Friday, August 16, 2013

Farewell to a bright soul

About two weeks before my grandmother passed away my family spent a few minutes alone with her in her hospital room.  Even though I knew her body was failing it didn't really sink in until I saw her in her bed, looking feeble and tired, that I would be saying Goodbye. My stomach clenched up and I felt a bit of panic, knowing how important the next 15 minutes would be. How do you say Goodbye? How can you communicate a lifetime of love and significance in a few words?

I wished I could give her comfort - she would be going somewhere new very soon, and having new experiences. Who wouldn't feel a little nervous? I wanted to summarize her influence in my life. Had I ever told her how important she was to me? I wanted her to comfort me, to share with me her warmth and humor and wisdom one more time. I wanted to soak in her voice, the way she said my name; her eyes, their particular brown hue; her hands, her crippled fingers; the feel of her always-smooth skin.

It wasn't enough time, but it was all I had.

She took a moment to hug and talk to each of my children, listening patiently as they went on and on.  Privately, I was hurrying them. They didn't know how precious each minute was. But I wanted them to remember this day and their feelings, so I didn't rush them.

Finally, Spouse took the children out of the room to give me some time alone.  I took her small hand and stroked her almost translusent skin.  These hands crocheted me a matching skirt and sweater set when I was eight.  She crocheted me many sweaters over the years. I remember one that I couldn't get over my head because the neck was too small!  Where are all those precious things now? Why didn't I keep even one? How did she make so many things with arthritis in her thumbs?

"I love you Grandma.  I'm going to miss you."

"I'm going to miss you too, Jen. But I'm going to be watching over you. That will be me over your shoulder telling you what to do."

"You are so special to me Grandma. You have made me happy in so many ways."

"You are special to me too, Jen. I love you."

I put my cheek next to hers and felt her familiar softness. I breathed in deeply, trying to inhale her scent, to keep it with me. I kissed her head and she kissed my cheek.

I looked at her for another moment. Her eyes were looking up at me.  They looked hopeful, peaceful. Ready.

Down the hallway there was a private place with chairs and a big window overlooking the Salt Lake Valley to the west.  I sat there processing, grieving.  Through my tears I watched a commuter train stop and people get on and off. In the distance the Oquirrh Mountains stood tall, creating shadows.  Green trees filled the valley. An airplane was climbing into the sky.

I thought of my grandmother, just down the hall, sharing this view with me and wondered how it might feel to say goodbye to this life, to this earthly home - this marvelous earth and sublime life experience.

Life is so good. It is hard and terrible. It is beautiful and heart-breaking. The earth is a wonder - pulsing with power and energy. The smallest particles are miraculous.

I hope to be like my grandmother. I hope to be able to say goodbye to earth with honor, having worked and struggled and sacrificed but having found joy. Joy in relationships, nature and God.  I hope to leave this earth a little brighter.

Here is Grandma last October, meeting Baby E
July, 2005 at her home in Germantown, Ohio. 

I love this picture because this is how I remember her most, laughing! October 2004, Ohio

This 2004 trip to Ohio is a special memory for me. I got Grandma all to myself!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

More Utah fun: Lagoon!

After all of our years of spending summers in Utah, we had somehow neglected to introduce our children to Lagoon. This summer I wasn't pregnant and all of my older kids were tall enough to ride anything they wanted; it was time. 

I left Baby E in Logan with my sister and mom and took my niece and nephew with us to meet my other sister and her children at Lagoon! 

I hadn't been to Lagoon for 18 years and I remembered  it being hot and dirty. Kind of like an expensive carnival. I was happily surprised to find it clean, beautifully landscaped and lots of shade. There were a few of the old carnival style rides I remembered but most of the rides were newer and really nice. 

I discovered early on in our day that I've lost all my nerve. I'm basically a spectator now. So sad! I used to love exciting rides. Now I'm just a nauseated, nervous wreck. 

My kids were crazy with courage. There was almost nothing they weren't too scared to try. 

It was fun to share the experience with cousins. I loved watching them run off a ride together laughing and recounting their thrills, then plotting their next move. 

It was a day of memories. A happy, happy day. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer Memories from Utah

Almost a week ago, on Friday, August 2nd I was driving my four children back to our desert home after a month in the mountains of Utah.   Admittedly, I was feeling down.  Yes, I was going to miss our families, the shady trees and blooming flowers, a break from the daily domestic grind but at that moment all I could think of was my dread of returning to the awful Phoenix HEAT!!  Ugh! 

Today, I'm putting off showering and the compulsory hair drying which I detest because it just makes me sweat and puts me a rotten mood, and I'm going to take a walk down our Utah memories lane.

