and church family to go back to and that always makes things better when you have to say goodbye to family. We’ll definitely be going back sooner rather than later, though.

Went through lots of little country towns coming home. Several places where you can’t get an unsweet tea to save your life! I always love being on the road. I never tire of it, really. But now we’re home sweet home and I’m getting back into some sense of normalcy after these hectic few weeks past. I’m ready…ready for normal. (Whatever that is...)