On this night, I’m sitting with a heavy heart and so many emotions that it’s hard to even think. I almost can’t grasp that what has happened is actually reality, though I know it is. It was only a few days ago when I answered Silas’s phone to talk to my mother-in-law, Jo. She was calling to wish the boy a happy birthday.
So, as all of my boys and I do (even sometimes Tori), I acted as if I was Si. After she wished me a happy birthday, I thanked her, after all, it was my birthday only 2 days earlier. After a few comments, she asked, “Is this you, Butch?” I laughed, and so did she. Then her normal response followed, “What am I going to do with you, Butchie?”
We talked for a bit as we normally did about all the normal stuff– the kids, the grands, and her health. She told me that she had been sick with the flu, but assured me that she was fine. She had thought that the Lord was going to take her, but she said it just must have not been her time. Then, she assured me that when that time came, she was ready and willing to go. I thought nothing of this until tonight. Little did we know, but her time was short, and that fact took the entire family and her friends by surprise.
She went home with the Lord on Feb 24th 2018.
Over the last days, I have heard stories of her life some good, some very sad. They all conclude with how much she loved everyone and how much of an impact she had on so many lives. I have so many things to say about what life was like and memories I have. For now, I have settled for just telling these few.
Now my life story with my mother in law is a bit unique because she knew me from when I was a tot. Oh, she loved to tell stories about that too.
When I was just little, like under 2, she and my dad worked together at a store called The Big N. This is also ironically where my wife’s story starts too. Big N is where Jo met Chrissy’s father.
As Chrissy and I started to date it became known to us that a long time ago our parents knew each other.
I had just started to come over to Chrissy’s house, when her mom started asking the normal parental questions about this kid who was hanging out with her daughter. Now I have to admit, I had just turned 17, and Chrissy was 13, when we met. So, it was normal to have question of this older boy who took a liking to her daughter. Through the questions over dinner she asked if I was any relation to a Bill Hunter? I said, “Well yes, that’s my Dad!” Oh crap I thought, how did our parents know each other? She said, “And your mom– is her name Phyllis?” I said yes. At this moment as I was a bit nervous looking at Chrissy, I could tell that she could have crawled under the table. Then what Jo said next really made Chrissy and me totally embarrassed.
She said, “I know you! I knew you when you were a baby. I changed your dippers!” Oh, my goodness! My new girlfriend’s mom has seen me naked, and I never had a clue! Ugh!
Since then, this has been one of her favorite stories to tell, especially when I was introducing her to new people. Oh, she thought this was hilarious! After 30 years you would think the joke was getting old, but nope, never.
Then she also loved to tell the story of how I would come into the store to find my dad. She would say, “I could hear him coming a mile away, clipity, clop, clipity, clop, running down the aisle in his cowboy boots and hat.” She would say that when you heard those boots, everyone knew here comes Butchie, Butchie, Butchie!
She loved me, and I loved her, though we had our moments for sure. Chrissy says we’re together today only because her mom always made her make up with me after we broke up. So, I have her to thank as I have so many times for the wonderful gift of the woman I love, the mother of my children.
I will miss her greatly, and she will always have a special place in my heart.
She helped us though some hard times on more than one occasion and encouraged us when we needed it too. Though there were tough times too, for example when we had to go on our own and follow the path the Lord was leading us too 9 hours away from our home. This definitely was not a great time for her.
Though we had heartaches and pain, and in spite of what we disagreed on or had a hard time accepting, there was always love that brought us back. I have learned from experience and by watching others that there will always be difficult times in life, no matter who you have a relationship with, family or not. At some point, you just need to realize that love conquers all.
Oh, there will be scars and broken hearts, but it’s what you choose to do with the brokenness that really matters. It will make you stronger for sure, but you have to choose if you will let it make you bitter or better, that is your choice. We can focus on the negative, or we can choose to look past the hurt and pain, leaving whatever it may be where it belongs in the past, and try to focus on a positive future. This is hard and can be timely process, but life is short and unpredictable, so do all you can to heal quickly and make things right. We are not promised tomorrow. So, with that in mind, I try to live by a few rules.
- The problem is never the problem
- Hurt people hurt people
- You can never own someone else’s problem
- You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink
I have a few others, but these are some big ones that help me process and move forward in life.
Life is so short, and it is such a beautiful gift. We need to use it to its full potential, and help those around us however we can by sharing love and kindness to all. Don’t throw away or waste a moment.
There will always be thing that should have been said or done, but don’t let that stop you from learning and loving again and moving ahead.
Like I said, I will miss Mom Crossley, a.k.a. eight-toed Jo! Knowing her has been a wonderful thing, and if I were to try to share one life lesson that I have learned from having a relationship with her it would be this for now. Make a difference where you can, however you can, but don’t sacrifice yourself or those you love along the way. YOLO swag for life!
Thank you, and I Love you Jo! You are missed!