Thursday, July 31, 2008


How can there possibly be enough words to express our thanks and gratitude to so many? The last few days have been so crazy. I think we were all as prepared as we could be when mom died, at least emotionally speaking. I don't remember one person telling me that afterwards I would be a complete mental mess. Decision making? Nope. A coherent sentence? Nada. Even a complete thought? Nay. And all of this in addition to being physically exhausted.

To all of you that were able to attend the viewing, so sorry about the wait. Seriously, I felt like the more we talked, the longer the line got, so the more we needed to talk to make the wait worth it! I hope most of you were rewarded with some small piece of priceless advice from at least one of us kids. But really, it was such a tribute to mom, and the way she lived her life. She was friends with everyone. I needed her there by my side to tell me who everyone was. I know there were family members from way way back that I didn't recognize. Sorry 'bout that. She always took care of that stuff. I guess I'll have to learn now. Bummer.

The funeral was wonderful. It was very cathartic to say and write what we were feeling. There was definitely a sense of closure there, at least for me. Not that that makes it any easier. Trust me, I would take her back in a second. But if she had to suffer that way, I would give her up again in a second too. Normal life has slowly started to sink in. I guess the rest of the world doesn't care that I just buried my mom. It just keeps going on. And that's probably the best thing for me. Carry on.

Please please, keep reading this here blog. I'm hoping we can tell stories of just a few of the small miracles that sustained us through all this. And perhaps we can merge it into a family event dumping ground. We'll just have to see how it evolves. But I know I at least need to keep it going for now. I don't want my own blog to become covered in cancer, so we'll just keep it contained here.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended the events, or sent cards and food and flowers. There aren't enough thank you cards at all the Target's in the valley. But that doesn't mean I'm off the hook.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


It was a wonderful ride. The tiny miracles are too numerous to count. And being true to form, a lady always knows when to leave.

She left us just after midnight. She was peaceful and graceful. We all had our time to say our goodbyes, and to tell her it was okay to go. She knew we would be fine, she's been preparing us for this for 6 weeks now. But still, she wanted to hear it from us. And when the time came, we were all right there.

Dad is a rock. He felt her spirit so closely, more so than the rest of us could. I think Troy likened it to the Celestial Room, and it absolutely was. We know there was a joyous reunion in heaven last night, and as hard as it was for us, it was wonderful to think of all the sweet spirits she is in contact with now.

The viewing will be Monday evening, and the funeral will be Tuesday morning. Broomhead's are taking care of it for us, and a special thanks to Ron for his professionalism.

Also, thank you Bishop, Vicki, and Lowell for the middle of the night support. And thank you Pat for the groceries. And thank you to all the others who have helped us in ways you will never know.

She loves and watches over all of us now. She is our guardian angel.

We love you mom.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It Aint Easy

This is tough, writing some discouraging thoughts after such a high of wonderful days. Mom was doing so well. We thought the steroids were the magic potion. And really, they were, at least for 3 or 4 days. It got her feeling well enough, and strong enough, to make the trek up north, where they had a great time. But the last night, things got pretty scary. Mom declined, and quickly. Meg was there, and thank goodness she was. She was able to stay near mom's side while dad drove home as quickly as he could. It's a good 8 hour drive in a car, and in the motorhome, it's definitely more than that. I think they made it home in just over 8 hours. Go dad.

When they arrived, we had the downstairs den ready for her, since we knew there was no way she could make it up the stairs. Problem is, she hates that den. It was her office for so many years while my dad and her ran the business out of the house. Then it got turned in to Jill's room, when she moved to Las Vegas and needed a place to stay when they came to visit. After the basement got finished, and Jill and clan could crash down there, it became the dog room. I don't think any of those situations have great memories for my mom, I know she absolutely hates the dogs, so there was no way she was taking that room as her own. She mustered up all the strength she had, which wasn't much, and she made it up the stairs.

The last few days we've spent caring for her as much as we can. We had to take her to LDS for another procedure on the Biliary Tubes, and it went much more smoothly than the last one, and she does feel better thanks to that. But she is very, very weak. Although she is still as spunky as ever.

