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Catching Up From Summer and Looking Ahead to Fall

Lake LureWhere in the world did summer go??  On this Labor Day weekend, that is what I have been asking myself.  Have you been wondering the same thing too?  With my father-in-law’s illnesses and our traveling when we could fit it in, it has been one crazy summer here for us.  So crazy, in fact, finding a schedule for blogging has been extremely hard for me to do.  So let’s take a minute just to catch up, and perhaps look ahead a bit, and maybe fall will bring a more “normal’ schedule.  (Do retired people actually have a “normal” schedule? 🙂 )

I want to back up all the way to Memorial Day weekend since that seems to mark the beginning of summer.  That weekend, I was telling you about a beachfront cottage where we stayed in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

beach house exteriorWe visited an old favorite restaurant and a couple of new ones, plus several cute shops while on that trip, but at that point in the blog I never got around to sharing them with you, so those will be coming up in the next post here.

downtown FernandinaDon’t you think the town there looks especially pretty at night?

Another reason, I want to back up all the way to Memorial Day weekend is because that was when the blog life and real life went in two different directions.  I spent all of June and July sharing our Pacific Northwest trip with you here on the blog – a trip we had made in the spring.  So what went on here in real life in June and July?

Well…first, I found a lot on a lake that I have been wanting to buy…a teeny tiny lot.  I have been saying for a couple of years downsizing would be a smart decision, and downsizing to a waterfront property would be a brilliant decision.  Don’t you agree? 🙂 We have driven past that teeny tiny lot probably 30 or more times over the summer.  We have canoed around the lake and up to its dock. I spent weeks in June looking at house plans and measuring furniture here and trying out furniture arrangements on graph paper to make sure it would fit. Here is the main plan that I have really worked with and think it fits all the requirements with a little bit of re-configuring and space added to it.  (The lot slopes, and the basement would be my husband’s workshop.)

Topwater Lodge Southern Living


Last week, I worked through this one thinking that the simpler roof lines and angles might be less expensive to build. (I think I still like the plan above better though.)

Camellia Cottage Southern Living


But…my husband is still not totally sold on the idea.  The lot is small- like really small, (which I think is a good thing.  Less upkeep – more time for fun, right?) and there is this one other – kinda major – issue.  A teeny tiny (900 sq. ft.) house is on the lot – a house that would have to be removed. So we are still thinking…and dreaming.  And the exterior of our current home has a lot of work needed to be done to it before we could even entertain the idea of putting it on the market. Regardless, I want you to see the changes I would make in the plan (the first one up there) and some photos of rooms that are inspiring me as I think about the possibility of building again. (At this point – the remote possibility.)  That will also be in an upcoming post.

So there was all of that in June, and all of that had me thinking seriously about downsizing and getting rid of tons of things here.  And you know what getting rid of things means? Yep. Yard sale.  I have been seriously (and ruthlessly!) cleaning out everything and deciding what we can part with, and hopefully the weather will be below 95 degrees sometime this fall and we can have another yard sale.  Meanwhile, this is what the boys’ bedroom looks like here.  (The area under their desk is also full of tagged and priced things…and I still have the attic to go. 🙁 )

yardsale things

But house planning and cleaning out wasn’t all I did over the summer.  Our daughter worked as a camp counselor in Oklahoma for a mission organization this summer, so we traveled to visit her in early July.  I’ll have a post on that trip for you in the coming weeks.

OklahomaOn our way back home from Oklahoma, we stopped to tour this beautiful home:

Southern Living Idea House Birmingham

Do you recognize it?  It is this year’s Southern Living Idea House located in Birmingham, Alabama.  Of course, I want you to see all the photos I took while visiting it. 🙂  So be sure to check back for that soon.  We also toured the lovely neighborhood in which it is located.  A post on that will be coming too.

Mt Laurel AL

Meanwhile back home, I managed to finish the sewing and hanging of new drapes for the master bedroom, and I organized a couple of closets and drawers.  Future posts for sure! 🙂

spice drawer organization

My birthday came in early August, (thank you for the b-day wishes Julia!) and our daughter returned home for a few weeks.  We began a tour of some cities in North and South Carolina with her early that month, and all of them will be featured in upcoming posts.

There was Asheville…


and Hendersonville..


and Wilmington…


 and Charleston…

Charlestonand finally Hilton Head Island
(or at least a certain Disney resort there. 🙂 )

Disney Hilton HeadOur daughter leaves tomorrow for a 4 month job in Orlando with Disney as a character performer.  She will be applying for another job with them in January, but she does not know for sure if she will get one. (Fingers crossed!)  So our trip through parts of the Carolina’s was to look for places she might work starting next year if the Disney job doesn’t come through.  We had a small lunch with my parents today so that they could tell her good bye.   (She won’t be home for any of the holidays in November or December. 🙁 )

Disney lunch

And now we are finally all caught up!  Before I close out this post, I must say a few things about the last one.  Thank you all so very much for your kind words of condolence and all your prayers for our family in our loss of my husband’s wonderful father.  You are all simply hands down the best, and I appreciate each and every one of you for your beautifully caring heart.  I will be printing out the post and each of the comments for my mother in law to keep.

I also want to add my words of sympathy to the following sweet readers – Jackie in the loss of her twin sister,  Kelly Shratter in the loss of her mother in late August, Becky – whose father has gone on from this world, Dana – whose mother passed away, Kaye Ann – who lost her 38 year old daughter, and Shawn – who, like me, also lost a 90 year old father in law.  My thoughts and prayers for your comfort and peace go out to each of you.

Now on to happier things.  🙂

Time to look ahead.  I hope this Labor Day weekend finds you safe from stormy weather and spending time relaxing.  Savor the last little bit of the summer season before we jump into the time of pumpkin everything and cooler temps.

Disney centerpieceUntil next time…

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p.s.  The newest version of WordPress does not like a number of blogger’s emails – mine included. 🙁  They have not sent out an update with a fix, so until they do, I will not be receiving an email update when comments are posted on the blog.  That means that I will not be replying to your comments in email form….only on the blog here.  So if you leave a comment, I’m afraid you will have to check back here on the blog for your reply.  I apologize and hope they send a fix soon.

You might enjoy these posts:

Cheri - September 12, 2016 - 8:42 am

Wow Kelly…where to begin…you certainly have had a very busy summer but like you, I have been looking off and on about smaller homes, so I will be anxious to read all about your progress on this adventure. If we decide to go smaller it won’t be for about 4 years (I think). At this point it depends on if our middle daughter and family move to Raleigh, NC. I would like a smaller home (been looking at all of those Tiny House shows on HGTV) with a large barn for the hubby but he wants a barn or industrial style building the we can also take part of it to make our house. Decisions…decisions…but at least we are only in the searching stage. Good luck to you.

Rosemary - September 10, 2016 - 6:13 pm

**oops Fernandina! 🙂

Rosemary - September 10, 2016 - 6:11 pm

Hi Kelly, not sure where to start …so much to say! Love the picture of your daughter and her grandparents ….I think she’ll be just perfect for a Disney Princess, fingers crossed! Hoping I may see her when we visit in October.
Sooo excited for you, regarding the lakeside lot …I’m sure if it’s meant to be it’ll all work out …certainly an exciting prospect. Your plans …especially the first one look great …I really like the various rooflines …I’ve never had a roof that leaked!!
Although we have had a recent leak from a shower into out family room!!!
So much for you to look forward to … I’m certainly looking forward to your next post about Fernandino Beach …thinking I’d definitely like to visit there and wondering if, like you, we may stay a while. ..
Take care, Kelly …lots of dreams hopes and wishes for your family at the moment! 🙂
ps Hoping you received my email. - September 9, 2016 - 9:20 pm

Enjoyed catching up! Have been keeping you and your family in prayer following the loss of your father-in-law.

Kaye Ann - September 7, 2016 - 2:54 pm

Thank you for your sweet comment over the loss of our daughter. She’s waiting on us! Can’t wait to see her again. Now, my task at hand is to help raise her children (teenagers no less). Downsizing is beginning for us too. Giving away things to my other two daughters; giving away stuff (I use that word broadly) that I do not need. Those things that are worth something I’m thinking yard sale!! Such a job. I’ve always heard to not purchase a house with a second level for your retirement home, but I love two story homes. What to do????

Julia - September 7, 2016 - 11:02 am

Downsizing has been on mine and my husband’s to do list lately. Our son, he’s the last to leave the nest, will be marrying his sweet Lindsey in the Spring and we are very happy to add her to our family! Life sure is bittersweet these days. My mother passed away in June. I’m looking forward to Fall and hopefully cooler temps here in Florida.

Looking forward to the posts about the lake house you might be building!

