This may be a long one, and not as witty as its predecessor, so buckle up.
I wasn’t quite in the headspace when I launched this blog (my first ever blog, so be nice!) to share this story. Not that it is bad or sad, but it’s emotionally taxing. That has not proven to be a bad thing, but, I do want to give it the credit and honor it is due. So, how did we get here? Here we go…
To preface, losing Kacey’s dad, Greg, to cancer in August was quite possibly the worst and hardest thing we have ever gone through. Greg was Kacey’s best friend. He was a pillar, the perfect example of unconditional and Godly love, strong, accepting, forgiving and literally the kind of man everyone needs in their life. I’m crying as I type this. I miss him so much and it still hurts like a newly ripped scab this 6 months later. Watching him suffer yet still express we were his main concern just solidified what I already knew about his character. I can still feel his hugs, hear his voice, and envision him standing with a cigarette in one hand, other hand on the hip, taking in all of the conversations and happenings around him. He LOVED his grandbabies, I mean truly, deeply, with every ounce he had to give. And man do they love him back. I never want to see my babies suffer that kind of heartbreak again. Greg was diagnosed in April and passed away in August. We didn’t have much time with him following his diagnosis let alone much time to process. I know I’m rambling because these emotions still feel like thorns in my throat and heaviness in my chest. But, one positive that came out of this and a true gift from Greg, was the fire that was lit inside both Kacey and I the moment we lost him. We didn’t know what we would do moving forward but we did know 3 things:
1. we had to honor Greg, 2. we wanted to DO more, and 3. we wanted to BE more.
And here’s how it went…
Some day in October 2021 (I lose track of days because life had become so monotonous – something I swore against) Kacey took my car to change the oil at his cousin’s house. They don’t get to see each other often because #life, but they grew up like brothers. We love him and his wife. They talked about life stuff, how Kacey and I were working entirely too much. At the time, I was gone from the house 12-13 hours. That just included driving to work, working, and driving home. Which as you can imagine doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Kacey was doing 90% of the school/childcare duties and most nights taking care of bath duty and whatever form of dinner he could muster up (love you for it though, baby). Our weekends were filled with laundry, cleaning, and adulting. We threw in the occasional “corner crew” supper (corner crew is our old neighbors, I’ll tell you about that later) or country concert. But, for the most part, what were we working so hard for? To keep working? to pay bills and for childcare just to break even? Yeah, not for me. We had no time for our kids and we definitely had no time to nurture our marriage and relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my day job and am SO thankful for my boss for all he has done for me over the years. My loyalty and history will keep me involved there for the foreseeable future. But, we’re not here to talk about mine or Kacey’s day job, which I guess could be it’s own blog post…there’s an idea! I digress.
To circle back to Kacey’s conversation with his cousin – They talked about adult things, bills, and how much work had gone into planning their upcoming wedding (they got married October 30th, 2021). Kacey talked about how many family members and friends weddings and parties I had planned/designed/helped with and that sparked a thought in his so-far-removed-from-the-event-industry mind. He came home giddy with pride over this idea he had constructed in just a few hours time. He ran into the laundry room where I was folding clothes (see, laundry…ALL THE DANG TIME) and said “Cait, I have a plan”…usually this leaves room for hesitation on my part but, I openly invited him to share. He said “I’m buying you a [farm]” (for lack of a better term).
I’m sorry, what?!? What did you just say to me 6ft, deputy sheriff, love of my life that knows nothing about farming and events?
But naturally my response was:
Immediately followed by: “I’m only doing this if we can name it after your dad”.
Then, I came floating back down to earth and began my interrogation. Where, why, when, how IN THE HECK? But, he had it figured out, the vision at least. He had already called my dad, Mr. Billy, a general contractor, electrical engineer, can do literally everything, superman. And much to my surprise, Dad too ate the idea right up. And just like that, 3 months later, we closed on 56 acres in New Salem, NC. My good friend, Christin (yet another angel in my life – but she’s mine so back off), who I work with at my day job but, she’s a hustlin’ real-estate agent on the side, mom of 2. Talk about a busy lady!! Yet, she still found the time to believe in this dream and help us find the perfect spot. Now, I won’t bore you with details but, finding 20+ acres in an ever growing county is NOT an easy task. Especially when you have to consider city limits, county ordinances, oh and the fact that we had no idea how to farm!
Anyways, we looked at multiple sites and even revisited the plot we now own multiple times. I cried and worried and stressed (like I’m a pro at, queen overthinker over here). But, I mainly prayed. I prayed for God to send me guidance and begged Greg to send me a sign. He didn’t send me one, he sent me MANY! Ladybugs when we were looking at the property, rainbows over the tree line when I thought it wasn’t going to work out in our favor, bursts of angel light in almost EVERY photo I take on the property. Not to mention, the hand tailored progression of these events and connections we made were from Heaven alone. If you’re not huge on connections and signs like me the rest would bore you, but the realizations we made about the land and the community alone gives me chills.
Now backing up to Kacey and I wanting to do more and be more while honoring Greg. And let me just add, because I feel this way about my own parents as well, the earthly things DO. NOT. MATTER. To Kacey and I, at least. I’m telling you, not one single bit. What is important to us his making Greg proud and keeping his memory alive.
So, my weeks long endeavor to come up with the perfect name began. I’m already a perfectionist but, this felt 10x harder. It had to honor Greg, it had to represent who he was as a man, a father, a grandfather. And it had to be strong!
I toyed around for weeks with words that accompanied the name “Gregory’ nicely. Because for me, there was no negotiating having his name be the pinnacle of the farm name.
But, 2 questions hindered me from making a decision:
1. What picture/image in my head represents Greg?
2. What name gives me chills when I say it – makes me feel connected to him?
I was doodling and writing his name on a piece of paper hoping it would just come to me. I played with a rainbow, a cardinal, a bear…those weren’t it. It didn’t give me “that” feeling.
Then it was like I had no control over my pencil – and I sketched an oak tree!
Of course an oak tree, DUH!! His strength, his tenacity, his fight, his wisdom and everything he endured in his life.
But, that still left me with a name. Gregory what? Again, it had to honor him but also describe the property without compromising what I want this name to mean.
I prayed and prayed…and prayed.
I had to ask myself – what are we doing here? Why are we running after this dream in the first place? What does it mean to name such a journey after someone?
and it hit me…
Boom. Done deal. Goose bumps, tears, all the feels. That was it.
The Legacy at Gregory Downs
Gregory Downs – because it’s not just a farm to us. Its a place to make memories, leave a legacy for our kids – for them to raise families, allow others to come enjoy this gift we have, its a place to gather, a place to love and be free. It means a new beginning without compromising the history of the hardworking family that farmed that land before us and entrusted us to be good stewards.
& The Legacy – well, that speaks for itself.
What’s in a legacy?
“learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future”.