It's so frustrating for us kids to see such highs and lows. I think the words we all think but don't want to say out loud are that we wonder when the highs will end. Every time one does, we wonder if that was it. I don't think this is it, just in case you were wondering. But that doesn't make it any less difficult. One thing that keeps us going is having each other. We were thinking that we've basically been living all together, including our kids, for the last 6 weeks. I don't think there has been one time that we've even gotten annoyed with anyone. Besides the kids, of course. What a blessing! And to see how each of us brings our own special talent and role to the family is truly a gift. The Lord definitely knew that we would need each other, and has prepared us for this.

We are so thankful to all the friends that have visited, written letters, sent gifts, flowers, and food, (especially the food!). The fan mail is so fun to read. Some have come from all across the country, and from people Mom hasn't seen in years. It's amazing the impact she has had. Some fan mail even comes anonymously. I personally think they just forgot to sign the card, maybe because that's totally something I would do, but I'm sure it's people that just need to say what they need to say, and not get any recognition for it. So if you're reading this, thank you, anonymous letter writers.

Again, thank you for the wonderful comments. Mom gets to read the blog via BlackBerry, and she loves it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

North Country

Here I sit in the Motor home, in West Yellowstone while typing away on my laptop thanks to the KOA's free WiFi. Thought I would update and let everyone know how Mom is doing while spending time in her favorite place with her favorite people, sans the rest of the family. We are having a wonderful time!

After finally getting away Friday, we made it to Rexburg. Mom slept most of the way, but felt good enough to go out to dinner. We were so happy, considering this is the first time she has been out since before the diagnosis. She ate most of her Sirloin Steak, and we almost got her to eat a piece of Coconut Cream pie.
Saturday morning we headed to Yellowstone Bear World, and got some up close and personal time with some Grizzly Bears. So cool! Mom did great, and even asked for a lime snow cone. She said she felt like adding a little spice to her life. :) Like Keli said in the last post, it brings us joy to see mom eat. We are going to show that Dr that she won't have another 12 pound week again!

That brings me to here, sitting in West Yellowstone, with Dad lovingly inspecting his Golden Eagle Pass that he has been waiting 62 years to buy. Free Yellowstone for life for the elderlies. He has never been so proud. In fact, I took a picture to capture the moment.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bon (Bueno) Voyage

Big day today. Mom is all 'roided up and off to the wilds of Wyoming. I know, it sounds like that should be an intro to some sort of joke, but no, it's the honest to goodness truth.

Mom went to see the pain doc on Tuesday. He suggested that in addition to changing her off the Morphine-based drugs, they start her on a round of Steroids. Just to see what happens.

I would kiss that man on the lips for what he's done for her. And I'm not just saying that because I haven't seen my husband in 2 months, either. Dirty minds, sheesh.

Never in my life have I seen my mom eat Ramen noodles. And not just eat, inhale. And bacon. And an entire Cantaloupe. All in one day. And never in my life did I imagine that seeing my mom eat an entire Cantaloupe could bring me such joy. Not even happiness, it's pure joy. Talk about priorities, huh?

With all the food being consumed, and the gymnastics Mom was doing down the hallway, Dad decided he better head North where the cool breeze blows. A melted bag of ice, a moment of silence for the struggling Tahoe transmission, and a sack full of meds, and off they went. With Meg in tow as a chaperon. Crazy elderlies, you never know what they'll do, what with the steroids and all. She needs to be there to keep the music down.

It was a bittersweet moment, seeing them pull out of the driveway. I know in my heart that Mom is happiest when she's in the Motorhome with dad, traveling wherever the wind takes them. But I also have that feeling, you know the one, where the truth lies beneath the surface, but you have to suppress it to keep the tears at bay. Yeah, that's the one. I know they'll have a great time. And if this it for them, it's perfect. We just thank our lucky stars for what we've been given. I guess all that waiting for a miracle has happened. Even if it was in a different way than we expected.

