2013 saw me through many more tears than I ever wanted to shed in my life, much less in one year. The year began as a battle in many personal areas of my life. Our first major event of the year was my daughter turning 16. For some reason she thought she was grown. She began driving, got her first job, was attending high school full time making great grades and had a full time boyfriend. I just thought I had my hands full at that point. My son, age 24, has spent the better part of the last 5 years in jail because he has made very poor choices since becoming an adult. The second big event of the year happened when my son lost his best friend in a fatal car wreck. He didn’t handle the fatality well and ended up in the arms of an ex-girlfriend who had been around 5 years ago when the bad choices began. After that, my son became a meth addict. I thought I knew the meaning of both tough love and unconditional love, but until you encounter such a destructive problem and the way it not only affects the addict but your family as a whole, you probably won’t fully understand either in the way that I feel I do now. February rolled around and we celebrated my husbands birthday. I was so glad to have a happy occasion in what started out as such a rough year. My happiness was short lived. In early March, I had a falling out with the lady who had been my best friend for over 10 years. It seemed so petty, yet we couldn’t get past it and we never did. I felt like I was the only woman in the world who had no friends other than her husband and parents. I stayed depressed for a while once this was added to my plate. Then at the end of March, a giant ray of sun shone down on us. Our 5th grandchild was born. A very handsome and healthy 9# 13oz boy. Only downside to that event was that they lived 21 hours away and we had no money or time off work to travel to their home to meet our newest grandson. At the time, I was so thankful for Facebook so I was able to see him and feel like we were a small part of his life even from so far away. April finally arrived and I had a very unexpected new guest in my home. My husband is a carpenter and was remodeling an old barn when he found an abandoned baby squirrel. It was only about a week old. He brought it home and we started nursing it to health. He was so ugly and so cute at the same time. We named him Willie and became very fond of him very quickly. My husband would take him to work with him each day and feed him and I would take my turns in the mornings and at night. Unfortunately, about 2 weeks into nursing him, Willie passed away. My husband actually cried because we had tried so hard to keep that little baby alive. It was pretty heartbreaking. In the later part of April, we found out that grandbaby number six who was due in August was going to be a little girl. That news made the month a much happier one. May brought around my 45th birthday. It was rather uneventful which I guess is okay. Sometimes I think I would prefer that someone throw a huge surprise party for me just because I’ve never had that, but then again I would not be happy if someone spent a ton of money on me to do that. May also brought Mothers Day. I was able to spend my mothers day with my daughter, my mother and my 93 year old grandmother. It was a rather quite, but enjoyable day. June brought Fathers Day. I didn’t get to go see my dad on Fathers Day, but the following Sunday was our annual family reunion so I was able to spend time with him then. June also brought my step-daughter into town. She is the baby of our six children and was down to stay with us for the summer. July came and went way too fast. We celebrated 4th of July watching local fireworks and spending time with some good friends. Then two weeks later we moved into our new home. A nice older home, out in the country, on 10 acres with a pond and lots of wildlife roaming around. It was beautiful and we felt so comfortable there. August came in relatively calmly. It was after we were settled in the new house and I began to get into my crafts on a regular basis. I was painting, making wind chimes, sun-catchers and anything else I could think of. August also brought along grandbaby number six. While we were very excited about having another grandchild, we were once again too far to go visit. This one was over 2500 miles away! August was drawing to an end and I decided to take advantage of a free Saturday and spend the evening fishing with my husband. It was August 31st, 2013. About 8pm I received a phone call from my mother to let me know that my dad had fallen in the house and they thought he had broken his knee. Later that night they found out that it was actually his hip. That night began the nightmare that would soon become my life for the next few weeks and would forever change my perception of life. Sunday morning I spoke with my mother again to find out what they were going to do about my dad’s broken hip. She told me that once his cardiologist cleared him for surgery, they would place a rod in his hip. It was to be a relatively simple surgery as his hip wasn’t shattered, just broken in one place. But nothing with my dad was ever simple. He had many surgeries over the years, heart problems, cholesterol problems, joint problems, you name it….it seemed like my dad had dealt with it to some extent. My dad was just under two months away from his 72nd birthday when this happened. Sunday they cleared him for surgery and he was scheduled to go into surgery at 9am on Monday morning. On Monday morning, Labor Day, my mother got a call from my dad around 7:30am. She had just woken up and was getting ready to head to the hospital to be with my dad as he went into surgery. I was off work that day so I had planned to head to the hospital a little later in the morning. When he called my mom, it was to tell her that they were taking him into surgery earlier than expected and he wanted to let her know that he loved her and he would want to see her as soon as his surgery was over. I met my mom at the hospital around 11am that day. My dad’s surgery was over and the doctor reported to my mother that everything went very well. Dad was in recovery and as soon as he woke up a little more, they would move him to his room. However, at 2pm my dad still had not woken up from his surgery. It was at that time that the hospital decided to move him into the ICU. Upon arriving in the ICU, I was greeted by a high school friend who was there with her dad as well. Two weeks before, her dad had fallen at home, broken his hip, had surgery and was not recovering well. My friend was taking her dad home that evening as his wish was to pass away at home under the care of hospice. He was coming to the end of his long journey as my dad’s story was just getting started. I left the hospital around 8pm that night and when I left, my dad still was not awake. The doctor on call seemed to think that maybe he had just reacted adversely to the anesthesia and would just take longer to wake up. My mother didn’t like that explanation so she demanded a CAT Scan. She received a call from the doctor around midnight to let her know that the CAT Scan revealed dad had suffered a massive stroke at some time during or after the surgery. They let us know that the next 72 hours would be critical in knowing how or if he would recover. We tried everything we knew to wake him up but nothing worked. We sat and watched him lay there helpless, unable to move or communicate for the next 4 days. Finally on Friday, my mom, myself and my two siblings made the decision to move my dad to hospice so he could take his journey home to be with his Heavenly Father. The doctors had told us those was no hope for improvement and that my dad wouldn’t last more than another 2 weeks in the state he was in. My family spent the next 4 days watching my dad slip away from us at the hospice center. It was the most heart breaking, gut wrenching thing I had ever gone through. I was in so much pain watching him pass, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave and not be with him. 8 days after my dad had his stroke, he passed away while I was holding his hand and had my head laying in his lap. The days that would follow were all a blur. Funeral arrangements, the funeral, all of the visitors, the food…it was sweet chaos. September came and went without me knowing much more than my dad was gone. October came and my 93 year old grandmother began to decline. This was my dad’s mother. She passed away three days before what would have been my dad’s 72nd birthday and her funeral was on my mothers 70th birthday. November brought another dreaded occasion. My son went to probation and failed his drug test so back to jail he went. The revoked his probation so he is now incarcerated until April of 2014. Thanksgiving came with plenty of food and happiness and then December brought Christmas. Christmas was a happy occasion, but for the first time in our lives, we were celebrating without my dad. It was a wonder and sad time all together. I rang in the new year by going to bed early and praying that 2014 would be much less eventful. And that is my year in review.