DiAnne - September 7, 2016 - 8:20 am

Just wanted to add to my post below. Your daughter is sooo pretty and I can’t wait to hear about her adventures in magical Disney.
Downsizing and moving is bittersweet.. It is hard to give up a place where you raised children and made memories but at the same time there are new memories to be made and new adventures to experience. I have seen so many people wait to take trips or downsize and time catches up with them and it never happens. So I think it is great you are so proactive with your retirement. It is an adventure.
We are anxiously awaiting the birth of our second grandaughter, Hollyn. She could come any day now.
I hope all your dreams come true with the lake lot.

Louvina - September 6, 2016 - 9:44 pm

I got to view your latest post while I was on vacation with my daughter in Destin. We had to make a mad dash from Amelia Island trying to get away from the hurricane– they close the bridge when the wind gets 30-35 mph. Took 6 hrs to drive to the panhandle and we just prayed we had gone far enough west to stay out of the storm– which it did miss us– however back at home where our family and friends were there were tornadoes all around!! Mercy!! Scarey! But everyone was ok!! Got to take the 42 mile helicopter tour before we left to view Seaside/Water Color from the sky!! My goodness– you need to do that some time!! Just beautiful!! So excited about your dreaming plans of building and down sizing on the lake. That’s what we did and it was a good thing for us- although it is hard to move from a home you have loved and have so many memories. So happy for your daughter and hope she gets to do exactly what she wants to do– Disney is a great place to have a job and she will be a beautiful princess! Love to all!💕

Summer - September 6, 2016 - 10:36 am

Yup! That town really looks pretty at night! I hope you have a wonderful autumn ♥

Becky in 'Bama - September 6, 2016 - 9:58 am

So many teasers on this latest blog post…and ALL GOOD. Yes, downsizing is good and downsizing is bad. It is hard to let go of ‘things’ you think you might need in the future, and it’s GOOD let let go of things that you might have to move. 🙂
Wow, living on a lake – or any body of water – is on my bucket list. Yes, as one writer says here, you will definitely need a screened porch. However, as someone a bit older than you, I wonder about having an upstairs living space. While a two story or story and a half gives you more bang for your buck, my knees and hips have reached the age in life where going up and down stairs is uncomfortable. However, you guys may have great joints – go for it (and you may just want the upstairs for visitors). Can’t wait to follow this dream. Missed your blog over the summer!

Kelly - September 6, 2016 - 9:14 am

I love this catching up post and I think it is great you have dreams of building a house in retirement. Won’t that be fun! It will also be fun for us to see the process. Thanks in advance for taking us along for the ride.
When we built our house in Sylva we had a more complicated roof in the plan than we ended up with because our builder told us if we would raise the roofline we would gain more space and save money. So we did and ended up with two big closets to boot. It’s a tough call but you will make the right choice.
I hope there is going to be a screened in porch on the lake facing side of the house.
I love that you have big dreams for this house and that you are traveling every chance you get.
More later,

Debbie w - September 5, 2016 - 4:21 pm

Love this post! 1. We just added a piece of river property (only 3 miles from our cabin) and bought an airstream for bathrooms, sleeping and cooling off while we are there. So much fun!!
2. Love the spice jar drawer….alphabetical…makes a retired teacher’s heart smile!

Garden, Home and Party - September 5, 2016 - 2:43 pm

Hi Kelly,
It’s so nice to hear a synopsis of your summer. You’re right, where did the summer go?! I read with extreme interest your thoughts on downsizing. I’ve been dreaming of doing the same for some time now. Our game plan is to make the leap in 5 years. Meanwhile, I’ve been selling things on eBay, giving items of interest to the friends that are interested. It’s been a focus for the past 1 1/2 years and there is still so much to go. I guess when you live in the same house for 34 years, you accumulate stuff you’ve completely forgotten. 🙂
Your daughter is lovely and I wish her the best with her career pursuits.
I’ll look forward to your posts on travel and other subjects.

Linda Ishmael - September 5, 2016 - 1:41 pm

What a wild ride!! Fernandina Beach is where my nephew lives and I love visiting that beautiful island. I’m constantly amazed at how the places you have visited are places in my life. Dear friends have sent their daughter Carlie off to be a princess at Disney as well. Hope you get to make your dreams of a lake house come true. My husband passed suddenly 4 years ago so a lot of my dreams have been adjusted. One being my retirement from teaching. It is very frightening now to think of doing this with just my retirement income. Well enough about me, thanks for sharing your love for beautiful homes and places which I in turn brightens my life. Take care!!!!!

Barbara (WA) - September 5, 2016 - 12:35 pm

Looking forward to all the future posts! How did you ever have time to teach school? 😁

mari1017 - September 5, 2016 - 9:15 am

Something about this summer ~ everyone seems to have had a jammarama packed summer with a capital S! Life is good, even when events aren’t great, and it’s sooo good to read your posts and catch up 🙂 As I care for my mom, I am so busy and enjoying retirement. I can’t believe it’s September already!
Thanks for holding off on the pumpkins LOL – for now 🙂
xoxo mari
Yep, it WAS a jam packed one for sure! I’m happy the update was enjoyable for you Mari. 🙂 Retirement is not really retirement for so many of us…how in the world did we have time to work before? LOL
No pumpkins here until our daily high drops at least below 90! (We are still at 95 now in September. 🙁 )

Arlene@Nanaland - September 5, 2016 - 9:09 am

Kelly, sounds like a wonderful plan to me!! But change is hard and I know there are many things to consider. The framing goes up on our little Georgia House tomorrow. Some have asked if we are moving there and we never say never. As we get older, I am sure it will be easier to manage than our townhouse but our children and our friends are here so we will see. In the mean time it will be a good getaway home.

Kathy - September 5, 2016 - 8:56 am

Wow! A lot has happened this summer! Retirement is anything but normal. I never like to see summer end but I am looking forward to all of your upcoming posts. Katrina and Josie, do you want to go to a yard sale? Kelly, I love the first lakehouse plan. I can’t wait to see how you decorate it. Make sure to have enough room for family, guests,and entertaining. Best of luck to your beautiful daughter. I love that your children are following their dreams. Your parents are precious. (My mom went for a routine pacemaker two weeks ago and her heart was accidentally punctured. I have been with her in the hospital since it happened. Four surgeries in ten days and she is still fighting.)
Yes, it has. I have been praying for your mom since I heard about her heart getting punctured. She must be a real fighter to go through that much surgery! I will continue to keep on praying for you and your family, and please keep me updated Kathy.
We drove past the lake lot again yesterday….keep wanting to figure out a way to incorporate the tiny house into another larger one without having to tear it down…but my brain just can’t see it. 🙁 You will be surprised when you see the inspiration photos…no buffalo checks anywhere! LOL
Daughter made it to Florida yesterday. She will find out which character she is midweek I think.
Hope you get some rest.

Peggy - September 4, 2016 - 10:17 pm

Always love to see your name in my email. My goodness, you take my breath away with all you have done and been through this summer. I’m not quite ready to let loose of summer. So will enjoy your summer trip updates. I don’t think there is a normal for retired. But it is all good. Looking forward to fall blog posts and updates. Very excited for you and your hopes of a lake home.
Glad to be in your email inbox Peggy! 🙂 It has been quite a summer. I am looking forward to a calmer fall here in retirement…but our calendar does seem to be filling up rather quickly.
Hope you are doing well.

Carolyn - September 4, 2016 - 9:26 pm

Whew! That’s a lot in one summer. Interested in how the lake property proceeds. I’m always looking at house plans and thinking what I’d change, even though I have no plans on moving. We retired and downsized to our cabin on a mountain just outside of Asheville. Absolutely love it here – we’d been coming here since our college days and honeymooned at the Grove Park Inn. We had to get rid of so much stuff – 27 years in the same house will do that to you. Still can’t fit it all and have a rented storage space of things not ready to part with yet. Hope to eventually add on, but we’ll see. We have friends who’d like to retire up here and live on a lake, so I’m always looking at lake real estate, much more than they do – ha! I’m always sending them listings and telling how they could modify the house. LOL
Yes, it was a lot for one summer – too much I think! You are living in such a beautiful area Carolyn, and oh my goodness at all the great restaurants in Asheville! (and especially the barbeque!) Making up my mind to get rid of stuff is easy. Doing it is another issue. I keep wanting to give it to my kids, but they are all not in places where they can take it yet…so what do I do with all he furniture? I guess a storage unit might have to be our route as well until the kids have places of their own (if we do get to downsize.)
I think it is great that you are searching out listings and letting your friends know about them!

kay collins - September 4, 2016 - 7:47 pm

We bought a tiny probably the oldest house on Lake Sinclair. It didn’t even have electricity when it was built. All electrical lines run on top of the concrete block walls. It is on l/4 acre lot. We added another level right on top of the bottom and increased the living area to 1800. The view is incredible on that top deck. The living room and open kitchen are on the top level and 3 bedrooms on the original footprint of the house. We gutted it and added a master bedroom where original screen porch was. I’ll be happy to share pix if you would like to see. kay
Wow! I think that is wonderful Kay! I haven’t been to Sinclair in decades, but remember it as a beautiful lake. It sounds like you did to the little cottage what we need to do to the one we are looking at. I would love to see the photos!