And seriously, doc, pucker up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's Like Bass Fishing, Only Not

Have you ever looked at the life of someone you know with cancer? Sometimes in the past, I would see women undergoing chemo, and they seemed so empowered. They seemed to have some inner strength that radiated from within. I've read books about people with cancer, and they sit and have long, meaningful talks all the day. They say all the right things, and make insights about life and death. They were suddenly smarter and more patient, and more loving than ever before. I thought it was because they had a cause to fight for. And then the Lance Armstrong thing came along. I still wear my Yellow bracelet to fight the cause. Now there's an Olympic swimmer that has cancer, and he's putting off surgery until after the games. How brave.

But Cancer isn't all Epiphanies and Activism.

Cancer sucks.

I've likened Cancer unto Bass Fishing. Not from personal experience of course, since I haven't been fishing since I was like 10. I think I was with the Hales' at Scofield. I distinctly remember "milking" one of the fish we caught. I was forever traumatized. If that wasn't you, Hales', I apologize for my bad memory. I digress. Bass fishing. You know how it is. You have a boat, and a beer or two, and of course a boat motor that is bigger than your actual boat. You have to really speed along the water to get to where those fish are biting. It's a lot of hurry up and wait. Do you see where I'm going with this whole "likening" thing? Good, because I'm lacking in word power to pound out the specifics for you right now.

We hurry. We hurry to the doctor's office. And then we wait. We hurry to the pharmacy for the latest pain med regiment. And then we wait. We hurry up for family prayer each night, and pray for a miracle, and we are still waiting. But within those times of waiting, things do happen. Remember those beers we brought along? Let's make those Diet Pepsi. Yeah, we drink a lot of that. We surf the net on our BlackBerry's. We look at the sea urchins in the fish tank, and that reminds us of our awesome Girl's Trip to Seattle last September. Then we start remembering all the funny things mom has done and said on our girl's trips. And then we are reminded that our memory will have to do from now on. If only there was some way to record her voice, and to mimic her hand gestures. If only there was some way to keep her here forever. But we just wait.

And wait.

And wait.........

Friday, July 11, 2008

Encore, Encore

Well, we've had an interesting couple of days, how bout you? Yesterday mom was feeling relatively well. She was able to get a haircut, a la moi, and then took a nice long nap. Not long after waking from her nap, she realized she was running a fever. Not a good thing. We gave her Tylenol and put in a call to our friendly Dr. Blatter. Not surprisingly, we didn't hear back from him in a timely manner. Or at all, for that matter. So I proceeded to call around until I could find another friendly Radiologist to help us out. Enter Dr. Kringlen. What a sweetie, if you can call a Doctor that. Anyway, he was so sweet to answer all our questions, and even waited until we found a 24 hour pharmacy nearby. As an aside, the Draper Walgreen's is the closest. So we got the antibiotics for the suspected infection, picked up a chocolate shake for Dad, and went nighty night. This morning she wasn't much better. Worse, actually, if you add a sleepless night on top of the pain and fever. So up to LDS we went. Yep, all of us. After a CT scan, and a tube flush, she seemed to be back on track. Thank goodness that was all. So we were sent home with the yearly insurance premium worth of medical equipment to flush out her tubes each day. This afternoon she seems to be doing better, and even feels like eating a little.

The best part of this day, apart from Mom getting better, was a little concert we privy to whilst waiting in the Radiology waiting room. A young boy, maybe 10 or so, was sitting alone listening to his iPod. As we sat and chatted, we realized he had started singing along aloud. It was a nice little distraction from our serious tone. A few minutes more go by, and we realize he is sitting on the floor over near our table. With an uneaten chocolate chip cookie on our table, I figured that was what he was after. I offered it to him, and merely got a head shake in response, but then he stood and that's where the concert began. We began singing with him as he belted out "Sweet Child O' Mine" from GNR. He even had the mean air guitar thing going on. He was all sorts of into it. And by the end of the song, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. Okay, I was probably the only one who stood, but we were all clapping and laughing. A welcome distraction indeed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blessings and Blatter

