As much as I enjoyed my time with Cody, I was surprised by another aspect of my time there. I got to know Amber and the four girls. When I knew the girls before, most of them were young kids running around the church. Now they range in age from 6 to 16. Each of them have amazing individual personalities. Autumn is the daughter I got to spend the most time around because she went fishing with us a lot. Each of the other three daughters I got to know briefly but not nearly as well as Autumn. We did have a lot of general family activities that helped me get to know the girls better. I was impressed with how well each daughter managed her own responsibilities, taking on homework and school work responsibilities often without even being reminded. Amber and Cody have their hands full with all the different activities the kids are doing, luckily everybody helps with staying on track. Autumn successfully completed her four-day gun safety course while I was there. Kaylin goes to high school and works a part-time job. She chose to skip the homecoming dance so she could go bow hunting with Cody. That’s a daughter who loves her time with dad. Nicole practiced for her play every day for what seemed like the entire time I was there. We went to see the play on its final day, Sunday, the day before I left. Nicole and all the kids in the play did an excellent job. Gracie, the youngest is being homeschooled, she was busy doing school work, building forts out of chairs and blankets and playing with neighborhood kids. All of that while keeping up with everybody else’s activities and her own chores. Amber and Nicole were the ones tasked with taking Janie for walks while Cody and I were out playing. I don’t know if I said thank you or not, so, Thank You Amber and Nicole. These kids are all busy and enjoyable kids.
We seemed to have fantastic food every day, Amber is a good cook and seems to be able to make things up on the fly. One day we took all the fish that we caught and had a fish fry for lunch. Cody invited over some of the people we fished with but only one of them could make it, his name is Adam. By the way, Adam can catch fish before you get your line in the water. I’ve never seen anybody catch fish as fast as he can. The fish fry was fantastic, we all ate as much as we could possibly eat. During these events at least one if not all four daughters were there with us. This gave me more and more time to get to know them as people and not just little kids.
My last full day there was a Sunday. We had church in the morning but I skipped the first service to go look for a part that blew off my kayak when I was driving on the highway near home. I did find it, somewhat damaged but it’s salvageable. When I got to church (it was between services) I found myself starting to get choked up. Over the past few days I had been telling myself I stayed too long, I was getting soft! Truth is, the problem was Amber and the four girls were getting too close to my heart. In between church services a family friend Stacey, came over to visit with me. I think she recognized how distressed I was starting to feel. She asked me how I was doing and I opened with “I think I stayed too long”. She asked why I felt that way and I admitted that I let Amber and the girls get too close to my heart. If you know me, you know I couldn’t hold back tears.
Later that night we had a nice barbecued pork dinner. Cody, towards the end of the dinner asked if there was anything the family could be praying for me. I said most important thing to me is to pray for my boys. I don’t think it’s fair to them that I have cancer but there’s nothing I can do about it except for fight to stay alive. My second request was kind of funny I just said I hope my dog is okay. Obviously, we talked about praying for my healing. We all know God can do miracles! Who knows, I could be the first one to survive my version of prostate cancer. And then to my surprise Cody asked each person at the table to say a prayer for me starting with Grace next to me. Grace is young, about six years old and her prayer was more elegant and poignant than any prayer I’ve ever said. Each person around the table, including Kaylin’s friend Natali said prayers for me, my boys and my healing, I felt truly blessed. I had no idea there were so many tears behind my eyes.
The next morning, I got up at 5:30 to make sure I got a chance to say goodbye to Cody. He was leaving for a pastor’s conference. It also gave me a chance to get an early start on my packing and have breakfast with Amber before leaving. It took me so long to get everything packed and ready to go that I also ended up having lunch with Amber.
And so, I got in my truck with Janie, turned on my favorite song from the CD’s that Sydney gave me and headed on down the road, with a greater ache in my heart than I ever guessed I would have.