Susan - September 4, 2016 - 7:33 pm

What a wonderful surprise to see your daughter posing at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Ok! That’s where I graduated from college many years ago. (As well as Carrie Underwood!) It’s a beautiful campus in a scenic part of the country. Hope she enjoyed her stay!
She most certainly did enjoy her stay there, and how fun to know you graduated from there Susan! Tahlequah had some great restaurants when we visited there in July. I could have eaten at their little coffee shop every single day (and think our daughter might have! LOL)

Jeanne bell - September 4, 2016 - 6:46 pm

I am busier retired than when I worked, and that is hard to believe. Worried and wondered what you have been up too. I like the first house for a “maybe lake house”. So sorry for your loss and pray for your family. Looking forward to new posts!
Isn’t that crazy how busy we get in retirement….nothing like the slow restful days I was picturing! ha. I like that first house better too, but still thinking on it.
Thank you for your words of sympathy for our family Jeanne. We appreciate it.

Vicki - September 4, 2016 - 4:45 pm

Looking forward to your future posts. My husband and I DID just buy a small lake lot. Looking to build a very tiny craftsman style home there- if our home will sell. Maybe you will be planning a build soon as well. We recently visited Bryson City, NC and Cherokee Reservation, doing the traditional Indian Village tour and the drama. They were both fantastic and I learned so much. I had been wanting to do that for 50 years, seriously and it did not disappoint. Next time we plan to do the train in Bryson City, tour Dillsboro and travel to Waynesville and visit the Mast General Store there. You give us great travel ideas! Lol! We took the Blue Ridge Parkway from Noth of Cherokee to the entrance of the SM Park, had never done that either. Some of the best views! North Carolina is a great tourist state, and I understand I have a distant great grandfather, a Revolutionary War Veteran, buried there, as well. Would love to find his grave and visit.
I am jealous Vicki! Lucky to be following a dream!
Sounds like you have had some fun traveling! Love the Blue Ridge Parkway (makes me think of our honeymoon. 🙂 ) I want to do that train tour as well, but it looks like it won’t fit in our schedule this year. Something to look forward to for next year though.

julia walker - September 4, 2016 - 4:05 pm

Dear Kelly! I was surprised to see my name today and hope you had a nice b’day(I’m 8/30). I’m excited for your daughter’s Disney job & hope she enjoys being a “princess.” AND I love the sketch of the 1st house-to-be-possibly! I look forward to what’s next. Take care now. Julia
Hope you had a good August birthday too Julia! Belated wishes to you! 🙂 Thanks for the excitement for our daughter at Disney. Hoping for more info on her new job later this week. Any character job there is a dream come true for her. (Even one of the chipmunks! 🙂 )

Bonnie Auld - September 4, 2016 - 3:48 pm

As always, your posts tend to draw us (your readers) in and treat us as though we’re enjoying or walking through the experience with you. Your three children will be at extreme points of the country, if I’m understanding correctly…that’s hard to imagine!! I know that you love watching them living out their path to life, but so hard to have them so far. Blessings to you and your husband as you make decisions in the near future about your own path at this stage of your life. Lots of things to consider, and I pray for you to have wisdom and clarity.
Such a sweet sweet comment Bonnie! Thank you so much, and thank you for prayers for our future. I appreciate them (and need them!) Yes, our children are quite spread out right now…oldest in Washington state, middle in New England, and youngest in Florida. At least it gives us great travel options! 🙂

Gina - September 4, 2016 - 3:41 pm

So happy to see an update from you today Kelly! 🙂 And WHAT an update! 😉 I hope you settle into your new normal soon. What fun to possibly move and build a house on a lake. Downsizing sounds the most appealing though! Isn’t it funny how we spend our lives accumulating and then we just want to simplify and live with less. 🙂 Good luck to your daughter and her future plans!! Sounds like you’ll be making a trip down to “holiday” with her. I’m looking forward to all your posts.
I have had a very hard time getting back into blogging lately, and this post was a help for me as well. It has given me a direction! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
It IS crazy how we accumulate so much and then want to do with less. Maybe that is the new norm?
Thank you for the well wishes for our daughter. We are definitely doing a December trip to see her. I have never seen Disney at Christmas, and you know it will be beautiful! 🙂

Marianne in Mo. - September 4, 2016 - 12:57 pm

Good to see a post from you, and that you are able to move forward once again. You had a wild summer for a retired person!
Funny – we are doing what you are thinking of – building a house on a lake! We weren’t allowed to downsize due to required minimum sq. footage, but are just over the minimum at 1825 sq. ft. Certainly manageable for us. We have one acre, but a ravine divides it 2/3rds. of the width. The 1/3rd is wooded, and our house sits on the 2/3rds. Hoping to be finished and moved in by the end of this month – it’s been a long, stressful summer here! We sold our house in 4 days, and had to move into an apartment in Nov.2015 for what we thought would be 6 months…and here we are still! So if you decide to do the dream, breathe deeply, have an abundance of patience, and think through EVERY DETAIL at least 5 times! It will save you in delays later. Spend “time” mentally in each space of the plan and think of how you will utilize/move within that space. And if you go forward, I wish you all the excitement for the future on the lake!
LOVE that you are building a lake home Marianne! Amazing that your house sold in 4 days. Wow! We have built twice, so I know construction never goes as planned and yes every single detail needs to be thought over – and over again. Love your words of advice!
Best wishes for a speedy completion of your new home!!

Lynne Taylor - September 4, 2016 - 12:38 pm

Kelly, I knew you had been going through a lot of things when I didn’t receive updates from your blog. I sure have missed you.
I am so sorry about all that has happened in your family. I have lost my Mama and Daddy in the past 3 years and now my only child, a daughter with 2 little girls is going through a divorce. We had thought when hubby retired next year we would sell and buy a nice little home on Lake Sinclair. Now all those dreams have washed away as we need to stick close to home to be near our daughter and grandbabies. I lake house has always been our dream and I hope your dream comes true. I love both of these house plans but my husband always said do not get a house with a lot of different roof lines, they cause more leaks. Does your husband say this too? We will simplify our life someday soon and want less less and house. No upstairs for me ever again. And after seeing what my Mama and Daddy went through in their last years our next home will be handicapped accessible. You never really think about these things until you have lived through it and seen the struggles they bring. I am looking forward to your next post on Fernandina , the restaurants and shops you found. It is another one of our favorite places to go. So glad you are back! Lynne in Hampton, GA
You have had quite a stressful time Lynne. I am so sorry for all of that for you and now for your daughter. How heartbreaking!
Yes, you will get your lake house one day. Our timing is just not always as we think it should be, is it?
I agree with your husband on the leak issue. I also know more angles is more cost…so I am looking closely at house plans. We have never had two stories, but it just seems more cost effective to me. Plus on this tiny lot, it is about the only way to go. I know I will need to have at least one bedroom on the main floor – which is what is causing the main reconfiguration in the first house plan.
Love Fernandina too!

Sherry M. - September 4, 2016 - 11:44 am

Thank you for this post, Kelly. Time does seem to fly even faster after retirement. Hard to believe, but that has certainly been my experience. Yours has been jam packed. You have shared your joys and sorrows and even your dreams with us. I, for one, am so honored to be a part of your journey. Your dream retirement on the lake sounds fabulous. I love the plans. Can’t wait to see more. And I am glad someone else besides me has been purging and reorganizing. Nice to know you have had your head in a closet or two like me! As usual I have enjoyed your pictures. My favorite has to be of your parents and daughter..such a beautiful picture and a treasure. Best wishes to all of you. Thank you for such a thoughtful update.
Thank you so much for your kind words Sherry. 🙂 You are such a sweetheart. I’m so glad you enjoyed the update. Hope you are making progress on all your cleaning out and organization. Instant gratification when those closets are clean!

Leslie Anne Tarabella - September 4, 2016 - 10:51 am

I don’t have many regrets in life, but one main regret was that I never tried to work at Disney! I grew up in Florida, and am a dead – ringer for a princess (ha!) but I’ve always thought it would have been a magical dream come true. I do hope you are allowed to let us know which character she is and show photos!

I’ve had friends that were Snow White and one of the Chipmunks as well as a few who played music in the Dixieland Jazz Band and danced in various groups. It was hard work, and not as glamorous as you’d think, but they had a marvelous time and made great memories!

