This is not the first time that I’ve been late with my Letter to you and I apologize for that, but this year is totally different. Today is actually New Year’s Eve and I am sitting down to do a most difficult task. How can I talk of happy times over this past year when my heart just hurts? This year makes 20 years for my Christmas Letter and this year will always stand out in my memory. For those of you who are my friends on FaceBook, you’ll know that I lost all of my addresses and the digital copies of my letters when my external hard drive crashed earlier this year, so some who have received the letter in the past probably won’t get it unless they contact me. I’m relying on FaceBook to propagate it this year…..
I need to just start with the closest thing to me, and you all know that is the fact that I lost my dearest Friend, my greatest support, my biggest Fan: my Mother. Momma was known by many names by many people: Mom, momma, sister, Aunt Lucy, Granny, Bicky, Sis Lucille, Sis Taylor, and so on. Momma had not been well for many years because of her asthma which she had from childhood. She had gotten to the point where we deemed it necessary for her to come and live with us a few years ago. I felt guilty many times because we lead very busy lives and many times, Momma was not able to go when we went and do when we did but I know that just being around all the activity that goes on in this household with our business being in our backyard and in the house and the in and out of grandchildren did make a difference. Momma was a very independent person who held her privacy paramount. I know that it was an adjustment on her as much as it was on us, especially with her having to let go of many possessions that epitomized her independence. She would make little comments about little things that she wished I hadn’t “put in the yard sale” (LOL), even if I hadn’t. She was raised in her early years during part of the Great Depression and, as many who came thru that time, had a tendency to hold on to “things”. In going thru her things since she passed (a very hard thing to do that will take me a long time to finish), I’m finding evidences of that tendency. One thing that has made me realize that she did feel a part of things she actually didn’t get to participate in is looking thru her calendar that she kept of the year. She noted everybody’s birthday that she knew: including every person at Church. She made sure she got the bulletin every week so she could write down those dates. There were notations of weddings and funerals, all revivals, happenings and events in other people’s lives, weather changes, family doctor’s appointments, etc. Traumatic happenings to folks around us, birthday parties whether she was able to go or not. Births, such as the first one of 2016 was Baby Luke Thomas Erickson (only those in our Church Family will understand the importance of that one.) I love this one: April 4th: “open pool, to ready for swimming.” I don’t know if Momma was ever able to step foot inside the pool fence. For sure not since she came to live with us. And then on May 12th: “Girls got to get into the pool. Brrrr cold.” Nothing is written, other than a few birthdays she wrote earlier in the year, for October or November. On October 23rd, Momma went into the hospital thru the ER to never step foot outside of it again. I stayed with her as much as possible, only leaving the few times someone else convinced me they would be there. The last morning before she was finally admitted to Hospice, I spent by her side, holding her hand and praying. Momma was ready to go but she didn’t want to die. She loved life. We talked about it a little: enough to get a few details that she wanted for her funeral, but, like a lot of things, Momma didn’t really talk openly about it. I probably would have felt better if she had. I think she realized that it was her time but I’m not sure she wanted to admit it. I am thankful that God was merciful and He didn’t let her suffer. He confirmed that fact to me later. He is ever Faithful and Loving and He answers prayer. I miss my Momma and I think I always will. It really “threw me for a loop” to use one of my phrases. I know she’s happy, singing and dancing with the Angels around the Throne, breathing deep and singing those high notes that so many that loved her never got to hear, but we who did know the joy she must be feeling. I don’t want to start naming people who did so much during this time because I surely would forget someone and that would truly be tragic. I want to thank everyone who had a part for everything they did. We truly felt the love of friends and family alike. I know I’m not the only one who is hurting and missing her like crazy: Her grandchildren (and mine), her siblings, her close friends, her church family. I know she would want me to live my life and continue the work that God has for me. Though she did think that I overloaded myself a bit. I say every year, and it is true, each year my letter takes on a life of its own, a theme, and I feel this one is “Remembrance.” Last year I wrote of the loss of Terry’s mother and this year mine. With those last few thoughts in mind, here is my year……
This year had its share of gains and losses, births and deaths. My BFF Barbara lost her husband in February and it has been a rough year for her. I’m doing my best to hold her up in prayer and I know she’s going to pull through but things will never be the same. I know it is TIME. As we age, those around us do too. We’re not ready . . . I’m not ready. I don’t want to get old but I have to face it: I’m there. As Momma noted in her calendar “Shonda’s ‘lil angel was brought into the world” speaking of Joe and Shonda Coleman’s precious preemie Mary Anna. I know she has obstacles to face but God is control of that situation as well. It seems that we have so many who are working for the Church in that way (LOL), so many more babies: little Reagen Dillon, Cason Kitchens, Wallace Johnson, (Lord, I hope I’m not forgetting anybody….), a miraculous adoption with little Gracelyn Faith Johnson, and it seems we now have 3 babies more on the way. But we lost a precious Lady, Sis Gay Nell Mask. She was ready to go and her funeral was a celebration of her life. And weddings: Leah and Patton, our nephew, Justin Meskimen and Catie Price, and, ending the year with Taylor York and Beth Ann Frazier. Looking forward with great anticipation to the upcoming wedding of our good friend, Carl Sheppard to his sweetheart Brandy Robbins. Life does not stop. In fact, the older I get, the faster it goes.