The Blatter is spelled right. He is Dr. that just about killed our Mom yesterday. I don't know what the H-E double hockey sticks he was thinking. No sedation and he ripped her tubes out and stuck new ones back in. He made the incisions bigger, and put stitches in and sent her home. No pain meds or anything. Good thing we are a pharmacy of pain meds. My poor Dad was home alone with her while we were all enjoying ourselves at Lagoon. We should probably apologize for that, and thinking he was over exaggerating. She was really in a lot of pain and he was scared. I am thankful he is good at pushing the pills. They got it under control with meds but mostly with a priesthood blessing (Thanks to Robert and Noma). It is amazing the faith building experiences we have had in the last 3 1/2 weeks. She is doing better today as long as she stays on top of the pain.

As for the blessing part of my title, I wanted to list 3 enormous blessing in my life. Troy (and Kelli), Keli and Meg. As if you couldn't tell how wonderful they all are. They write about things that I think, but can't write. I am so grateful for them. How would any of us possibly get through this without the others. The Lord has prepared us for a long time for this. Even as far back as when we developed our personalities. We fit together like a irreverent crazy puzzle. We have comic relief via Keli. The go to guy-Troy. The criuse director-Moi! And Meg-A younger version of our Mom, to keep us "in check". How would we ever survive without each other. Thanks guys!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fan Mail

Cards, pictures, letters. Some with colorful stickers, some with little puffy appliques, even some with those little stick-on googly eyes. We've all seen 'em. Jill mentioned yesterday that Mom has probably sent out more cards in her lifetime than anyone she knows. Certainly more than anyone I know. But now it's her turn. More fan mail comes to her mailbox than Barry Manilow at a scrapbooking convention. No, seriously. Like she needs to hire someone just to read her fan mail.

Think about that for a minute. If I was to get cancer, I'd probably get letters. They'd say, 'Serves you right!', or 'Good!', or maybe the good 'ol 'Couldn't happen to a better guy!'. But not our mom. Friends, neighbors, even long lost high school friends. That is just the kind of person she is. It is a testament to how she has lived her life; treating others as she would like to be treated, putting the needs of others in front of her own. So much fan mail from so many people. People like me who, even just for a minute, would love to be a little better, like our mom.

It's hard to see difficult things happen to someone as beautiful as our mom, and I think about 'why' all the time. But even in the face of such adversity, she shines on as a brilliant inspiration to all who know her. And although it isn't fair, sometimes I wonder if maybe she isn't just a little too good for this earth. But for now, we're keeping her, all to ourselves. And we'll continue to love and cherish every minute. Oh, and help her with her fan mail.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lemonade, Anyone?

Today was a lemonade kind of day. And not just because of the sweltering heat. It's time to start squeezing those lemons we've been given.

For those of you into medical terminology, you're about to get your rocks off here. Ready?

I had you for a minute there, didn't I. Okay, maybe just a little. We found out a few things today at the doctor visit for mi madre. Really, we didn't find out much more than we already knew, but it's still hard hearing it. We did find out that she can start chemo whenever she chooses. She seems strong enough, and really, it's just up to her to decide when she can work it in to her busy schedule. We also found out that the cancer releases proteins that the brain interprets as a "full stomach" signal. That would explain the appetite loss. So she can eat whatever she wants, it's just a matter of wanting it. But trust me, with all of us kids around to force feed her, she won't have a problem with food.

Mom is doing well. She is holding up nicely, as always. Does that make her sound like an old truck? Sorry, mom. I think she and Dad will try and get away for a little vacay here, pretty soon. They love doing that, and it always makes her feel better when she can get up to Yellowstone and relax. So some R and R, some good drugs, and the best kids on earth should make her one happy woman.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Love We Feel Equals The Sorrow We Fear

I was admonished today (isn't admonished a great word for a Sunday post?) to update the blog. Silly me, I thought I had updated it yesterday. I guess that's not enough, and you people are jonesing for more of the mess that makes up my brain. So I'm going to share some thoughts about what took place today in Relief Society, or RS, as it will now be known on this blog. It's just easier to type RS, because for some reason, even though my brain knows it's "I" before "E", my fingers just don't type it that way. Wow, that alone could make up an entire post, but perhaps it would be better suited on my other blog. But I digress.