Glad you are back on track with us. We’ve missed you!
You would have been a perfect Ariel, Leslie Anne! 🙂 I will most definitely post photos and let you know which character she is “a friend with” (Disney language – not mine. You know they have “special phrases” for everything. 🙂 ) Since she has worked at Disney before she knows how much hard work it is, but she thinks the character role will be more fun than the concierge position she had in a resort last time.
I’ve missed all of you as well! Thanks for visiting the blog, girl. 🙂

Donnamae - September 4, 2016 - 10:31 am

You have been busy! Retirement is what you make it…whether with routines or not….it’s your choice. Personally….we steer really far away from routines! We are downsizing too…but not to move. Just to have less to think about, amd take care of. Looking forward to your posts about what you did on your summer vacation! I was wondering if this Fall seems strange to you now that you’ve retired? Also wishing your daughter…good luck! Enjoy your day! 😉
Yes, there has not really been a down time until yesterday afternoon…which was sooooo slow after our daughter left for Florida we watched 4 episodes of Andy Griffith in a row. (Sad, huh? 🙂 )
Fall doesn’t seem like fall yet….it is too hot! I still think the schools should be on summer break.
Thank you for the good luck wishes for our daughter. Hope you have a good day too!

Lisa Fields - September 4, 2016 - 10:30 am

Hi Kelly,summer has certainly flown by. Don’t you find that to be true as we get older! I’m so sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. I have lost both parents,my father-in-law,a brother-in-law & a very dear nephew in the past 8 years. Very hard but won’t we all have a happy reunion one day soon!?
I’m excited for your possible new home. I really like the exterior of the 1st one. Hope it all works out for you.
It’s been a hot summer here in OK. We’re about 2 hours South of Northeastern University. Very pretty country up there around Talequah.Good luck to your daughter. I’ll be anxious to see your Oklahoma post. I’m looking forward to fall,cooler weather & pumpkins!
Yes, I do think that as we get older it does seem to speed by. Thank you for the words of sympathy for our family. That is so sad for you and all of your losses. Thinking of you and your family.
It was VERY hot in OK this summer – our daughter especially thought so! Oklahoma post coming soon.
I, too am looking forward to a break in the heat (and pumpkins!)

Jenny Auslund - September 4, 2016 - 10:27 am

Dear Kelly! Thank you for this thoughtful, heart-felt post. I too am amazed at the speed with which summer flew by- so much life being lived- such a busy, busy season as God’s children “in the middle” ! Empty nests in between college holidays and internships, but caring for aging parents and learning to be grandparents soon too. Phew! It can all feel so big at times! I worked my fall calendar this weekend, journaled, and delighted in seeing all the real life going on at your end when this email came through. I want to come to your yard sale! I do not live too far..God bless you sister as our southern seasons sort of , kind of , begin to feel like Autumn!
It is such a busy season of life Jenny. Not at all what I was expecting! Yard sale is with my mom and she refuses to do it as long as the daily highs are still 95. Waiting on a break in the heat! (But I am sooo ready to get all this STUFF out of here.)

Kelly - September 4, 2016 - 9:12 am

Love the update, thank you! The idea of a lake house is so exciting! Just make sure you have enough room for when your children/grandchildren come home. We actually bought a bigger house when we only had two of our six children left at home because we needed MORE room when the grands visited:). And I think that your daughter will make the most beautiful of princesses.
I am looking at bunks for visitors, so yes, we are keeping your advice in mind. Thank you for the sweet compliment on our daughter (although I am expecting her to be Winnie the Pooh or one of the Chipmunks. 🙂 )

N from Va - September 4, 2016 - 8:12 am

What a wonderful post. And the new house ideas are exciting. I too have been wondering where the summer has gone and always feel a bit melancholy this time of year. Will look forward to future posts—-Happy Labor Day!
Thank you. I normally feel melancholy as summer leaves us, but this year, I am happy to be looking forward to what fall may bring. 🙂 Happy Labor Day to you too!

Cindy - September 4, 2016 - 8:03 am

Kelly, your normal life is way more adventurous than my life. I don’t know how you do it, but so glad you can. I love the idea of you moving to the lake, just want to ask, is that house downsizing? But oh, so beautiful. Also, make sure your master is on lower level. (age and health issues happen) Also, when you put your house on the market have a plan. We spent one week…realtor’s wish to get listed before Labor Day, decluttering, painting, staging my daughter’s house. It went on the market last Monday night, by Thursday she had 3 offers, one full price, one above. NC housing market is hot right now. Good luck with your decision and I know your daughter will make a fabulous princess. Keep us updated on the house decision. Always a pleasure, Cindy
Wow to your daughter’s house!! That is really something to already have 3 offers!
Yes, those plans would be downsizing. Our current house has about 2500 square ft. plus about 350 sq. ft in the room over the garage (and our back porch has another 350 sq. ft. of “livable” space.) The top plan would be around 1800 square ft. which would include the square footage in the basement with a workroom for my husband and a couple of bunk rooms for overnight guests.
Thank you for your kind words for our daughter. We are excited for her. 🙂

Kay - September 4, 2016 - 7:49 am

Love traveling vicariously through you! Your tiny lot + house project is so interesting to me. We, too, bought the tiniest of tiny lots — ours was riverfront! That was 2 houses ago, though. We just sold our most recent past brick bungalow.
Riverfront would also be wonderful! You are on the move with houses Kay! Wow! I am glad you enjoy traveling “with us.” We seem to be doing a lot of it these days..with more to come. 🙂

Frances in England - September 4, 2016 - 6:07 am

Now this is exciting – all those goodies to look forward to! I always love your road trips, and then you’re adding in house-stuff too – yay! We are (still) looking for a house to buy, so currently the idea of building our own feels very tempting (completely not a possibility, but a girl can dream).

I do feel that this summer has gone very quickly (well, it’s not quite gone yet, but…) and I seem to remember feeling that about last summer too. Mum always said that if time is flying by then that means you are enjoying life, which is a good thing, but I’d like a little more ‘stop-and-smell-the-roses’ time!!
Yes, a girl can most definitely dream Frances! (Which is probably all I am going to get to do with the lakehouse….but I AM going to try to make it a reality if we can.)
I like what your mom says about enjoying life. Sounds like a great way to think about it!
Take care, and good luck with your house buying!

Every Season…


My father-in-law was a farmer.  He clearly understood this circle of life with seasons yielding plentiful harvests and others leaving you with drought – continually praying for rain so that something – anything – would shoot up from the parched soil.

watering gardenThrough seasons of plenty and seasons of loss, he loved farming.  It was in his blood – growing up with 8 siblings on the very farm that he continued to work with his wife and some of his own children throughout his adulthood.

eggplantThere were cattle and crops and vegetable gardens – gardens that seemed to grow even larger each year after he retired from farming.

watermelon plantsAnd he loved sharing the fruits of his labor with everyone.
Buckets full of fresh squash, okra, eggplant, watermelon, corn…

corn plants


tomato plantsgreenbeans…

green beans

and more – any and everything that came out of that garden.

He would fill those buckets, load them in the back of his red truck, drive all over town or out in the nearby areas and leave them with friends and family members.  On one occasion, he could not track down the intended recipient of his gift of fresh produce, so he drove into another neighborhood and just gave it away to a random person on the sidewalk saying, “Here you go ma’am.  I have more than enough. I hope you like my vegetables.” 🙂  To say he was a generous man would be a huge understatement.  He shared, and shared, and shared…over and over again.


Not only did he love farming, but he also loved farmland. He would come over to our house just to sit in one of the wicker rocking chairs on the back porch and admire the beauty of the field next door.  He’d jokingly tell us that he was going to be our next door neighbor one day when he built a house over there. 🙂


And when he and his wife would travel in the North Georgia mountains, it wasn’t the high mountain peaks that he wanted to see.  No sirree. It was the rolling valleys sometimes dotted with Black Angus cattle between those mountains that he loved.

North Georgia farm

 He loved farming, farmland, and he loved food  – not just the food that he grew.  Although he and I did frequently debate whether his Silver Queen or Ambrosia was the best variety of corn. (I still think Silver Queen is. 🙂 )


His wife’s cooking is wonderful, so it was very easy for him to love food, and he had a major sweet tooth that never saw a chocolate dish he didn’t like. This became more than evident when we were preparing food for his 90th birthday party last January. 🙂

Chocolate cake, German Chocolate Cake, Oreos, Raisinets, Snickers…

party foods

And he was always my biggest fan whenever I baked an Orange Marmalade cake.

Orange Marmalade cakeIt goes without saying that some of his favorite places to go were restaurants…

Like Len Berg’s in Macon Georgia.
(We were both very sad when it closed. 🙁 )

Len BergsWhen his family would make their annual trip to Fernandina Beach, Florida, he would enjoy the seafood at the Sandbar restaurant – located by the inter-coastal waterway there in a building made from two old log cabins. The Sandbar is long gone, and sadly there has been nothing that has equaled its fried shrimp since then.

But that didn’t stop him from enjoying other foods.  Buckner’s, an all you-can-eat family style restaurant at I-75’s Exit 201 near Jackson, Georgia was at the top of his list for their fried chicken, roast beef, and peach cobbler.  Even when his health was taking him into this final season of life, he made the hour long trip up the road just so he could eat there…once with my husband and me, and another time or two with his daughter and her family.