My children. Del and Jen made another major transition this year. They moved back to Pontotoc and Del went to work for us in the Lab. We have high hopes in that regard. At least it won’t die with us. They began attending church with us at Cedar Grove and Del made application with the United Pentecostal Church for his General License which he received. He has dreams of Pastoring a Church again, hopefully in the not too distant future. Just waiting on God. And in the meantime, he and his dad have made application for their Ordination with the UPCI which will happen (hopefully) this coming March. Del and Jen are beginning to work in the Jail Ministry and were certified to participate in the Parchman Crusade, which they attended for the first time in August along with us. Jen is working in Children’s Church and they are both heavily involved in the music at the Church. Homeschooling continues with ABeka Academy and, in fact, several families in the Church have jumped on that wagon and so they have a group to do fun things with throughout the year. Rachel and Jordan attended Youth Camp which was a life changing experience for them both. The week after that the family went to the Memphis Zoo for Ellie’s 6th birthday. Rachel is now in the Youth Group and singing in the Junior Praise Team. Rachel and Jordan are participating in Bible Quizzing and doing rather well, I must say. Ellie won’t be far behind on that when she is old enough because she always does so well with her Scripture memorization with her schooling. Speaking of Ellie, she was baptized this year AND received the Holy Ghost! She graduated from Kindergarten and is doing so well with 1st grade. She reads so good. They all three participated in the Christmas Drama with Rachel being the “leading lady” and Jordan the “Rock Star”. Ellie was a star in her own mind and she always is in my book. I’m kind of proud of my girls.
My Sister-in-law, Diane, finally landed a job with a hospice company in Union County. I miss getting to see her as much as I did when she was job hunting on my wifi but I know her and Perry both are so relieved that she found work. She has been a great comfort to him with the loss of Momma too.
Back in January, my husband received a call from Pastor Robbins asking us to consider coming on board with the Staff at Cedar Grove as the Keenagers’ Leaders. These are the 50 year olds and above. We accepted and it’s been a fun year. We feel inadequate but we are doing our best to be of service to these precious people. So many of them are older and wiser than we are but they are so appreciative of any and everything you do for them. They have become dear to us and we are looking forward to greater things. Working with that group, leading an outreach team, working in the music, Terry working in Guest Services, the Jail and Prison ministry, Elder Care, and any other way we can serve keeps us pretty busy but our desire is to be used by God in any way He chooses.
I said earlier that Del came to work with us this year: in February. The Lab has grown and we’ve had the usual growing pains. We were able to provide some training opportunities for our employees (Del and my brother Perry). In fact we took the entire families to the Lab Association summer meeting in Biloxi where we rented a house and us girls explored the shores while the guys “went to school”. We had two fairly significant Trade Shows that have reaped some business and hopefully will continue to do so. We’re looking forward to bigger and better things in the coming years should the Lord tarry His coming. With some time and a lot of help, they built me a new office! I’m loving it. I have all my “stuff” out here. I’m not totally settled in yet, but working out of it as far as the Lab is concerned. Shipping and Receiving is moved to my office. I am getting set up with my scrapbooking/cardmaking business as well. The plan on that end is to begin making video tutorials on cardmaking and sharing them in a blog on the internet, connecting that to my Stampin’Up website in order to generate business there. It’s been a long time coming but I am excited.
So much has happened this year with the economy, on the political front, etc. Uncertainty on every side. More reasons to trust God because He is our only hope. We feel and believe that God is giving America another chance to get things right and I pray with the coming year that she takes advantage of it. I believe this is our window of opportunity to reach our families and friends for Christ. I pray that I can use the experiences I have come through in this year as a springboard to work harder, love deeper, reach farther, and go higher in Him. I want to seek His face more than His hand this year and I want to bring somebody with me. My prayer for you is that you will feel His love and His peace in the coming year and that you will experience everything He has for you. I love you all with all of my heart. I am sure this letter does not cover the half of what I feel but it is all I can do. I love you.
For The Tritsch Family