In Loving Memory

  • Remembering my beloved child, Austin, who passed away at the early age of 14. He lived more in those 14 short years than most and is an inspiration to us all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2007 - Our last Christmas with Austin

I wish I had the succession of pictures for the annual tree picture from this year. Sadly, my computer crashed last year and I lost some of my photos. Most of them were from 2007. Luckily I was able to salvage some from online sites I had used and posted to.

The boys were in a funny mood and my camera wasn't cooperating at first. I think we literally took about 20 photos before we made it to some decent ones. In every photo one of the boys would be laughing or looking at the other one, or had their eyes closed, etc. They were very good sports through it all and I remember us all rolling in laughter by the time we snapped the last shot.

The saddest part of losing those photos is that 2007 was our last Christmas with Austin. Never would I have imagined then we'd never have him with us again for another holiday season. I was pregnant with Austin on our first Christmas together so Tim and I have never had a Christmas without him, until last year.

Austin wasn't with us for Christmas 2008 but his passing was so recent, a part of him still lingered. He decorated the trees and the house last year, even placing the angel on the top in bare feet, so everywhere we looked we could feel and see his last gifts to us. This year, as we pulled out those boxes, all that remained was his memory.

I look at Austin's sweet face in the photo above, so full of life and joy, and think about how much happiness he gave us. We miss him so very much and the holidays just aren't the same without him here. There is an empty spot in all of our hearts that he took with him when he left. We will forever miss his loving spirit and the sound of laughter that filled our home whenever he was around.


In 2006, we changed our tradition of having Christmas Eve just the four of us. Tim's mother's health was poor that year and she didn't feel like she could cook a big meal as usual. So, we gladly added more plates to the table and had Tim's family over.

Austin enjoyed having his cousins at the house for the afternoon. They ate quickly, opened presents, and spent the rest of the time playing in the kids' rooms.

We still spent that evening alone, baking cookies, sitting by the fire snug in our pjs, and watching the excitement from both boys as they counted down the hours til' Christmas morning.

The Kid's Tree

2005 began a tradition of the Kids Tree. We upgraded that year to a bigger tree and moved our small tree, which we'd had since our marriage, to the kitchen. On that tree, the kids added their handmade ornaments from school, along with paper chains, pine cones, and anything else we crafted that year. The "star" topper was a cut out of the boys' hands.

It seemed we spent the majority of our time in our kitchen area so it brought me great joy to look upon this tree. Each ornament had a story behind it and special memory.

2005 was a blessed Christmas because it was the year of our motorcycle wreck. Tim and I were still recovering from our injuries and we were more than grateful to still be here celebrating with our boys. It reconnected all of us and made us appreciate the season - and each other - even more.

I remember truly appreciating every moment with the boys that season. I am ever thankful for that wreck because it really made us stop and enjoy life, appreciate the simple things, and never miss an opportunity to spend time with those we loved.

Christmas cookie memories

A yearly tradition of ours was making Christmas cookies, since Austin was big enough to hold a spoon. When he was very little I would pull a chair up in the kitchen for him to reach the counter top.

As he grew older, Austin wanted to make cookies and other goodies as gifts for his teacher. Each year his list got longer and longer, as he'd add bus drivers, secretaries and lunch ladies to his plans.

It tickled him so much to give them each a gift, even if it were only a box of cookies. They were always made with love though and gave us fond memories of spending time together in the kitchen. It was something he never outgrew. Austin's last year with us he was a freshman in high school. He passed away Thanksgiving break but talked that weekend about how many gift boxes he wanted to create.

Hard as it was, I tried to carry on his tradition, making small goody boxes for each of his teachers. I know Austin would have wanted that.

more Christmas memories

After Noah came along, we started the yearly tradition of posing the boys in front of the tree for their annual Christmas picture. This was 2002 and I opted to do them in black and white. I took several poses that day but this one is one of my favorites because they both put their arms around each other - on their own. It showed the great brotherly love they always had for each other.

This was the year Austin officially stopped "believing" but he played along so well. Even as he grew older, he never let on differently around Noah. Each year he would ask if we'd wake him early and let him play Santa, which we never allowed. "Santa" still had a few surprises for Austin because you are never to old to believe!

2002 was a tough Christmas because Tim had lost his job just a few weeks before. Austin was so big through it all, letting us know from the beginning we didn't have to get him anything and that he understood. For a child of only 8 he was wise beyond his years. His heart was set though on a Xbox and he was so surprised when "Santa" delivered, thanks to help from family.

Tim's unemployment settlement came through - and arrived the day after Christmas. We were thankful that the money came after the holidays because it helped us remember the true meaning of the season. We were blessed beyond anything money could have purchased.

