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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reverse Shopping Spree

From Joyful Challenge:

Our shopping this weekend didn't include fighting crowds and hunting for deals, but instead involved hiding them. We didn't stand in line, scour the ads, and struggle with strangers but rather snuck, searched, and whispered through the store. The kids chose to do "acts of kindness" by attaching money to gifts and tucking them secretly back on the shelves. While we didn't stay to see the reactions, we hope children will grab items wanting them, as they often do, and be surprised. It was one of the best shopping trips I can ever remember during such a normally chaotic holiday experience.

Sharing with the kids the "free drink" idea, they quickly asked if they could do the same and that started our Kindness "Reverse-Shopping" Spree. Handing them change and a sheet of labels, we set off. Soaking in the meaning of the labels, which said, "This random act of kindness was done in memory of Austin Blair (7/8/94 – 11/29/08). Pay it forward." they were both silent for a moment and then touched to get to be a part of this project.

Instantly, they began spurting off ideas of things we could do to make a difference in someone's day. We soon ended up at a local store with a plan and two very excited kids.  Each of them had a few one dollar bills and began the search for toys in that amount so whatever child found it would be able to get it for free. Sadly, in today's economy, there aren't a great deal of choices in this category but I think the kids did a wonderful job.

Noah found a firefighter coloring book, which reminded him of Austin and how much he loved the fire department. Attaching the dollar to the back, I was glad I captured the sweet innocence with my phone. He then located a container of play-do, something he still loves to play with even at his age. Tucking them both so that the dollars were hidden, Tina began her hunt.

She was able to find a toy firetruck as well. It was the only truck in the mixture of rubber ducks. Bringing the box toward the front and at a kid's eye level, she squeezed the truck in among the yellow birds. I can only imagine how happy a little child will be when they spy it and their chubby little hand grabs it off the shelf.

Tina then headed for the baby food aisle, saying how hard it might be for someone this time of year. Hoping a single mom or struggling family might happen upon the food, she attached a dollar with a label, making it free.

Both kids said after each one, "Wow, this feels good," and "I wish I could see who gets it," or "I hope it goes to someone who really needs it." They were both truly touched by the acts and honored to do something in Austin's memory.

Noah, remembering he had a five dollar bill in his pocket, asked if we could make one last stop at the shoes. He wanted to gift a free pair to a child who may need it. Finding just the right pair, he hid the money inside with a smile.

On the way home, we made a few more secret stops the kids requested, each one a hug to my heart.

While we miss Austin every day, holidays are the hardest, especially this weekend with his angel-versary approaching. However, I know Austin was with us every step of this shopping spree and so very proud of his little brother and cousin. I could feel his sweet spirit surrounding us and am thankful for each treasured moment. I hope Austin's spirit lives on and touches each family finding these hidden surprises.

Just the act certainly blessed each of us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family Day

Today was bittersweet.  We had a very large family gathering; and of course, anytime we're all together like that there is an obvious absence.  Austin loved being with family, whether it was one or two or a huge crowd.  In fact, our first  "Family Game Day" was held our last year with him.  Maybe that's what makes days like together so hard, and so special, all at the same time.  They remind of Austin and swell our hearts with memories, as well as fill our eyes with tears from the loss; but they also push us to stay together and there's an ever-lingering presence, as we know he's watching over us proudly.

If Austin were here today, he'd been among the first to go help set up, with his strong arms and back lifting tables and chairs to prepare the room.  The many trips I made to my truck, loading and unloading, would have certainly been decreased as he'd been right there without me asking.  Upon anyone pulling into the drive, he would've met them at their door, ready to give those giant bear hugs and then haul anything in they might need.  He would've snuck bites of food from any dish that came in which contained something he liked.  And he would've gotten away with it, as all he'd have to do is break out his smile or puppy dog eyes. 

There'd been a Rook game started before everyone even had a chance to sit down.  All the babies in the room would've had a constant sitter, as I know he'd have had a lap full or been chasing them in the yard.  That beautiful big laugh would've been heard a dozen times through the course of the day.  He'd of challenged every willing body to a cornhole game outside, smiling whether he won or lost.  He would've made old friends with any new face, listening to the stories from the grown-ups table or patiently playing a game with the kids.

And yet, in so many ways I felt him today...from the beautiful painted skys that greeted me good morning and said the lingering hugs by family or the smiles on their faces as they arrived...from the butterfly balloons hung by the front gate to guide those traveling long distances the warmth and joy of laughs and love throughout the day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This We Do In Memory of You

Since losing Austin, we've started the tradition of "Random Acts of Kindness" on his angel-versary, November 29th.   Last year, I asked others to join in his memory. So many messages of support and sharing their acts came through via email and on his Facebook group, Remembering Austin. It was a wonderful way to remember such a beautiful soul.

Austin's legacy will always be his warm smile, loving hugs, and helping hands. That's what Austin was all about. I have so many cards and letters from those who knew and loved him, sharing small and simple, but powerful, moments they remember and treasure him for.  Because November 29th is such a tragic reminder for us, it is how we've chosen to get through it. Helping strangers has lifted our broken spirits.

With each random act, it's as if Austin's spirit carries on and it blesses our family. Because of that, I've decided to dedicate this entire month to my precious boy and will be striving to perform random acts of kindness every single day. It's the only way I know to get through a seemingly impossible time. Each day, each thankful moment, every act of kindness, will be a tribute to Austin, the life he led, and the inspiration of hoping to be a fraction of who he was. I hope you'll join me...

Choose to pause and be thankful each day of November. Perform an act of kindness (every day), or just on November 29. Smile at a stranger. Buy someone a cup of coffee. Volunteer. Make a donation to the Austin's Legacy scholarship fund, or your favorite charity. Buy lunch for the person behind you in line. Visit a friend. Send a card to a soldier. Adopt a family for Christmas. Hug somebody. Pay it forward. Do it in memory of the legacy Austin left behind! 

Please share it with us - send us a message, an email, or post it on his Facebook page.  Follow the stories from this month on my other blog, Joyful Challenge.
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