Provo, Utah 4th of July Fireworks viewed from the lawn by the Harmon Building.

This area of lawn has been in our family for many 4th of July years.  I remember rolling down this hill when I was about Buster's age. 

#3 and Nana putting together some glow bracelets.

I'm catching up with my cool brother in law while holding sleeping Baby E. That poor girl had had such a rough day, not a minute of sleep until she finally zonked out in my arms around 10:00 pm. 

The first thing Buster wanted to do was show Papa the new moves he had just learned at wrestling camp.

#1 and Papa riding home, 4th of July style, in the back of the truck

Sandy, UT July 5th extended reunion with cousins from my Dad's family 

My extended family gets together every other year but I haven't ever been able to attend one of these reunions. It was so fun to see my cousins and their children!  The reunion was held at this wonderful park in my cousin's private neighborhood.  There was lots of good food, swimming and organized games.

Here's #1 completing the obstacle course competition.  It was hard! But she did awesome!

Spouse and Baby E waiting for dinner.

Buster waiting in line with some cousins to do his world famous, huge cannon-ball!

Buster and #2 digging into their pinata loot with some 2nd cousins.

 July 9-14 Logan, UT my family reunion

My siblings (minus 1 :( )  and our families gathered at my parents home for a week of togetherness.  There was lots of trampoline jumping, playing at the park, Aggie ice cream and 4 wheeler rides.  Each day we had one or two organized activities.  Some of these included a fun run, water games at the park, the 2nd annual family dance!, a service project at the pioneer cemetery.  We also spent a day at Spouse's family cabin riding four wheelers, roasting marshmallows and competing in a billiards tournament. We took a day to visit my grandmother in the hospital in Salt Lake City and then tour Temple Square.
#3 and cousin Joph-fes
One day I was looking all over for Buster, calling for him.  I finally found him tucked away in the library reading "Battles of Freedom." He was so engrossed, I didn't want to disturb him so I took this picture through the glass door. He loves military histories.

Family Fun Run! It was a mile for most of the kids or 2 miles for the older boys.  My nephew on the right of this picture was the first to come in.  He ran the two miles faster than anyone ran the one mile: 13 minutes.  And that is with a lot of hills!  I was impressed.

#1 and her cousin racing into the finish line!

Buster really wanted to beat Joph-fess!

Fresh donuts are the best reward after a grueling one-miler :)

#1 and her Papa

Nana, Spouse and Baby E, post race. I gave Spouse a free pass on the run since he helped me get the music, tables and water set up.
My nephew Zack on the 4 wheeler at the cabin in Logan Canyon

"This is hot, don't touch it!"

All these years coming to Utah, I've never taken my kids to Temple Square.  So glad to have remedied that.  But I think we need to come again next year and plan to spend a lot more time.

The Conference Center roof was really cool. But actually it was really hot up there. 

#3 and her cousins at the Children's exhibit in the Church History Museum.  That's another place I could have spent another hour.

 July 15-21 Bear Lake with Spouse's family

This is a week my children love and look forward to with great anticipation.  They love running free with their cousins.  Making little trips to the resort store for ice-cream, jaw breakers and candy. They love the beach and boating.  They love going to the Pickleville shows and go-karting.  They love making a Bear Lake t-shirt every year.

I told #1 I bet she could climb to the top of the "difficult" coconut tree in 15 seconds.  She did it in 16!

#1 and #3 will cousins out on the deck trying to pick up the weak wi-fi signal.

Early morning scooter ride

Digging ponds is hard work!

Baby E loved being on the beach and digging in the sand. She also loved to eat the sand. 

I remember #3 as a baby and pushing her in the baby swing of this very swing set.

Cute cousin Matthew helping Baby E take some steps

Utah photos and memories to be continued...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

1st day of School, 2013 edition

My 5th grader is feeling confident and happy to be an upperclassman at her elementary school.  She is excited to learn to play the bass in the school orchestra and ready to take on the challenge of ALP math.  Baby E (#4) is going to miss her 2nd mama while she's at school all day. 

Buster, my 3rd grader, is looking forward to getting back to friends and fun things like PE and sports at recess.  Although a good student, he would much prefer to play all year and isn't exactly thrilled to be sitting in class all day again.   I have to admit, I'm not exactly thrilled to start the after-school homework routine either. 

My 1st grader is starting all-day school.  She's nervous about following the rules and not getting in trouble in her new class.  I hope she'll grow confident quickly and enjoy making new friends.  One thing she's really excited about: Specials! Music, art, PE and most of all, library!

Baby E's down for a nap and our house is quiet and empty. I'm missing my birdies and looking forward to 3:30 when my nest will be full again.