Buckners in Jackson Georgai


Buckners all you can eat


Due to his health, my father-in-law was not able to make it to our daughter’s college graduation ceremony last May, but he did make it to her celebration dinner at Daphne Lodge that night.  Devouring their blackened catfish, (and everything else they served him!) he said it was the best meal he had ever eaten. So Daphne’s was also at the top of his restaurant list. 🙂

Daphne Lodge


Oh, and let’s not forget Troy’s – the little hole-in-the-wall hamburger and chicken joint in the tiny town of Montezuma, Georgia where he would frequently eat a slaw dog or a couple of burgers with his buddies and grandchildren. (I like their fries and little burgers but not nearly as much as he did.  I think it must be a “guy thing.” LOL)

Troys Montezuma GA


Besides farming and food, my father-in-law loved his friends.  His great athletic ability when he was in the spring of his life allowed him to be on teams with his best buddies, and then later in life he played a zillion rounds of golf with many of those same life long friends – and new ones he made along life’s journey.   There was Julian, and Lori, and Harvey, and Lewis, and Seabie, and Otis, and many others.  The number of people who showed up for his 90th birthday party was a testament to how many friends he was blessed with in this life.

birthday party

Years ago, he and his friends would meet up each morning for coffee and camaraderie at the local Coffee Cup, and when it went out of business they moved their group to Cracker Barrel (with maybe a time at Burger King in between – not sure about that.) I am sure the waitresses at those restaurants got an ear full!  You see, my father-in-law also loved fun.  It was visible in his joy for life, and he was notorious for singing little folk songs, and telling jokes and riddles.  In fact, the first time I met him, he started the conversation with a darn riddle that I could not solve! 🙂  He was still cutting up even at his 90th birthday party…

paula and papa

and at his granddaughter’s graduation party!


But more than his love for all of these, he loved his family – his wife who chased him for years before they married – even though he told her she was “too young,” 🙂 and he adored his four children.


They learned the value of generosity, hard work, honesty, and a sense of humor from him.  And then came a whole bunch of grandkids and great grandkids that loved and learned from their Papa (or their Pawpaw) as he was affectionately called.

Halloween boys

He taught them songs and rhymes that he had learned from his mother.Halloween

birthday photos


babygrad 089

My father-in-law was a big man in many ways, but I know he would not have been able to accomplish much of what he did in this life had it not been for his wife.  They say behind every great man is a great woman.  Well I say, beside every great man is a great woman, and in my father-in-law’s case this was so very true.  My mother-in-law was there every single step of the way with him from his young days when he was a “spring chicken” through all the days that preceded his passage into the next life – even to his last breath.  No one could have been more devoted with such a servant’s heart, and that little lady has set a mighty high bar for the rest of us.

at the hospital

And finally, over and above all of this, my father-in-law had a love for and a faith in God….something that surely a farmer must be grounded in to be able to endure the seasons of drought.  The seeds of faith he and his wife have nurtured are now seen in their children and grandchildren and even already in their great grandchildren.  What a powerful legacy to leave behind.



For many many decades, Saturday night meant grilled steaks at my in-law’s house (one of the benefits of raising your own beef. 🙂 ) Grace would be said around that big oak table where family members and a number of friends would gather. There were times when they took in teenagers and foreign exchange students to live with them for weeks or even months, and they too would enjoy those steaks. Over the past two years, my father-in-law’s health began to fail, and those Saturday nights were all too frequently spent in a hospital room.  He went back into the hospital one last time on August 2nd.  After numerous tests, the doctors reported on August 11th there was nothing more they could do for him, and a decision was made that he would go home with Hospice care.  During the following days, he drifted into a peaceful and painless sleep, and visitors came in to say their final good-byes to him.

Last Saturday my husband, daughter, and I were on our way to lunch, and I asked my husband if he would call his mom and tell her we would grill some steaks and bring them over for her and John, the unbelievably devoted home health nurse who was staying with my father-in-law.  It just seemed the right thing to do on a Saturday night to me.  So my husband called her, and she spoke with John about steaks while standing in the back bedroom beside her sleeping husband.  They decided steaks would be good on that Saturday night and to bring them on over around 6:00.  They hung up.  Two minutes later, John texted for my husband to call his mom back.  His dad had just taken his last breath and peacefully slipped from this world into the next.  I can’t help but believe that somehow his dad was finally at peace knowing that life would go on, and his wife would be well cared for – complete with the Saturday night steak tradition he had started so many years ago. 🙂

Favorite Things 90th Birthday Party flowers and tractor

We didn’t get to do those steaks that night, but we will soon.  A chaplain, a Hospice nurse, our pastor, a funeral director, family members and others arrived, and everyone pitched in to do what needed to be done. Fried chicken arrived before we could start steaks.  More food than I have ever seen came in over those next few days, and there seemed to be a constant stream of visitors at my mother-in-law’s door – all examples of how well loved they are in this community.

favorite memory cards for Favorite Things Party

I am so thankful to have known my father-in-law as part of this family – a family I wanted to belong to long before I married my husband.  I am also thankful that we were all able to celebrate his life with him this past January on the occasion of his 90th birthday and let him know how much he has meant to everyone.  One of my husband’s brothers spoke at the funeral and read some of the sweet comments from the cards everyone wrote at the party.  It was very fitting.  I know he was surely listening up in Heaven – where there is no drought, and he is farming and tending God’s garden in every season. 🙂

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Maggie - September 3, 2016 - 2:25 pm

Sounds like he truly had a wonderful life!

Ronda - September 2, 2016 - 8:55 pm

What a beautiful tribute to your father-in-law. What wonderful memories you have. Thanks for sharing them with us! He must have been a very special man!

Liz - September 1, 2016 - 4:46 pm

What a beautiful tribute to a beloved man! Your photos and words honor him so – and it touched me. I remember reading about your thoughtful birthday party for him. Undoubtedly he was lucky to have you, too!

Design Chic - August 30, 2016 - 12:40 pm

What a beautiful tribute to a clearly special man. Wonderful memories will surely help to sustain you during this sad time. My thoughts and prayers are with you all, Kelly…

Frances in England - August 30, 2016 - 11:26 am

I am so sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. He sounds like someone who knew how to enjoy life, and I’m sure he would have been very touched to read your wonderful tribute. Take care of yourselves, and treasure your memories.

Bonnie - August 30, 2016 - 10:15 am

I’ve been wondering about you…you’ve been missed. What a wonderful way to share how special your husband’s father was to you, your family, and all of his family. Bless you all as you walk through hard days, missing this very precious man.

Kaye Ann - August 30, 2016 - 9:39 am

Kelly, I’m so very sorry for the loss of such an amazing man. Your tribute to him was so filled with love. Memories will live on now through you and your family. Very very hard to say goodbye to such a giant. We lost our daughter in 2014 to cancer, she was 38. I’m still drawn to her memory daily and will never get over loosing her. But, her life was an amazing tribute to strength as she went through 4 years of fighting this disease because she wanted to live long enough to raise her two children. AND she was loved by many. GOD bless you and your family!

Cindy - August 30, 2016 - 9:24 am

Beautifully said Kelly! You have me in tears. Sounds like everyone who came in contact with Walter was blessed!

Tina - August 30, 2016 - 7:29 am

Sorry for your loss. That was beautiful. I’m sure your mother-in-law and husband and family members will treasure it.

Kim - August 29, 2016 - 9:07 pm

Kelly, that was such a beautiful tribute to your father in law. So sorry for your loss.

Judy - August 29, 2016 - 4:48 pm

How wonderful that you were able to share your father-in-law’s life for so many years. But no matter how many years those we love live, it is always hard for those of us who say good-bye. Your father-in-law sounds like a beautiful man. My sympathy to you and your family.

Lynne - August 29, 2016 - 3:20 pm

I am so sorry for your loss- and from your beautiful testimony about his life- it is a great loss indeed. He sounds like he was a wonderful man! He was also blessed to have you as his daughter-in-law!

Shawn - August 29, 2016 - 2:07 pm

What a beautiful tribute. I too lost my father-in-law this year at the age of 90. He too was a farmer. Many things were shared and passed on. What a great generation! Blessings to you and yours.

Amy O'Quinn - August 29, 2016 - 2:02 pm

Kelli, I am so sorry for your loss. Your father-in-law sounded like a genuinely kind Southern gentleman who truly loved his family, friends, and his Lord and served others with all he had through all his days. In fact, I thought of Alan Jackson’s ‘Small Town Southern Man’ as I read your beautiful tribute. What precious memories you will all have and share. What a legacy! You will all be in my thoughts and prayers!

Shannan - August 28, 2016 - 12:37 pm

Thank you for sharing his wonderful life and legacy.
It was so beautifully done.
Peace and love to all of you.