7th Christmas

This is the last "recorded" Christmas because Austin's baby book stops here.
You really questioned Santa this year. I wondered as we left out cookies and sprinkled Reindeer dust outside if it would be your last year. You woke up ready to go though Christmas morning!

Santa brought a big fish tank for you that year. I remember this being the first year you asked to buy us gifts. You picked them out yourself and we treasured them then and especially now. You bought us both figurine sets, a fishing set for your dad that trickles water. Mine is a beautiful mountain scene that plays music and it still in my office to this day.

6th Christmas

WWF Mania! This was the year Austin became in love with WWF. He got all the guys and wrestling ring, including wrestling video games under the tree.

This was also our first Christmas with Noah. I remember Austin being so good with him that year. He got as much joy out of watching Noah's first experiences as a parent would. Austin really was wise beyond his years.

I captured this shot as they were decorating the tree and it has always been one of my favorites. It became our Christmas card that year. I can't look at the picture without smiling ...followed shortly by tears now. It expresses so much joy and love. Noah loved his big brother from the very beginning. He was - and still is - his hero.

Christmas - 5 years

from his book...

Your first request to Santa came on Christmas Eve. We got a light dusting of snow and had somewhat of a White Christmas. When you came downstairs Christmas morning, you said, "Wow! I must've been really good!"

Santa left you a note thanking you for the cookies and you thought that was cool. After the blessing at lunch you told us the best present you have is "Mom, Dad, and Hannah" (at that time we thought the baby in my belly was a girl....sorry Noah!)

I remember this year being really fun because it was the last Christmas with just Austin. I took extra time off that Christmas break and we enjoyed baking cookies and spending the time together. Less than a month later Noah would arrive so it was wonderful bonding time with my first-born.

4th Christmas

from Austin's baby book...

You were so much fun this Christmas! You weren't scared of Santa at all. You crawled right up on his lap and said what you wanted, "Guns, bullets and handcuffs!" Each day you'd ask if you could open your presents and each night you'd ask if Santa was coming. You could say "Merry Christmas" and you loved to sing "Jingle Bells."

Memorable gifts...

The Jungle Book from us (Mom's fave movie!) - I enjoyed watching this movie so much with you and dancing around singing those songs.

Santa came through with the guns, bullets and handcuffs and also brought a soldier set. You called them (Hut, 2, 3's).

Aunt Becky got you a "Create a Calendar" that we enjoyed that next year. It had a blank page for each month so you could color or decorate it. I still have it.

3rd Christmas

1996...You thought every present under the tree was yours. You'd point to each of them saying, "Mine! Mine!"

We asked you what you wanted Santa to bring and you said, "Car Cars" - so he did! He left you four cars under the tree. You got 5-10 more from others. You love opening presents this year but every piece of paper and tape has to come off before you'll start on the next one!

Most memorable gift that year was a 911 set from Mamaw B & Papaw Carl. You wanted to be "just like Dad" and dressed up in it each day. You would pretend to doctor us and tell us what was hurting or broken.

2nd Christmas

From Austin's baby book...

This was a wonderful Christmas! You were old enough to understand this year. Every morning you would tell us to turn the tree on. You ate almost every candy cane off the tree this year! We took you out to see the lights several times and you loved it. You also liked Santa - from a distance. You wouldn't sit with him but you'd wave. You really enjoyed opening presents too. You would tear off a piece and throw it away - My little helper!

Memorable gifts that year were...

Sing A Long videos - Austin loved these and would play them over and over again. I know every Disney song by heart now because of that!

Variety of fire trucks (of course!) - outfits, ride-ons, tiny toys, etc.

Fischer Price Barn Set - many years of fun play with this set. I remember him in the floor making animal sounds and being Farmer Blair.

1st Christmas

Austin's first Christmas was fun for us because of the new addition to our lives. At six months though he wasn't quite old enough to understand what the holiday was all about.

He did not enjoy Santa that first year but did love the tree and twinkling lights. We enjoyed spoiling him even more than we already did.
He woke us up at 3:30 am on Christmas Eve so we began a yearly tradition of celebrating at home that day. From that year forward, each Christmas Eve we allowed the boys to open one gift. Christmas Day began so early and it seemed so busy, as we were on the road traveling between family homes. Christmas Eve was always our time to stay home and listen to favorite songs, watch Christmas movies, sit by the fire and enjoy each other. We would go out that night, with a thermos of hot chocolate and blankets and drive around looking at Christmas lights.

Austin's first Christmas Day began early at his Mamaw B's, complete with a country breakfast. He had his first taste of scrambled eggs and gravy. We visited his Mamaw June for lunch and then to my grandma's, his Nanny Coons, for supper. It was a long day and he was fast asleep on the drive home.

His presents that first year were mostly necessities from us but throughout the list fire trucks seemed to be the theme! I think we all knew from the beginning what joy fire trucks would give Austin.

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