Today's lesson was on overcoming adversity. Nice. Very apropos for the events as of late. Lucky for me, I have an uncanny ability to seem invisible when topics turn serious. So I just sat and listened to the women in the Ward talk about how they had used our Gospel and the Plan of Salvation, and our knowledge of eternal families to become stronger through the trials they have faced. Many had lost children, or grandchildren, and one even lost her spouse. Some had dealt with health issues, and many with Cancer. I listened and tried to take in all the words of advice that seemed to be thrown my way. I tried, I really did. But then someone said exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

She turned around from the row in front of me, and spoke my name. All she said was, "Keli, no matter what anyone tells you, it's still going to be hard."

That was so on the mark.

All my life, I've learned to take lemons and make lemonade. But to have someone actually tell me it's hard, and that they understand was exactly the boost I needed this day. I felt better.

So even though this may not seem like an official update, take that alone as an update in and of itself. There really hasn't been too much to update. Mom is doing well. As well as can be imagined. Surprisingly, the visitor pool hasn't slowed too much, but when she is too tired, she makes herself scarce. Don't take this personally. She just can't overdo it. Tomorrow we have an appointment with the Oncologist, so hopefully we will have more medical terminology to throw around. Stay tuned for that, for sure.

Thanks for the awesome comments. Keep them coming. Mom loves hearing stories and insights from the past. The "good 'ol days". It warms our hearts to hear of the wonderful memories you all have of our mom, and our family. Thank you again.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day

Is it really? I can't believe how fast this summer is flying by. And yet, at the same time, I feel like I'm standing still watching someone else's life unfold before me. It makes me think about what independence really means. Are we independent really? I know as a mother, I'm certainly dependent on my children for joy. As a woman, I am dependent on myself for validation. And as a daughter, I am dependent on my own mother for help. I'm not ready to give any of those things up.

I see Mom on her good days, and I can almost forget what is lurking beneath the surface. But then she has a bad day, and it's like a scab has been ripped off my soul. It feels raw and harsh. I see her go out to the mailbox one day, and almost see her independent self return, but then soon enough, she is exhausted in bed, and I realize she is dependent on us again. She needs us. But I think we need her more. I'm not ready to be independent of my mother. I need to lean on her. I need to see her, speak to her, and listen to her words of wisdom. I don't want to be independent. I don't like thinking that this Independence Day may be our last with her by our side. That makes me want to cling to her even more. Perhaps I'm just having one of those selfish days. You know, it's on page 45 of the handbook. Oh, you don't have that handbook? Yeah, me neither, but someone really should write that handbook. It sure would make life, and death, easier if you knew what to expect. Even if it is just a "day", I just need to write it down, so that everyone knows that despite being an independent woman, I'm still just a mama's girl at heart. I think we all are.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You can't fool all of the people, all of the time

But if you could, it would seem my mom has done it. Every single card that arrives makes her cry. Not so much because she is sad, but because she doesn't believe what is written. The sweet words of praise that have been written by so many make her feel as if she has never even had a bad thought in her life. Nearly every card has said "I've never heard you raise your voice", or "I've never seen you lose your temper". And all these words are true.

She is honestly the most, excuse the pun, patient person I have ever known. There was a time in her life where she couldn't complain to her boss about her bishop, she couldn't complain to her husband about her boss, and she couldn't complain to her bishop about her husband because they were all the same person! Seriously, I don't know of any woman who can endure that kind of torture and come away unscathed. But she did, and she did it gracefully.

She has always had a huge impact on those around her. Her organization, her ease in conversation, and the uncanny ability to know who anyone's parents or siblings, or grandparents are. This woman knows everyone. And everyone knows her. And loves her.

Thanks for being such a great example of patience and enduring to the end.