Lisa Behrmann - August 28, 2016 - 12:24 am

You have written such a lovely tribute to your father-in-law. Your family will treasure it always. Thank you for sharing. - August 27, 2016 - 9:51 pm

What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your father-in-law. I am truly sorry for your family’s loss. You are a gifted writer and I think your husband’s family is blessed to have you as a part of the family! Prayers being sent as you all grieve this loss.

Debbie - August 27, 2016 - 4:33 pm

I am truly sorry for your loss – your father in law really seemed like a very special man, and you were blessed to have him in your life. Hugs to you all. xo

Peggy - August 27, 2016 - 2:12 pm

What a lovely tribute! So sorry for your family’s loss. It sounds like his work was done and his legacy secure. God bless your family.

Dana - August 27, 2016 - 2:06 pm

Lovely tribute. Please accept my deepest sympathy. I just lost my sweet mom in June. I miss her so very much, but I am consoled to know that she was a woman of deep faith. It’s “funny” but I follow three blogs, including Susan Branch. She lost her dad recently and the other blogger I follow just lost his mom. I will include all of you in my prayers.

Sandy Webster - August 27, 2016 - 11:18 am

So very sorry for your loss. We have all missed you and now we know the “rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say. The farmer’s are minus one less great American who farmed the land along with them. The fields and orchards here in Michigan will be going to harvest soon and as I drive along the pastures and crops I will think of your post. For every thing…..

At Rivercrest Cottage - August 27, 2016 - 8:38 am

Kelly, such a life well lived. That’s the only blessing we can hope for.

Linda - August 27, 2016 - 8:36 am

Sweet, sweet tribute!!

Sandy - August 27, 2016 - 2:52 am

Dear Kelly, I have been away from Bloglovin the past week tending to grandchildren going back to school and all the activities that entered their lives. What an outstanding tribute this post is to your father-in-law. Extending my most deep sympathy to you and your family. I will keep you all in my prayers.

Becky Smith - August 27, 2016 - 12:36 am

Kelly, we have missed you so. I, like so many others, was worried that your absence was due to your sweet father in laws illness. You and your family will be in my prayers. Precious memories, how they linger.
Becky from Tennessee

Catherine Taylor - August 27, 2016 - 12:02 am

What a lovely tribute to a lovely man, and a life well and lovingly lived…..

KAREN IN SOUTH CAROLINA - August 26, 2016 - 9:43 pm

Kelly, I’m so sorry for your family loss. Beautiful tribute, sounds like he was an awesome gentleman.My condolences. Karen

Summer - August 26, 2016 - 8:30 pm

Wonderful tribute♥ Love your photos too ♥

DiAnne - August 26, 2016 - 7:53 pm

This is a beautiful tribute. It brought a tear to my eyes mostly because there really isn’t anything more important than family, friends, faith, food, and fun rolled up in someone’s life and your post let us see all these things. It is a life well lived.
Take care,

Lynn - August 26, 2016 - 7:44 pm

Dear Kelly –
Like so many others, I feared something had happened to keep you from writing your delightful blog. What a beautiful testimony to a life well-lived and a man who was well loved! Thank you for blessing us by sharing a snippet of his wonderful life.

And now, I pray the God of all comfort will bless you and keep you in His precious peace and that you will know the incredible depth of His love for you.

Jenn - August 26, 2016 - 7:12 pm

That was so beautiful. He sounded like the kind of person I would enjoy getting to know. This tribute also sounds like a lesson in how we should attempt to live our lives. My thoughts are with you and your family. -Jenn

Pam Jenkins - August 26, 2016 - 6:59 pm

Such a precious tribute. My condolences to all of the Gray family .

Cindy - August 26, 2016 - 6:19 pm

Kelly, I missed you and felt something had happened but I didn’t want to intrude…what a remarkable tribute to your father n law. Such a blessing to you and his family to have had him with you so long. Now he is in the best “garden” there is.

Melanie McDonald - August 26, 2016 - 2:43 pm

What a Beautiful tribute to my Uncle Walt! The sweetest and most generous man I think I have ever known! He was like a second father to me and my sisters! Our families were so close growing up right next to his farm and sometimes getting to go for a ride on the tractor. He would even cut the corn stalks down late so we could make them into forts! He got a kick out of bringing joy to other people! You are right, he is definitely gardening in Heaven and smiling on the other side. He was and is the embodiment of a real life hero! Melanie

Becky in 'Bama - August 26, 2016 - 2:18 pm

What a sweet post – you are such a creative and thoughtful individual and I’m sure a special daughter-in-law. Sad days mixed with sweet memories – blessings on your mother-in-law as she adjusts to this ‘new normal.’ I did shed a few tears when I read this; as my own father died on March 29th – quietly – but after three weeks of intense suffering and misery. Like begins with a struggle to just be born and sometimes it ends with a struggle as we humans give it our best to keep on keeping on. Thanks for reminding us all how to live gracefully and gratefully.

Nancy - August 26, 2016 - 1:38 pm

I am so sorry for your family’s loss, Kelly. I will pray that God will comfort you all, especially your dear mother-in-law. With so many years together, I am sure she will miss him in big ways and so many little ways as will you all. Losing a husband and losing a parent is difficult.

Peggy - August 26, 2016 - 1:14 pm

What a beautiful tribute to your father-in-love. My deepest sympathies to your family.

Lisa - August 26, 2016 - 12:30 pm

This is such a beautiful post and loving tribute to a life well lived. Praying for your family.

Kathy - August 26, 2016 - 12:04 pm

Oh,Kelly! What a beautiful, special tribute to your father-in-law and a wonderful gift for your family. I knew you would have a perfect post. Love and prayers for your family.

Donnie - August 26, 2016 - 11:47 am

Oh Kelly, as I started reading I was anticipating your loss. From reading your blog over the last couple of years I feel like I know you and your family. I especially loved the 90th Birthday celebration and was so pleased he was well enough to attend and enjoy. My sympathies are with all of you. What a beautiful tribute to a life well-lived. Such a great example to his children, grandchildren and others around him. I know you have many wonderful memories – and hope those will comfort you and the rest of the family over the coming weeks. You were all blessed to have him in your lives.

Garden, Home and Party - August 26, 2016 - 11:38 am

I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Your loving tribute says so much about your father-in-laws character and life. He led a good life and hopefully the wonderful memories your family made with him will comfort you through this time of loss.

Ellen - August 26, 2016 - 11:36 am

Your tribute is beautifully articulated. My deepest condolences to your family for the loss of such a wonderful patriarch.

Mechelle - August 26, 2016 - 11:27 am

So beautifully said. I feel like I knew this kind gentleman. You were and still are a blessing to each other and the world. Thank you for sharing and may God bless you and all who knew your dear and faithful father in law.

Becky - August 26, 2016 - 11:27 am

Well, Kelly, tears are streaming down my face as I just finished reading the tribute to your father-in-law. So lovely. I just really knew in my heart, someone had passed in your family. My prayers are with you all. Much love, Becky in OK

julia walker - August 26, 2016 - 11:23 am

Dear Kelly, I had missed you lately & felt something was wrong. Your tribute to “papaw” was so beautiful & moved me to tears. I felt like I knew him after his 90th b’day party! Bless his soul and your dear heart. Lovingly, Julia

Happy belated Birthday!

Cynthia - August 26, 2016 - 10:36 am

Kelly, that was a beautiful tribute to Mr. Gray. I loved reading and thinking about Mr. and Mrs. Gray and their devoted love for one another. I know Heaven is so blessed to have Mr. Walt tending and caring for the bountiful crops our Heavenly Father has prepared. I know that seeds Mr. Gray has planted here with friends and family will grow and lives will be touched forever by his love for others. Our prayers continue for the entire Gray family during the weeks and months ahead. Thanks for using your special talents to touch our lives, as we shared in those special memories of Mr. Walt today.

Blessings sweet friend,
Cynthia Hamsley

Margaret - August 26, 2016 - 10:36 am

I am sorry for your loss. Your tribute to your father-in-law
was so sweet and I know he will be greatly missed by many.
God bless you and your family.

Julie in Asheville - August 26, 2016 - 10:20 am

Such sweet and loving thoughts of your dear FIL. Thank you for sharing. May the Lord continue to bless and comfort you and your dear family at this time.

Terri - August 26, 2016 - 10:17 am

What an amazing and beautiful tribute to a Father In Law you loved … obviously a man of integrity and character !!!! Such a wonderful life story… what a legacy he leaves behind…. Your family is so blessed ………

Kathy - August 26, 2016 - 10:13 am

I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to a man so loved by so many. This will be a beautiful keepsake for all the children,grandchildren, and great grandchildren. They will all know your father-in-law thru your words.

Debbie - August 26, 2016 - 10:11 am

Oh Kelly and family… So very sorry for your loss of a dear man that you have so lovingly introduced us to. With tears, I thank you for sharing. You wrote something that reminded me of something I too share,marrying into a wonderful family. So glad to know “Walter” is with our Lord having a good ‘ole time. Blessings and comfort to you all…

Lori W - August 26, 2016 - 9:51 am

What a beautiful tribute to your father-in-law!! I am so very sorry for your loss and will keep you and your family in my prayers.


Kay - August 26, 2016 - 9:32 am

What a beautiful tribute to your father in law! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Cheryl from WV - August 26, 2016 - 9:22 am

Dear Kelly,
Like so many others, I have had you on my mind this summer, sensing that your family was dealing with this illness. It’s because of your sincere postings over the years, we all feel so connected to you, as…… well, almost extended family. Your writing is such a gift of expression and always touches our hearts, but this tribute…..this tribute to your loving father in law is something very special and precious. This tender expression of love for him is not only a gift to his family, and all who knew him, but a blessing to all who read it. Thank you for sharing it with us. You truly captured the essence of a loving man’s life story. Your words must be such a comfort to your family and all who knew him. A legacy of love is truly the rare and priceless gift that he left for you all. And, it is such a statement of hope for the future. God has a purpose for each life and I would say that your father in law completed his task here on earth and is now enjoying the rich and plentiful harvest in heaven. I can just imagine his joy and delight at the scenery there! I pray that God bless and comfort you all through this time of mourning and give you peace. You are surrounded by prayer and love.

Lori - August 26, 2016 - 8:08 am

That brought me to tears….that was beautiful, Kelly. That was such a wonderful insight on a wonderful man. I am very sorry for you and your family and I will be praying for you all.

Peggy Bryant - August 26, 2016 - 7:35 am


Such a beautiful life your father in law had. Not even kings are fortunate to be blessed with so much. Hard work, working the earth, loving wife and a full family that loves. Thank you for sharing with us this wonder man and family. Your family is in my prayers. Peggy

Cheri - August 26, 2016 - 7:23 am

Kelly, I am so very sorry for your loss. Your father in-law sounds like a truly wonderful man and your tribute was one of the best I have ever heard.

Rosemary - August 26, 2016 - 6:46 am

What a beautiful and loving tribute to your father in law, Kelly.He was obviously a wonderful man and I can just feel from your writing how much he was loved. My condolences to you and your family.
You’ve been in my thoughts lately as I guessed something may be wrong when you hadn’t posted for a while…Take care …

Caroline Mudd - August 26, 2016 - 6:14 am

Kelly, I am so sorry for your loss. As I read your post, all I could think was , a life well lived! My family and I, too are a farm family with similar values and the legacy that your father in law left behind will be remembered for many years to come.Blessings to you and your family during this difficult time. Caroline Mudd

Le Ann - August 26, 2016 - 3:09 am

Such a wonderful tribute to a special man who left a legacy for his family.

Lara - August 26, 2016 - 2:47 am

What a heartwarming and touching tribute to your (grand)father(in law)… And what a warm, loving family to belong to. I am very sorry for your loss, and I wish you and your family, and your mother in law, all the love and support, lovely food and warmth to go back to life without this wonderful man.
With love from the Netherlands, Lara

Lisa K. - August 26, 2016 - 2:20 am

What a loving tribute to your father in law. So very sorry for your family’s loss. May God comfort and encourage you.

Rvicki - August 26, 2016 - 1:05 am

I am so sorry. What sweet memories.

Barb - August 26, 2016 - 12:31 am

“Well done good and faithful servant”. May he rest in peace and may all your memories bring you comfort.

Marianne in Mo. - August 26, 2016 - 12:20 am

I’ve already commented on you facebook feed, but I had not read this before I commented there. I can tell you are saddened, but also filled with joy at having him in your life. A beautiful tribute to him here. You seem to have the same kind of relationship with your in laws that I had with mine. They took me in so readily and lovingly, and became two of the people I valued most besides my husband and kids. My FIL was especially important to me, having lost my own father at the age of five. He sensed that I needed his wisdom, kindness and friendship and loved me like a daughter even before I became his DIL. When he passed, I felt I lost my father again, but this time it hurt more, because when I lost my own Dad I was so young and didn’t understand.
I’m glad you all had such a great person to hold in your hearts, and that you had so many years with him on earth. Rejoice in knowing you will all be reunited again someday. God Bless!

Dee McCollim - August 25, 2016 - 11:42 pm

So very sorry for your family’s loss. Your father in law touched many lives with his kindness and will be rewarded in heaven. Just know all of your readers are sending prayers your way and may your hearts be full of memories of such a wonderful man. Thank you for sharing.

Tricia - August 25, 2016 - 11:39 pm

Dear Kelly, I’m so very sorry. You have been on my mind recently and I was so afraid your absence on-line was beacause of your dear father-in-law.

How blessed you all were to have had such a man in your lives, a man whose legacy will continue to blossom for many generations. Such a gift.

Wishing you peace and strength as you move forward.

Kathy Thompson - August 25, 2016 - 11:24 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss.

Nancy I - August 25, 2016 - 11:17 pm

I am so very sorry for your family’s loss, Kelly. Such a beautiful tribute to a much-loved man. You are lucky to be a part of this wonderful family. And they are just as lucky to have you in their lives. Loving and being loved in return- life as it should be.

Elizabeth - August 25, 2016 - 10:59 pm

May God continue to bless your family. You truly captured his and Ms Betty’s character and hospitality. I happily remember you “chasing” your husband-to-be. It is a great family!

Barbara Hinske - August 25, 2016 - 10:43 pm

Thank you for blessing us with this lovely tribute. You’ve warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes. My deepest condolences to you and your lovely family.

JenniferfromVA - August 25, 2016 - 10:40 pm

Oh Kelly, you have me in tears. What a BEAUTIFUL tribute. Oh to see his face when he heard, ” well done, thy good and faithful servant!” And entered into eternity with Jesus. Hugs to you from VA.

Leslie Anne Tarabella - August 25, 2016 - 10:33 pm

“Fried chicken arrived . . . ” a sure sign that everyone is grieving and loves you dearly. So terribly sorry for your loss. Your father-in-law sounds so much like my Granddaddy. A farmer, well loved. Prayers for peace and comfort to you and yours.

Gina - August 25, 2016 - 10:32 pm

Oh Kelly, that’s what I was concerned with when you hadn’t blogged. I’m sorry for your loss, but what comfort to know he is with his Savior now. I couldn’t help but wipe away a tear myself reading your beautifully written tribute. It made me think of my 91 year old grandfather (my grandmother too who is actually the one in poor heath. 🙁 ) Your mother in law sounds like a gem herself and I love the memories of Saturday night steaks. His legacy will continue!! 🙂 Praying for your sweet family.

Kelly Shratter - August 25, 2016 - 10:30 pm

Hi Kelly, I’m so sorry for your loss. I remembered your post on your father in law’s 90th birthday and have been thinking about it a lot. My mother who turned 90 in July also just passed away last Sunday morning (Aug 21). She too was in the hospital and went home with hospice care. I miss her so much but have many happy memories. And now I know she is with so much of her family (our family) that has already gone to heaven. I have been wondering if God brings people up together since I have been hearing of other recent passings. I will pray for you and your family. Many Blessings,


Anita - August 25, 2016 - 10:21 pm

Kelly, what a wonderful tribute to your father-in-law. You were blessed to have been a part of his family. My condolences to you, your husband and to the rest of his family. It says a lot about a man who was loved as much as he.

Janna Gray - August 25, 2016 - 10:17 pm

Thank you, Kelly, for expressing in words and pictures what each of us feel in our hearts! You captured our Papa’s nature and life, that we are blessed to have known, first hand. Now we have to continue living our lives as Papa would want and leave a strong legacy for our children as he did for us. So blessed to be a GRAY!

Bev - August 25, 2016 - 10:11 pm

What a lovely tribute. Condolences to you and your family. He sounds like a wonderful person who will be missed. Sweet memories.

Jill - August 25, 2016 - 10:09 pm

Kelly, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your father-in-law sounds like wonderful man who lived a great life. Honest truth….I was just thinking today that I hadn’t gotten any email notifications from you lately and so I clicked over to your blog to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. When I saw that you had not posted in a while I grew concerned about you and your dear father-in-law….although I was really hoping that you were just out enjoying your retirement. My prayers are with you and your family as you go through this loss.

Judy Newton - August 25, 2016 - 9:48 pm

What a lovely tribute to a life, well lived. Your father-in-law would be pleased, I’m sure.

susan - August 25, 2016 - 9:37 pm

Beautiful Kelly….so sorry for your loss…have peace in all your wonderful, wonderful memories…Blessings to all of you…

Linda Ishmael - August 25, 2016 - 9:37 pm

Such sweet words from your heart. He sounds like my kind of man. Someone like that doesn’t just die and become forgotten but rather they linger with us for many years not only in his offspring but in our memories of his goodness. May God wrap his dear family in his loving arms at this time as they learn to live life without this dear man. Thinking of you and your family.

Grand Pam - August 25, 2016 - 9:34 pm

You’re so very good at expressing your feelings with words as well as pictures. This was a lovely tribute to family and a great patriarch.What a blessing that this fine man belonged to you and yours. Please know I have prayed that your family would have courage and strength to face the days ahead. May all your days be blessed with only sweet memories. Please hug your mother in law every time you see her for she will miss his touch. Love to you and yours.

Laura Southard - August 25, 2016 - 9:32 pm

Praise the Lord for a life well and abundantly lived!

Donna - August 25, 2016 - 9:30 pm

What a lovely tribute to your father in law. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Hugs,Donna

Renee Cook - August 25, 2016 - 9:28 pm

Oh, Kelly, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to your father in law was so beautiful. May the Lord comfort you all. And, may He give each of you grace to carry on until you see your loved one again. What a day of rejoicing that will be…

Linda - August 25, 2016 - 9:18 pm

What a beautiful tribute to your father-in-law. Thank you for sharing his love of family, friends, farming and, most importantly, his love of the Lord. You will have wonderful memories to cherish in the years ahead.

mari1017 - August 25, 2016 - 9:06 pm

Kelly – May I add my deepest condolences to you and your family on the passing of your father in law. What a beautiful and fitting tribut you wrote to honor his life and legacy.
The fil of one of my dearest friends passed on last night. I had an especially difficult day today with my mom who just turned 89, healthy but with her mind ravaged by dementia. Both your tender post and conversation with my friend remind me to cherish each day with her and thank the blessed Lord for enabling me to give her the gifts of love, care and joy each day. God bless you, Kelly, and your entire family with His love & peace.🌹❤

Jane Pekar - August 25, 2016 - 9:06 pm

Thank you for posting such a beautiful and loving tribute. What a blessing to have such a wonderful father-in-law. I feel as though I knew him.

Ellen Martin - August 25, 2016 - 9:06 pm

What a heartfelt and beautiful tribute to your father-in-law. You are blessed to be a part of such a loving family, and to share in the legacy he has passed on. God bless your family as you grieve and move forward. I know you’re thankful for the extra effort in planning the wonderful party for his 90th. Thank you for sharing your heart with your readers.

Cindy T - August 25, 2016 - 9:03 pm

What a beautiful tribute! The world could not survive without farmers and kind and gentle men! Prayers to your family..

Marlene - August 25, 2016 - 9:02 pm

What a beautiful tribute to your father-in-law. My father too was a farmer than an implement dealer. I so identified with your beautiful message. Having the peace in knowing his love of God and family, gives you strength at this time of your loss. Thank you for sharing his life with us.

Carol - August 25, 2016 - 9:02 pm

Your words were so beautiful and it is so clear how much you love your father-in-law. I’m so sorry for your loss, you and your family are in my prayers.

Mary Beth Bryan - August 25, 2016 - 8:57 pm

I’m sorry for your loss. Wonderful tribute! I could tell how much you loved him.

Nancy - August 25, 2016 - 8:56 pm

So well written….what a wonderful man…wonderful family…..such a great loss for your family. God bless you all and comfort you during the weeks and months ahead.
Nancy (NE Ga)

Debbie Robinson - August 25, 2016 - 8:52 pm

What a wonderful tribute to a great man. Your family was indeed blessed to have had your father-in-law for 90 years. My condolences.

Maureen - August 25, 2016 - 8:51 pm

A beautiful memorial. I just came home from a wake, so it is even more moving to me. Thank you, with a lump in my throat and tears on my face. RIP to your dear father-in-law.

“And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”
-John Donne

Melissa Souther - August 25, 2016 - 8:51 pm

That was a beautiful tribute to a dear man. I am so very sorry for your loss, and I will be praying for your family. How blessed you all were! He sounds like a true Southern gentleman, like my Daddy was. Thank you for sharing your special memories with us.

Joanne - August 25, 2016 - 8:48 pm

With my deepest sympathy. What a loving tribute to your Father-in-law. May God’s peace be with you and your family.

Lorrie Stovall - August 25, 2016 - 8:46 pm

God bless you and your beloved family.

Donnamae - August 25, 2016 - 8:41 pm

You wrote such a moving tribute to your father-in-law…sounds like all were blessed who knew him. I am so sorry for your loss…blessings.

Judy - August 25, 2016 - 8:36 pm

Dearest Kelly, for some reason you have been on my mind this week…..what an amazing father in law you had! I could “feel” the love for him throughout your testament. I know it’s always said but he truly lived a full and wonderful life and was loved by many. He took his last breath knowing how much he was loved and with plans being made to continue his tradition of Saturday night steaks. I only hope that when my time comes I’ve lived a full and productive life knowing that I left this life doing all I wanted to do surrounded by my loved ones. What a way to go!

Please know you have my condolences and prayers as you grieve for your loved one.

As a side note, I hope you won’t think I’m insensitive when I tell you that you have a beautiful family and your daughter is a stunner!

Blessings to you!

Sherry Myers - August 25, 2016 - 8:36 pm

I just knew something was wrong. What a lovely tribute to an honorable man. My dad met him at the gatepost of God’s heavenly garden. It sounds like they would have had a lot in common had they known one another. We can only imagine the glorious peace and joy they are experiencing now. May God bless your family with the kind of comfort that only He can provide. May your father-in-law’s enduring legacy remain your heart’s priceless treasure. Tender condolences.

vickie white - August 25, 2016 - 8:29 pm

Your father-in-law sounds like a wonderful man who was loved by many. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story with us. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Barbara (WA) - August 25, 2016 - 8:28 pm

Thinking of you and your family during this time. Thankful with you for such a man being in your life. God’s comfort to you.

Louvina - August 25, 2016 - 8:26 pm

Have been waiting and just knowing—that something was happening in your family. I knew when the posting came through — it was a living tribute to your “fatherinlove”. What a special man he has been in your family and his community. Special prayers and love to everyone during this time. 💕🙏💐💕

JoAnne Hayon - August 25, 2016 - 8:26 pm

What a wonderful tribute. Tears are glistening in my eyes! Peace to your FIL and prayers to you and your family.

Gail - August 25, 2016 - 8:20 pm

What a wonderful tribute from a loving daughter-in-love to such a wonderful man. His life was an example of how we should all live in this life! A life of living to the fullest, giving, loving and caring for others as the Lord requires. Loving his God with all his heart and loving others as he would himself! What a blessing to you and your family to have been a part of such goodness in this lifetime! Thank you for sharing this moment in time with us! The message in song at the end moved me to tears! Love & Blessings to you all

Ren - August 25, 2016 - 8:18 pm

Such a beautiful tribute to your beloved father-in-law. May God comfort you and your family.

N from Va - August 25, 2016 - 8:15 pm

As others have said, what a lovely moving tribute. Thank you for sharing.

Debra Bartels - August 25, 2016 - 8:11 pm

So sorry for your loss. I was blessed to have had parents like your in laws. It will be awhile before your sadness passes but with time you and your family will share all the wonderful memories he left you all.

Keith Newberry - August 25, 2016 - 8:09 pm

What an excellent piece.. I am so very sorry for you and your family’s loss.. My Dad always spoke so kindly of all your family members.. I remember your Father-In-Law telling my Mom and Dad to come over and pick as much corn as they needed.. What a great family that you belong to. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family..

martha wommack - August 25, 2016 - 8:08 pm

Lovely….I was crying halfway through…..I hope my sons’ wives will feel that way about me. I have been worried about you and have checked your site several times to make sure I hadn’t missed a post in my e-mail.I am sure your in-laws felt blessed to have you for a daughter-in-law. My deepest condolences.

Anne - August 25, 2016 - 8:04 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. What a blessing to have had such a wonderful father-in-law. I know he must have been a true Southern gentleman.

Cheryl Evans - August 25, 2016 - 8:04 pm

It is good to hear from you again. I had a feeling that something was happening in your life that kept you from writing. Family is a gift from God and you have been very blessed. I hope you can feel the peace and comfort that comes from your faith in Him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. I’m sure it helps to remember all of the wonderful memories you have. May God bless you and keep you!

Nan, Odessa, DE - August 25, 2016 - 7:52 pm

Sorry for your loss.

I was missing you!

Jackie - August 25, 2016 - 7:32 pm

What a beautiful loving tribute to your beloved father-in-law. Sadly we have something in common – I lost my twin sister the same day you lost your father-in-law. We were together before we were born and I was blessed to be by her side when she took her last breath. I, like you, am thankful for many things experienced with her, especially in her last days. It is a wonderful gift to be so well loved by so many people. Condolences to you and your family.

Katrina - August 25, 2016 - 7:09 pm

That is one of the most touching tributes I have ever read. Just beautiful! Your family is on my heart. Rest in Peace Kelly’s FIL.

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